- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Gefreiter (Lance Corporal)
- 1./Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 160
- Awarded on:
- February 8th, 1943
On 30.11.1942 the German Kampfgruppe Meyer with about 700 soldiers found itself encircled by the Soviets. As a result of this Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 138 received the order on 02.12.1942 to launch a relief attempt towards the encircled troops, who were in turn to try and link up with the relieving Gebirgsjäger. Gefreite Wrangel and his Pak gun crew were among the encircled soldiers of Kampfgruppe Meyer. The following press article describes the actions of Wrangel during this fighting...
"...A fierce blizzard of -25 degrees swirls around the gun of Gefreite Wrangel, which is in position on a hilltop. The enemy tanks advance while the Soviet infantry follow closely in waves.
Wrangel cold-bloodedly lets the steel colossi approach, 100, 80, 60 meters. The the gun roars three times, and every time the shot is a direct hit. Four times the same spectacle is repeated. For each tank two rounds of tracer ammunition are fired, followed by a third and final one, and the result is four burning Soviet tanks before the position. But then the gun jams. The gun crew works feverishly to fix the breech while Grenadiers and Bolsheviks engage in fierce combat all around, with infantry and artillery fire becoming ever more intense. Some of the gun crew have already fallen, and so Wrangel brings in a couple Grenadiers to take their place. After every shot the gun recoils a meter back across the hardened snow, and then has to be laboured back onto the hilltop. The AT gun shield is hit by a tank shell, but does not penetrate. The splinter effect wounds some of the gun crew, but the fighting continues, with the cold getting worse and more and more tanks incoming.
Wrangel decides to let the tanks roll past him, and then hit them in the back where the armour is weakest. Six additional tanks are destroyed in this way. And Werner Wrangel continues to shoot and shoot until every last round is expended. Then comes the hardest decision of the night, the gun must then be blown up to prevent it falling into the hands of the Bolsheviks..."
Eventually Kampfgruppe Meyer managed to fight its way out. Wrangel's achievements during the battle proved to be of major importance for the survival of the Kampfgruppe, and for this he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class, and later the Knight's Cross.