gwendraith, on 03 May 2012 - 09:11 PM, said:
The man who knocked out three British tanks in one day must have been brave! I always thought of tanks as death traps, even in later years when they were much improved. You must be proud of your father for getting the Iron Cross, do you have it?
Why did they kill their company CO?
Three tanks in two days, but still quite a feat. But knocking a tank out like that, and doing it three times in two days, he must have been quite a dude.
Well, as far as my father's EK II, if you served for a while in combat, real combat, men generally got it after a while. Some wag (possibly an Austrian) said that the only way to avoid it was death. Several million were eventually awarded. The EK I (First Class) was another matter. My grand-father got both, I believe in the first months of the war. But he did some extraordinary things. Without a feat of his Germany might arguably have lost the war in 1915. Of course something like that could not be a military feat, but a techno-economic feat.
So I am not especially proud of the EK II itself. He volunteered to go to Turkey by traveling as a civilian with false papers, to fight at Gallipoli, and then (probably) volunteered for the flame-throwers, with which he was wounded four times. His second wound at Verdun was bad enough to be a problem for over 10 years, and he spent 1917 in and out of hospitals, which probably saved his life, as he ended up getting wounded almost once in every month that he fought. Late in 1918 he was in Berlin, medically rated as "fit for combat, but not flame-throwers", as is written in his Militaer=Pass
, but he wanted to fight, and he tricked his way to the front and was wounded twice in one month for his troubles. ("No good deed goes unpunished.") Although a private, he led a small unit, a Flamm=Trupp
. He absolutely loved the fighting, as he told me many times. So I am proud of him as a efficient and brave soldier, but the EK II followed (almost) automatically.
I do have his actual EK II, and more importantly the award document, from the Ministry of War from 1921. (Many EK II were awarded after the war, I do not know the procedure.) But with all his fighting and wounds, and elite units he fought in, it would be apparent that he deserved one. (Especially if the person awarding the decoration did not know that you had killed your company commander.)
I can't tally the enemy, but between Fall 1916 and January 1919 he killed 27 German soldiers and sailors. And he was quite violent for several years after the war. Really quite scary. But he worked that stuff out and was a wonderful father, and hit me only once, not badly, and richlt deserved. And he was only hit once by his father, a Prussian officer, when he pointed a loaded rifle at his big sister.
His company commander was a terrible officer. An utter coward, who managed to never go into combat (an astonishing story there, but somewhat gross), and an officer who stole from the men's welfare fund. And he allowed the first sergeant to sexually abuse men and allowed the mess sergeants to steal the men's food to sell it to pig farmers. He also insulted the Pioniere. So my father and others killed the ba***rd when they had a chance. The incident was carefully investigated by officers from the HQ of the 5th Army, who at the end had barrels of beer brought to the barracks for the men. But my father never got a medal during the war, except for his wound badge, and never was promoted past private. My father had a big mouth, when speaking to officers, was very big and athletic, and had a bad temper. All the EM in his unit carried an automatic pistol. I think that the officers were afraid of him; he was transferred at least 11 times within the flame regiment.