Alois Windisch

Alois Windisch as an Oberleutnant in IR.14Alois Windisch was born on the 3rd February 1892 at Fischau am Steinfeld in Lower Austria. At the age of fifteen he entered the Maria Theresia Military Academy in Wiener-Neustadt from which he graduated on the 18th August 1913 as a Leutnant and was assigned as a platoon commander in the 9th Company of the Linz based Infanterie-Regiment Nr.14. At the outbreak of the war he deployed to Galicia as the Adjutant of the Regiment's First March Battalion and assumed command  of 9./IR.14 in late September. Wounded three times throughout the war, Windisch remained with IR.14 for the entire duration of the conflict. Promoted to Oberleutnant on the 1st May 1915 he had assumed command of the machine-gun company of X./IR14 on the 15th January 1917 which was then serving on the Italian front. 

In November 1917 X./IR.14 was deployed in the area between Primolano and Asiago in the Siebengemeinde or seven communities area under the command of Feldmarschalleutnant Ernst von Kletter's Group. The group had taken up positions North of the range of mountains - Mt. Castelgomberto-Mt. Tondarecar-Mt. Badelecche with the battalion facing Mt. Castelgomberto. The general situation and especially the oncoming winter weather necessitated the improvement of the then prevailing untenable conditions through the removal of the protruding Mt. Meletta massif to the South. 

For this attack X./IR.14 was shifted to the area North of Mt. Tondarecar and the assault was fixed for the 4th December.Click to enlarge The operational objectives for the day were the taking of the line Mt. Tondarecar (1668m)-Mt. Badelecche (1464m), the line of hills which with Mt. Castelgomberto (1778m) and the massif of Mt. Meletta (1824m) formed a half-circle which connected  to form the principal enemy defence in the area between Asiago and Brentatale. The rocky bastion like Northward protruding massif of Mt. Castelgomberto was also be eliminated. Additionally the enemy held positions on the Mt. Miela (1788m) massif between Mt. Tondarecar and Mt. Meletta.

The assault by the battalion on Mt. Tondarecar on 4th December was systematically executed. After the preparatory artillery fire and the blowing of the enemy obstacles, the assault patrols penetrated into the enemy positions at about 1020 hours. With supporting machine gun fire in support just behind, the forward detachments rapidly crippled the resistance of the Italians on the peak of Mt. Tondarecar and the sector was occupied according to instructions.

At this stage Oberleutnant Windisch realised that Mt. Miela in the direction of attack was only lightly held as opposed to the strongly occupied Northwest corner of Mt. Castelgomberto. He therefore received the approval of the battalion commander to immediately take Mt. Miela with the machine gun company and another company.

The assault group advanced up Mt. Miela in close touch with patrols of the Southerly advancing Kaiserschützen-Regiment III Click to enlargeand at a distance more friendly forces could be viewed advancing towards the Southeast slope of the mountain.  Windisch now had the knowledge that the Kaiserschützen's attack on Mt. Badelecche had been successful. Windisch's assault group reached the peak of Mt. Miela without encountering any enemy but received heavy enemy machine gun fire from their right flank on Mt. Castelgomberto and fire from two guns South of that place. These however were soon silenced by friendly machine gun fire. Despite a severe snowfall, Windisch thought he could discern through the temporary break in the cloud cover that the positions on Mt. Meletta  were only weakly held and he immediately decided to attack.

Alois Windisch as a Bundesheer Major about 1930Although he had been unable to secure the permission for this venture from his battalion commander, he thought that in view of the success of the Kaiserschützen to the South he would attempt to take Mt. Meletta. He shifted his assault group to the Southern slope of Mt. Miela in order to be able to provide some cover from the fire from Mt. Castelgomberto and moved off towards the east under the fire support of the machine guns. His group advanced through breaches in the enemy obstacles and surprised the enemy and by 1600 hours the entire enemy position on Mt. Meletta was in Austrian hands. Through the elimination of this mountain and the system of trenches branching from it, an Italian general had been killed and about 100 enemy officers and a further 3000 NCOs and men plus three guns were captured. During the attack, Windisch was wounded in the ankle but remained with his group until success had been secured before being evacuated to the dressing station.

For his success on 4th December 1917, Oberleutnant Windisch would be awarded the Knights' Cross of the Military Order of Maria Theresa at the 192nd Promotion on the 11th of December 1925. After recovering from his wound he assumed command of the machine gun company in I./IR.14 until the war's end. He remained in the new Austrian army - the Bundesheer and was promoted to Hauptmann on the 1st of January 1921, Stabshauptmann on the 1st of June 1924, Major on the 19th of July 1928 (seniority from 20th of July) and Oberstleutnant on the 8th of September 1932. By the time of the Anschluß he was a colonel (24th June 1936) and an instructor in tactics on the senior officers' course. Transferring into the Wehrmacht he was awarded the Knights' cross of the Iron Cross on the 20th June 1940 for his command of Gebirgs-Jäger-Regiment 139 in Norway. Following further regimental and divisional commands he was captured by the Americans in May 1945 having been promoted to major general on the 10th of August 1943.  Handed over to the Russians by the Americans in July 1945, he was further extradited to Yugoslavia in May 1946 where he remained as a prisoner until the 30th of June1952.

As well as being with Friedrich Franek the only holder of both of the above mentioned Knights' Crosses, he held the Austrian Military Merit Cross Third Class with War Decoration and Swords and both classes of the German Iron Cross. Generalmajor Alois Windisch died at Wiener-Neustadt on the 28th December 1958.

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