+18.12.1982 Rosenheim an den Folgen seiner im Kriege erlittenen Verwundungen
Knights Cross: 06.01.1942
As: Oberleutnant 9./Stuka-Geschw. 2
Oakleaves: as the 229th Recipient 14.04.1943
Olt.,Staffelkpt.1./StG “ Immelmann “
Swords: as the 42nd Recipient 25.11.1943
Hptm.,Fhr.III./StG 2 “ Immelmann “
Diamonds: as the 10th Recipient 29.03.1944
Maj.,Kdr.III/SG2 “ Immelmann “
Golden Oakleaves and Diamonds: Only Recipient 29.12.1944
Otl.,Kdre.SG2 “ Immelmann “
Postwar signed photo mounted on cardboard backing measuring 4 ½” x 6 ¼” with mounting 5 ¾ x 8”. From an older collection recipient has mounted the photo on cardboard backing, I assume it was Herr Hampel and must have received it around Christmas or as a Christmas gift as he seems to have used the green and red border in the spirit of the Merry Christmas and Happy New Year that he has mounted on the cardboard.
German forces invaded Poland in 1939 starting World War II in Europe. As an air observer, Rudel flew on long-range reconnaissance missions over Poland. During 1940, he served as a regimental adjutant for the 43rd Aviators Training Regiment, based at Vienna
In early 1941, he underwent training as a Stuka pilot. He was posted to a dive-bomber wing, Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 (StG 2), which was moved to occupied Poland in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, in June 1941. On 21 September 1941, Rudel took part in an attack on the Soviet battleship Marat of the Baltic Fleet. Marat' was sunk at her moorings on 23 September 1941 after being hit by one 1,000-kilogram (2,200 lb) bomb near the forward superstructure. It caused the explosion of the forward magazine which demolished the superstructure and the forward part of the hull. 326 men were killed and the ship gradually settled to the bottom in 11 meters (36 ft) of water. Her sinking is commonly credited to Rudel. Rudel's unit then took part in Operation Typhoon, Army Group Center's attempt to capture the Soviet capital.
Rudel's gunner from October 1941 was Erwin Hentschel, who served with Rudel for the next two and a half years, earning the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during that period. He completed 1400 sorties with Rudel and drowned on 21 March 1944 when they were making their way to the German lines following a forced landing.
In early 1942, Rudel got married while home on leave. Later in the year, he took part in the Battle of Stalingrad. In February 1943, Rudel flew his 1,000th combat mission. He then participated in the experiments with using the Ju 87 G in the anti-tank role. The anti-tank unit took part in operations against the Soviet Kerch–Eltigen Operation. The footage from an onboard gun camera was used in Die Deutsche Wochenschau, a Reich Ministry of Propaganda newsreel. In April 1943, Rudel was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross, receiving them from Hitler personally in Berlin. Rudel participated in the Battle of Kursk with the same unit. In October 1943, Rudel was credited with the destruction of his 100th tank and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on 25 November.
Rudel was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III. Gruppe on 22 February 1944. On 20 March, Rudel performed a forced landing behind Soviet line and he and his gunner set out to the German lines on foot. The men attempted to swim across the Dniester River and Rudel's gunner drowned in the attempt. Upon his return, Ernst Gadermann, previously the troop doctor of III. Gruppe, joined Rudel as his new radio operator and air gunner. Rudel was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds on 29 March 1944, the tenth member of the Wehrmacht to receive this award. The presentation was made by Hitler personally.
Rudel was promoted to Oberstleutnant on 1 September 1944, and appointed leader of SG 2, replacing Stepp, on 1 October 1944. On 22 December 1944, Rudel completed his 2,400th combat mission, and the next day, he reported his 463rd tank destroyed. On 29 December 1944, Rudel was promoted to Oberst (colonel), and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, the only person to receive this decoration. This award was presented to him by Hitler on 1 January 1945.
On 8 February 1945, Rudel was badly wounded in the right foot, and crash landed inside German lines. Rudel's leg was amputated below the knee. He returned to flying on 25 March 1945. He claimed 26 more tanks destroyed by the end of the war. On 19 April 1945, the day before Hitler's final birthday, Rudel met with Hitler in the Führerbunker at the Reich Chancellery in Berlin. On 8 May 1945, Rudel fled westward from an airfield near Prague, landing in US controlled territory, and surrendered.
During the war, Rudel was credited with the destruction of 519 tanks, as well as a number of ships. He claimed 51 aerial victories and the destruction of more than 800 vehicles of all types. He flew 2,530 ground-attack missions exclusively on the Eastern Front, usually flying the Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bomber. Rudel was the most decorated German serviceman of World War II receiving the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds in January 1945; the decoration was created specifically for him. Rudel surrendered to US forces on 8 May 1945.
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