Germany – Third Reich: The Bryansk Iron Cross 2nd Class and Silver Wound Badge Document Grouping to Obertruppfuhrer Eberhard Henke, 2nd Company, 25th Engineer Battalion, (motorised), 25th Infantry Division (motorised) and later Organisation Todt – Oberbauleitung Cherbourg, who would have thus seen service in building the Atlantic Wall in the Early Months of 1944 along with building defences after the Allied Invasion in Normandy.
A Scarce Bravery Document Group to a Junior Infantry Engineer NCO who was later transferred to the Organisation Todt where he was promoted to OT rank of Obertruppfuhrer, the equivalent to a Warrant Officer in the German Army.
- The Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 19th September 1941 as a Gefreiter, 2/25th Engineer Battalion (motorised). This is a copy of the original and is signed for correctness by a Leutnant and Battalion Adjutant on behalf of Generalleutnant Clossner as General Officer Commanding 25th Infantry Division (motorised).
- The Silver Wound Badge, awarded at Lyck on 11th September 1942 for three wounds received on 19th September 1941, 26th April 1942 and 25th September 1942 as a Gefreiter, 2/25th Engineer Battalion (motorised). Signed by an Oberstabsarzt and Chief Doctor Reserve Hospital Lyck
- 2nd Company, 25th Engineer Battalion (motorised), 29th January 1942. An A5 size typed note sent to the 35th Engineer Replacement Battalion asking it to present an enclosed Iron Cross 2nd Class with its award certificate Gefreiter Henke. It is signed by Koberle as Company Commander. This note was received by the Replacement Battalion on 5th March 1942.
- Stuttgart, 12.3.1942. An A5 size letter from the Chief Doctor of the Reserve Hospital I Stuttgart to the Reserve Hospital II Stuttgart requesting it to present the enclosed Black Wound Badge to Gefreiter Henke who had been transferred to the Reserve Hospital II on 22.12.1941. This letter was in turn forwarded on 14th March 1942 to the 35th Engineer Replacement Battalion for its action.
Organisation Todt (OT) Service Book.
This well used Organisation Todt Book was issued on 3rd January 1944 – it is full of interesting information about Eberhard Henke – his Next of Kin, date and place of birth, ranks, Organisation Todt units with dates and a listing of where he saw active service in the west in 1944. It shows that he was born on 5th February 1920 in Stuttgart and was a single man. His Next of Kin was an Andreas Henke who was his father. There is a good photo ID Size photo of Henke on page 3 of the book – he is wearing German Army uniform and you can see he has a face wound to his right side of his chin. He was given the rank of OT-Truppfuhrer on 4th January 1944 and was promoted to OT-Obertruppfuhrer on 15.5.1944. He worked as a Site Engineer for the Commercial Construction Form – Wayss and Freytag of Stuttgart. The entries in the service book cover the period from 4.1.44 to 19.3.45. There is a fascinating record of his areas of active service in the Western Front 1944 which are as follows:
6-11.6.1944: Erection of various obstacles in the Cherbourg Front Area
12.6-25.7.1944: Construction of positions in the Caen Front
18.8-4.9.1944: Construction of positions in the Somme-Seine-Marne position
5-29.9.1944: Construction of positions in the switch position to the north of Belfort
30.9-29.10.1944: Construction of positions at the Moselotte
1-23.11.1944: Ballon d’Alsace
There is a nice small collection of 21 photos which were taken at various times on the East Front when Henke was with a motorised Engineer Battalion. Only two photos can be identified as to time and place – 2.4.1941 in Malo/France – Henke can be seen in one of them (group photo); all the rest have no details as to dates of places where the photos were taken. There are two good photos on a line of soldiers and an officer who have just been presented with the Iron Cross 2nd Class – was Eberhard Henke one of them? There are good photos of long pontoon bridges, damaged Russian light tanks and Russian Prisoners of War.
Eberhard Henke was born on 5th February 1920 in Stuttgart. It was likely that he was called up for service at the outbreak of WW2. As such he probably saw active service in the West during the winter of 1939-40 and the subsequent France Campaign of 1940. He would have then moved to the Eastern Front where he would initially have seen service as part of Army Group South, where he would have seen action in the advance through Zhitomir and Uman towards Kiev. By mid-September the division had been transferred to Army Group Centre where it saw fighting around Bryansk where he was wounded for the first time on 19th September 1941 the same date on which he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class by Divisional Headquarters., he was then sent to a Reserve Hospital for recuperation before being sent back to the front line by March 1942.
Throughout 1942 his unit served in the area around Bryank and Orel, where he was twice further wounded during 1942 firstly on 26th April and on 25th September 1942 at which point it is likely he was transferred to the Replacement Army. After this he was placed with Organisation Todt, with whom he served in the west from 1st January 1944 until the end of the war. It is interesting to note that Henke was involved in building the Atlantic Wall in the Cherbourg area and the subsequently in constructing obstacles to slow down the invasion forces after they landed, in Cherbourg, Caen and then back to the Moselle and the German/France border area.