Vernhold, Josef

Date of birth:
December 8th, 1915 (Hamm/Westphalia, Germany)
Date of death:
November 12th, 1995 (Hamm/Northrhine-Westphalia, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

Josef Vernhold finally reached the rank of Leutnant.

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Unteroffizier (Corporal)
Unit:
8. / Infanterie-Regiment 60 (motorisiert)
Awarded on:
February 22nd, 1942
Action:
On the night of 03.12.1941 the Soviets attacked the village of Kussikino with about two battalions. Defending it was the German III./Infanterie-Regiment 60 (mot). The first Soviet attack was, with the help of two HMGs commanded by Unteroffizier Vernold, defeated. But they tried again, this time via a hollow close to the southeast part of the town. From here they were immune to German fire, and due to a lack of friendly artillery as well as heavy Soviet artillery and mortar fire the situation was looking grim for the defenders. Furthermore, the nearest German strongpoint was about 4-5 km away.

Recognizing the imminent destruction of his battalion, Vernhold decided to take his heavy MG's 200 further into the outskirts of the eastern part of the village, an area which had already been occupied by the Soviets. From here he could fire into the hollow containing the advancing enemy troops. The prospect of ejecting the Soviet forces and setting up a good firing position looked bleak, but on his own initiative Vernhold decided to attempt it.

With grenades and pistols in hand they were able to fight their way to a suitable firing position, and despite being under heavy fire themselves they were able to bring down murderous fire on the Soviets in the hollow. Taken by surprise, they suffered heavy losses and the III./Inf.Rgt. 60 (mot) was granted a much needed respite.

Two days later, from a relatively open position far from friendly forces, Vernhold further distinguished himself in defeating a Soviet night attack. He was able to defeat the numerically superior enemy on this night with well directed fire.

For these two acts, crucial for the successful defensive efforts of the battalions, Vernhold received the Knight's Cross.


Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources