|Gustav von Vaerst|
|Born||19 April 1894|
|Died||10 October 1975(aged 81)|
|Place of birth||Meiningen|
|Place of death||Wiesbaden|
German Empire (to 1918)|
Weimar Republic (to 1933)
|Years of service||1912-1945|
|Rank||General der Panzertruppe|
|Commands held||2. Schützen-Brigade|
World War I|
World War II
|Awards||Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross|
Gustav Fritz Julius von Vaerst (19 April 1894 – 10 October 1975) was a German General der Panzertruppe during World War II.
Vaerst was born in Meiningen. He married Astor Freiin von Swaine on 30 August 1925 in Theres. They had one son and three daughters.
After being released from a POW camp in 1947, Vaerst returned to what remained of his family's land holdings to live the rest of his life quietly on a hunting lodge in the town of Nordheim vor der Rhön, near Fladungen.
- Fahnenjunker: 15 July 1912
- Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier: 17 December 1912
- Fähnrich: 22 March 1913
- Leutnant: 17 February 1914
- Oberleutnant: 18 April 1917
- Rittmeister: 1 June 1924
- Major: 1 February 1934
- Oberstleutnant: 1 August 1936
- Oberst: 1 March 1939
- Generalmajor: 1 September 1941
- Generalleutnant: 1 December 1942
- General der Panzertruppe: 1 March 1943
Commands & Assignments
- Easter 1903-1907: Attended Gymnasium (High School) in Meiningen.
- June 1907 – 1908: Attended Realgymnasium in Meiningen.
- July 1908-13 July 1912: Attended Realgymnasium in München; attained his certificate of graduation from that institution.
- 15 July 1912: Entered the Army as a Fahnenjunker in Husaren-Regiment Landgraf Friedrich III von Hessen-Homburg (2. Kurhessisches) Nr.14.
- 3 August 1914: In the field with Hussar Regiment 14 and detached as an Ordnance Officer to the 22nd Cavalry Brigade.
- 1 December 1914: Returned to Hussar Regiment 14.
- 1 April 1915: Detached as an Ordnance Officer to the 22nd Cavalry Brigade.
- 26 May 1916: Returned to Hussar Regiment 14.
- 8 June 1916 – 27 August 1916: Deputy Regimental Adjutant of Hussar Regiment 14.
- 2 November 1916 – 27 December 1916: Deputy Regimental Adjutant of Hussar Regiment 14.
- 18 February 1917 – 25 February 1917: Detached to a course with Assault Battalion 4.
- 10 April 1917 – 20 September 1917: Deputy Regimental Adjutant of Hussar Regiment 14.
- 21 September 1917: Regimental Adjutant of Hussar Regiment 14.
- 5 August 1918: Detached as Deputy Adjutant to the staff of the 22nd Cavalry Brigade.
- 11 November 1918: Returned to Hussar Regiment 14 and delegated with the leadership of the 3rd Squadron.
- 28 February 1919: Delegated with the leadership of the 2nd Squadron of Volunteer Hussar Regiment Hessen-Homburg.
- 1 November 1919: Transferred to Reichswehr Cavalry Regiment 11.
- 1 April 1920: Transferred to the 16th Reiter (Mounted]-Regiment.
- 3 January 1921: Detached to Wehrkreis (Military District] Command VII in München for training as an Officer for Special Employment.
- 20 June 1922 – 31 July 1922: Detached to the II. Battalion of the 21st (Bavarian) Infantry Regiment.
- 1 October 1922: Relieved of his command to the staff of the 7th Division.
- 1 October 1924: Leader of the Machinegun Platoon of the 16th Reiter-Regiment.
- 30 September 1924 – 23 October 1924: Detached to a machinegun course at Sennelager.
- 1 October 1925: Chief of the 6th Squadron of the 16th Reiter-Regiment.
- 15 July 1927 – 15 August 1927: Detached to a course promoting standardized riding training at Hanover.
- 4–23 March 1929: Detached to the Course for Physical Education at Wünsdorf.
- 1 October 1929: Chief of the 3rd Squadron of the 16th Reiter-Regiment.
- 6 December 1929: Saber of Honor for good shooting with the carbine.
- 5–19 September 1930: Detached to the Hungarian Army.
- 1–7 October 1930: Detached to a cavalry course at Neuhammer.
- 1 November 1930: Transferred to the staff of the 1st Cavalry Division.
- 3 December 1930: Message of greeting from the Chief of the Army Command (General der Infanterie Kurt Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord) for good shooting with the carbine.
- 1 July 1933: Detached to the Cavalry School at Hanover.
- 1 January 1935: Transferred to the Hanover War School.
- 20 January 1938: Commander of Schützen (Rifle)-Regiment 2 of the 2nd Panzer Division.
