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Schimmele, Josef

Date of birth:
August 23rd, 1921 (Bühlertann/Schwäbisch Hall, Germany)
Date of death:
January 4th, 2005 (Bühlertann/Schwäbisch Hall, Germany)
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)


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Second World War (1939-1945)
Richtschütze 14. / Füssilier-Regiment 34 / 34.Infanterie-Division
Awarded on:
August 8th, 1944
On 22.06.1944 the Soviets began their Operation Bagration all along the front of Army Group Centre, including the front near Vitebsk. In this place Obergefreiter Schimmele was serving as a Pak gunner. After strong enemy fire the gun commander as well as some of the crew became casualties, and so Schimmele took over control of the gun. Just before midday 12 enemy tanks rolled up in an attempt to break through. Despite the persistent enemy artillery fire Schimmel brought the gun into position and within a few minutes was able to destroy 4 enemy tanks, forcing the rest to retreat.

Shortly afterwards the enemy tried again, with 8 tanks and a battalion of infantry. With nerves of steel Schimmele allowed the enemy tanks to get closer, and then swiftly knocked out 4 more in succession. 2 enemy tanks then succeeded in outflanking the gun position and attempted to crush it once and for all. By this time Schimmele had no more armour-piercing ammunition. Nevertheless he swung the gun around even so and engaged the enemy tanks with HE ammunition instead. He was able to score hits on their tracks, thus immobilizing them. Schimmele then turned his attention to the attacking enemy infantry, engaging them with his last HE rounds. The enemy decided by now to bypass Schimmele, and so having expended all of his ammunition Schimmele was forced to blow up his gun. With two comrades he then pulled back to the battalion command post.

In recognition of his magnificent devotion to duty during this battle, Schimmele would be awarded the Iron Cross First Class and the Knight’s Cross simultaneously.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes