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WP to an Arty Oblt.-w./interesting: battles+career+weapons+battle calendar

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    WP to an Arty Oblt.-w./interesting: battles+career+weapons+battle calendar

    Hello !

    I would like to show you the WP of Oblt. Wilhelm Müller :
    Main units : schw.Art.Abt. 54; schw.Art.Rgt. 731; Stab Art.Kdr. 3 [III. Pz.Korps]; I.(Pz.Haub.)Abt./PzArt.Rgt. 116 [5.Pz.Div.]
    Theatres of action : France 1940, Southern Russia, Rostow (3x), Maikop, Terek, Ordshonikidse, Mius, Kursk, Charkow, East-Prussia, Endkampf Königsberg
    Awards : KVK 2 (m.Schw.); KVK 1 (m.Schw.); Ostmedaille; EK 2; VWA(schwarz); [III. Preis im Preisrichten (397,4 Punkte) ?!]

    Wilhelm Müller was born in Uelzen, on August, 22., 1912 and became a teacher in civil life.
    He had an unusual career, but was always affiliated to artillery units. Pre war, he started as Kanonier and had several short time training courses.
    He finished each of those training courses with success and was always found capable for the next level.
    His career in WW II, starting as Uffz. d.Res. and finally becoming an Oberleutnant, can be divided in 3 major parts :
    Frontline service 1940-1943. From Sept. 43 - end 1944: several training courses for battery leaders, and for Sfl.Arty. Frontline service again from Jan 45 -end.

    1.a) In France 1940 (at Maas, Dunkirqe, Somme) and in Barbarossa, 1941, (at Kiew, Uman, Rostow) he fought with schw. Art.Abt. 731. This unit was equipped with
    a rare weapon, 15cm Kanone 39, of which only ~60 were ever produced by Krupp. Its weight was about 18 tons, range ~25km).
    1.b) From Dec. 1941- Aug. 1943 he fought with Arko 3 [III. Pz.K., Kdr. Oberst Kampfhenkel], (with "his" s.Art.Abt. 731 and many similar units under its command)
    at the Mius, Charkow, Rostow (again), Maikop and in the Eastern Caucasus. After the retreat in early 1943, at Rostow(again), at the Mius front
    and later at Kursk, Charkow and the Dnjepr (offensive and defensive battles).

    2.) In Sept. 43, he attended a course for Battr.-Führer at Artillerie-Schule II (Gross-Born). In Oct. 1943, he was transferred to the Führer-Res. of WKr. III,
    and spent some time with Beobachtungs-Ers.-Abt. 1 (at Königsberg). From July 1944 onward, he attended a course for Selbstfahrlafetten-Artillerie
    at Pz.Haubitzen-Ersatz- und Ausbildungs-Abteilung 201, again at Gross-Born-Linde, and received his respective driving license 2B there,
    for "gepanzerte Vollkettenfahrzeuge bis 30t" [WP p. 21].

    3.) From 1.1.45 onward, he was transferred to I.(Pz.Haub.)Abt./Art.Rgt 116 [5. Pz.Div.], where he soon became the Abteilungs-Adjutant. With this unit
    (in Jan. 1945 equipped with 17 Wespe (10,5cm Sfl.) and 7 Hummel (15cm Sfl.), he fought in the final battles for East-Prussia, inside Festung Königsberg
    and at its surroundings. Here he received his VWA(Schw.) in mid April 1945, shortly before his unit was disbanded.

    That is it in short. Below, I'll try to show some more interesting details of this career, with photos and maps, related to his actions and the weapons he fought with.

    Some questions regarding this Wehrpass :
    - How unusual is this career, with only 3 short time pre war traing courses and finally becoming an Officer? Has anyone infos/oppinions on this (or could point me to some) ?
    - Any help/ideas on this : III. Preis im Preisrichten (397,4 Punkte) [p. 21, bottom] ?!
    - I have searched for a good listing, which Wehrmacht-Führerschein allowed which vehicles. It seems that Ian Jewison has compiled one, but I couldn't find it …
    - Any other kind of comments are also really appreciated !

