Friday, June 29, 2012

Enemy Elite Friday: Rudolf Zettler (Germany)

"Awarded for the successful actions of his Abteilung during the fighting southeast of Smolensk in the summer of 1943.  On the 07.08.1943 his Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung comprised the reserve of the German XII. Armeekorps along with Grenadier Regiment 87.  The Soviets launched an attack against the 268. Infanterie-Division along a 7 km front but failed to achieve a breakthrough.  The next day though they attacked the neighboring division and were more successful, capturing an important hill on the flank of the 268. I.D. and threatening it with encirclement.  Acting on his own initiative, Zettler launched a counterattack with his force of Sturmgeschütze and infantry into the open flank of the Soviets, retaking the hill and destroying 29 tanks in the process.  The threat to the 268. Infanterie-Division was thus temporarily eliminated.  Several days later, when the Korps was no longer able to continue to hold the front, it commenced a planned withdrawal to a new defensive line on the night of the 12./13.08.1943. Zettler and 11 of his Sturmgeschütze were positioned forward of the new line in order to shield the reforming German units, and with the help of friendly artillery they were able to hold off three pursuing Soviet regiments.  A part of Zettler's force was detached during this time, and it fought with the 267. Infanterie-Division in the area around Spas Demensk.  In a spell of heavy fighting during the time period 10.-14.08.1943 this detachment claimed to have destroyed 95 attacking Soviet tanks, earning the recognition of the 4. Armee commander, Generaloberst Heinrici.  Zettler was thus awarded the Knight's Cross for his Abteilung’s successes during this month as well as its overall performance in the past year. The Abteilung claimed a total of 710 Soviet tanks destroyed in the period July 1942 up to 15.08.1943."  from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross citation, awarded on October 18th, 1943 as Hauptmann of Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 667.
Another capable enemy elite,
Brian & Mel

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