- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Obergefreiter (Corporal)
- 11. / Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 98 / 1.Gebirgs-Division
- Awarded on:
- December 20th, 1941
The following wartime excerpt details a justification for why Grübl received the Knight’s Cross…
“When the attack of the 1. Gebirgs-Division against the Owrag bridge at Djakowa was temporarily halted by strong enemy fire, Obergefreiter Grübl continued the attack on his own initiative. He crossed the river as the first member of the Division under Russian defensive fire, and was also the first to penetrate into the heavily defended village. By capturing the enemy rifle and MG nests around the crossing site he gave his Kompanie the opportunity to follow him across the bridge, create a bridgehead and thereafter take control of the village. In this way Obergefreiter Grübl provided the decisive impetus for the seizure of Djakowa.”
The following newspaper article, dated 21.04.1942, further details this Knight’s Cross related action…
“The Soviets had defended the bridge that led towards Diakowa with fury and tenacity. Every friendly attempt to wrest control of the bridge was met with the enemy’s heavy weapons. But the bridge still had to be taken! It was the only way to get the this small village, one which was extremely important for further combat operations in this sector. It was impossible to cross the river at other locations as the water level was very high in these days, as it would be an insurmountable obstacle before the positions of the enemy.
But as toughly as the enemy were defending the bridge, the assaulting Gebirgsjäger were no less determined to be in control of this vital crossing. And once again it was demonstrated what the individual will is capable of when it is possessed of audacity and fearlessness. Acting on his own initiative, an Obergefreiter and his squad (down to just a few men) forced the crossing and cleared the way forward through this bold coup-de-main.
How deep is the river? In the dark yellow water no bottom was visible. Must count on luck then! At the head of his comrades Obergefreiter Grübl entered the river, half-protected against enemy fire by the bridge on the right. Soon he stood with the water at chest-height, and could only resist the current while expending all his energy. He held his rifle and ammunition pouches in his upraised hands. Will he sink with the next step? But the deepest position was already overcome, and the water level finally began to diminish.
Now the Gebirgsjäger found themselves on the enemy’s side of the river, barely a hundred steps from the foe. A further advance without covering fire was not possible for the small troop. However on the friendly bank of the river there was still a machine-gun close by. Obergefreiter Grübl called the MG squad to cross the river, and it was emplaced in a favourable position to cover a further advance. The Obergefreiter let it set up close to the bridge. The first burst was fired, and soon the machine-gunner was laying burst after burst on the Soviet positions in the opposite row of houses. But the Obergefreiter moved with his weak squad back into the river, waded with them under the bridge and then climbed onto the enemy occupied riverbank on the other side of the bridge. Distracted by the sudden and violent MG fire, the forward Soviet outposts were not prepared for a surprise attack in a totally different location. The Soviets here were overpowered with a few furious hits by rifle butts.
By this the way to the houses and gardens from which the Soviets were keeping the bridge under fire was opened. In an truly unequal contest - a handful of isolated Gebirgsjäger against a much larger enemy force in entrenched positions - houses and gardens alike were rolled up. The Jäger would first demoralize the individual nests with hand grenades, and thereafter finish off the enemy troops in man to man combat. Right from the start of this battle Obergefreiter Grübl received shell splinter wounds to his hands, upper arm and neck by a Soviet anti-tank gun that had been shifted to the attackers from its original zone of fire. Undeterred by this he continued to lead his small, brave Kampfgruppe, and was able to break the last enemy resistance nest in close combat.
The enemy riflemen in the houses were gone, and the Soviet positions cleared out. The bridge was free! A reality brought about through the brave actions of Obergefreiter Peter Grübl, commander of a small squad.”