    The soldier and his units :
    Attached Files

    His (unusual) career and promotions in some more detail :
    He was first drafted on 25.10.1937 to 7.(E) Battr./Art.Rgt 54 at Glogau, for a short time training (2 month), after which he became Unterführer-Anwärter.
    With the next two courses (listed under : Übungen im Beurlaubtenstand (training while temporarily dismissed ?!) [p.28-29]
    he became Reserve-Offz.-Anwärter and was promoted to Gefr. and Uffz d. Reserve.

    => Now the interesting part : He was mobilized for WW II on 28.8.39 and served in some replacement units, but from March 1940 saw action with
    a frontline unit in France. But his next promotion on 1.7.40 to Wachtm. d.Res. is still listed on p.37 (sect. V, Übungen)!!
    (and I have similar examples on that, formally implying, the Wehrmacht treated his service from 1.9.39 until mid 1940 as an "extended exercise/Wehrübung" ?!).

    Shortly after, he became Lt.d.R. and in Sept. 1941 Oblt.d.R. After several courses at the Gross-Born, in 43-44, in Jan. 1945, he was
    transferred to I.(Pz.Haubitz)Abt. Pz.Art.Rgt. 116, where he was appointed Abt.-Adjutant. He stayed with this unit until the end.
    Attached Files


      Some pictures and infos on the weapon (15cm K39) he fought with in France and "Barbarossa":
      1) Almost the whole s.Art.Abt. 731 on the move
      2) 15cm Kan. 39 of Art.Abt. 731 in position
      (pictures of s.Art.Abt. 731 are from : Uwe Kleinert, Organisationsgeschichte der deutschen Heeresartillerie im II. WK)
      3) captured 15cm K39 with some infos (unknown unit, but s.Art.Abt. 731 suffered similar in Winter 42/43), Chris Bishop, Weapons of WW II)
      Attached Files


        His actions in the field :
        This Wehrpass has a real detailed battle calendar ! (Some of the entries are covered by the inserts, I hope I managed to present them in an understandable way).
        This allows it, to follow the major actions of Uffz./Wachtm./Lt./Oberlt. d.R. Müller very closely (which is very rare for such a Heerestruppen unit!) :
        From March 1940 - early Dec. 1941, he fought with s.Art.Abt. 731, equipped with the 15cm K39 (photos of it shown above).
        In France 1940, s.Art.Abt. 731 supported the crossings of the Maas of 4. and 7. Pz.Div near Maastricht (IV. AK.), then fought at the Albert-Kanal, and at the Dunkirqe perimeter.
        At the start of "Fall Rot", his unit was deployed at the Somme. After a few days, it was diverted to the area of Saarbrücken, to help in the attacks on the Maginot line.
        From July 1940 - Feb. 1941, his unit was part of the coastal defence in France, before it was sent to the East.
        For his service in France he was awarded the KVK 2 (m. Schw.).
        (The link shows the advance of 19. Inf.Div., which was very similar until Dunkirqe.)

        At the start of Barbarossa, he was still with s.Art.Abt. 731(mot), most of the time attached to III. A.K.(mot.), Panzergruppe 1.
        Major areas of combat : Kiew, Battle of Uman, capture of Dnepropetrowsk, Battle of Asow, capture of Taganrog and Rostow, retreat to the Mius position
        in early Dec., 1941. Likely for his service with this unit, he was awarded KVK 1.Kl. m.Schw. in Jan. 1942.
        Attached Files


          Then, in Dec. 1941, now as Oberlt. d.R., he was transferred to Art.Kdr. 3 (or Arko 3) [assigned to III. AK.(mot)/ III.Pz.K.].
          This was a small HQ unit (~size: 6 Offc./ 4 NCO/ 12 E.M.), which had the task to coordinate the actions of the Korps and divisional artillery units.
          This HQ was led by Oberst Kampfhenkel (DKiG 12/1941), from Oct. 1941-Dec.1942.

          With this HQ, he took part in the defensive battles at the Mius and the 2nd battle of Charkow (Isjum salient).
          III. Pz.K. played a major role in the first steps of "Fall Blau" in 1942, with the 2nd capture of Rostow and the capture of the city of Maikop
          and the oilfields next to it in mid August [with 13. PzD. and 16. ID(mot.)].

