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eMedals-Germany. A Post War Signed Photo of Human Torpedo Pilot Walther Gerhold (KC)

Item: G35427

Germany. A Post War Signed Photo of Human Torpedo Pilot Walther Gerhold (KC)

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Germany. A Post War Signed Photo of Human Torpedo Pilot Walther Gerhold (KC)

Measuring 102x151mm, extremely fine condition with minimal scuffing and light warping. It shows Gerhold wearing the Knight’s Cross as well as the Iron Cross 1st Class and the 2nd Class ribbon. He signed it in blue ink and dated it to July 27, 1991.

 

Footnote: Walther Gerhold was born on June 8, 1921 in Benolpe (today part of the municipality of Kirchhundem, western Germany). He joined the Kriegsmarine on October 16, 1940 and began training for a clerical career, which he pursued between January 1941 and December 1943, stationed on different torpedo boats. He was promoted to Schreibergefreiter (Clerical Lance Corporal) on October 1, 1941, and to Schreiberobergefreiter (Clerical Corporal) one year later. Gerhold broke his collarbone on duty on September 4, 1943. After recovering he volunteered for duty in the newly deployed Kleinkampfverbände (small battle units) in early 1944. The first mission took place in the night of April 20 to 21 in the Italian harbour of Nettuno. Gerhold was one of 23 pilots of human torpedoes called “Neger”, part of K-Flottille 361. Serving as a humantorpedo proved incredibly dangerous, as ca. 80% of torpedo pilots eventually died during their missions, largely due to suffocation, technical problems, or enemy fire. The first mission was largely unsuccessful. However, Gerhold proved himself in the German defense of Operation Overlord. During the night of June 5 to 6 he steered his “Neger” from the coast of Normandy into the midst of a fleet of destroyers, which he managed to evade. He then attacked the cruiser ORP Dragon and was able to achieve a direct hit. Even though the ship didn’t sink, was salvageable and could have been repaired, the Royal Navy decided to abandon it. It was eventually scuttled. For this, Gerhold was awarded the Knight’s Cross on July 6, 1944. He was the first enlisted man of the Kriegsmarine to be awarded this high honour. Afterwards, he returned to his clerical career, being promoted to Schreibermaat (Clerical NCO) on August 1, 1944 and serving in Norway on the staff of Admiral Otto von Schrader. He survived the war and began a new career as a policeman. Gerhold died on March 2, 2013.

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