- 11 April 1939 – 31 May 1941: Commander of the 2nd Schützen-Brigade of the 2nd Panzer Division. In September 1939, the 2nd Panzer Division, commanded by Generalleutnant Rudolf Veiel, took part in the invasion of Poland as a component of General der Kavallerie Ewald von Kleist's XXII Army Corps (Motorized). Following the Invasion of Poland, the 2nd Panzer Division transferred to western Germany and then engaged in the invasion of the Low Countries and France in May–June 1940. After a period of occupation and training duty in Poland, the division took part in Operation "Marita", the invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941 as a component of General der Infanterie Franz Böhme's XVIII Mountain Army Corps. Prior to Operation "Barbarossa", the invasion of the Soviet Union, Oberst von Vaerst relinquished command of the 2nd Schützen-Brigade to Oberst Arno von Lenski. An officer evaluation prepared by Generalleutnant Veiel on 25 August 1941 assessed Oberst von Vaerst's command qualities: "Splendid man of high personal standards. Practical, clear, calm and determined in his leadership and issuance of commands before the enemy! He has proven outstanding! Knight's Cross holder. His formal performance as a brigade commander as well as a leader of a mixed combat group is very good.")
- 1 June 1941 – 8 December 1941: Although his exact duty status during this period is not known, it appears from the evaluation cited above that Oberst/Generalmajor von Vaerst was serving at the School for Mobile Troops at Krampnitz for at least a part of the time.
- 9 December 1941 – 12 December 1942: Delegated with the leadership of the 15th Panzer Division in North Africa.
- 12 December 1942 – 26 May 1942: Commander of the 15th Panzer Division in North Africa.
- 26 May 1942: Wounded/in hospital. (After Generalmajor von Vaerst was wounded during the Battle of Gazala in Libya, temporary leadership of the 15th Panzer Division passed to Oberst Eduard Crasemann, commander of the division's Artillery Regiment 33 (Motorized).)
- 8 July 1942 – 31 August 1942: Again, Commander of the 15th Panzer Division in North Africa.
- 31 August 1942 – 17 September 1942: Delegated with the leadership of the German Afrika Korps. (In the early morning hours of 31 August 1942, General der Panzertruppe Walther Nehring, the Commanding General of the German Afrika Korps, was wounded when a British aircraft bombed his command vehicle during the Battle of Alam Halfa. Temporary command of the corps passed briefly to Nehring's chief of staff, Oberst Fritz Bayerlein, until later in the morning when Generalmajor von Vaerst relinquished command of the 15th Panzer Division to Generalmajor Heinz von Randow and assumed leadership of the German Afrika Korps. Although formally appointed to command on 1 September 1942, various sources indicate Generalleutnant (later General der Panzertruppe) Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma did not actually arrive in North Africa to take command of the German Afrika Korps until 17 September. Generalmajor von Vaerst resumed command of his division upon Ritter von Thoma's arrival.)
- 17 September 1942 – 11 November 1942: Again, Commander of the 15th Panzer Division in North Africa.
- 11 November 1942: On sick leave.
- 28 February 1943 – 9 May 1943: Commander-in-Chief of the 5th Panzer Army in North Africa.
- 9 May 1943-ca. 1946/1947: Prisoner of war in British captivity. (Pushed into a pocket southeast of Bizerta by the British-American linkup at Protville in Tunisia, General der Panzertruppe von Vaerst unconditionally surrendered his battered 5th Panzer Army on 9 May 1943 to Lieutenant General Omar N. Bradley's U.S. II Corps. On 12 May 1943, Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim, the Commander-in-Chief of Army Group Afrika, accompanied by General der Panzertruppe Hans Cramer, the Commanding General of the German Afrika Korps, surrendered at Ste.-Marie-du-Zit to Lieutenant-General Charles W. Allfrey and Major-General Francis Tuker, commanders of the V Corps and the 4th Indian Division respectively. The next morning, Maresciallo d'Italia Giovanni Messe surrendered the remnants of his Italian 1st Army to Major-General Sir Bernard Freyberg, the commander of the 2nd New Zealand Division, thus ending the long and costly campaign in North Africa.)
Known POW camp transfers
- 16 May 1943 - transferred to Trent Park Camp 11 sorting camp.
- 1 June 1943 - departure from Trent Park Camp 11 sorting camp to unknown camp.
Decorations & Awards
- Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross: 30 July 1940, Oberst, Commander of the 2nd Schützen-Brigade.
- Prussian Iron Cross, 1st Class (1914): 24 December 1916.
- Prussian Iron Cross, 2nd Class (1914): 25 September 1914.
- 1939 Clasp to the Iron Cross, 1st Class
- 1939 Clasp to the Iron Cross, 2nd Class
- Saxe-Meiningen Cross for Merit in War: 30 May 1915.
- Schaumburg-Lippe Cross for Faithful Service: 29 November 1914.