          To give an idea, at that time Arko. 3 had under direct control as corps artillery units :
          Art.Abt. 151 (10cm Kan.), Art.Abt. II./52(gem.), s.Art.Abt. 731(15cm Kan.), s.Art.Abt. III./109 (21cm Mrs.) , Beob.Abt. 44, Werfer-Rgt. 54(mot), s.Werfer-Rgt. 1 (o. 1. Bttr.).

          From Maikop, III. Pz.K. was then sent ~400km to the East, first to assist XXXX. Pz.K. in its advance to Grosny, and shortly after (late Aug.)
          was sharply turned to the West again to force the Bakssan river near Naltschik and (end Oct.) given the task to take Ordshonikidse (= todays Wladikawkas)
          and block the Grusinische Heerstr., a strategic important N-S connection.

          Until early Nov., 13. Pz.Div. was able to reach the outskirts of Ordshonikidse, but could neither capture the city or block the road, running through it.
          Instead, due to Russian counterattacks, it was temporarily cut off. During this events, the HQ of Arko 3 had to form a battlegroup under command of Oberst Kampfhenkel,
          with many artillerists fighting as infantry. It might be, that because of these battles, Oberlt. Müller was awarded his EK 2.
          Some links related to this :

          With the help of 5. SS-PzDiv. "Wiking", 13.Pz.Div. was able to break out of the so called "Kessel von Gisel" and III. Pz.K. took positions further N (the first step
          of the general retreat from the Kaukasus, that followed from end of December onward). To give an impression, how fierce those battles were :
          => The losses of III.Pz.K. from 19.10.-12.11.42 : 1275 killed, 273 missing, 5008 wounded.
          Attached Files


            After the retreat from the Kaukasus, III. Pz.K. fought at the Mius and Donez and reorganized itself at Charkow in May 1943.
            In the battle of Kursk, it started at Belgorod and fought at the right flank of the II. SS-Pz.Korps [see map].
            It then took part in the retreat towards the Dnepr.
            Attached Files


              End of August 1943, Oberleutnant Müller left Arko 3 for training courses at the Arty school as battery leader and to learn, how to use and drive Pz.Haubitzen (Wespe and Hummel).
              Inbetween, he was attached for some time to Beob.Ers.Abt. 1 at Königsberg (additional docs).

              By that time, he already was trained on basic infantry weapons and also on le.FH 16 and s.FH. 18 and as Rechentruppführer.
              Photo is from an unknown Fahrschul-Lehrgang (which (sometimes) can be a lot of fun) :
              Attached Files


                In January 1945, he was transferred to his last field unit, I.(Pz.Haubitz)Abt. Pz.Art.Rgt. 116 (5. Pz.Div.), where he was appointed Abt.-Adjutant,
                just before the Red Army started its major attack in Jan. 1945. At that time, the Abteilung had 17 Wespe (10,5cm Sfl.) and 7 Hummel (15cm Sfl.).

                5. Pz.Div. acted as firebrigade against several Russian breakthroughs in January, often at the border of 3. Pz.Armee and 4. Armee. In Feb./March,
                it fought at many different places in and around (North and South) Festung Königsberg and the Samland.
                It launched a final attack to relieve Königsberg on 8.4., which was repelled. On 13.4.45 the Soviet Army started its major attack, to take the Samland and Pillau.
                On 13./14.4., when Oblt. Müller was wounded and received his VWA(schw.), 5. Pz.Div. fought at Norgau (S of Thierenberg) and was driven back
                to the Peyse peninsula, where it finally was dissolved. Remnants of the division fought at the Hela peninsula in April with GD, the Kriegsmarine was able
                to ship most of the wounded to Pommern or Bornholm. Which way he ended the war, remains unclear.

                Photos below are not of 5. Pz.Div., but only symbolic. However, one could easily imagine the Adjutant overseeing the transport of his Pz.Haubitz-Abteilung,
                and later a battery in firing position.
                The map shows the situation around 14.4.45, where he was wounded.

                That was it, what I found interesting on this Wehrpass.
                Any comments are highly welcome . Thanks for looking .

                Best regards,

                Attached Files