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Apitz, Willy

Date of birth:
January 27th, 1916 (Zanin-Warthe/Brandenburg, Germany)
Date of death:
February 28th, 2004 (Penzing-Lech/Bavaria, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Obergefreiter (Aircraftman class 1)
Unit:
Funker 10. / Artillerie-Regiment 81 / 97.Jäger-Division
Awarded on:
January 1st, 1944
During the autumn of 1943 Obergefreiter Apitz found himself engaged in his Division’s heavy defensive combat along the Lower Dnieper front between the Nikopol and Cherson bridgeheads. In this time, while he was serving as a radio operator at a forward observation post, all of his comrades were killed during a large-scale Soviet attack. When the Soviets proceeded to launch a renewed thrust with tanks and infantry, Apitz decided to personally direct the fire of his attached artillery even though he had no training in this role. However, despite being all alone, he managed to fulfill this role effectively and direct devastating artillery fire on the attacking Soviet forces.

A unit of Soviet infantry that were passing by suddenly attacked Apitz at his position. He initially held them off with his carbine before ordering his own artillery to bombard his position. He had to repeat the order twice before his stunned comrades proceeded to do just that. Fierce artillery fire was then plastered on Apitz’s position for about a minute. However Apitz survived, and the Soviet infantry took such high losses that they decided to fall back to their jump-off position. With this the Soviet thrust came to an end.

Apitz would be initially decorated with the Iron Cross First Class for this action. Later on he also received the Knight’s Cross at the recommendation of his superiors.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

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