- Second World War (1939-1945)
- stellvertretender Führer 2. / SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 10 "Westland"
- Awarded on:
- December 2nd, 1943
Erich Zepper's Knight's Cross recommendation reads as follows.
"After the enemy had succeeded in deposing us in the Dnieper sector, establishing their bridgehead at Kanev in the first days of October 1943, they also moved in a southeasterly direction against the place of Kreschtschatik, extending down to which was the left border of the Division. The enemy was becoming anxious, as further attacks in different directions were making the bridgehead larger. They were using this as the basis to create the later rolling up of the III. Panzer-Korps front.
The Westland Regiment was set for the removal of this enemy bridgehead on the 7.10.1943 and were preparing their positions in the area of the triangle island.
The first attack point was on the right and the fighting won against the enemy, who resisted with all of their weapons. Moreover between the triangle island and foxtail island was a sand flat of 300-400m. They reached the eastern edge of foxtail island on the right flank, only after heavy losses. Here, the enemy broke into the thinly held positions and divided the Regiment, however they held the area around the triangle island and pushed the enemy back.
On the left flank of the Regiment was the 2./SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. Westland, under the command of SS-Hauptscharführer Zepper. The enemy reinforced their defenses in such a manner that our first attack failed in the heavy enemy defensive fire.
SS-Hauptscharführer Zepper, with his weak Kompanie, in their positions in the dunes on the southeast part of foxtail island, were continuously hit from strong enemy defensive fire.
From the stubborn and desperate resistance against this enemy, Zepper recognized from the first attack, the fact that the enemy wanted to keep hold of the northern edge of foxtail island. The only chance of success we had of this falling into our hands, was to employ all of the equipment available to the Regiment and from this southern point of the island, to push the enemy back.
After reorganizing their strength, they used their own strong artillery fire to prepare the positions of the enemy for a renewed attack. The good effect that our own preparatory artillery fire had allowed SS-Hauptscharführer Zepper to recognize the chance to seize the initiative. Not waiting for the order to attack, he attacked immediately. Still under the protection of our own artillery fire, he worked his way forward with his men, until they got close to the enemy. With himself fighting at the head of his Kompanie, they broke into the enemy positions even before their own artillery had moved on. From this unexpected surprise attack, made under the protection of their own artillery fire, the enemy could not defend himself satisfactorily. Using the element of surprise, SS-Hauptscharführer Zepper continued to penetrate skillfully, always as a model of bravery and boldness, deeper into the enemy trenches. They destroyed in bitter close combat machine-guns, anti-tank guns and infantry guns. During this operation with his Kompanie, they captured in this immediate area four anti-tank guns, four light field cannons, two infantry guns, twenty sub-machine guns and thirty anti-tank rifles. Continuing to penetrate inexorably with his men, they continued to blow up bunkers and emplacements. He was himself involved in removing the enemy Regiment Command Post. The enemy suffered severe bloody losses and they used the enemy equipment to substantially strengthen their defenses.
Through this, from his own resolve and with unusual boldness and bravery during this surprise raid, as well as the confusion that was created, he made it possible for the enemy to be divided and for the Regiment to seize a foothold on the island. He continued the attack forwards, destroying enemy weapons or further capturing others.
The conscious responsibility and decisiveness, the exemplary courage and the unusual bravery of SS-Hauptscharführer Zepper is to be thanked for the substantial reduction of the enemy bridgehead and the failure of his further intentions.
SS-Hauptscharführer Zepper is one of the older front NCOs. He had, as a Platoon Leader, been distinguished on the 24.12.1941 with the award of the Iron Cross First Class.
I hold that Zepper is particularly worthy for the award of the Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross."