Germany – Third Reich. The Fine and Rare Polish Campaign Iron Cross 2nd Class and Promotion for Distinction in front of the Enemy, Minsk Iron Cross 1st Class, and Eastern Front Badge for the Single-Handed Destruction of a Tank to Oberfeldwebel Bernhard Bodenstedt, 8th (Machine Gun) Company, 59th Infantry Regiment, 19th Infantry Division, then later 9th (Machine Gun) Company, 112th Rifle Regiment, 20th Panzer Division, who saw service in Poland, France and on the Central Russian Front, being severely wounded on 23rd August 1941 in the Smolensk area and spending the remainder of the war in the Replacement Army.
A very rare bravery document group consisting of 6 award certificates and a promotion certificate which belonged to a former senior warrant officer of the German Army. The two certificates for the award of the Special Badge for the Single Handed Destruction of a Tank and the promotion from Unteroffizier to Feldwebel for distinction in front of the enemy on 27.9.1939 makes this document group extremely rare. The award certificate is A4 sized variant which is beautifully hand-written in black ink on water-marked quality paper. Although you will see promotion because of distinction in front of the enemy written up in a Wehrpass, it is most unusual to find a promotion certificate issued for this reason.
1)The Armed Forces 4 Year Service Decoration issued in Hannover, 3.4.1938 as an Unteroffizier in the 8/59th Infantry Regiment. Signed by Schwantes as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 19th Infantry Division.
2)The Iron Cross 2nd Class, awarded at Fw. Kreczki on 2.10.1939 as an Unteroffizier in 8th (Machine Gun) Company/59th Infantry Regiment. Signed by Schwantes as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 19th Infantry Division.
3)The Iron Cross 1st Class, awarded by Divisional HQ on 21.7.1941 as an Oberfeldwebel, 9/112th Rifle Regiment. Signed by Stumpff as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 20th Panzer Division.
Stumpff was awarded the Knights Cross on 29.9.1941 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 20th Panzer Division
4)The Bronze Infantry Assault Badge, awarded in the field on 1.10.1941 as an Oberfeldwebel, 9/112th Rifle Regiment. Signed by von Bismarck as Oberst and acting General Officer Commanding 20th Panzer Division.
von Bismarck was awarded the Knights Cross on 29.9.1940 as Oberst and Commanding Officer, 7th Rifle Regiment, 7th Panzer Division. He was killed in action in front of El Alamein (North Africa) as Generalmajor and General Officer Commanding 21st Panzer Division
5)The Silver Wound Badge for a single wounding on 23.8.1941 awarded at Jena on 7.5.1942 as an Oberfeldwebel, 9/112th Rifle Regiment. Signed by a Major and Commanding Officer 59th Rifle Replacement Battalion.
6)The Special Badge for the Single Handed Destruction of a Tank – awarded for the destruction of a Russian Armoured Car Type BA Ford. Awarded by 20th Panzer Division HQ on 23.6.1943. Signed for correctness by a Major and CO 59th Panzergrenadier Replacement and Training Battalion, Jena as the signature on the original document is unreadable.
This a rare A4 size variant of this award certificate which has been handwritten in black ink on fine watermarked paper. It is in excellent condition.
A Promotion Certificate:
Awarded in the field on 1st November 1939 to Unteroffizier Bernhard Bodenstedt, 8th Company, 59th Infantry Regiment was promoted to Feldwebel with effect from 1.9.1939 because of distinction in front of the enemy on 27.9.1939. Signed by an Oberstleutnant and II Battalion Commander.
A very rare promotion document when linked to bravery in the field.
Bernhard Bodenstedt, enlisted on 3rd April 1934 most probably into the 59th Infantry Regiment, receiving the 4 Year Service Decoration as an Unteroffizier on 3rd April 1938.
Fighting in the Poland Campaign in 1939, Bodenstedt received a rare promotion due to bravey to Feldwebel with effect from 1st September 1939 because of distinction in front of the enemy on 27th September 1939, he also received the award of the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 2nd October 1939 for an act of bravery during that campaign.
In 1940 the 59th Infantry Regiment served in the France Campaign, but afterwards was reorganised as a Tank Division being renamed as the 19th Panzer Division. The 2nd Battalion, 59th Infantry Regiment had became 112th Rifle Regiment in January 1940 before it became part of the newly formed 20th Panzer Division in 1940.
This unit spent the early part of 1941 in Germany preparing for the invasion of the Soviet Union. In July 1941 the 20th Panzer Division was fighting as part of 3rd Panzer Gruppe, Army Group Centre in the area around Minsk, it would have been for fighting in this area that Bodenstedt was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class on 21st July 1941.
The Division went on to fight in the Smolensk encirclement in July and August, during which time Bodenstedt was severely wounded on 23rd August, subsequently being awarded the Silver Wound Badge on 7th May 1942 as an Oberfeldwebel by the 59th Rifle Replacement Battalion in Jena. For his part in Operation Barbarossa he was awarded the Infantry Assault Badge in Bronze on 1st October 1941.
After his wounding it would appear that Bodenstedt spent the rest of the war in the German Replacement Army.
While in Jena he received his final award, a scarce Special Badge for the Single-Handed Destruction of a Tank for destroying a Russian Armoured Car, a Type BA Ford. Given the date of his wounding, this would have been for an action in the very early part of the war on the Eastern Front, and thus is a somewhat delayed award.
With his service in the Replacement Army, it is likely that Bodenstedt subsequently survived the war.
A Rare Grouping with the certificates for Single-Handed Destruction of a tank and Promotion for distinction in front of the enemy