- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Hauptmann zur Verwendung
- Kommandeur, III. Bataillon, Infanterie-Regiment 189, 81. Infanterie-Division
- Awarded on:
- June 29th, 1940
On the night of the 08./09.06.1940 the 81. Infanterie-Division formed a Vorausabteilung under the command of Hauptmann Petersdorff in order to pursue the fleeing French forces. This Vorausabteilung consisted of the II./I.R. 189, 1./Pi.Btl. 181, Radf.Schw. 181, 3./Pz.Jäg.Abt. 181, IV./A.R. 260 and a Zug of heavy field howitzers from outside the Division.
At around 05:00 on the 10.06.1941 the Vorausabteilung set out for a continued advance. The goal was to reach the Marne river. During the afternoon of this day the unit approached the city of Chateau-Thierry, and the lead vehicles entered the city at around 18:00.
The following report from a contemporary German newspaper describes what happened next…
“The city was still occupied by the French. The Führer of a German Infanterie Bataillon, a Hauptmann (both a WWI and Freikorps veteran), went into the city with a few men in order to reconnoiter it. A few hours later nothing had been heard back from him except the noises of rifle shots and hand grenade explosions. Then the Hauptmann came back with a long and peculiar column: Over 1000 Senegalese riflemen followed him as prisoners…”
Hauptmann von Petersdorff was later awarded the Knight’s Cross for this deed. The official confirmation provides a further comment into the significance of this action…
“… he has distinguished himself as the commander of the Vorausabteilung of a Division through his particular bravery and prudence. He has decisively contributed to the successes of his Armeekorps.”