Friedrich Wilhelm Dernen

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Wilhelm Dernen
Friedrich Wilhelm Dernen.jpg
Birth name Friedrich Wilhelm Dernen
Birth date 15 February 1884(1884-02-15)
Place of birth Cologne, Rhine Province, Kingdom of Prussia, German Empire
Death date 15 February 1967 (aged 83)
Place of death Bad Homburg vor der Höhe, Hessen, West Germany
Resting place Evangelic Cemetery Bad Homburg (Field A 26, Grave 16/17)
Allegiance  German Empire
 National Socialist Germany
Service/branch War and service flag of Prussia (1895–1918).png Prussian Army
Iron Cross of the Luftstreitkräfte.png Imperial German Army
Balkenkreuz.jpg Heer
Years of service 1907–1918
Rank Generalmajor der Reserve
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Pour le Mérite
German Cross in Gold
Relations ∞ Margarete "Grete" Friedrich (1901–1990)

Friedrich Wilhelm "Willi" Dernen (sometimes wrongly Friedrich-Wilhelm; 15 February 1884 – 15 February 1967) was a German officer since 1914, finally Generalmajor der Reserve of the Wehrmacht in World War II and Knight of the order Pour le Mérite. He must not be confused with Generalleutnant Friedrich "Fritz" Dernen (1854–1938), son-in-law of General der Infanterie Julius von Bergmann.


Dernen enlisted in the Prussian Army after his Abitur as an Einjährig-Freiwilliger (One Year Volunteer) on 1 October 1907. He became a member of the 2. Badisches Grenadier-Regiment „Kaiser Wilhelm I.“ Nr. 110 stationed in Mannheim. On 30 September 1908, he was discharged from military service to the reserve. He then completed his studies at university.

With the outbreak of the First World War, Dernen was reactivated and reported to his regiment for duty. He was deployed as a Zugführer (platoon leader) and fought at Mulhouse, in the Battle of the Frontiers, and later in northern France at Bauvin, Vermelles, and Loos. On 10 November 1914, he was wounded. After becoming Kompanieführer (company leader), he took part in the Second Battle of Artois. Thereafter, Dernen fought in the autumn offensive in Champagne and the Battle of the Somme. In September 1917, he took part in the storming of the Fort of Vaux. He took part in the Battle of Cambrai at the end of 1917. During Operation "Michael" he again successfully led his company. He then took part in the Second Battle of the Marne, and proved himself again in Chemin des Dames. On 29 August 1918, Dernen was awarded the Pour le Mérite.

The award was for the defensive battle between Reims and Soissons, beginning on July 18, 1918. On July 18, 1918, Leutnant d.R. Dernen and his company completely fended off two enemy attacks south of Soissons near Parcy-Tigny and maintained his position. On July 19, the 3. / GR 110 again held its position against repeated enemy attacks, which also took place with tank support and in twentyfold numerical superiority. Only when the enemy was sitting 600 m to the right of the company in the rear, there was no longer any contact to the left of the adjoining company and all machine gun ammunition (25,000 rounds) had been used up was the order to withdraw given. In the new position, Lieutenant Dernen was again able to withstand superior enemy attacks on the same day and the following day.[1]

After the end of WWI, and the repatriation to the Vaterland and the demobilization of his regiment, he was commissioned on 6 December 1918 with the Charakter as Oberleutnant der Reserve from active military service. In the following years he was a commercial clerk at BASF in Ludwigshafen am Rhein . From 19 August to 15 September 1935, he underwent training for soldiers in the reserve. Dernen took part in this training as a company commander in the battalion staff of the 26th Infantry Regiment in Flensburg.

On 1 January 1936, he was taken back into reserve service as Hauptmann der Reserve. Shortly afterwards, Dernen was promoted to Major der Reserve on 1 August 1936 . On 27 August 1939, the anniversary of the Battle of Tannenberg, he was awarded the Charakter as Oberstleutnant a. D..

At the beginning of World War II, on 2 September 1939, he was called up to serve with the staff of the 15th Infantry Replacement Regiment. On 5 October 1939, Dernen was appointed commander of the 3rd battalion of the 88th Infantry Regiment, which was then on the French border, to secure the Westwall. On 29 January 1940, he was taken to a field hospital (Lazarett) because of illness. Subsequently he was transferred to the Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon 88 transferred, and appointed commander of this unit on 11 April 1940. Two months later, he was appointed commander of the 1st battalion of the 550th Infantry Regiment. From 1 August 1940 to 14 October 1940, he functioned as training leader of the 159. Infanterie-Division. He was subsequently commander of the 3rd battalion of the 36th Infantry Regiment. On 17 January 1942, he handed over his command and was taken to a field hospital due to illness. From 17 January 1942 to 11 May 1942, he was placed in the Führerreserve of the Wehrkreis-Kommando IX .

After his recovery, Dernen was appointed commander of the Infanterie-Ersatz-Bataillon 9. On 27 September 1942, he was appointed commander of the Grenadier-Ersatz-Regiment 9. He was promoted to Oberst der Reserve on 1 December 1942. As of 16 May 1943, he was placed in the staff of the 90. Panzergrenadier-Division. In the following time, Dernen was commander of Festungs-Brigade Sardinia. From 16 August 1943, he was placed in the Führerreserve (OKH) and was at the same time Militärbefehlshaber Belgien-Nordfrankreich (Military Commander Belgium-Northern France). He was also trained as a field commander. On 7 December 1943, Dernen was charged with the representation of the Feldkommandant Mont-de-Marsan. On 8 February 1944, Dernen was assigned as field commander to the commander-in-chief of the Heeresgruppe G (Army Group G) in southern France, and was shortly afterwards appointed Feldkommandeur 563 (Feldkommandantur 563). In that position, he became at the same time Kampfkommandant of Montpellier (Invasion of Normandy).

On 19 October 1944, Dernen was charged with leadership (mit der Führung beauftragt) of the 159. Infanterie-Division . On 1 December 1944, he became simultaneously the commander and was promoted to Generalmajor der Reserve. On 11 December 1944, he handed over his command to Generalmajor Heinrich Bürcky, was relieved due to illness and placed in the Führerreserve. On 17 January 1945, he was appointed commander of the Fortress Olmütz (Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia). Due to severe illness he did not take up command and was taken to a field hospital on 25 January 1945. In September 1945, Dernen became an American prisoner of war. In February 1948, he was again released from captivity.


Friedrich Wilhelm Dernen (grave).JPG
  • One-year volunteer (Einjährig-Freiwilliger): 1 October 1907
  • 2nd Lieutenant of the Reserve: 17 February 1914
    • an alternative source states on 19 December 1913
  • Character as 1st Lieutenant of the Reserve: 6 December 1918
  • Captain (Hauptmann) of the Reserve: 1 January 1936
  • Major of the Reserve: 1 August 1936
  • Character as Lieutenant Colonel a. D.: 27 August 1939 (Tannenbergtag)
  • Character as Lieutenant Colonel z. V.: 29 March 1940
  • Oberstleutnant z. V.: 1 April 1941
  • Colonel (Oberst) of the Reserve: 1 December 1942
  • Generalmajor der Reserve: 1 December 1944

Awards and decorations

External links