Högl, Franz-Josef

Date of birth:
October 21st, 1916 (Amstetten, Austria-Hungary)
Date of death:
November 29th, 1996 (Düren, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, German Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Leutnant der Reserve (2nd Lieutenant of Reserves)
Unit:
3. / Panzer-Pionier- 86
Awarded on:
April 19th, 1942
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Major
Unit:
Kommandeur Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 200 / 21.Panzer-Division
Awarded on:
November 26th, 1944
On the 24.08.1944, as the bulk of the 21. Panzer-Division stood on the west side of the Seine with no way to cross, Major Högl was able to set up a ferry crossing for the Division near Yville-sur-Seine with only limited resources. Over the course of its operation about 700 vehicles of all kinds were able to cross here.

In spite of this success however Högl realized that this ferry crossing of limited capacity could not hope to transport all the vehicles of the Division across the Seine. He thus got hold of a large steam ferry near Duclair and made it operational once again, while also creating routes to and from the crossing site. This crossing point would be of great operational significance, as it not only could transport heavy vehicles but also had areas on both sides of the river that provided concealment from the air. This meant that waiting vehicles on the west side of the Seine received only minor losses from allied air attacks. In total about 200 AFVs, 50 guns of all kinds and 2000 vehicles were able to cross the Seine at this site in the time period 24.08-28.08.1944.

The crossing point was still able to take vehicles across even as the first enemy elements reached the area on the 28.08.1944 and took the ferry under small-arms fire. Only after all the last vehicles had crossed was the ferry finally dismantled.

Major Högl had thus seen to it that all the operational vehicles of the 21. Panzer-Division were brought across the Seine and be available for use in later battles. This achievement was made all the more noteworthy by the fact that Major Högl only had about 40 Pionieren available for supervising the whole crossing operation at both sites, and these men had to work round the clock in fulfillment of their tasks. Högl would be awarded the Knight’s Cross for achieving such an important task with the limited means at hand.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

  • Photo 1: Willi Schumacher
  • Photo: Willi Schumacher collection
  • - SCHERZER, VEIT, Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht 1939-1945, Biblio Verlag, Bissendorf, 2010.
    - Die Ordensträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht (CD), VMD-Verlag GmbH, Osnabrück, 2002
    - Fellgiebel W.P., Elite of the Third Reich, The recipients of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939-1945: A Reference, Helion & Company Limited, Solihull, 2003, ISBN 1-874622-46-9
    - Patzwall K., Scherzer V., Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941-1945, Geschichte und Inhaber Band II, Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall, Norderstedt, 2001, ISBN 3-931533-45-X

Photo