- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Leutnant der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant of Reserves)
- Zugführer, I. Bataillon, Grenadier-Regiment (motorisiert) 29, 3. Panzergrenadier-Division, Heer
- Awarded on:
- April 6th, 1944
Awarded for distinguishing himself at the Anzio beachhead in late January 1944.
On the 29.01.1944 Leutnant Semrau captured a set of orders from the 1st British Infantry Division that detailed an attack for the following midnight. When this attack finally came the brunt of the defense was born by Kampfgruppe Schönfeld. Both sides suffered setbacks, but by 05:00 it was clear that the Germans no longer controlled a continuous frontline. The German artillery had also exhausted its ammunition in this sector.
At this stage it was up to individual centres of resistance to hold back the attacking Allied forces. One of these was commanded by the same Leutnant Semrau. Having already lost 30% of his assault troop, he received orders to hold up the Allied forces in order to enable friendly troops to pull back to a rearward position. To this end he was issued additional reinforcements in the form of 2 Sturmgeschützen, 1 Hornisse SPG and 18 stragglers from the I./Grenadier-Regiment 29.
In this situation he then decided to wrest control over Hill 93 (located 2 km south of Campoleone) on his own initiative, and he succeeded in this task despite sustaining significant losses of his own. He and his small Kampfgruppe were subsequently able to repulse the attacks of a British force consisting of 2 companies and 10 tanks. The battle went back and forth, until the Allies finally decided to bypass this hill.
At around 17:00 Leutnant Semrau pulled back in accordance with his orders and took up new positions on a hill located 200 metres to the rear. Thanks to good firing techniques they were able to do so unnoticed by the Allies, who themselves attacked the already vacated hill after a fresh artillery barrage. Only 2 of the 20 men from the original assault troop (namely Leutnant Semrau and an Obergefreiter) came back. However the defense of this hill had enabled the Gren.Rgt. 29 (mot) to build up a new defensive line along a railway embankment and prevent the Allies from achieving a breakthrough.
Leutnant Semrau would be recognized appropriately for his contributions to the German defensive effort.