HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHAT THE EQUIVALENT TO OUR VICTORIA CROSS WAS?
That is, their HIGHEST POSSIBLE AWARD FOR VALOUR IN THE FIELD
Do you know what it is ?
I didn't, so I did a bit of searching and this is what I found.
It was in fact a medal which was issued just the once, and Hitler, when he had won the war, was saving this medal for a handful of elite servicemen. It was the
Knights Cross with Golden Oak Leaves Swords and Diamonds
However, since there was only one recipient, an airman, it can hardly be considered to be the direct equivalent of our Victoria Cross which was issued 182 times in the same war [WW2].
In reality, it was an 'established' medal and was issued to the very best of their armed forces from beginning to end of the second world war. It was the
Knights Cross with Oak Leaves Swords and Diamonds
which I have reduced to KCWOLSAD. VC is much easier!
Being naval men, we automatically think of the proverbial U-Boat commanders [whether the C-in-C like Donitz] or seagoing aces like [Gunther Prien] to be up with the Leaders of the Third Reich awards. We know that other naval personnel failed to win favour with the Fuehrer [like the Captain and Admiral onboard the Bismarck at the time of her sinking, respectively Lindermann and Lutjens]. The lack lustre performance of the German surface navy put their admirals and captains at the very bottom of the list of awards dished out from Berlin, but the U-Boats: well given a chance, they could have won the war for Germany.
Only TWO members of the U-Boat branch won this award despite their reputation and front runners of WW2 stories.
This is how their awards ranking was constituted.
The second world war saw something of a proliferation of awards for gallantry in Germany. The Iron Cross had emerged in Prussia, where it was first awarded in 1813. After German unification it continued to be awarded during wars until 1945. The Iron Cross existed in two main grades (2nd Class and 1st Class). In order to win the Iron Cross 1st Class, the recipient already had to have the Iron Cross 2nd Class. The Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded during the Second World War. To qualify for it one had to hold the Iron Cross 1st Class already. The Knight’s Cross was awarded 7,313 times.
As the war went on, extra grades were added to the Knight’s Cross. First came the Oak Leaves, awarded 883 times, then the Oak Leaves and Swords, awarded 159 times. Finally the Knight’s Cross with Oak-Leaves, Swords and Diamonds was created. This was only awarded 27 times.
Recipients of the Knight’s Cross with Oak-Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
|15 July 1941||Werner Mölders||Air|
|28 January 1942||Adolf Galland||Air|
|August 1942||Gordon Gollob||Air|
|2 September 1942||Hans Joachim Marseille||Air|
|16 September 1942||Hermann Graf||Air|
|March 1943||Erwin Rommel||Army|
|9 August 1943||Wolfgang Luth||U boats|
|19 October 1943||Walter Nowotny||Air|
|14 December 1943||Adalbert Schulz||Army|
|29 March 1944||Hans Ulrich Rudel||Air|
|15 April 1944||Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz||Army|
|19 April 1944||Herbert Otto Gille||SS|
|April 1944||Hans Hube||Army|
|19 July 1944||Albert Kesselring||Army|
|31 July 1944||Helmut Lent||Air|
|6 August 1944||Josef Dietrich||SS|
|17 August 1944||Walter Model||Army|
|25 August 1944||Erich Hartmann||Air|
|31 August 1944||Hermann Balck||Army|
|19 September 1944||Hermann Bernhard Ramcke||Army|
|9 October 1944||Hauptmann Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer||Air|
|24 November 1944||Albrecht Brandi||U boats|
|1 January 1945||Ferdinand Schorner||Army|
|18 February 1945||Hasso von Manteuffel||Army|
|18 March 1945||Theodor Tolsdorf||Army|
|15 April 1945||Dr Karl Mauss||Army|
|8 May 1945||Dietrich von Saucken||Army|
The high number of recipients of the Diamonds in 1944 reflects the long period of time needed to earn the previous three grades of the Knight’s Cross.
On this page List of Second World War Victoria Cross recipients - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia you can see the list of WW2 Victoria Crosses.