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Wehrpaß Obergefreiter Alfred Koch - 376th Infantry Reg : Close Combat Clasp, others

Article about: Here's a Wehrpass for Obergefreiter Alfred Koch. Mr. Koch was awarded the Demjanks Sheild, black and silver wound badges, EK2, Infantry Assault badge in silver, and the Close Combat Clasp in

  1. #11


    Below is an itemized look from Wikipedia at what I believe (from unit history) is this soldiers final days in service of the Fatherland for anyone interested. I believe the Close Combat Clasp may have been awarded after the second battle mentioned based on the dates. I can only speculate given the continual onslaught of Soviet attack, there was little time to update the combat activities of all the soldiers. And finally, I speculate since the division surrendered to the Soviets by May, the Jan 1, 1945 unit page entry was the last for the pass, and also the reason there was no official dismissal entry, as they were Soviet prisoners of war at that point, and probably for a long time after, making this pass a likely plunder either at the time of surrender, or during one of the previous retreats.

    It is unclear if the photos that came with it, belong with it.


    Thirty-three divisions of the Army Group North—commanded by Ferdinand Schörner—were cut off from Prussia and spread out along a front reaching from Riga to Liepāja, retreating to the more defensible Courland position, abandoning Riga.

    Soviet forces launched six major offensives against the German and Latvian forces entrenched in the Courland Pocket between 15 October 1944, and 4 April 1945.

    The German two-phase withdrawals during the execution of the second stage of the Soviet Baltic Offensive (14 September-24 November 1944), subsequent to the pocket being formed in the Baltic Offensive's first stage, the Memel Offensive Operation.

    First Battle

    From 15 to 22 October 1944 — Soviets launched the Riga Offensive Operation on the 15th at 10:00 after conducting a heavy artillery barrage. Hitler permitted the Army Group Commander, Ferdinand Schoerner, to commence withdrawal from Riga on 11 October, and the city was taken by the 3rd Baltic Front on 13 October. The front stabilised with the main remnant of Army Group North isolated in the peninsula.

    Second Battle

    From 27 October to 25 November — Soviets launched offensive trying to break through the front toward Skrunda and Saldus including, at one point initiating a simultaneous attack by 52 divisions. Soviets also attacked southeast of Liepāja in an attempt to capture that port. 80 divisions assaulted the Germans from November 1 to 15 in a front 12 km wide. Despite the 10:1 advantage in manpower, the Soviets seized only a strip of land roughly 4 by 12 km in size.

    Third Battle

    The 3rd grand battle (also known as “the other Christmas Battle”) started on December 21 with a Soviet attack on Germans near Saldus. The Soviet 2nd Baltic (northern sector) and 1st Baltic Fronts (southern sector) commenced a blockade, precipitating the German defence of the Courland perimeter during Soviet attempts to reduce it. In this battle serving with the 2nd Baltic Front's 22nd Army Latvian 130th Rifle Corps faced their opposites in the Latvian 19th SS Division. The battle ended on December 31 and the front was stabilized. The Soviets had gained a few more square kilometers of territory at the expense of tremendous losses in men, tanks, aircraft, etc.

    Fourth Battle

    On 15 January 1945, Army Group North was renamed Army Group Courland (Heeresgruppe Kurland) under Colonel-General Dr Lothar Rendulic. In the middle of January Heinz Guderian got Hitler’s permission to withdraw 7 divisions from Courland, however, Hitler refused to consider a total withdrawal. On 23 January Soviets launched offensive trying to break through the front toward Liepāja and Saldus. They managed to take the bridgeheads on Bārta and Vārtāja rivers but were soon driven off by the Germans.

    Fifth Battle

    The 5th grand battle started on February 12 with a Soviet attack against the Germans towards Džūkste. Other attacks took place south of Liepāja where the Soviets massed 21 divisions, and south of Tukums where 11 divisions tried to break through the German front and take the town; 4 of those 11 divisions were surrounded and destroyed. On February 16 the Soviets started an offensive against the 19th Division. Again savage fighting took place for the possession of a few farmhouses. The battle ended on March 12. Soviets lost 70,000 men dead and wounded, 608 tanks and 178 planes, but gained only a small strip of land including Džūkste and Priekule.

