- Second World War (1939-1945)
- Oberleutnant der Reserve (1st Lieutenant of Reserves)
- 1./Pionier-Bataillon 6 (L)
- Awarded on:
- April 5th, 1944
On 03.02.1944, during the fighting around Vitebsk, the Soviets succeeded in breaking through the German lines and seizing the villages of Kosly and Michali. By these actions the possibility that Vitebsk could be encircled in the near future became a very distinct one.
To stave off this threat the Pionier-Bataillon 6 (L), under the command of Oberleutnant der Reserve Zurmöhle, was ordered to launch a midnight counterattack despite lacking heavy weapons and being only at company strength. In spite of these handicaps, and a numerical inferiority of 3-1, they succeeded in recapturing the two villages as well as the important nearby Hill 181.8.
This hill became the centre of fierce combat in the next few days. On 5 February the Soviets managed to take the hill in an 300-man strong attack, but were in turn ejected after a spontaneous attack by the Pioniere. The next day, the Soviets launched an attack on the right wing with three companies. This too was repulsed by the German defenders but another attack soon followed, supported by two T-34's and a lend-lease Grant. These were however knocked out by supporting German Tiger tanks, while the Pioniere held off the supporting infantry. A final attack by 60-70 men launched that night was also defeated.
For the skillful handling of his troops, and their success in this battle in the face of superior forces, Zurmöhle was decorated with the Knight's Cross.