- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Gebirgs-Panzerjäger-Abteilung 44 / 1.Gebirgs-Division
- Awarded on:
- August 23rd, 1941
Lang’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…
“Oberstleutnant Lang, commander of the Geb.Pz.Jäg.Abt. 44, was during the Polish campaign assigned to the northern pursuit column (mot.) of the 1. Gebirgs-Division following the battles on the border. On the evening of the 08.09.1939 he drove into the city of Krosno. There his column got into a ferocious firefight with the Polish troops who were concealed in the houses. In this critical situation the German troops, who were involved in heavy combat for the first time, began to show signs of wavering. In response Oberstleutnant Lang, almost the only officer of this formation with combat experience, personally directed the suppression of the enemy firing positions despite the onset of darkness in a brave and energetic way. He then organized the clearing of the village.
Lang thereafter inspired his men to continue the attack through the night over and across the Wislok and, himself in the forward ranks, stormed the nearby heights heavily occupied by the Poles. It was later confirmed that this success had major implications for the situation of the southern pursuit column (comprising the main pursuit force). Under the pressure of the success at Krosno the Poles abandoned their commanding positions at Rowne and Dukla on the same night almost without a fight. For this deed Oberstleutnant Lang was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class.
In the French campaign Oberstleutnant Lang and his were instructed to hold open the Serre sector (near Crecy) for the rest of the Division on the 19.05.1940. When he got there however he found that the since departed German Panzer forces had blown all the bridges and blocked the Serre sector with mines in order to guard against the enemy tanks. On his own initiative Oberstleutnant Lang created a useable crossing while in view of the enemy tanks, got his AT guns across the river and with them attacked the French tanks. In the course of this operation several French tanks were destroyed, while the majority fled towards the south. With this the following Gebirgs-Jäger-Regiment 99, who would have otherwise had to fight for the river crossing, were able to get over unmolested.
As the pursuit of the broken French forces began on the 14.06.1940, Oberstleutnant Lang was assigned control of the motorized pursuit column of the Division (Pz.Jäg.Abt. 44, 1 Jäger-Bataillon and 1 Abteilung of heavy artillery). After taking the Seine crossing near Nogent (14.06.1940) and the Yonne crossing at Mizy (16.06.1940), on the 17.06.1940 he advanced against a French defensive position north of Gien (on the Loire river). In a cleverly executed attack Oberstleutnant Lang compressed the bridgehead held by the hard fighting French forces. That night he then launched a thrust at the head of his men through the village of Gien (which was held by French colonial troops) and onto the Loire bridges. The tough resistance of the French made sense on the following morning, as a haul of 8600 prisoners, about 30 batteries of all calibers, 70 modern AFVs and a barracks with 500 obsolete armoured vehicles was confirmed. This deed was mentioned in the Wehrmachtbericht without Lang being personally recognized. The success here was first and foremost due to the attacking spirit and personal bravery of Oberstleutnant Lang, resulting in the French being totally overrun. For this combat achievement Oberstleutnant Lang received the Iron Cross First Class.
Since the beginning of the Russian campaign Oberstleutnant Lang has once again led the Vorausabteilung of the Division. During the last 6 weeks in the approximately 600 km march of the Division he has accomplished so many great things that to reference them all in detail would not be possible. For that reason in the following paragraphs there are only two deeds mentioned which were of decisive import for the combat of the Division, namely the encirclement of the enemy near Vinnitsa and near Podwyssokoje.
While raging far ahead of the Division, and breaking all resistance in the process, Oberstleutnant Lang was by his employment of all available weapons of the Vorausabteilung able to reach the edge of the Stalin Line via Jarmolinzy on the 12.07.1941. There he secured the Hill 355, which would be of great importance for the coming attack. This swift victory was essential for the fact that a swift and successful reconnaissance/preparation for the attack on the Stalin Line could take place.
Shortly after the penetration the Vorausabteilung, in cooperation with the battalions on either side, was able to secure the way through the heavily fortified village of Galussinzy. Numerous strong concrete bunkers and field positions were taken in close combat in the process. Already on the day after this the Vorausabteilung Lang seized the important railway junction at Shmerinka in a coup de main and on the same day was able to cross the Bug after a tough fight. In the evening the Abteilung continued its advance, taking an enemy airbase near Sutisi by surprise and capturing several airplanes plus airfield facilities.
The encirclement of the enemy near Vinnitsa was thus initiated. Enduring bad weather and difficult terrain Oberstleutnant Lang and his tireless soldiers attacked through Gniwanj and Luka and on the 18.07.1941, having given all of their strength, reached the southern edge of Vinnitsa. The advance was of such extent and boldness that it could only be compared to one by armoured forces. In a tough battle against the enemy, who by now were recognizing their predicament, Lang and his men were with the help of an additional Jäger Bataillon about to take control of the southern portion of Vinnitsa. Here the bridge over the Bug, of great importance for the whole combat situation, was destroyed following a bold thrust supported by Sturmgeschütze. Thereby the ring around the enemy in the sector of the Division was closed.
By this action Oberstleutnant Lang had achieved a success of great operational importance, and all on account of his own initiative.
Through a special recognition notice by the commanding general of the Armee the outstanding achievements of the Vorausabteilung were given high praise (a copy is attached). A two-time mention in the German news service also made clear the achievements of Oberstleutnant Lang to the public.
Oberstleutnant Lang and his Abteilung however would not rest just yet. He once again went forth already on the 22.07.1941 to Nemirow, where the bridges that had been prepared for demolition were saved just in the nick of time. He then continued on to Brazlaff and after two days of heavy fighting was able to seize the crossing over the Bug. His successes would continue.
On the 26.07.1941 Lang continued far ahead and took the city of Gaissin. He then advanced southeastwards to Teplik, interdicting the railroad there and capturing multiple trains with munition. He then advanced via Ternowka to the southeast and at midday on the 30.07.1941 entered the northern edge of Golowanjewsk. Despite the strong enemy forces there (there was a corps staff in the city) Lang continued his attack and threw the enemy back to the forests south of the city. Fierce counterattacks launched that night were repulsed. The situation remained tense until the next morning when additional forces were brought up.
Immediately Lang pressed on further to the east, in order to achieve the desired linkup with the Panzerkorps in the Ssinjucha sector. This would be decisive in preventing the strong enemy forces which lay to the north from escaping towards the south. The tireless attacking spirit of Oberstleutnant Lang and his Abteilung brought decisive action for the achievement of this aim. On the afternoon of the 02.08.1941, following a thrust via Trojanka and Hill 180, the ring around the enemy was closed. The decisive battle around Podwyssokoje began. It ended with the help of the actively participating Abteilung Lang (positioned on the right wing) on the 07.08.1941 with a full victory over the encircled enemy.
Once again Oberstleutnant Lang had created the desired preconditions and with these brought about a decisive action. Conducted on his own initiative, this success can be credited to his outstanding personal bravery and leadership qualities.
Oberstleutnant Lang has thus merited himself as worthy of the highest war decoration, in light of the judgement of his superiors upon his decisive successes for the whole Armee.
For this reason I recommend him for the award of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross.”