Germany – Third Reich: The Heiligenbeil Pocket Iron Cross 2nd Class and Tank Combat Badge in Bronze Award Certificates to Unteroffizier Gerhard Wieczorek, 9th Infantry Regiment, 23rd Infantry Division, later 6th and 13th Companies, 9th Grenadier Regiment under command of 24th Panzer Division, who had previously seen service as a Stretcher-Bearer on the Eastern Front before being used a Tank Crew Member in the closing days of the war, being awarded a scarce example of the Tank Combat Badge in Bronze Certificate.
A scarce late war bravey document group to an Infantry Unteroffizier along with an Auxiliary Stretcher Bearer Arm Band and Red Cross Certificate.
- Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 1st April 1945 as an Unteroffizier, 13/9th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by von Knebel-Doeberitz as Major and acting General Officer Commanding 24th Panzer Division.
von Knebel-Doeberitz was awarded the Knights Cross on 9.5.1945 as Major and Ia 24th Panzer Division and the German Cross in Gold on 29.8.1942 as Rittmeister and Commanding Officer I/21st Rifle Regiment, 24th Panzer Division.
- The Tank Combat Badge in Bronze awarded in the field on 7th April 1945 as an Unteroffizier, 6/9th Grenadier Regiment. Signed by an Oberleutnant on behalf of the Commanding Officer.
Note: This is a rare variant of this certificate for this class of award in as much it is the one which is normally used for the award of a higher class of the award – space for an entry of combat days – 3 (normally 25, 50 etc.) and the class – 1 (normally II, III etc.). It is also unusual award to an Infantryman. It is evident that the unit must have run out of normal award certificates for this combat badge at this late state of the war in East Prussia when the 24th Panzer Division was in the process of being evacuated to Germany.
A personal Red Cross certificate dated 12th May 1944 issued to Unteroffizier Gerhard Wieczorek (born on 9.6.1911 in Beuthen, Upper Silesia by the Army High Command – Army Medical Inspection. It states that Wieczorek has received a special practical instruction as an Auxiliary Stretcher Bearer and will be used for the recovery, handling and care of the wounded and sick. He is permitted to wear the Auxiliary Stretcher Bearer Arm Band. He is also permitted to carry out this activity in captivity in accordance with the Geneva Convention. The following handwritten text in ink is on the reverse of this certificate:
‘Unteroffizier Gerhard Wieczorek has volunteered for the Course of Auxiliary Stretcher Bearer with 1/Medical Company 23 which he attended from 2 to 12 May 1943 and completed this with the best result.’ Billets 12th May 1943.’ Signed by Dr Heffner as Stabsarzt.
An Auxiliary Stretcher Bearer Arm Band – a nice example of this arm band in very good condition.
Gerhard Wieczerok was born on 9th June 1911 in Beuthen, Upper Silesia, now Bytom in Poland. He was probably mobilised with the outbreak of WW2 and the fact that he was a trained Auxiliary Stretcher Bearer would indicate that he was in a non-combat post in his Company. He probably still was until 1945 when his Regiment was assigned at short notice at the end of January 1945 to bolster the depleted ranks of the 24th Panzer Division (an unusual deployment for an Infantry Regiment). This took place as the remnants of his shattered 23rd Infantry Division were being transferred to Germany for refurbishment.
The 24th Division History clearly shows that the 9th Grenadier Regiment played a major combat role alongside the remnants of this much depleted Panzer Division of WW2 in East Prussia in 1945. The two awards can be clearly linked to the intense combat in March 1945 in the Heiligenbeil area to the Southwest of Konigsberg as the Division was withdrawing to the Frische Nehrung and finally being taken by sea to Schleswig-Holstein in North Germany. It is clear by this period that the German Army would have made use of every available able bodied soldier, of which Wieczorek was clearly one, who subsequently showed his bravery in combat. It is not known if he was awarded any other decorations or whether he survived the war or not.