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Luftwaffe Bordfunker Unteroffizier - German Cross in Gold

I never had the privilege of meeting Herbert Thiel, just his family. He had been killed in Russia in 1943. He was a highly decorated Luftwaffe Bordfunker (Radio Operator) Unteroffizier. His decorations included the German Cross in Gold / Iron Cross 1st & 2nd Class / Transport Flight Clasp in Gold.

Herbert flew numerous missions and was killed in action on the Russian front in 1943 not long after he won his German Cross in Gold. He was awarded the Gold Transport clasp on July 15th, 1942 and the German Cross on July 23rd, 1943.

German Gold Cross or Deutsches Kreuz in Gold was established on 28 September 1941 by Adolf Hitler. It was awarded for extraordinary bravery or for exceptional merit at command of units on the battlefield. Preliminary condition for gaining was the Iron Cross 1st Class (Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse) or Clasp to the Iron Cross 1. Class.

The fact that German Cross was not an intermediate stage to the Knight’s Cross (Ritterkreuz or RK) but was an independent decoration of courage and bravery is very important. The bearers of the Knight’s Cross could also receive the German Gold Cross.

The Knight’s Cross could be awarded for just one act but to receive the German Cross many acts were required. In practice, it took eight acts for officers and six for ordinary soldiers or Manschaften.

The Transport and Glider (Transport und Luftlandeflieger ) Clasp was instituted on November 19th, 1941. A total of 110 missions had to be flown in order to receive the clasp in gold.