- Cross of Honor for Combatants 1914-1918
- Armed Forces Long Service Award, 1st Class (25-year Service Cross): 2 October 1936.
- Armed Forces Long Service Award, 3rd Class (12-year Service Medal): 2 October 1936.
- Commemorative Medal of 13 March 1938: 8 November 1938.
NOTE: Based on his service in World War II, it would seem probable that General der Panzertruppe von Vaerst was a recipient of the following decorations: Panzer Assault Badge in Bronze or Silver; Wound Badge in Black (for wounds received on 26 May 1942); and the "AFRIKA" Campaign Cuff title. However, no photographic or documentary evidence has been seen to support this assumption.
World War I Combat Service Record
- 6–18 August 1914: Engagement against the Othain and Ciers Districts and reconnaissance in force at Fillen.
- 22–27 August 1914: Battle of Longwy - Longuyon and the Othain District.
- 28 August 1914 – 1 September 1914: Battle of the Maas River crossings.
- 2–3 September 1914: Battle of Varennes - Montfaucon.
- 4–5 September 1914: Pursuit west of Verdun and through the Argonne.
- 7–11 September 1914: Battle on the Rhine–Marne canal.
- 4–6 October 1914: Engagement before Lille.
- 8–15 October 1914: Engagement at St. Jans Cappel - Metern - Berquin - Estaires.
- 15–28 October 1914: Battle of Lille.
- 30 October 1914 – 24 November 1914: Battle of Ypern.
- 13 October-13 December 1914: Positional combat in Flanders and Artois.
- 3–21 April 1915: Positional combat between Augustów, Marijampolė and Pilviškės.
- 26 April 1915 – 29 May 1915: Advance against Lithuania and Courland.
- 28 April 1915: Engagement at Kelmė.
- 30 April 1915: Engagement at Šiauliai.
- 2 May 1915: Engagement at Skaistgiris and Joniškis.
- 4–9 May 1915: Advance against Kėdainiai.
- 5 May 1915: Engagement at Baisiogola.
- 7 May 1915 – 13 July 1915: Engagement on the lower Dubysa River.
- 9–15 May 1915: Engagement at Šiauliai.
- 19–26 May 1915: Engagement at Raseiniai.
- 27 May 1915 – 4 June 1915: Engagement at Sawdiniky and near Dubysa River.
- 4–7 June 1915: Engagement at Tytuvėnai.
- 6–7 June 1915: Engagement at Bubice.
- 8–9 June 1915: Engagement at Jlgize.
- 10–26 June 1915: Engagement at Žaiginis and on the Swamp Tyrulis.
- 14–25 July 1915: Battle of Šiauliai.
- 30 July 1915 – 7 August 1915: Battle of Kupiškis.
- 3–10 August 1915: Engagement at Kavarskas and Ukmergė.
- 19 August 1915 – 8 September 1915: Niemen Battle.
- 9 September 1915 – 2 October 1915: Battle of Vilnius.
- 1 January 1916 – 10 August 1916: Positional combat between Kreva - Smorgen - Lake Narotsch.
- 25 August 1916 – 21 November 1916: Positional combat west of Brody.
- 9–20 December 1916: Combat pursuit to Ialomiţa - Prahova - Buzău.
- 9 January 1917 – 24 February 1917: Border defense on the Belgian-Holland border.
- 16 March 1917 – 7 April 1917: Combat before the "Siegfried" Front.
- 29 June 1917 – 9 September 1917: Border defense on the Belgian-Holland border.
- 14 September 1917 – 20 October 1917: Positional combat on the upper Styr and Stokhod Rivers.
- 3 December 1917 – 16 February 1918: In the War Zone on the Stokhod River during the cessation of hostilities.
- 19 February 1918 – 15 November 1918: Combat in support of the Ukraine.
- 16 November 1918 – 14 January 1919: Evacuation of the Ukraine.
- 15 January 1919 – 20 February 1919: Border and railway protection in Białystok.
- 21 February 1919: Evacuation home.
- Scherzer 2007, p. 755.
- Fellgiebel 2000, p. 429.
- Alman, Karl (1998) (in German). Ritterkreuzträger des Afrikakorps [Knight's Cross Bearers of the Afrika Korps]. Rastatt, Germany: VPM Verlagsunion Pabel Moewig. ISBN 978-3-8118-1457-8.
- Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) (in German). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 – Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtsteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches]. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6.
- Scherzer, Veit (2007) (in German). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives]. Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.
Generalleutnant Erwin Menny
|Commander of 15. Panzer-Division
9 December 1941 – 26 May 1942
Generalleutnant Eduard Crasemann
Generalleutnant Heinz von Randow
|Commander of 15. Panzer-Division
25 August 1942 – 11 November 1942
Generalleutnant Willibald Borowietz
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