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Major Hans-Peter Knaust

 
Oakleaves - 17.04.45
Knight's Cross - 28.09.44
German Cross in Gold - 28.02.42
Iron Cross I Class - 21.07.40
Iron Cross II Class - 24.05.40
Wehrmachtbericht - 18.04.45
 

Hans Peter Knaust was born on August 7, 1906 in Kiel. He joined the Reichswehr at the age of 17 on the 5th March 1924 and was posted to Infantry Regiment 4. Completing his officer training, he was posted as a Leutnant to Infantry Regiment 5 in July 1934. On the 15th October 1935, as an Oberleutnant, he was posted to Infantry Regiment 27 as a Company Commander. He was promoted again in 1937 to Hauptmann remaining in the same position.

In prepartion for war, Hauptmann Knaust was posted as the Company Commander of the 8th Machine Gun Company, Infantry Regiment 79. This unit was part of the Blitzkreig campaign in France and Knaust earned the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class. The battalion he was part of was upgraded during the Battle of France to II./Schützen Regt 4. With exposure to the fast-paced armoured warfare observed in France, Knaust was moved within the division as the Commander of the 4./Kradschützen-Bataillon 6, 6th Panzer Division. He led this unit into the invasion of Russia in 1941 which was normally always at the front of the Division. In October 1941, he was in command of the II./Schützen Regt 4 which was involved in the German attempt to capture Moscow. However the German war machine in the East went on the defensive during the winter of 1941 and the 6th Panzer Division which included Knaust's unit was involved in heavy defensive fighting outside Moscow. During one of these battles Knaust was severly wounded in the right leg, which ultimately he would loose, in the village of Timonino, north-west of Moscow. For his personal bravery in leading II./Schützen Regt 4 in the battles for and around Moscow, Hans-Peter Knaust was awarded the German Cross in Gold.

He spent the rest of 1942 recovering in hospitals and rehabilitation centres and finally was posted back to his divisions' training and replacement battalion - Panzer-Grenadier-Ausbildungs und Ersatz-Battalion 64. Now with an artificial leg, he was responsible to train the new replacements for the 6th Panzer Division and prepare them for the horrors of the Eastern Front.

Major Hans-Peter Knaust outside Elst during the Battle of Arnhem.

© Airborne Museum Hartenstein, Oosterbeek

In September 1944, the 1st Airborne Division threatened to capture the bridge over Germany's last natural defesive barrier - the Rhine. Field Marshall Model requested all available reinforcements to be sent to the front to destroy the allied forces and Knaust's unit was one of them. Now a Major he led a Kampfgruppe in Anrhem was the sole task of capturing the bridge. He did this by utilising combined armoured and infantry attacks against each building held by the British Paras. After the battle for the Bridge Knaust was moved south with the task of holding the village of Elst. His force grew in strength with the inclusion of Tiger adn Panther Tanks as well as infantry. He was awarded the Knight's Cross on the 28th September 1944 by Field Marshall Model. His Kampfgruppe remained in this section for a further 2 months being atatched to divisions such as the 10th SS Panzer, 116th Panzer and 9th Panzer Division.

He was posted to the 490th Infanry Division in early 1945 as the commander of Regiment 'Knaust'. His regiment was involved in stopping the British advancing through the Teuteburger Forest. It was for this battle he was awarded the Oakleaves to the Knights Cross. He was also mentioned in the German War Reports for the 18th April 1945 and promoted to Oberstleutnant. He was captured on the 5th of May 1945 by the British and held for 12 months being released in 1946. Oberstleutnant Hans-Peter Knaust died on the 22nd October 1983 in Kevelaer, Niederrhein.

Shown below was the German Equivalent of a Gazette which officially listed the awards won by Soldiers and Officer of the German Armed Forces. This list was from Ende (end) September 1944. Knaust's Name is the last name on the right.


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