Germany - Third Reich: The Extremely Rare Phoney War Black Wound Badge, Battle of France Iron Cross 2nd Class, Assault on the Metaxas Line Iron Cross 1st Class, and later Carentan, Normandy Casualty Group to Stabsfeldwebel Friedrich Fritz, 2nd Company, 1st Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment, Army Troops, later 6th Company, II Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment, Army Troops, who died of wounds received in the Battles around Carentan on 10th June 1944.
An interesting and scarce bravery document group consisting of 6 award certificates, 2 marksman’s badge certificates and newspaper obituary notice which concern a Senior Warrant officer in the German Infantry.
Marksman’s Badge Certificates:
Stuttgart, 1st October 1936 – Feldwebel Fritz in 9 Company, 16th Infantry Regiment. Acquired the 1st Class Marksman’s Badge for the Year 1936 for good training firing with the Carbine in the SS. Shooting Class. Signed by a Hauptmann and Company Commander.
Ludwigsburg, 19th September 1937 – Feldwebel Fritz in 1 Company, 13th Infantry Regiment. Acquired the 3rd Class Marksman’s Badge for the Year 1937 for good training firing with the 15 F. 9Sek in the SS. IMG Shooting Class. Signed by an Oberleutnant and acting Company Commander.
A short obituary notice published by Friedrich Fritz’s wife, Lotte Fritz nee Merkel, and family concerning his death on 10th June 1944 in a hospital in the West as a result of severe wounding. He was 36 Years Old. Fritz’s wife received this information on 23rd June and this notice was published on 3rd July in Ludwigsburg.
Friedrich Fritz was a career soldier, born on 6th May 1909, he had attained the rank of Feldwebel in 1936. Seeing active service in the west during the autumn of 1939, he must have been involved in a patrol on 23.9.1939 as he was wounded on this date for which he later received a Black Wound Badge. (This period was known as the Phoney War running between September 1939 and May 1940 marked by very little combat of note, but interspersed with an initial attempt by the French Army to advance into the Saarland (this was quickly drawn to a conclusion), and then a number of small combat patrols which attempted to snatch prisoners or gain information on the defences along either side of the border, it was most likely during one of these patrols that Fritz received his wound.)
His unit then continued to serve in the West including during the French Campaign of 1940 during which time he performed an act of gallantry for which he was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 1st July 1940, whilst he was serving under the XII Army Corps. Fritz must have been involved in various Infantry Assault’s during the Campaign as he was awarded the Silver Infantry Assault Badge on 23rd October 1940 by Regimental HQ.
After seeing service in the French Campaign Fritz would have changed Regiment to 125th Infantry Regiment upon the change of designation to II/125th from I/126th on 1st February 1941. This unit saw service in the Greek Campaign in April 1941 during which time he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class, possibly for an act of gallantry while the unit was penetrating the Metaxas Line (which straddled the Greek / Bulgarian Border), when the Regiment suffered such heavy casualties that it subsequently had to be withdrawn from the front line. Two members of the Regiment were awarded the Knights Cross for this attack. Subsequently the unit went on to perform security duties on the island of Crete.
As a consequence of being a combat proven senior warrant officer, it is likely that he was transferred to a unit in the German Replacement Army at the end of 1942 when the 125th became a Panzergrenadier Regiment in the 164th light Afrika Division. It is likely that he returned to active service in a unit (1057th or 1058th Grenadier Regiment – both formed in WK XII – Fritz’s Wehrkreis) in the 91st Air Landing Division which saw very heavy combat against the Utah Beach Landings in early June 1944. (this Division was disbanded on 10.8.1944). It would have been during the initial period of the Allied Landings that he sustained the wounds which led to his death on 10th June 1944, and burial in the Orglandes German War Cemetery.
Following the Normandy Landings on 6th June 1944, Fritz’s unit would have been engaged against the American 101st Airborne Division that landed behind Utah Beach, particularly in the area around St. Marie Du Mont, and attempted to reach and capture the town of Carentan which would have followed US forces from Utah and Omaha beaches to link up. On the 8th and 9th, Fritz’s units would have been in position trying to repulse attempts to cross the Douve River.
Fierce combat took place on the morning of 10th June when units of the US 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment attempted to cross the river and force their way into Carentan, it is quite possible that Fritz was wounded during these attacks and died of wounds later in the day in a hospital behind the front lines.