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Mattern, Walter

Date of birth:
February 27th, 1920 (Braunschweig, Germany)
Date of death:
October 4th, 1974 (Braunschweig, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
SS-Obersturmführer (Lieutenant)
Unit:
Führer 7./SS-Panzer-Regiment 3
Awarded on:
October 20th, 1944
Mattern’s Knight’s Cross recommendation reads as follows…

“On the 18.08.1944 enemy armour assemblies in strength of about 40 tanks were reported in the woods located 2.5 km northeast of Klembow and 2 km south/southeast of Krusze-Stare. At around 06:30 on the next day a Zug from 5. Kompanie received orders to take 5 Panzer IVs and conduct a reconnaissance probe via Sitki as far as the Marcinoewk forest.

At the same time SS-Obersturmführer Mattern received orders to move out from Orzesznik with 8 Panzer IVs of his 7. Kompanie. He was to drive to a patch of forest 1 km northwest of Sitki and from there provide security to the north, northeast and east. The left wing of the Kompanie would be fully open during the approach. Weak elements of the Aufkl.Abt. 3 would meanwhile be pulling back with its left wing withdrawing to the western edge of Sitki, wherein the Abteilung would again dig in.

The Zug from 5. Kompanie that had been deployed for reconnaissance found itself in the middle of an enemy attack launched by 8 KV-85s and supported by strong artillery/mortar fire as well as ground attack aircraft. In a hard firefight a single KV-85 was knocked out. However a continued advance by the broken-through enemy as far as Sitki would bring about dangerous consequences for the right flank of Mattern’s Kompanie.

Recognizing this precarious situation Obersturmführer Mattern and his Panzers commenced a counterattack on Mattern’s own initiative, despite lacking infantry support and protection for their open flanks. At the point of his Kompanie Mattern thrusted deep into the enemy forces that had resumed their attack with about 500 men, and the Panzers inflicted severe losses on the enemy. The counterattack took place under extremely heavy enemy artillery and mortar fire. The enemy was caught totally off-guard by this unexpected counterthrust and he pulled back to the woods northeast of Sitki in disorder.

Along the line he had reached 1 km northeast of Sitki Obersturmführer Mattern and his Panzers, again all alone, once again took up security. Shortly afterwards the enemy struck again with about 300 men, 8 tanks and strong artillery/mortar/air support. Following a hard firefight the enemy attack was repulsed with hostile losses of 6 tanks and significant amounts of infantry.

Around 12:00-13:00 the enemy tried once more to attack the security line of Mattern’s Kompanie with tanks, infantry and strong artillery support. Both attacks were fended off with enemy losses of 2 tanks on each occasion and numerous infantry. The enemy had sustained quite bloody losses by this stage.

Around 16:00 a new enemy attack was launched against the open left flank of the Kompanie, again with tank and artillery support. However this attack was called off following enemy losses of 2 tanks and successful interception of their infantry with high-explosive shells and MG fire.

The attempt of the enemy to force a breakthrough after nightfall with a few tanks also failed with the loss of a tank. Only at this time did friendly infantry finally make contact with the Panzers of Mattern’s Kompanie, and these dug in along the line.

Through this determined action by Obersturmführer Mattern a deep enemy penetration by the very strong enemy towards the west was averted. As a result of the very high losses sustained here the enemy would only launch weak attacks in this sector over the following days. The lack of pressure here freed up forces to close an existing frontline gap further north that was about 3 km wide.

The 7. Kompanie under the leadership of SS-Obersturmführer Mattern destroyed the following on this day:

13 enemy tanks (11 Shermans, 1 T-34, 1 KV-85)
3 guns (7.62 cm)
2 anti-tank guns (4.7 cm)
1 light infantry gun
6 heavy machine-guns
10 light machine-guns
2 heavy mortars
Numerous light infantry weapons
Over 150 counted enemy dead

All of this was achieved with no friendly tank/personnel losses.

On the 25.08.1944 the enemy commenced a massive assault with infantry, tanks, artillery of all types and aircraft against the same sector of the Division. Mattern’s Kompanie again stood at the hotspot of this heavy defensive fighting. On this day Obersturmführer Mattern again showed himself to be a fearless warrior the whole day long, and was able to clean up all enemy penetrations via immediate counterthrusts launched with only minimal infantry support.

This exemplary, unique steadfastness and decisiveness of Obersturmführer Mattern ensured that the sought-after enemy breakthrough in this sector, attempted with a massive expenditure of men and materiel, did not succeed.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

  • - wikipedia.com
    - Microfilm Publication A3343. US National Archives.

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