By Gary Tankard

 

Served with 56th Inf. Division from August 1938 to November 1940 and 370th Inf. Division from March 1942 to October 1943.
Wounded on 16th October 1943 (Southern Ukraine) resulting in amputation of lower left arm.
Awarded Westwall Medal, Silver Wound Badge, Infantry Assault Badge, Iron Cross 2nd Class, Iron Cross 1st Class and Gold Wound Badge.

The son of a laborer, Hillebrand was born in Rochlitz on 10th May 1913. He worked as a typesetter until May 1938 when he was called up to Inf. Regt. 101, part of 14th Inf. Division. After completing his basic training he returned to civilian life. Hillebrand was recalled in September 1938 for the Sudetenland crisis and was assigned to Inf. Regt. 3, part of 21st Inf. Div., until the crisis was resolved at the end of October.

The following year, just before the start of the war, Hillebrand was recalled again this time to 1./ Inf. Regt. 234, part of 56th Inf. Division. During the invasion of Poland this division operated in the rear areas and consequently Hillebrand saw no action. In October the division was transported to the West, where it took up positions on the border with Holland near Geldern. Because during this time he served as part of the force guarding Germanyís western border, Hillebrand was awarded the Westwall Medal on 8th March 1940. He was also promoted to Gefreiter in April 1940. When the invasion of the West began the division was part of 9th Korps, 6th Army. The division advanced north of Venlo, through Helmond and into Belgium. It then fought its way through Turnhout and crossed the Albert Canal at Herenthals before advancing to the south of Antwerp where it took part in the fighting for Mechelen. The division transferred to 18th Army on 19th May and advanced towards Gent. By now the Allied forces had been cut off from the south and fell back on Dunkirk. Hillebrandís division pushed up to the eastern edge of the perimeter.

After the end of the Dunkirk operation the division was placed in OKH reserve and did not see any action in the fighting in France. After the French surrender the division was stationed in the Paris area until September when the division transferred to Poland. In November 1940 one third of the division was detached to form the basis of the new 304th Inf. Div. being formed in Germany. Hillebrandís company became 10./ Inf. Regt. 573. Hillebrand was promoted to Obergefreiter at the same time. This division moved to Belgium in April 1941 and remained both here and in France on coastal defensive duties. While serving here Hillebrand was promoted again to Unteroffizier, in December 1941.

In March 1942 Hillebrandís regiment was renamed as Inf. Regt. 667 and transferred to form part of the new 370th Inf. Division, which was forming up in France. In June 1942 this division entrained for southern Russia. It was assigned to 4th Korps, 17th Army for the German summer offensive that began in early July. The division advanced from the River Mius towards Rostov . Here the division crossed the River Don and moved to Elista which was captured on 12th August, and where, as part of 52nd Korps, 1st Panzer Army, it provided flank protection for the drive on the Caucasus. By late August this advance had stalled in the foothills of the Caucasus at the River Terek.

The 52nd Korps, relieved from its flank duties moved up to the river and succeeded in establishing a bridgehead across the river at Mozdok. In mid-September attempts to move out from the bridgeheads made very slow progress in the face of stiff resistance and by November the advance had ground to a halt. During this fighting Hillebrand was wounded three times; on 15th September, and 10th and 13th October. The wounds could not have been major as he was only hospitalized for a couple days on each occasion before rejoining his unit. He was awarded the Silver Wound Badge on 1st November 1942 for these injuries. A few days later on the 6th November he was awarded the Infantry Assault Badge in Silver. The qualifying actions were: 21st May 1940 at Gysenzede and Gent in Belgium, where he served as a messenger, 14th July and 15th September 1942 in Russia, where he served as a section leader.

The Germans held their defensive positions until the beginning of January when the Soviet operations after their victory at Stalingrad threatened to cut off the German forces in the Caucasus. They then embarked on a long fighting retreat to the Kuban area that was reached in early February. Hillebrandís division was assigned to 49th Mountain Korps, 17th Army and took up defensive positions on the northern part of the bridgehead. Despite Soviet attempts to clear the Kuban bridgehead the Germans held their positions throughout the spring and summer of 1943. During the time in the bridgehead Hillebrand was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class on 18th May 1943. However, by late summer Soviet advances in the Ukraine threatened disaster and the decision was taken to abandon the Kuban.

The 370th Inf. Div. left in early October and was immediately rushed north to Melitopol where 6th Army was under severe pressure. The division was committed as part of 29th Korps and was heavily engaged in attempting to hold the Soviets. During this fighting Hillebrand was hit in the left upper arm on the 16th October 1943 by an explosive rifle bullet. The wound was so severe that his arm was amputated. For his part in the action he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class and, because of his injury, the Gold Wound Badge on 20th November 1943. He was evacuated to Germany and stayed in hospital until October 1944, being promoted to Feldwebel in January 1944. In November 1944, instead of being discharged, he was sent to Stamm Kp./ Gren. Ers. Btl. 102, a replacement unit for 24th Inf. Div. based in Chemnitz. He served here in April 1945 after which there are no more entries. However, during his time here he was repeatedly hospitalized with malaria so he could have been discharged.
Wehr Number: Dobeln 13 / 463 / 5
Dog Tag Number: 1./ Inf. Regt. 234 #127
Date Registered: 6th June 1936
Units: 23.5.38 - 27.38 - 15./ Inf. Regt. 101 (14th Inf. Div.)
27.8.39 - 18.11.40 - 1./ Inf. Regt. 234 (56th Inf. Div.)
19.11.40 - 14.3.42 - 10./ Inf. Regt. 573 (304th Inf. Div.)
15.3.42 - 14.3.43 - 2./ Inf. Regt. 667 (370th Inf. Div.)
15.3.43 - 30.11.43 - 6./ Gren Regt. 667
1.12.43 - 31.10.44 - Gen./ Gren Ers. u. ausb Btl. 327
1.11.44 - 8.11.44 - Gen. Ldschtz. Ers. Btl. 8 (Local Defence Rep. Unit)
9.11.44 - 28.11.44 - Heeres Entlassungstelle 2/IV
29.11.44 - 14.4.45 - Stamm Kp./ Gren. Ers. Btl. 102 (24th Inf. Div. Rep. Unit)
Weapons trained on: K98, Pistol, L.M.G. 13, Handgrenade.
Special Training: NCO course, Pz. Busche 39 (anti-tank rifle).
Awards: Westwall Medal 8.3.40, Silver Wound Badge 1.11.42, Infantry Assault Badge 6.11.42, Iron Cross 2nd Class 18.5.43, Iron Cross 1st Class 20.11.43 and Gold Wound Badge 20.11.43.
Hospitalizations/Wounds: 23.9.42 - 26.9.42 - ??
10.10.42 - 15.10.42 - ??
16.10.43 - 9.10.44 - Amputation of lower left arm.
Promotions: 1.10.39 - Oberschutzen.
1.4.40 - Gefreiter.
1.2.40 - Obergefreiter.
1.12.41 - Unteroffizier.
1.1.44 - Feldwebel.




Service Awards Main West Wall Medal



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