Leutnant Paul Järsehke, 2nd Kompanie, Regiment Poeschmann of Pz Grenadier Einsatz Brigade Grossdeutschland.
At the start of April 1945, British General Montgomery's armies were moving upwards towards Hamburg after losing the honor of the main thrust towards Berlin to his sparring partner, America's General Patton. The 4th Armoured Brigade, the verteran 'Desert Rats' of the Africa Campaign, was one element of a large, multi pronged pitchfork moving northeast towards Hamburg which they will eventually reach on May 4.
Leutnant Järsehke was part of a regiment defending the south of Hopsten, a city in the path of 4th Armoured. This regiment was led by Major Poeschmann and attached to the Panzer Grenadier Einsatz Brigade Grossdeutchland. It is this confrontation that would earn Järsehke his EK1. On the night of 3 April 1945, 3 days before the battle. The PzGren.-Ersatz-Brigade GD was renamed as PzGren.-Einsatz-Brigade GD. The OB Schule was renamed as Regiment Poeschmann. The Brigadekommandeur was Oberst Glaesemer.
GD soldiers taking cover during an artillery barrage - courtesy Todd Gylsen
GD soldiers charging a hilltop position - courtesy Todd Gylsen
It is interesting to note the conflicting accounts here, compare the 'gave little trouble' footnote of the battle above to the German's description of the battle that formed the citation account written on the back of Järsehke's Urkunde:
6-4-45 Lt.Järsehke. was in position with his platoon at the south entrance of Hopsten. He had orders, to defend the bridge behind him under all circumstances, as well as the access road to the bridge, as it was the only possibility for the enemy to advance to the North and North east.
The enemy attacked the small bridgehead with 6 tanks, supported by heavy artillery and Infantry forces. This attack and the following 4 attacks were beaten-off, till the platoon ran out of ammunition, and the enemy succeeded to enter the right wing of the platoons position.
Lt.Järsehke recognised the danger, and counter-attacked with 2 men, loudly shouting "Hurrah". With this, he managed to encourage his platoon back into the fight and managed to throw back the enemy, preventing their break-through, who left 42 killed soldiers behind!. This courageous close-combat action prevented the rolling-up by the enemy of the German positions.
[The following account was abridged from the desert rats website: http://www.desertrat.brigades.btinternet.co.uk/]
"Soon after first light on 6th April 44th RTR crossed the the Dortmond - Ems canal after having first clearing the west bank of enemy opposition. Having crossed they now began to come across very stiff opposition from small determined groups of Germans as they advanced. While they continued the advance towards Hopsten, the brigade found that the enemy (well supported by artillery and mortars from the north) were holding a bridgehead which knocked out a recce patrol of 44th RTR.
There were a considerable number of Germans in the woods east of the canal, mostly from a Gross Deutschland Battalion who were surprised by the Brigades appearance in their rear and gave little trouble. Shortly before last light 5th KOSB cleared the area south of the stream, supported by RAF Typhoons and a squadron from 44th RTR. Meanwhile, the Scots Greys with 155th Brigade were just south of Hopsten where there was considerable opposition." 44th RTR eventually broke through and advanced through Hopsten and reached Halverde on the 8th, before they then moved through Recke and across the Weser canal and on northwards.
The stamp is for the OB (Offiziers-Bewerber) Schule of the Ersatz-Brigade-GD. The name changed to 'Einsatz-Brigade' when the Ersatz-Brigade was mobilised as a front line unit.
Cufftitle (Ärmelstreiffen) is a black doeskin wool construction and features hand embroidered Sütterlin style script, "Großdeutschland", in bright, silver/aluminum threads.
Thanks to Scott Pritchett, Frederick L Clemens, Greg Blick, Folkert D and the collectors guild for their invaluable assistance.
Järsehke's Iron Cross
Click here to view the Battalion report
Below : J's Actual EK1 Urkunde (certificate)
Signed by :
Oberst Wolfgang Glaesemer