The son of a labourer, Werner Saß was born in Rethwisch, near Rostock, on 21 September 1926. In June 1943, Hitler decreed that a Waffen SS division should be raised whose members should be, for the most part, volunteers from the Hitler Youth. In September 1943 Saß volunteered for the service in this division just before his seventeenth birthday. In October he was called up and was sent to 5./ SS Art. Ausb. u. Ers. Regt., the SS artillery school based in Prague. In November he was transferred to 2./ SS Pz. Art. Regt. 12, part of 12. SS-Panzerdivision 'Hitlerjugend'. This battery was equipped with Wespe self propelled guns (105mm howitzers on Pz II chassis). This division was at various training camps in Belgium and over the next few months it worked itself up to combat readiness. In April 1944 it was despatched to France in readiness for the expected Allied invasion.
When the invasion started on 6th June the division was spread out north west of Paris, and received the order to concentrate in the Caen area. The divisional units were thrown into action as soon as they arrived in the area. Some units did not arrive until the 10th June. On the 7th June elements of the division counter attacked the Canadians who were advancing on Caen. After success the attack was halted due to lack of strength and support. Saß's unit, after a journey in which they were under continuous air attack, arrived in the area late on the 7th June. The next day his battery formed part of a kampfgruppe led by Kurt 'Panzer' Meyer aimed at recapturing the key villages of Rots and Bretteville, which were held by the Canadians. After capturing Rots the kampfgruupe assaulted Bretteville but despite heavy fighting could not capture it. Following the failure of this attack, together with increasing Allied strength, the division went over to the defensive and occupied positions north west of Caen.
This sector remained relatively static until the 25th of June when the British launched Operation Epsom, aimed at capturing Caen, that was supported by enormous artillery and air support. Saß's battalion was in support of 26. SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment throughout this battle. By the 1st July after heavy fighting, and only limited gains, Epsom was called off having completely failed. The respite was only brief however and on the 7th July the Allies launched Operation Charnwood, again aimed at capturing Caen. With even more air support than Operation Epsom, this operation forced 'Hitlerjugend' to withdraw from northern Caen and across the Orne river. The Germans continued to hold onto the southern side of the city and by the 11th July Charnwood had ended. On the 11th of July the majority of 'Hitlerjugend' were pulled out of the line but the artillery regiment remained in support of 1. SS-Panzerdivision 'Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler'. When this division was also moved on the 14th July the artillery regiment continued to give support to its replacement, the 272. Infanteriedivision.
On the 18th July the Allies launched Operation Goodwood, aimed at capturing the rest of Caen and to breakout into the open countryside beyond. Saß's regiment operated in support of 272. Infanteriedivision in the early stages of the operation and then supported its own division when this was committed to halt the Allies from the 19th July onwards. By the 21st July the Allies halted the operation. They had captured Caen but after taking heavy losses, especially in tanks, had failed to breakthrough the German defences. At the beginning of August 'Hitlerjugend' was withdrawn from the frontline and became 1. SS Korps' reserve.
On 8th August the Allies launched Operation Totalize, which was mainly a Canadian operation. The aim was to drive through to Falaise and meet up with the Americans, thereby pocketing the German 7. Armee. 'Hitlerjugend' was committed to halt the offensive and launched energetic counter attacks. By the 11th August the Canadians had been halted after advancing only 9 miles, only half way to Falaise. However, on the 14th August the Canadians renewed their attack. 'Hitlerjugend' fought desperately to hold open the neck of the pocket to allow German troops within it to escape. However, by the 20th August the pocket had been sealed with the majority of 'Hitlerjugend' on the inside. The remnants of the division broke out but approximately 400 of the artillery regiment were reported missing assumed captured as they attempted to extricate their guns. The last entry in Saß's wehrpass is dated 30th August so he may have escaped from the pocket only to be captured during the retreat. Alternatively he could have been wounded or possibly killed in action on this date. No awards entered.
__________________________________________________________SS-Brigadefuehrer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Kurt Meyer ("Panzermeyer") -
* 23.12.1910 Jerxheim bei Braunschweig
+ 23.12.1961 Hagen / Westfalen
20.09.1939 EK II
08.06.1940 EK I
08.02.1942 DKiG (64/3)
Ritterkreuz (291) am 18.05.1941 als SS-Sturmbannfuehrer und Kommandeur der SS-Panzer-Aufklaerungs-Abteilung "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" / XXXX.Armee-Korps (mot) / 12.Armee
195. Eichenlaub am 23.02 1943 als SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer und Kommandeur der SS-Aufklaerungs-Abteilung "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler" / Armee-Abteilung Kempf / Heeresgruppe Sued (Direkte Verleihung)
91. Schwerter am 27.08.1944 als SS-Standartenfuehrer und Kommandeur der 12.SS-Panzer-Division "Hitler-Jugend"
D-204 Army Soldbuch for NCO Ludwig Ruckdeschel
He later became a German Cross winner and a Captain in the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitler Jugend. This comes with copies of pages from the book H.J. Panzerdivision and entries showing his receipt of the German Cross. He was born on May 15, 1907 in Bayreuth. He was a prominent individual and was the Deputy Gauleiter. On July 25, 1941, he held the rank of Unteroffizer and was assigned to the Propaganda Replacement Battalion, likely for his skills. On October 16, 1941 he was released from Army service. The Soldbuch details his short service with the Army. Included in the Soldbuch is a call-up notice from the SS Recruiting Office in Bayreuth dated December 1, 1943 which set his career as an officer with the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" into motion. Ruckdeschel was assigned as the Company Commander of the 6th Company of SS Panzer Regiment 12 "Hitlerjugend" where he was engaged in the heavy fighting at Normandy using Panzer IVs. On the evening of June 25, 1944, a shell hit a tree that he was walking under and made his right arm into "mincemeat", according to Ruckdeschel's later account. The doctor of the field dressing station stated that Ruckdeschel was lucky to have survived. In 1973, Ruckdeschel would write to Hubert Meyer, the General Staff Officer of the Hitler Youth Division and provide an account of his being wounded at Normandy. For his gallant service, Ruckdeschel was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Classes as well as the German Cross is Gold on August 19, 1944. He would also be promoted to SS Captain.