Pirhofer, Ernst

Date of birth:
January 12th, 1922 (Meran/South Tirol, Austria (now Italy))
Date of death:
February 18th, 1991 (Rabland/South Tirol, Austria (now Italy))
Nationality:
Austrian (1918-1938, Republic)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Obergefreiter (Korporaal)
Unit:
Richtkanonier 7./Flak-Regiment 43 (mot.)
Awarded on:
May 4th, 1944
Action:
In early January 1944 the Soviets succeeded breaking through the German positions near Kirovograd. One of the German units in their path was a line of 6 German 8.8 cm Flak guns positioned for tank defense behind the main line. This line was attacked by multiple Soviet infantry battalions and about 60 tanks. Near the cannon “Anton”, upon which the Soviets were concentrating their attack, all the crew except for the Obergefreiter Pirhofer (the gunner) became casualties. In spite of this, Pirhofer did not lose his nerve and managed to destroy 15 Soviet enemy tanks within 20 minutes using his cannon, most of these at very close range.

After running out of ammunition, he destroyed the gun by stuffing a concentrated grenade down its barrel. In the combat he followed he continued to defend against the enemy infantry and even destroyed another tank with an AT grenade in close combat. Following this he and his comrades managed to escape over the open snow-covered ground back to the new German line.

For his actions during this battle Pirhofer would receive the Knight’s Cross.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

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