Germany - Third Reich: A very fine Eastern Front Battle of the Dnieper Iron Cross 1939 1st Class and June 1944 Italian Front Gold Wound Badge document grouping to Oberleutnant Paul Meske, 39th Jäger Regiment, of the 20th Air Force Assault Division and later 26th Panzer Division, previously Headquarters Company of the 114th Grenadier Regiment, who having originally fought on the Russian Front during the winter of 1941 to 1942, as a member of the latter unit, won his Iron Cross 1st Class on 3rd September 1943 during the Battle of the Dnieper, he having been wounded for a fourth time on 1st September 1943. Having then transferred regiment’s, he saw service in Italy and was wounded in action for the fifth time on 21st June 1944, being then awarded the Gold Wound Badge on 30th September 1944.
Award Certificate for the Iron Cross 1939 1st Class, issued to: ‘Leutnant Paul Meske, Stabskp./Gren.Rgt.114’, dated 3rd September 1944, and signed in ink by a Colonel on the divisional staff on behalf of the Divisional Commander.
Award Certificate for the Wound Badge 1939 Gold Grade, issued to: ‘Obltn. Meske, Paul, 3./LW. Jäger-Rgt.39’, awarded for five wounds, individual wound dates given on the certificate for, 1.2.42, 5.5.43, 12.8.43, 1.9.43, 21.6.44, dated 30th September 1944, and signed in ink by the regimental commander.
Wehrmacht form confirming the commission of Paul Meske as a Leutnant of Reserve through the School for Motorised Troops, with effect from 1st August 1941, and confirming his previous posting as a Feldwebel with the 15th Cavalry Regiment, dated 27th September 1941.
Wehrmacht Driving Licence, issued to Paul Meske for having qualified to drive an assault vehicle - presumably a half-track of some form, when serving with the Headquarters Company (Feldpost No.27706) of the 39th Light Infantry Regiment, dated 26th February 1944, and complete with pass-photo of the recipient, he being shown in the uniform of a Leutnant, and wearing the ribbon bar which where visible shows entitlement to the Iron Cross 1939 2nd Class, Winter War Medal 1941 to 1942, and West Wall Medal, the rest of his awards are not visible in the photograph.
German Red Cross Identity Certificate for a Qualified Stretcher Bearer, issued to Obergefreiter Paul Maske, dated 5th April 1940.
Postwar Clearance Certificate for return to civil life as issued by the occupation forces at Dusseldorf, dated 29th May 1947.
Paul Meske was born on 10th January 1918 in Cologne, and with the outbreak of the Second World War then saw service as a Obergefreiter, the equivalent of Corporal, and later Feldwebel, the equivalent of Sergeant, with the German Army, possibly as a member of the 15th Cavalry Regiment, before being commissioned as a Leutnant with the Reserve via the School for Motorised Troops on 1st August 1941.
Meske who saw service on the Russian Front during the winter of 1941 to 1942 with an unidentified unit, was wounded for the first time on 1st February 1942. He was then posted to the 114th Infantry Regiment, and found himself serving with the Headquarters Company, being present when his regiment was subsequently retitled the 114th Grenadier Regiment on 15th October 1942. As an officer with the 114th Infantry Regiment, he then found himself serving within the 39th Infantry Division, and employed on garrison duty in the Netherlands and the Atlantic Wall, hence a photograph showing him wearing the ribbon of the West Wall Medal has some form of confirmation as to his entitlement.
The 39th Infantry Division was not posted to the Eastern Front till March 1943, and he was then wounded in action for the second time on 5th May 1943. Wounded in action for a third time on 12th August 1943, he then found himself along with the 39th Infantry Division heavily involved in attempting to repel the Soviet forces during the Battle of the Dnieper which began on 26th August 1943 and by 23rd December 1943 had resulted in the Soviet’s having reclaimed large areas of the Ukraine and most importantly Kiev.
It was during the Battle of the Dnieper that Meske whilst still serving with the Headquarters Company of the 114th Grenadier Regiment, was wounded in action for a fourth time on 1st September 1943, and awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class two days later on 3rd September 1943. The date of his wound will most probably indicate that his award of the Iron Cross 1st Class was earned on the 1st September 1943.
Despite his wound, Meske was clearly back with the Headquarters Company of the 114th Grenadier Regiment when his Wehrmacht Driving Licence for driving an assault vehicle, presumably a half-track, was issued to him on 26th February 1944. Meske then transferred to the 39th Jäger Regiment, a unit subordinated to the 20th Air Force Assault Division and involved in the retreat through Italy. Meske had been promoted to Oberleutnant, the equivalent of Senior Lieutenant, and was then wounded in action for a fifth and final time on 21st June 1944 at a time when his regiment was involved in the fighting around Capeanica, Vetralla, Tuscania, Manziana and Bolsena Lake. In November 1944 his regiment was then transferred to the 26th Panzer Division and eventually surrendered to British troops at Bologna in May 1945. Meske appears to have been one of those who surrendered to the British, as he was eventually released for labour duties under the occupation forces at Dusseldorf on 29th May 1947. His address at that time was given as Niederkasselstrasse 4 in Dusseldorf-Oberkassel, a district on the west side of there Rhine bank in Dusseldorf