Germany – Third Reich. An Invasion of France Tank Combat Badge, Advance on Leningrad Iron Cross 2nd Class and Retreat to the Dnieper Iron Cross 1st Class Document Group to Leutnant Erich Morgenthaler, 2nd Company, 84th Signals Battalion, 8th Panzer Division, later 9th Company, 587th Grenadier Regiment, 320th Infantry Division, who was wounded 3 times, the final occasion during the Retreat to the Dnieper in September 1943.
A scarce and interesting small document group consisting of 4 award certificates which includes a rare early variant of the Tank Combat Badge award certificate.
1)The Tank Combat Bridge awarded in the field on 25.5.1940 as a Gefreiter in 2/84th Signals Battalion. Signed by Kuntzen as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 8th Panzer Division.
Kuntzen was awarded the Knights Cross on 3.6.1940 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 8th Panzer Division.
Note: This is a rare variant of this certificate in that not only it is a relatively early award of this combat badge but also all the details (rank, name, unit, date of award and the General Officer Commanding 8th Panzer Division’s signature block details are printed on the document - not typed or written as per the norm.
2)The Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded on 23.9.1941 as an Unteroffizier. Signed by Brandenberger as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 8th Panzer Division.
Brandenberger was awarded the Knights Cross on 15.7.1941 as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 8th Panzer Division, and the 324th Oakleaves on 12.11.1943 as General of Artillery and General Officer Commanding XXIX Army Corps.
3)The Iron Cross 1st Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 5.9.1943 as Leutnant, III/587th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by Postel as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 320th Infantry Division.
Postel was awarded the Knights Cross on 9.8.42 as Oberst and Commanding Officer, 364th Infantry Regiment. (161st Infantry Division), the 215th Oakleaves on 28.3.1943 as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 320 Infantry Division, the 57th Swords on 26.3.1944 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 320th Infantry Division and the German Cross in Gold on 28.2.1942 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 364th Infantry Regiment (161st Infantry Division). Died on 20.9.53 in Soviet Captivity.
4)The Silver Wound Badge, awarded for a wound received on 7.9.1943. Awarded at Nimptsch on 8.10.1943 as a Leutnant, 9/587th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by a Oberstabsarzt and Chief Doctor Reserve Hospital Nimptsch.
Erich Morgenthaler was most likely a pre-war soldier who was mobilised on the outbreak of the conflict. First serving with 84th Signals Battalion, 8th Panzer Division in the invasion of France, he would have seen action in the crossing of the Meuse River in the area near Sedan, it is possibly for these battles that Morgenthaler received the Tank Combat Badge on 25th May 1940. He would have remained in France until the end of the campaign staying ‘on the line’ in Northern France, including seeing action in the reduction of the Dunkirk pocket.
After the French Campaign the 8th Panzer Division stayed on Occupation duties until the end of 1940.
Moving eastwards to Austria during the following winter and spring, the Division saw action in the brief Yugoslavian Campaign of April 1941, before moving to Czechoslovakia and then East Prussia in preparation for the Invasion of the Soviet Union.
On the first day of the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Division advanced 70km, and reached the significant Dvina River which it captured intact on the 4th Day. Morgenthaler won the Iron Cross 2nd Class in the fighting around Waldai in September 1941, before going on to fight in the Leningrad area over the winter of 1941-42.
During 1942 or early 1943 Morgenthaler would have gone through Officer training and appears in 1943 as a Leutnant in 587th Grenadier Regiment, 320th Infantry Division, which fought on the southern shoulder of Operation Citadel before Morgenthaler won his Iron Cross 1st Class, for fighting in the Belgorod/Kharkov area in August-September 1943 during the retreat towards Kremenchug on the Dnieper River. Morgenthaler was wounded on 7th September 1943, near Kharkov, and nothing more is known of his wartime service.