On a journey of discovery to historical sites? Download the TracesOfWar app directly on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Gath, Heinrich Adolf

Date of birth:
August 2nd, 1911 (Hirschhausen/Hesse-Nassau, Germany)
Date of death:
May 5th, 1986 (Giessen/Hesse, Germany)
Nationality:
German (1933-1945, Third Reich)

Biography

Do you have more information about this person? Inform us!

Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Stabsfeldwebel (Sergeant Major)
Unit:
Zugführer, 2. Kompanie, Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 2, 2. Panzer-Division, Heer
Awarded on:
October 11th, 1943
The following newspaper article (dated 25.11.1943) describes why Gath was awarded the Knight’s Cross…

“Patrol Smashes a Soviet battalion - Another New Knight’s Cross Recipient from our District:

As previously reported, the Führer has awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross to Stabsfeldwebel Heinz Gath (who hails from Hirschhausen, Kreis Oberlahn-Usingen). The following report describes how he smashed the assembly area of a Soviet battalion with 3 armoured cars.

At the end of this past September, near the Desna river, an Aufklärungsabteilung from the Danube region received the task of screening the right German flank. During this time Stabsfeldwebel Gath was conducting a patrol operation near the village of K. with 3 armoured cars when he confirmed the presence of a Soviet battalion that was preparing to attack towards the west. The brave Stabsfeldwebel immediately resolved not to pass up such a favourable opportunity, and he decided to deal the Bolsheviks a significant blow here in order to preemptively halt their advance. Gath attacked the far numerically superior enemy in their left flank, and his bold gambit succeeded!

The Bolsheviks were totally surprised by this attack. Gath skillfully utilized this confusion, thrusting right into the middle of the battalion and inflicting heavy losses on the Bolsheviks by firing in all directions. After recovering from their surprise the enemy then began offering fierce resistance, however this was eventually crushed by the 3 armoured cars after a long and hard battle. Then the Bolsheviks fled in total disorder back across the Desna, and were pursued by Gath’s small troop up until it was forced to halt by the soggy ground adjacent to the river. By this time the enemy had left behind 55 dead, 58 prisoners and a rich bounty of both light and heavy infantry weapons. However, impressive as this success was by itself, Gath had made an even greater contribution by preventing the Soviets from advancing further and disrupting the planned withdrawal of the German troops.”
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes

Sources

Photo