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Albert Kerscher (deceased)
|German Army - Knights Cross with Oak Leaves. Oberfeldwebel Albert Kerscher was, like Otto Carius, a panzer ace from schwere Panzer Abteilung 502. He achieved his 100th kill in defending the Neuhauser Forest near Pillau, East Prussia in April 1945. On 22nd July 1944, 1st Lieutenant Otto Carius with his company of eight Tigers advanced towards the village on Malinava (northern suburb of Dunaburg) in order to halt the Russian advance. Carius and Kerscher took a Kubelwagen in order to check if the village was already in Russian hands. They discovered that Malinava had already been taken by the enemy. Carius recognised that the Russian tanks in the village were only advance troops waiting for the main force to arrive. He decided to recapture the village before the arrival of more Russian tanks. Carius returned to his company for briefing and explained his plan to take the village. He decided to attack the village with only two Tigers because there was only one road leading to the village and it meant very risky business. Six Tigers remained in the reserve while the Tigers of Carius and Kerscher moved towards the village of Malinava. Speed was the essence of the plan to take the Russians by surprise and immobilise their tanks. When they were about to enter the village, they could see two T-34/85 tanks rotating their turrets in their direction. Immediately Kerscher, following Carius at about 150 metres, fired two shots in rapid succession, and destroyed the two enemy tanks. This was the first time that Carius had encountered one of the latest JS-1 heavy tanks. The silhouette of the new heavy Russian tank was somewhat similar to that of the Tiger II, and Carius got confused at first but after a little hesitation, ordered his crew to fire at once, and the JS-1 burst into flames. Afterwards they realised that the entire battle was over in about twenty minutes. In such a short time, the two Tigers of Carius and Kerscher had knocked out 17 Russian tanks including the new JS-1. The Russians were taken by surprise and their quick and accurate perception of the situation were the main factors that led the two Tigers to victory. The achievement of Carius and Kerscher at Malinava is on the same level as the famous action of Michael Wittmann at Villers Bocage. He ended the war with a total score of 107. Albert Kerscher passed away on 12th June 2011.|
Norbert Kujacinski (deceased)
|Born 11th July 1920 in Berlin. Called up to the army in August 1939, he served in the Fench campaign before joining the 23rd Panzer Division on the eastern front. Fighting in the southern area of the eastern front, his unit avoided involvement at Stalingrad, but was used to relieve the forces involved there. His unit had just 20 tanks left by January 1943 - Kujacinski himself had earned the Iron Cross I and II. The rest of the year saw the unit re-equip before fighting at Dnieper towards the end of 1943. At this time, he was awarded the German Cross in Gold. The panzer division broke out of the fighting at Dnieper, reduced by losses to a Kampfgruppe instead of a Division. Towards the latter part of 1944, the unit had considerable success against the Russians in Poland and Hungary - during the attack on Nyiregyhaza in 7 days in October 1944, 600 Russian armoured vehicles were destroyed or captured. It was for his part in this success that Kujacinski was awarded the Knights Cross on 18th November 1944. His unit were still actively fighting in Austria by the time the war ended, and he was taken into US captivity until July 1945. He rejoined the army after the war and retired as an Oberstleutnant. He died on 2nd May 2009.|
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