Friday, November 27, 2020

Enemy Elite Friday: Wilhelm Bittrich (Germany)

"He has led his Regiment with personal boldness, rigor and prudence, achieving great successes in this role.  During the battle for Yelnya he and his Regiment captured Hill 125.6 on the 22.07.1941 and defended this place against non-stop attacks by a numerically and materially superior enemy until being relieved on the 08.08.1941.  After this he particularly distinguished himself on the 13.10.1941.  The SS-Regiment ‘Deutschland’, initially reinforced by a Panzer-Abteilung of the 10. Panzer-Division, had the mission of reaching the Moscow defensive position by advancing along the old post road Gshatsk—Moshaisk as the left column of the SS-Division ‘Reich’.  Meanwhile the reinforced SS-Regiment ‘Der Führer’ was to carry out the same mission along the highway as the right column of the Division. The Regiment dispatched reconnaissance against its assigned position, which was reported to be strongly fortified and occupied.  At 13:00 the commander of SS-Regiment ‘Deutschland’ was able to confirm via reconnaissance that there was a weakly held point at the railroad track between the highway and the post road.  He realized that pausing the advance here would put the enemy on alert and enable them to reinforce their defenses at this position.  The regimental commander thus decided to penetrate into the position under the protection of a few Panzers as well as a Battery that had been swiftly brought into position.  The Regiment had been on the attack constantly for 7 days, had sustained heavy casualties and had gone without field kitchens for 4 days (implying no warm meals) due to the bad road conditions.  Even with all this the penetration succeeded; the enemy was totally surprised.  A continuous tank ditch with a wire obstacle was quickly overcome.  By nightfall a penetration measuring 500 meters deep and 1 km wide had been achieved.  During the night Bittrich succeeded in expanding the penetration to a width of 3 km by daybreak together with the by now alerted neighboring Regiment. On the 14.10.1941 both Regiments succeeded in expanding this penetration following hard combat amongst the 3 km deep, strongly fortified position.  The strength of the position and the decisive importance of Bittrich’s swift action is made all the more clear by both the large amount of captured materiel.  The independent resolve of the commander of SS-Regiment ‘Deutschland’, SS-Brigadeführer Bittrich, was the main force responsible for achieving this breakthrough within 24 hours and the consequent swift opening of the highway.  The swift success made it impossible for the enemy to seal off the breakthrough position in the following days with their reinforcements.  On the 18.10.1941 Moshaisk was occupied by the SS-Division ‘Reich’.  On the following day, together with the 10. Panzer-Division, it managed to occupy a line between the crossroads 5 km south of Moshaisk and the eastern edge of Moshaisk itself.  This was used as a jump-off point from which to continue the attack against Moscow."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross citation, awarded on 14 December 1941.
"The Korps commanded by SS-Obergruppenführer Bittrich achieved outstanding defensive successes along the Invasion front.  During July the Korps sealed off a major enemy penetration and held this position against powerful attacks.  After the enemy had undertaken a regrouping they once again commenced a breakthrough attempt with overwhelming tank forces.  But, through a bold attack, SS-Obergruppenführer Bittrich threw back and sealed off this attempt in a display of great devotion to duty. - Later on Bittrich’s Korps held its sector in the encirclement area against all enemy breakthrough attempts and then broke out of the encirclement ring under the prudent and brave leadership of SS-Obergruppenführer Bittrich."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves citation, awarded on 28 August 1944.
"Awarded for his achievements during the operations in the Ardennes and Hungary."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords citation, awarded on 6 May 1945.

According to several sources this awarding was not confirmed by the authorities.  Confirmation is made on the basis of a statement under oath to the Ordensgemeinschaft der Ritterkreuzträger made by Generaloberst der Waffen-SS Sepp Dietrich."

Another deadly enemy elite,
Brian & Mel

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