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Hans Sandrock
Born 20 April 1913
Died 23 September 1995 (1995-09-24) (aged 82)
Place of birth Saarbrücken
Allegiance Germany Nazi-Germany
Service/branch German Army
Years of service 1934–1945
Rank Major
Unit 3rd Panzer Division
Afrika Korps
Battles/wars World War II
 • Invasion of Poland
 • Evacuation of Dunkirk
 • Siege of Tobruk
 • Battle of Gazala
Awards Iron Cross First Class
Panzer Assault Badge
Italian Medal of Bravery
Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
Luftwaffe Honor plate

Hans Sandrock, born in April 1913 in Saarbrücken, was an officer of the German Army during World War II, during which he was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The Knight's Cross was awarded to recognize extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership by Nazi Germany during World War II. He survived the war, and died in 1995 at the age of 82.

Early life[edit | edit source]

The son of an official in the German Air Ministry, Sandrock attended grammar school and subsequently a Gymnasium in Berlin-Steglitz. After leaving school, he trained for one year as an apprentice with a crane and elevator factory in Berlin, followed by four terms of study at the Berlin Institute of Technology as a Mechanical Engineer. During that time he became a member of the German Studentenverbindung Corps Pomerania-Silesia, which today is located in Bayreuth, Bavaria.

Military career[edit | edit source]

On 1 September 1934, Sandrock enlisted as a volunteer in the army's driving instructors command (German language: Kraftfahrlehrkommando) in Zossen, near Berlin, being promoted to Gefreiter in April 1935. He was put forward as an Officer Aspirant. After attending the Hanover War School in 1936, he was posted to Panzer Regiment 5 and commissioned as a Lieutenant. As a platoon commander with the 2nd Company, Panzer Regiment 5, Sandrock took part in the occupation of Sudetenland.

World War II[edit | edit source]

On 1 September 1939, Sandrock was promoted to Oberleutnant and served with the 1 Company, Panzer Regiment 5, during the Polish campaign. In this period, Panzer Regiment 5 formed part of the 3rd Panzer Division with Guderian's XIX Corps, attacking through Northern Poland. Sandrock received the Iron Cross Second Class on 22 October 1939.[1]

During the Battle of France, Panzer Regiment 5 distinguished itself as part of Hoepner's XVI Panzer Corps, attacking through Belgium and participating in the pursuit during the Evacuation of Dunkirk. Sandrock was awarded the Panzer Assault Badge on 6 June 1940. In late 1940, Panzer Regiment 5 was removed from the 3rd Panzer Division and became part of the 5th Light Division.

On 10 March 1941, Panzer Regiment 5 was sent to North Africa as part of the Afrika Korps. It fought in the push into Egypt and the efforts to capture Tobruk. In the summer of 1941, it was reformed within the 21st Panzer Division. In 1942, Panzer Regiment 5 took part in the capture of Benghazi, fought in the Battle of Gazala, saw action in the Fall of Tobruk and the push to El Alamein. During his service in North Africa, Sandrock was awarded the Iron Cross First Class in April 1941, the Italian Bravery Medal in February 1942 and the German Cross in Gold on 1 June 1942. He was promoted to the rank of Hauptmann (Captain) on 1 April 1942. Later that year, the 21st Panzer Division experienced heavy losses in fighting around El Alamein in November. Sandrock was severely wounded and was returned to Germany for hospital treatment and recuperation.

On 25 July 1943, Sandrock, fully recovered, was posted to another elite unit, Fallschirm-Panzerregiment Hermann Göring, and served with the III Sturmgeschütz Detachment during the withdrawal through Sicily and the evacuation to the Italian mainland over the Strait of Messina. The Hermann Göring Panzer Regiment fought in all the major battles in Italy. In May 1944, it was sent to Livorno in the north of Italy and temporarily held in reserve.

Sandrock was awarded the Panzer Assault Badge for 25 engagements on December 1943 and the following grade for 50 engagements in June 1944. Around this time his Division was successful in its participation in the destruction of the Soviet III Tank Corps near Warsaw.

On 18 October 1944, Sandrock was promoted to Major. During the retreat from East Prussia, Sandrock's personal score of enemy tanks and armoured vehicles destroyed reached 123. For this achievement, he was decorated with the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 21 October 1944. His decoration and with it the Luftwaffe Honor plate, were presented by General der Artillerie Weidling, commander of XXXXI Panzer Korps. Wounded in action during April 1945, Sandrock was hospitalised and on his recovery joined the his regiment's reserve detachment in Oranienburg. Although the bulk of the Hermann Göring units were cut off and captured by Soviet forces, Sandrock made his way west, surrendering to United States forces. On 18 May 1945, he escaped from captivity and succeeded in reaching his family home near Bonn.

Later life[edit | edit source]

Sandrock died in 1995 at the age of 82.

References[edit | edit source]

  • 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. 
  • Nietrug, Gerd (2004). Die Ritterkreuzträger des Saarlandes 1939 - 1945. Zweibrücken: VDM Nickel. ISBN 3-925480-93-5. 
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