A well Documented Grouping to the 3rd Latvian Waffen-SS Regiment
A Well Documented Grouping to the 3rd Latvian Waffen-SS Regiment - Karlis Juka was born in the Parish of Arlava in the district of Talsi, Latvia on 11 October 1917. There are no details of Juka’s early war service but recruitment for the Latvian SS-Volunteer Division commenced in February 1943, drawing upon fresh recruits, Latvians serving with the Wehrmacht, and drafts from other SS-controlled units. Forming up and training of the eventual 20,000 men continued during March-November when the unit was named the 15 Latvian SS-Volunteer Division. Juka was in the 32 Waffen-SS Grenadier Regiment (Latvia No. 3), the two earlier numbered regiments were serving as SS Police battalions on the Eastern Front, and in November 1943 his battalion was with the division in reserve on the Northern Russian Front under the 16th Army command. The Soviet offensive broke the German encirclement of Leningrad, and by mid-February the main components of the division were involved in heavy fighting around Belebalka on the west bank of the River Radya: fighting rearguard actions during the withdrawal to the ‘Panther Redoubt’ on the River Velibaya. He was wounded in action on 7 February 1944 during the withdrawal and was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class in the field on 3 March 1944 - the citation signed by the General of Artillery. He received the wound badge in black, the signatory of this citation being an SS-Sturmbannführer, the document dated Riga, 15 March 1944. Photographs with the lot show that he received injuries to his ribs and right arm. Nothing else is known of his war service but in the continuous fighting against the Soviets, the 32 Waffen-SS Regiment was almost completely annihilated. Following the Soviet advance into East Prussia in January 1945, the division, then known as the 15 Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, made a fighting retreat until in March 1945 the survivors were ordered to Mecklenburg for refitting and ‘fortress construction’. Luckily, most were able to surrender to U.S. and Canadian troops near Schwerin on 2-3 May 1945. Some time after his capture, Juka was employed as an interpreter to British forces, firstly at P.O.W. camp 2227, then at Camp ‘Willershausen’ from November 1946 until 1 December 1947. Juka attained the rank of ‘Untersturmführer’ in the SS, a rank equivalent to ‘Leutnant’ (Lieutenant) in the Wehrmacht. Sold with a number of items, including: cloth Latvian Arm Shield badge; original award documents for the Iron Cross and Wound Badge; papers (3) concerning his employment as an interpreter in British P.O.W. camps; Certificate of Registration - with photograph, covering the period 1947-60, with addresses in Cambridge and Bedford; Travel Document - with photograph; a quantity of photographs - some military related with the recipient in uniform; two lapel badges - ‘Latvija’ and ‘Riga’ - the latter lacking pin fitting; a brass ring bearing the cypher ‘KS’, and a number of small denomination German coins of the period.