Infanterie-Ersatz Bataillon 32 was the depot unit of Infanterie-Rgt 32, which was formed in Teplitz-Schönau in October 1935. Teplitz is now known by its Czech name of Teplice. IR 32 was on the Order of Battle of 24. Infanterie-Division. Your father seems to have joined IR 32 in 1941 so he could well have been posted to an operational battalion of the regiment in time for the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22.6.1941.
24 ID was part of Heeresgruppe Süd, which advanced into the Ukraine with 17. Armee, reaching establishing a regimental HQ in Kiev in September 1941. The division went into reserve in Kiev in October 1941 for rest and refitting. A month later, at the end of November, 24 ID was transferred to 11. Armee in the Crimea. By the end of the year, IR 32 was in quarters in Sevastopol. The regiment remained in the Crimea until October 1942, when 24 ID was transferred along with 11. Armee to the Leningrad front under Heeresgruppe Nord where it would remain until January 1944. On 15.10.1942, IR 32 was renamed Grenadier-Rgt 32. Your father appears to have been taken out of IR 32 at some point in 1942 as he served with a couple of administrative units in 1942 and 1943.
In the photograph, he wears an M42 tunic with the KVK2 ribbon and the ribbon of the Romanian Crusade Against Communism Medal, instituted on 1.4.1942. This medal was awarded to members of German units fighting alongside Romanian units in the southern sector and your father could have earned it for the Ukraine or the Crimea. However, he is not wearing the ribbon of the Winter War in the East 1941/42 medal, instituted on 26.5.1942, which started reaching veterans of that first winter on the Eastern Front by the late summer and early autumn of 1942 so it is reasonable to presume that the photograph dates from sometime in the summer of 1942. As the photograph was taken in Paris, he could either have been on leave there or already posted to France.
He then appears with 5./ Landesschützen-Regiment 56 in 1943. LSR 56 had been posted to south-western France in February 1943 where it was engaged in occupation and security duties. LSR 25 was on the ORBAT of 343.Infanterie-Division. The 2nd Battalion, of which the 5th Company was a part, was based in Tours, with Bn HQ in Angers. In the summer of 1944, the regiment retreated westwards from Angers into Brittany, passing through Nantes and Quimper on the southern Breton coast before moving north-west to Brest to join 2. Fallschirmjäger-Division and sundry German units and sub-units in forming a pocket of resistance under the command of General der Fallschirmtruppe Bernhard Ramcke. Festung Brest held out against US forces until 18.9.1944 although some sub-units and fortified positions in the zone resisted until November. Your father is listed as a POW as of 18.9.1944 and ended the war as a Feldwebel.
Your father may have earned other awards. He could well have been entitled to the Crimea Shield. He could also have been wounded, hence his apparent departure from IR32/GR32. There again, he could just have been an administrative NCO, which is not, by any means, to suggest that he had an easy time of it. He served on the Russian Front, he may have faced French partisans in 1944 and he was one of the soldiers who held out in Brest until September 1944 against concerted American air and ground assaults. Brest is quite something in itself! Do you have any other photos of him or any documents? Of course, he bears further research, including scrutiny of IR 32’s war diaries, a look at what Passierscheinstelle Ost VII and Prüfstelle III were up to in 1942 and 1943 and a look at LSR 56 and what was happening in II./LSR 56’s area of operations before the Normandy invasion, as well as the events on their march to Brest afterwards.