Ruef, Karl

Date of birth:
October 7th, 1916 (Oberfhofen-Telfs/Tirol, Austria)
Date of death:
December 22nd, 2009
Nationality:
Austrian (1918-1938, Republic)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Unit:
Kommandeur III. / Gebirgsjäger-Regiment 143
Awarded on:
October 28th, 1944
Action:
Awarded for his role in covering the retreat of the 6. Gebirgs-Division during the withdrawal of German forces from the Liza Front (in Finland) to northern Norway. Major Ruef’s III./Gebirgs-Jäger-Regiment 143 had the task of holding a bridgehead over the Petsamo Fjord in order to accomplish this.

On 12.10.1944 the battalion was order to occupy the line Santajärvi-Oksentinjärvi to block any enemy advance from the East. Ruef, along with his 11. Kompanie and the battalion Pionierzug was able to capture Hill 211 in order to facilitate this.

On 14.10.1944 the battalion was finally authorized to pull back. Along the way they came under heavy pressure and were forced into a peninsula, but fortunately were able to find a land crossing from here to the bridge they needed to cross. The 12. and 13. Kompanien were able to pass over the bridge before it was blown.

A small group under the command of Major Ruef however got tied down fighting strong enemy forces on the peninsula. Major Ruef was grazed in the head by a bullet and was left for dead while the rest of the unit went into captivity. In the night Ruef swam across the 600 m wide Petsamo Fjord despite his injuries, and was able to collect a friendly platoon of stragglers. With these men he made a 24 hour exfiltration through enemy territory before finally reaching the safety of friendly lines, where he was reunited with his battalion. He would be recognized appropriately for his contribution to the friendly withdrawal and this daring escape.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

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