Help for unknow Fj officer with DKG, in normandy

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Luft 76
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Help for unknow Fj officer with DKG, in normandy

Post by Luft 76 » 02 Mar 2007 18:47

Hello

Does anyone know who is this Fj. Oberleutnant ? The photo was taken in St. Lô area and it's probably a member of 3 or 5. Fj. division
thanks for help.

Image

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Nicodemus
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Post by Nicodemus » 12 Mar 2007 16:35

Hi Luft76,

It's Oberleutnant Gerhard Mertins of 5. FJD. Mertins, still a lieutenant in Normandy, commanded Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon 5 and was awarded the Knight's Cross somewhere in December for blowing some 46 bridges during the German retreat through France. By that time he was already a major. I don't know were he got his DKiG and Iron Cross, some one will have to look that up.

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Post by Fallschirmjäger » 15 Mar 2007 06:03

Man 46 bridges,is there any more info on him Nicodemus,like what other battles he was in,or did he survive the war,still alive etc..?,thanks.

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Post by Nicodemus » 15 Mar 2007 16:18

Fallschirmjäger,

I have part of Mertins' history, and I can give you detailed information about his battalion from the FJ 1936-1945 site and Lexicon der Wehrmacht. In the picture you can see him also wearing a German Cross in Gold, I'm sure someone here on the forum has a list of DKiG winners where you can track him.

Mertins was originally a member of the 7. Flieger Division's Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon. I can say without doubt that he fought on Crete (where he got the Iron Cross 1st Class for his actions) and in Russia (where he got a German Cross in Gold). He was then a platoon leader in 4. Kompanie. He rose to the rank of Oberleutnant and his 4. Kompanie of Fsch.Pi.Btl. 1 provided the cadre of experienced officers and NCOs for the new Pionier Battalion of 5. FJD. Mertins later fought in the Ardennes and in the defence of Germany before he was probably taken prisoner in the Ruhr Pocket encirclement.

Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5 was built in Melun near Paris in the new year of 1944. The core for the Battalion was from 4./Fj.Pi.Btl.1, veterans of the campaigns in Russia and the Mediterannean. Replacements came from the Ausbildingskompanie at Tangermünde.

Kommandeur - Major Gerhard Mertins (born 30 December 1919 in Berlin, died 19 March 1993 :cry: . EK1 in August 1941 for actions in Prison Valley, Crete, as a Leutnant in the Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon of 7. Flieger Division. DKiG 8 February 1943 as Leutnant and Zugführer in 4./Fsch.Pi.Btl, 7. Flieger Division. RK 6 December 1944 as Hauptmann and Kdr Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5)
Adjutant - Leutnant Günther Laurisch
Nachrichten-Offizier - Leutnant Walter Sander (DKiG on 8 February 1943 as Feldwebel in the Pionier Bataillon of 7. Flieger Division), Leutnant Friedrich, Hauptmann Jürgens

1.Kompanie - Oberleutnant Josef Otter
Oberleutnant Egon Schulz (missing in action in th Eifel Mountains since January 1945)
Leutnant Walter Sander (RK 28 February 1945 as Leutnant der Reserve and Kompanieführer of 1./Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5, picture on http://www.das-ritterkreuz.de/index_sea ... ord=Sander)
Hauptfeldwebel Wahlen

2.Kompanie - Leutnant Rolf Greif, Oberfähnrich Dolf-Peter Grasser, Hauptfeldwebel Herbert Oehme (missing since January 1945)
3.Kompanie - Leutnant Werner Röpnack, Leutnant Schönfelder, Leutnant Friedrich Bausch (RK 12 March 1945 for escaping the Ruhr Pocket and then blowing several bridges and mountain passes in the German Harz Mountains), Leutnant Paul Behr (RK) Leutnant Tenner, Feldwwebel Löffler
4.Kompanie - Hauptmann Jürgens (KIA in Normandy July 1944)
Hauptmann von Gerlach (is this the guy who led the Fallschirm Lehr Bataillon during the Gran Sasso Raid?)
Leutnant Grosser (KIA Normandy August 1944)
Leutnant Hans Prigge (Lexicon lists him as KIA near Livarchamps in the Ardennes 22 December 1944, but I have a record on http://www.ww2awards.com/person/25684 that a Fahnenjunker-Oberfeldwebel Hans Prigge of the "Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon" received the DKiG on 1 January 1945. I have no idea which battalion this is, but I presume it's Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5. Can anyone check on Lt/Fhn-Ofw Hans Prigge and his history?)
Leutnant Heinz Richter (RK 12 March 1945 as Leutnant and Führer of 4. Kompanie)

The Battalion was transferred to Rennes in Brittany for Pioneer training. At the beginning of the Allied invasion in June 1944, the Battalion first saw action south of Carentan. From Carentan they were pushed by the allied advance in an easterly direction to St.Lo, St.Vire, Avranches, Fongeres to Argentan. The casualties were heavy. Nevertheless, the battalion demolished 46 bridges during the retreat through France and, although under-strength, escaped from destruction in the Normandy battles.
With 5. Fallschirmjäger Division, the Battalion was moved back to Tangermünde for rest and refitting. Shortly after they were sent to Leiden in Holland, the place where I live. In December 1944, they were moved to Offenburg near Prüm in the Eifel for the Ardennes Offensive. Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5 was responsible for blowing several bridges over the Sure River in Luxembourg, such as the one at Heiderscheidergrund, in the face of Patton's relief effort on Bastogne from the south. After the failure of the offensive, the Battalion withdrew eastwards through Westerwald, Marburg, Melsungen to Eichsfeld near Duderstadt. It endured heavy fighting in the densily-wooded mountain regions of Germany in foul weather conditions. Later part of Mertins' unit was encircled in the Ruhr Pocket, but about 120 men escaped and fought on, participating in heavy street fighting against the US 413th Infantry Regiment during the defence of Bad Lauterberg on 13/14 April 1945. The remaining 50 men, now under the command of RK-Träger Leutnants Friedrich Bausch and Heinz Richter, continued to block the Allied advance by destroying bridges and mountain passes in the Harz mountain range. On 19 April 1945 35 Fallschirmpioniere under Lt Bausch blow up a log barricade near Thale with 2 tons of explosives and ammunition that they found in two nearby trucks. Bausch wanted to break through to the east and get through the siege ring around Berlin, but near the town of Neinstedt a traffic jam developed. American tanks arrived and began firing into the line of German vehicles. After a short but tough fight the Fallschirmpioniere had to surrender. It was here that the last men of the Battalion went into captivity.

I hope that this self-compiled and translated piece of information is of some help to you.

Cheers,

Nick

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Cool

Post by Fallschirmjäger » 16 Mar 2007 05:08

Man thanks Nicodemus for all that info,will need to save this info too,thanks. 8-)

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Post by Luft 76 » 06 May 2007 18:22

Sorry for the long time, but many thanks for so much informations !

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Re: Gerhard Mertins

Post by Mors » 18 Oct 2021 12:38

Hi Nick

Thanks for your very comprehensive compilation of Gerhard Mertin's late-war history. I'm interested in slaying a couple of myths that have evolved around his military cv, and wondered whether you might shed further light.

Myth 1. Mertins was a part of the Gran Sasso force that rescued Mussolini from the Campo Imperaratore on 12.9.43. I think this very unlikely on several grounds. The Luftwaffe unit involved was from the Lehr regiment, or specifically I Kompanie.FJR7, commanded by Major Harald Mors. A crack assault force, not an engineering/sabotage unit. As far as I can make out, earlier that year Mertins' Pionier unit was fighting somewhere around Smolensk, which is where he got his DKiG. I suspect the exclusive source of this rumour is Romano Mussolini, a rather better jazz musician than he was a historian, in his memoir about his late father. He seemed to think Mertins actually piloted Mussolini's Fi 156 exfiltration plane (actually it was Heinrich Gerlach). The rumour's that daft.

Myth 2. Mertins was at some point a member of the Waffen-SS. This is less daft but I suspect equally untrue. As you probably know better than I do, quite a few Luftwaffe volunteers joined Skorzeny's Panzerbrigade 150 for Operation Greif in December 1944. Some went on to take part in Skorzeny's last-ditch defence on the Oder, and ended the war there.

From what you say below, that seems unlikely in Mertins' case. However, you do make the point that Major Mertins' unit was billeted at Prüm, which theoretically places it on the intersection of Manteuffel's 5th Army and Dietrich's 6th SS Panzer Army in the opening stages of Wacht am Rhein. The unit's field of operations, eg the Sûre river and Bastogne, suggests to me it was attached to the former rather than the latter. But I'd be interested in your view on this.

3. If, as you hint, Mertins - still in the Luftwaffe – was captured in April 1945 in the Ruhr Pocket (or shortly thereafter), he would have been interned in the American (rather than the British) sector for the next few years. There ought to be an interrogation record, but I have yet to find it.

4. Apologies for contacting you 14 years on!

M



Nicodemus wrote:
15 Mar 2007 16:18
Fallschirmjäger,

I have part of Mertins' history, and I can give you detailed information about his battalion from the FJ 1936-1945 site and Lexicon der Wehrmacht. In the picture you can see him also wearing a German Cross in Gold, I'm sure someone here on the forum has a list of DKiG winners where you can track him.

Mertins was originally a member of the 7. Flieger Division's Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon. I can say without doubt that he fought on Crete (where he got the Iron Cross 1st Class for his actions) and in Russia (where he got a German Cross in Gold). He was then a platoon leader in 4. Kompanie. He rose to the rank of Oberleutnant and his 4. Kompanie of Fsch.Pi.Btl. 1 provided the cadre of experienced officers and NCOs for the new Pionier Battalion of 5. FJD. Mertins later fought in the Ardennes and in the defence of Germany before he was probably taken prisoner in the Ruhr Pocket encirclement.

Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5 was built in Melun near Paris in the new year of 1944. The core for the Battalion was from 4./Fj.Pi.Btl.1, veterans of the campaigns in Russia and the Mediterannean. Replacements came from the Ausbildingskompanie at Tangermünde.

Kommandeur - Major Gerhard Mertins (born 30 December 1919 in Berlin, died 19 March 1993 :cry: . EK1 in August 1941 for actions in Prison Valley, Crete, as a Leutnant in the Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon of 7. Flieger Division. DKiG 8 February 1943 as Leutnant and Zugführer in 4./Fsch.Pi.Btl, 7. Flieger Division. RK 6 December 1944 as Hauptmann and Kdr Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5)
Adjutant - Leutnant Günther Laurisch
Nachrichten-Offizier - Leutnant Walter Sander (DKiG on 8 February 1943 as Feldwebel in the Pionier Bataillon of 7. Flieger Division), Leutnant Friedrich, Hauptmann Jürgens

1.Kompanie - Oberleutnant Josef Otter
Oberleutnant Egon Schulz (missing in action in th Eifel Mountains since January 1945)
Leutnant Walter Sander (RK 28 February 1945 as Leutnant der Reserve and Kompanieführer of 1./Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5, picture on http://www.das-ritterkreuz.de/index_sea ... ord=Sander)
Hauptfeldwebel Wahlen

2.Kompanie - Leutnant Rolf Greif, Oberfähnrich Dolf-Peter Grasser, Hauptfeldwebel Herbert Oehme (missing since January 1945)
3.Kompanie - Leutnant Werner Röpnack, Leutnant Schönfelder, Leutnant Friedrich Bausch (RK 12 March 1945 for escaping the Ruhr Pocket and then blowing several bridges and mountain passes in the German Harz Mountains), Leutnant Paul Behr (RK) Leutnant Tenner, Feldwwebel Löffler
4.Kompanie - Hauptmann Jürgens (KIA in Normandy July 1944)
Hauptmann von Gerlach (is this the guy who led the Fallschirm Lehr Bataillon during the Gran Sasso Raid?)
Leutnant Grosser (KIA Normandy August 1944)
Leutnant Hans Prigge (Lexicon lists him as KIA near Livarchamps in the Ardennes 22 December 1944, but I have a record on http://www.ww2awards.com/person/25684 that a Fahnenjunker-Oberfeldwebel Hans Prigge of the "Fallschirm Pionier Bataillon" received the DKiG on 1 January 1945. I have no idea which battalion this is, but I presume it's Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5. Can anyone check on Lt/Fhn-Ofw Hans Prigge and his history?)
Leutnant Heinz Richter (RK 12 March 1945 as Leutnant and Führer of 4. Kompanie)

The Battalion was transferred to Rennes in Brittany for Pioneer training. At the beginning of the Allied invasion in June 1944, the Battalion first saw action south of Carentan. From Carentan they were pushed by the allied advance in an easterly direction to St.Lo, St.Vire, Avranches, Fongeres to Argentan. The casualties were heavy. Nevertheless, the battalion demolished 46 bridges during the retreat through France and, although under-strength, escaped from destruction in the Normandy battles.
With 5. Fallschirmjäger Division, the Battalion was moved back to Tangermünde for rest and refitting. Shortly after they were sent to Leiden in Holland, the place where I live. In December 1944, they were moved to Offenburg near Prüm in the Eifel for the Ardennes Offensive. Fsch.Pi.Btl. 5 was responsible for blowing several bridges over the Sure River in Luxembourg, such as the one at Heiderscheidergrund, in the face of Patton's relief effort on Bastogne from the south. After the failure of the offensive, the Battalion withdrew eastwards through Westerwald, Marburg, Melsungen to Eichsfeld near Duderstadt. It endured heavy fighting in the densily-wooded mountain regions of Germany in foul weather conditions. Later part of Mertins' unit was encircled in the Ruhr Pocket, but about 120 men escaped and fought on, participating in heavy street fighting against the US 413th Infantry Regiment during the defence of Bad Lauterberg on 13/14 April 1945. The remaining 50 men, now under the command of RK-Träger Leutnants Friedrich Bausch and Heinz Richter, continued to block the Allied advance by destroying bridges and mountain passes in the Harz mountain range. On 19 April 1945 35 Fallschirmpioniere under Lt Bausch blow up a log barricade near Thale with 2 tons of explosives and ammunition that they found in two nearby trucks. Bausch wanted to break through to the east and get through the siege ring around Berlin, but near the town of Neinstedt a traffic jam developed. American tanks arrived and began firing into the line of German vehicles. After a short but tough fight the Fallschirmpioniere had to surrender. It was here that the last men of the Battalion went into captivity.

I hope that this self-compiled and translated piece of information is of some help to you.

Cheers,

Nick

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