Willi Thulke finally reachted the rank of Oberstleutnant during the Second World War. After the war he served until 30th September 1972 with the Bundeswehr, there also finally reaching the rank of Oberstleutnant.
In early March 1944, Thulke and his battalion were holding positions north of the Gora height when they were encircled by the enemy. The divisional command ordered the battalion to break out, and over a two-hour slog it succeeded in reaching a new defensive position on a hill 3 km to the west. Thulke, who had been shot through the shin, nevertheless remained to command his troops (he was moved around on a sled). In 13 days, Thulke and his battalion had fought off 33 attacks in this area. For his defensive accomplishments Thulke was awarded the Oakleaves.