    Sixth Battle

    The last grand battle in Courland began on March 16 during the spring thaw and lasted until March 30. The Soviets suffered 74,000 casualties; 263 tanks were destroyed. The Germans near Saldus were pushed back a few miles. The 19th Division was replaced by a few German units and was used to counter-attack the Soviet breakthrough. It stemmed the Soviet advance and regained some of the positions lost by the Germans.
    Surrender of Army Group Courland

    On 8 May, Germany's Head of State (Staatsoberhaupt) and President (Reichspräsident) Karl Dönitz ordered Colonel-General Carl Hilpert—the Army Group's last commander—to surrender. Hilpert, his personal staff, and staffs of three Armies surrendered to Marshal Leonid Govorov, the commander of the Leningrad Front. At this time, the group still consisted of the remnants of 27 divisions and one brigade.

    On 8 May, General Rauser succeeded in obtaining better surrender terms from the Soviet command. On 9 May, the Soviet commission in Peilei started to interrogate the captive staff of Army Group Courland, and general collection of prisoners begun.

    By 12 May, approximately 135,000 German troops surrendered in the Courland Pocket. On 23 May, the Soviet collection of the German troops in the Courland Pocket was completed. A total of about 180,000 German troops were taken into captivity from the Baltic area. The bulk of the prisoners of war were initially held at the Valdai Hills camps.

    Other links related to previous combat entries:

    I'll add more for earlier activity here later.

    Siege of Leningrad



    Courland during World WarII

    Courland Pocket

    Area of operations - 225. Infanterie-Division
    Germany (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
    Netherlands & France (May 1940 - Jan 1942)
    *October 1942, Infanterie-Regiment 376 was renamed Grenadier Regiment 376.*
    Eastern front, northern sector (Jan 1942 - July 1944)
    Eastern front, central sector (July 1944)
    Eastern front, northern sector (July 1944 - Oct 1944)
    Kurland pocket (Oct 1944 - May 1945)

    Infantry Regiment 376 - Lexikon
    225. Infanterie-Division
    225. Infanterie-Division - Lexikon

    Quote by Paul D View Post
    Scott i can only reiterate what Andreas has said regarding your own personal efforts to understand and research the documents you are collecting , it really surprises me the amount of people who do not understand a word of German who purchase documents , then make no effort to learn any German at all or use any of the links that have been provided in the expectation that others will provide all the information for them !!
    Thanks Paul, I appreciate your comment. I probably should know a bit more before purchasing these, but I know just enough to get myself in trouble. They are helping me learn a great deal though, which I'm enjoying! Still, tracing through the history is like following in the soldiers footsteps, or reading a book. Those who do not wish to do this, are missing the best part of these documents in my opinion.
    Last edited by avenger; 12-01-2014 at 10:10 PM.

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  3. #12


    Click image for larger version. 

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    This is a really nice pass to a veteran Armee Gruppe Nord Combat Divison , one of my main interests is the Narva Battles so i;ve attached a map for you showing the positions of the 225 ID at Narva in summer 1944 . They were involved at this time with the defence of the area between Sirgala and Putki , facing what was known as the Krivasoo Bridgehead , the Russians had formed this in Feb 1944 by crossing the River south of the City , there intention was to drive North to the coast and thereby cut off all the German Forces in the Narva / Narva Bridgehead area , this was predominantly by the summer held by forces of the III SS Panzer Korps.

    The fighting around Putki had been going on since Feb 1944 in some terrible conditions , the area is Primeval forest and swamps , very wet even in summer and infested with mosquitos etc !!

  4. #13


    Thanks Paul! I'll add that lovely map to my documentation. I love to be able to visualize positions like this, and the conditions you mention remind me of a few scenes from Generation War, if you've had a chance to watch that.

    It also looks like you're in Estonia? It must be quite interesting to visit these locations and ponder what went on some 70 years ago.

  5. #14


    I've been in the forests and on the Battlefields many times !! Many of the Battlefields in the forests are still intact Scott , bunkers , trenches , gun positions and the detrious of war plus the mosquitos !!

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