Friday, July 5, 2019

Enemy Elite Friday: Herbert Otto Gille (Germany)

"Following the crossing of the Don river SS-Oberführer Gille led the Division’s Vorausabteilung as far as the Kuban.  On the 28.07.1942 this unit engaged fleeing enemy columns near Seljonaja Roschtscha (South of the Don), smashing these and thereafter continuing the attack as far as Rakowo Tawritscheski even as it was getting dark.  By doing so it prevented the enemy from retreating towards the South.  On the following day Oberführer Gille and his Vorausabteilung ejected strong elements of the 31st Rifle Division from their positions just to the South of Rakowo Tawritscheski and proceeded to capture the decisive and well-defended villages of Beswodnij and Andronoff.  The enemy positions were broken through, and the unit commenced a bold thrust towards Metschetinskaja while disregarding the strong enemy elements along both open flanks.  This village was likewise attacked as darkness fell and captured via an enveloping attack.  Among the prisoners were members of 10 different divisions of the enemy’s 12th Army as well as parts of the Army’s HQ that had fled to Metschetinskaja as a result of the thrust on the afternoon of the 29.07.1942.  On the 30.07.1942 the village of Jegorlikskaja was taken, and those elements of the 12th Army that had been deployed for defense there were thrown back.  The rearward services of the 31st rifle division were ratted out and Sredny Jegolyk was reached in the late evening.  After this the commander of a Zerstörergeschwader (Major Giesing) landed beside the Vorausabteilung.  He alerted the Vorausabteilung to the fact that it was far ahead of all elements of the neighbouring Armee (17. Armee) and that uncounted numbers of Russians were moving around in its flanks and rear.  On that same night the enemy attacked Ssredny Jegorlyk from the west with numerous tank and infantry forces (the latter including a motorized brigade) in order to destroy the Vorausabteilung.  However they were repulsed with heavy losses.  The counter thrust by newly arrived elements of the 14th Tank Corps was smashed.  With this forward thrust, Gille’s Vorausabteilung significantly aided the forward movement of the 17. Armee’s eastern wing (namely the 125. Infanterie-Division), which was staggered to the west and rear.  The Vorausabteilung also facilitated the secure march of the 13. Panzer-Division as it advanced behind Gefechtsgruppe Gille on the other flank, specifically in an easterly thrust towards Salsk.  On the 01.08.1942 Oberführer Gille ejected the 21st motorized rifle brigade from the area around Belaja Glina in hard close combat, captured the village and continued its thrust towards Dimitrijewka during the same night.  This bold and ruthless thrust deep into the enemy by Gille’s Vorausabteilung meant that the Kuban river was very swiftly approached, and the Division was thereby able to successfully reach and cross the river on the 03.08.1942.  In all of this combat Oberführer Gille almost always led from the frontline, giving his men an example of energy and spirit as he did so.  He continued to demand ruthless action from his men even during the night, inspiring them all the way through his personal devotion to duty and contagious impulse.  He enabled:
a) The swift advance of the neighbouring east wing of the 17. Armee.
b) The smooth transition of the 13. Panzer-Division’s advance towards the east by throwing back those enemy forces to the latter unit’s front.
c) The swift attainment of the Kuban river.
He captured the following prisoners and booty:
8283 prisoners
28 artillery pieces
18 anti-tank guns.
He made a decisive contribution through his harshness, focus and ruthlessness.  His actions facilitated the smooth flow of friendly operations south of the Don and the reaching of the Kuban river from the north in an unexpectedly short time.  In all of these engagements he has never shied from getting personally involved in the combat.  Without this demeanor such a decisive success would have been unthinkable.  Gille has served at the frontline without pause since 1939.  He has distinguished himself as an Abteilung and regimental commander on every day of the fighting in Poland, the West and the East."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross citation, awarded on 8 October 1942.
"SS-Brigadeführer Gille took over acting command of the SS-Pz.Gren.Div. Wiking in October 1942.  In the recent fighting SS-Brigadeführer Gille has decisively intervened in the combat along the southern front on several occasions through the outstanding leadership of his Division.  He has distinguished himself through his confident and energetic leadership, his swift and superior issuing of orders and above all through his personal example and determination.  His outstanding personal bravery in the foremost line was often the deciding factor in resolving situations both dangerous and critical alike. 
It is primarily to his credit that his Division has been able to perform as well as it has over the course of numerous battles in the thick of combat on the southern front.  Throughout this time it has shown true devotion to duty and earned the respect of its comrades in the Heer.  It has been named several times in the Heeresbericht and in the press due to its exemplary achievements on the battlefield.  And to this day it continues to hold a sector of over 25 km wide on the Dnieper river despite having been employed in heavy fighting for two years.  All of this is thanks to the tireless readiness for duty, responsibility and dutifulness of its commander."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves citation, awarded on 1 November 1943.
"Awarded for the extremely distinguished leadership of his Division during the breakout from the Cherkassy pocket.  In this time his Division was the spearhead of the German forces trapped within the pocket, and it played an invaluable role in allowing the encircled troops to escape."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords citation, awarded on 20 February 1944.
"The weeks-long, heroic defense of the totally encircled Fortress Kovel despite the greatest of supply difficulties and significant losses against a much superior enemy is solely attributable to the determined leadership and great personal bravery of the General."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds citation, awarded on 19 April 1944.
Another capable enemy elite,

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