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K014664 AUXILIARY CRUISER WAR BADGE AWARD DOCUMENT. (Urkunde für Hilfskreuzer)
BACKGROUND: The Auxiliary Cruiser War Badge was instituted on April 24TH 1941, by Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine und Großadmiral, (Commander in Chief of the Navy and Grand Admiral), Erich Raeder, for award to armed Merchant Marine personnel, to recognise their contribution in harassing and sinking Allied merchant ships. The Auxiliary Cruisers, also designated, HSK, Handels-Stör-Kreuzer, (Merchant/Trade-Disruption-Cruisers), were an assortment of German merchant ships, in the 7,000 GRT displacement range, that were secretly refitted with armaments and sailed under the pretense of neutral ships, flying neutral country’s and even Allied flags thereby taking the Allies by surprise. Many of the Auxiliary Cruisers were also outfitted with false funnels and other camouflage techniques to disguise their actual purpose. The armaments of the Auxiliary Cruisers usually consisted of six, 15cm guns, two to six torpedo tubes and a variety of 40mm, 37mm and 20mm automatic guns and most were also equipped with either Arado Ar 196 or Heinkel He114, reconnaissance aircraft. The Komet, HSK-7, the Kormoran HSK-8 and the Michel, HSK-9 were also outfitted with small torpedo boats. The Auxiliary Cruisers were credited with sinking roughly 800,000 tons of Allied shipping during the war. Of the eleven main Auxiliary Cruisers, six were sunk by enemy action, one burnt in Yokohama harbor, one was scuttled after battle damage, one was decommissioned and the remaining two were captured by the Allies at the end of the war. Of Note: Generally the early production Auxiliary Cruiser War Badges had the separate likeness of the globe attached by a single rivet, while later war production versions were manufactured as a single piece.
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Roughly, 15cm x 21cm, mid-weight paper, document with black printed script. The script indicates that a "Matrosengefreiten", was awarded a auxiliary cruiser war badge on, "3. Nov 1942". Authorizing signature of a Kapitän z. S. und Kommandant, with the appropriate command inkstamp. Single fold to the center, wrinkled and tape has been applied to the outside edges. Document is from a crewmember from the Hilfskreuzer "STIER,Schiff 23". You can just make out the signature of Horst Gerlach the Commander.
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