Wound Badge Recipients Wilhelm Haffner

Wilhelm was born in Jagstfeld Germany on December 29, 1906 and entered the military at the age of 35 on March 6, 1942. Even at his age he was listed as “fit for combat”, and was assigned to 1./Pi.Ers.Btl. 35. Wilhelm remained here until May 11, 1942, when he was assigned to the 260th Infantry Division.

The 260th Infantry Division was attached to Army Group central on the Russian Front, and was a front line combat unit that arrived in Russia immediately after the invasion began. The 260th was almost continuously engaged from July 1941 until the end of the Soviet winter of 1941-42. The division was to remain under the command of Army Group Central for the rest of its existence. It fought in the defensive battles of 1942, in the Rzhev withdrawal the next year, in the battles around Smolensk, and at Gomel. In July 1944, the 260th was surrounded and destroyed near Minsk.

Upon leaving Ers.Btl. 35, Wilhelm was assigned to 2./Inf.Rgt. 470 (attached to the 260th Infantry Division). According to his Wehrpass, he was “Inserted into the Eastern Front”. At that time, Wilhelm’s division was attached to the XII Corp, 4th Army, in Spass-Demensk. Wilhelm remained with the 470th Inf. Rgt. Until July 20, 1942, at which time he transferred to 5. Fahr.Kol. 260th Div. Listed in his Wehrpass are the following dates and locations.

March 7, 1943 – Action at Ressa-Ugra.
March 8, 1943-March 31, 1943 – Insertion in the line at Spass-Demensk-Dorogobuschestw. Welish.Demensk.
April 1, 1943 - Further action in the East.

Throughout January to August of 1943 the 260th remained with XII Corp, 4th Army, just north of Spass-Demensk and Mogilew. A major Russian assault split the line on the seam of the 260th and its left-hand neighbor, the 268th Infantry Division. This, together with a breakthrough on the southern side of the Spass-Demensk salient, forced the withdrawal from the area. Continued Russian offensives against Army Group Center’s front forced full-scale retreats to the Desna (reached in mid-September). In this withdrawal, the 260th continued to be part of XII corps, 4th Army and fell back towards Roslavi on the northern side of the Roslavi-Spass-Demensk highway. The Desna line was held only briefly before the Germans were compelled to fall back towards the Dneiper.

The 260th now came under control of 41st Panzer corps, 9th Army, and occupied new positions on the Pronya River north of Propoisk (southeast of Mogilev). This line was held until late December 1943, when a fresh Russian offensive aimed at Mogilev forced the abandonment of these positions. Even so, the Soviet offensive ran into stiff German resistance and stalled, falling short of its intended objectives. The division was under the control of the XXIII corps, 4th Army during this strugle. When their section of the front returned to positional warfare, the 260th occupied its new positions to the southeast of Mogilev as part of the XII corps, 4th Army.

On January 13, 1944, Wilhelm was again transferred within the 260th and was reassigned to the 2./ Gren. Rgt. 480, XII Corps, 4th Army. It was with this Rgt. on February 2, 1944, that Wilhelm was grievously wounded. The Russians had been pounding the central front for a year and at great cost had pushed the Germans off their defensive positions. Against the 4th Army front alone, there had been 8 major thrusts, with the last attempt having been warded off in April 1944. The Russians failed to force a break through in the direction of Orsha and Mogilev despite repeated frontal and flanking attacks. It was here, during one of these attacks, that Wilhelm was wounded. For his wounds and actions, Wilhelm received the Silver wound badge and the Iron Cross 2nd Class.

Beyond these decorations and his military career, we respectfully share with you a more intimate aspect of his life. In the next page you will find letters written from the hospital by Wilhelm, his unit and doctor. Please follow the link below to explore that page

Wilhelm Haffners' Letters

Main Imperial Spanish 1939 (W.W. II) 20th July

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This page created by David Tiffin and Sebastian Bianchi