Battle of Kursk - Erwin at war
It was the summer of 1943. 258 Infantry Division was supporting the 46th Panzer Corps. Along with many other units to the south, they were trying to cut off a Russian salient protruding dangerously into German lines at Kursk in southern Russia. The German army was acting under a direct order from Adolf Hitler against the advice of his Generals who recommended that they regroup and form a new defensive line to give time for the arrival of new equipment and men make up for the heavy losses incurred during their retreat so far.
Extract from 'Run from the red tide.'
Erwin belonged to one of the three grenadier regiments in 258 Infantry Division, which also comprised Fusiliers, Artillery, Tank destroyers, pioneers, and supply units for all these, even a news office. He had no idea what the supposed purpose of the news department was, as from experience when he was on leave, very little of what actually happened ever appeared in the newspapers at home.
Image Attribution: Bundesarchiv, Bild 101III-Merz-014-12A / Merz / CC-BY-SA 3.0
Tanks at the battle of Kursk.
The image is of Erwin shortly after his training period and before he became an Obergrenadier (private first class), Erwin did not attain a higher rank, he was never a greatly ambitious person, particularly where military service was concerned
Prior to his conscription as a teenager, he learned to repair shoes under the direction of a cobbler. Unfortunately, this did not provide sufficient remuneration to support his family so he took a better paying job as a lorry drivers mate conveying local farm produce to the large city markets. The best-paid jobs were more available to members of the NAZI party but Erwin had no wish to become involved with their politics.
Lightly built and about 1.65 metres tall, Erwin was always the joker, a trait that was apt to get him into trouble on occasions.
He was fortunate during his military service that the army policy (dictated by the Führer) wasthat soldiers with families be given priority for Christmas leave and important family occasions. Erwin had no illusions about the way the war was going and urged his wife to take the family westwards at the earliest opportunity during his visit on leave of absence in March 1944.
Germany autumn 1944
By autumn 1944 the RedArmy was advancing toward the East German border and appeared unstoppable. A pregnant Elisabeth and four of her children are trapped in Brieg unable to flee. Lena is at Country School 300Km away near Schneidemühl and Erwin posted to the Western front has been reported missing in action.