Germany – Third Reich: The Rzhev Salient Iron Cross 2nd Class and Bobruisk 1944 Iron Cross 1st Class Document Group to Oberleutnant Hans Drolshagen, IV Battalion, 253rd Artillery Regiment, 253rd Infantry Division, who would have been involved in the fighting in France in 1940, before taking part in the Operation Typhoon, the advance on Moscow, and then being caught up in the heavy defensive fighting undertaken by Army Group Centre.
An interesting small document grouping to a former German heavy Field Artilleryman in an Infantry Division, consisting of 4 award documents and 2 documents,
- The Iron Cross 2nd Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 2nd May 1942 as an Unteroffizier, 12/253rd Artillery Regiment. Signed by Schellert as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 253rd Infantry Division.
Schellert was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 26.11.1941 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 253rd Infantry Division.
- The General Assault Badge awarded by Divisional HQ on 14th May 1942 as an Unteroffizier, 12/253rd Artillery Regiment. Signed by Schellert as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 253rd Infantry Division.
- The Ostmedaille awarded by IV Battalion HQ on 20th July 1942 as a Leutnant, IV/253rd Artillery Regiment. Signed for correctness by a Hauptmann and Battalion Commanding Officer.
- The Iron Cross 1st Class awarded by Divisional HQ on 5th March 1944 as a Leutnant, IV/253rd Artillery Regiment. Signed by Becker as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 253rd Infantry Division.
Becker was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 18.10.1941 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 18th Infantry Regiment (6th Infantry Division), the Knights Cross on 1.11.1942 as Oberst and Commanding Officer 18th Infantry Regiment (6th Infantry Division) and the 829th Oakleaves on 14.4.1945 as Generalleutnant and General Officer Commanding 253rd Infantry Division.
- 21.6.1944 – 253rd Infantry Division HQ. A most unusual and scarce certificate which was awarded by the Divisional Commander (Generalleutnant Becker) to all those members of the Division who had seen unbroken service in the Russia from 21st June 1941 until 21st June 1944. It has a stylised Eagle and Swastika, the Division’s title and the year dates at the top. This certificate was awarded:
‘To Oberleutnant Hans Drolshagen as acting Officer Commanding, HQ Battery, IV Battalion, 253rd Artillery Regiment. For unbroken action in Russia.’
- 23rd October 1929 – Berlin. An early award certificate booklet for the German Sports Badge in Bronze with a photo of a young Hans Drolshagen on the inside – 20 years old?
Hans Drolshagen, was born on 3rd December 1909 and lived in Detmold. He would have seen active service in the west during the Campaign that began there in May 1940, beginning his advance in the Aachen area and crossing the Maas at Maastricht before turning south, and fighting via Charleroi down to the west of Tournai. After the conclusion of the of the campaign it served as part of the occupation forces from June 1940 until April 1941 in Lille and other parts in Northern France.
The Division eventually moved to East Prussia in May 1941 in preparation for the invasion of the Soviet Union as part of 16th Army. It momentarily served as part of the Army Reserve over the border into the Insterburg area, before beginning fighting to the south of Dunaburg and then via Kovno into the Velikiye Luki area. The Division was then subsequently on the left wing of the 9th Army with the attack on Moscow. It had reached the Upper Volga near Yesharova nu the beginning of the major Soviet Offensive that began on 5th December, retreating into the Rzhev area under the weight of the attack. The Division fought in the Rzhev salient for over a year, during this time Drolshagen was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 2nd May 1942, and then the General Assault Badge on 14th May 1942, he was also awarded the Ostmedaille on 20th July 1942 for his service during the winter fighting of 1941-42. In April 1943 the Division was pulled back to the Yelnya area for refitting where it spent several months before being rushed to the south west of Orel after the start of the Soviet offensive there post Operation Citadel. The Division was then involved in the withdrawal back to the west that began post this offensive.
In early 1944 the Division found itself fighting in the area around Bobruisk, and it would have been for his part in an action in this area that Drolshagen won the Iron Cross 1st Class. He remained with the division until at least June when his Divisional Commander issued him a certificate for 3 years constant service on the Eastern Front. This would have seen him continue to fight in the Kovel area until the large scale Soviet offensive of the summer of 1944 pushed it back. It is unknown what if any service Drolshagen had after this point or if he survived the war, but 253rd Infantry Division ended up surrendering to the Red Army in Czechoslovakia in May 1945