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Mohnke, Wilhelm

Date of birth:
March 15th, 1911 (Lübeck, Germany)
Date of death:
August 6th, 2001 (Barsbüttel/Hamburg, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
September 21st, 1939
Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
November 8th, 1939
Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Sturmbannführer
Unit:
II. / Leibstandarte-SS "Adolf Hitler"
Awarded on:
December 26th, 1941
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant-colonel)
Unit:
Kommandeur SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26 / 12.SS-Panzer-Division “Hitlerjugend” / I.SS-Panzer-Korps / Heeresgruppe B
Awarded on:
July 11th, 1944
Mohnke’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“On the 07.06.1944 the reinforced SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 (with the subordinated SS-Pz.Pi.Btl. 12 and SS-Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 12) under the command of SS-Obersturmbannführer Willi Mohnke received the mission to hold the line Rots (8 km NW of Caen)—St. Manvien—Le Mesnil Patry—Cristot. With strong tank and infantry forces, which attacked following powerful artillery preparation that included fire from heavy naval guns, the enemy tried to overrun the positions of the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 with the aim of cutting off the German salient St. Manvien—Le Mesnil Patry—Bronay—Cristot and destroying the forces within it. By doing so the enemy would sever the connection between the 12. SS-Panzer-Division ‘Hitlerjugend’ and the Panzer-Lehr-Division, as well as create favourable conditions for a breakthrough towards Caen. This in turn would permit the capture of the city itself. Furthermore this would enable the enemy to have the opportunity to roll up the positions of the 12. SS-Panzer-Division ‘Hitlerjugend’ and the Panzer-Lehr-Division.

At 16:00 on the 08.06.1944 enemy tanks broke through in the direction of Le Mesnil Patry. However this blow was absorbed and fended off by the II./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26. On the 09.06.1944 a strong enemy armoured formation burst out from the direction of Touzy and advanced towards Tilly. At around 17:00 the left wing of the reinforced SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 came under continual attack by tanks. However due to our strong defense the enemy armoured attack did not meet success, and 3 hostile tanks were destroyed. On the 10.06.1944 the enemy again tried to break through towards Le Mesnil Patry from the Brouay area with an armoured formation. This attack was repulsed by the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26.

At 15:55 on the 11.06.1944 enemy tanks and mounted infantry succeeded in breaking into friendly lines in the sectors of the III. & II./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 as well as the subordinated SS-Pz.Pi.Btl. 12. Enemy strength consisted of over 35 tanks. The reinforced SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 under the personal leadership of its regimental commander, along with elements of the II./SS-Pz.Rgt. 12 under the command of SS-Sturmbannführer Prinz, immediately took up the fight against the overwhelming enemy forces. The reinforced SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 succeeded in intercepting the enemy thrust, which was aimed at the main road from Caen to Tilly. The enemy attacks were thrown back and smashed, with 34 enemy tanks being destroyed in the process (21 by the II./SS-Pz.Rgt. 12 and 13 in close combat by the Grenadiers of the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26).

In the time period 12.-17.06.1944 the enemy was quiet in the sector of the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26. However heavy harassing artillery fire was still conducted, with some fire missions using up to 10-15000 rounds.

On the 17.06.1944 the enemy succeeded in penetrating into the left wing of the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 with tank and infantry forces following a strong artillery preparation supported by naval guns. However two counterthrusts under the personal leadership of the regimental commander succeeded in inflicting such strong losses on the enemy that, after two days of hard fighting, he surrendered the territory he had won, gave up his attack objectives and pulled back his lines about 2 km to the north.

The successes of the reinforced SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 are first and foremost attributable to the personal intervention of its regimental commander. SS-Obersturmbannführer Mohnke continues to be handicapped to this day by a severe leg wound he sustained during the Greek campaign. Despite this physical hindrance he remains a persistent example to his men in combat. After the fall of the Bataillon commander of the II./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 26 and 3 of its Kompanie commanders, each counterattack was personally and ruthlessly led by the regimental commander.

SS-Obersturmbannführer Mohnke proved himself as a tried and tested military leader in the Polish, Western and Southeastern campaigns, and he received the German Cross in Gold very early on in 1941.

On the grounds of his achievements in the fighting against the Anglo-American invasion force during the time period 06.-20.06.1944, I hold SS-Obersturmbannführer Mohnke as one who is worthy of the high award of the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
February 10th, 1940
Verwundetenabzeichen 1939 in Schwarz
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
October 3rd, 1940
Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Awarded on:
September 15th, 1941
Verwundetenabzeichen 1939 in Silber

Sources

  • Photo 1: Willi Schumacher Collection
  • - Die Ordensträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht (CD), VMD-Verlag GmbH, Osnabrück, 2002
    - Fellgiebel W.P., Elite of the Third Reich, The recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-1945: A Reference, Helion & Company Limited, Solihull, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-46-9
    - Patzwall K., Scherzer V., Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941-1945, Geschichte und Inhaber Band II, Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, Norderstedt, 2001, ISBN 3-931533-45-X
    - Schneider J.W., Their Honor was Loyalty!, R. James Bender Publishing, 1977
    - Axis History Biographical Research via Axis History Forum
    - Microfilm Publication A3343. US National Archives.

Photo

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