Major Ludwig Stautner Ludwig Stautner was an experienced combat veteran of World War I. In September 1916, as a junior NCO with the rank of Vizefeldwebel serving with 1/Bayerisches - Jager-Bataillon 6, he had been decorated with the Golden Bavarian Military Merit Medal for taking a French emplacement at Thiaumont and eliminating the enemy machine-gun position there. He was commissioned Leutnant der Reserve in February 1918. On the outbreak of World War II, Stautner was serving as a Battalion Commander in 3.Gebirgs-Division. Formed in 1938 from the amalgamation of 5 and 7 divisions of the Austrian Army on the Anschluss with Germany, the Division had taken part in the Polish campaign and served briefly in the campaign against France and the Low Countries before being chosen to lead the attack on the Norwegian post of Narvik. Stautner's regiment, Gebirgsjager-Regiment 139, was transported to Narvik by sea aboard a fleet of German destroyers. It was a rather rough sea journey, which laid many of the mountain troopers low with violent seasickness. Mountain troop commander Oberst Ludwig Stautner. Mountain troops were readily identified by the edelweiss sleeve badge, also worn as a metal emblem on the left side of their cap. The decorations worn by Stautner include several from his service in World War I. On his right breast pocket is the special insignia of an expert mountaineer. Stautner led his battalion ashore at Bjervik. Although the town was taken with virtually no opposition, surprise attacks by Royal Navy warships decimated the German destroyer force leaving the mountain troopers stranded with no support. As many weapons as possible were unshipped from the wrecked destroyers and their crews were pressed into service on land. Stautner's l.Bataillon, supported by a naval detachment, occupied an isolated series of trenches in the defence line to the north of Romboks Fjord. The German defensive lines soon came under heavy pressure from Allied attacks. The area defended by Stautner's battalion was infiltrated during a blizzard by Norwegian troops wearing snow camouflage. In battalion strength and supported by artillery, the enemy troops posed a considerable threat. The Norwegians, however, were having difficulty manoeuvring their artillery through the snow, and on the following morning a Kampfgruppe from Stautner's battalion, wading chest deep through the snow, moved into position and covered by their heavy machine guns, attacked and eliminated the Norwegian unit. Despite such isolated successes, Allied pressure began to tell and the German perimeter was gradually constricted, with Stautner's battalion covering the northern sector. The town of Narvik itself was re-occupied on 27 May by sea-landed Allied troops, but only after fierce hand-to-hand fighting in some areas. Allied attacks intensified and Stautner's troops took heavy punishment, but doggedly defended their rapidly shrinking perimeter. On 7 June an expected Allied attack on Stautner's positions began, but was nowhere near as heavy as anticipated and was easily fended off by the now greatly understrength battalion. Then, on the following day, patrols reported that enemy troops had evacuated Narvik. Just as it seemed the coup de grace was about to be delivered on the beleaguered mountain troopers, the enemy had decided to withdraw. For his part in the steadfast defence of the German perimeter at Narvik, the award of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was authorised for Major Stautner on 20 June 1940.