Panzer Divisions 1944-45 , Pier Paolo Battistelli

Panzer Divisions 1944-45 , Pier Paolo Battistelli

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Panzer Divisions 1944-45, Pier Paolo Battistelli

Panzer Divisions 1944-45, Pier Paolo Battistelli

Battle Orders

By 1944 the once feared German panzer divisions that had done so much to lead the Germans to victory at the early stages of the war were on the back foot. Allied air superiority in the West and new Russian tanks in the East meant that the days of the panzer dominating the battlefield were over. Despite all these factors the panzers were still a force to be reckoned with and had a few surprises for the Allies in this twilight period. The new Panther tank was one of the best tanks of the war and was now becoming the main German battle tank (in theory at least). A match for nearly any Allied tank the Panther was planned to become the backbone of the Panzer Divisions but the bombed out German industry were unable to supply it in sufficient numbers. The panzer crews were a mix of hardened veterans and raw recruits and could still display tactical brilliance but lacked the numbers to translate this on a strategic scale.

This lavishly illustrated Osprey covers this fascinating period with clear silhouette based organisation charts to explain late war restructures, photographs and colour maps of operations. This is not a light read and is heavily detailed and requires some background knowledge by the reader. That said it is one of the best Ospreys and a fantastic resource for war gamers (for Flames of War players this is a must) and for those interested in this period of tank warfare. It covers the main panzer units and includes info on Jagdpanzer units, and self propelled artillery but does not cover the heavy panzers (king tigers)

Combat Mission
Doctrine and training
Unit organisation (this takes up nearly half the book)
Tactics (late 1943 till January 1945)
Weapons and Equipment
Command Control. Communications and intelligence
Unit status
Lessons learned (sadly a very brief chapter)
Guide to vehicle Silhouette identification

Author: Pier Paolo Battistelli
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 96
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2009

Following the failure of the Kursk offensive, the German Army fought on the defensive, first on the Eastern Front, then in Italy and on the Western Front. The nature of warfare had changed again after the victorious years, and the German Army adapted to meet the new requirements. Even the Panzerwaffe, the German armoured force that once spearheaded the blitzkrieg campaigns, changed its methods of operation. In turn, the role of the Panzer Divisions changed, as they found themselves called upon to fight defensive battles. No longer were there armoured thrusts into enemy territory those that did happen served only to relieve encircled units and allow them to escape. Tank battles were now mainly fought to prevent the enemy from breaking through the German defence lines. Furthermore, since late 1943 the Panzer Divisions of the Heer (Army) no longer represented the sole component of the Panzerwaffe new Waffen-SS Panzer Divisions were upgraded or raised, while small armoured units, like the heavy Tiger tank battalions, acquired greater importance.

Yet the Panzer Divisions still made up the bulk of the Panzerwaffe understrength, outnumbered and often fighting alone for months on end, they faced the Soviet offensives on the Eastern Front and later spearheaded the German forces both in Italy and in Normandy, eventually matching the role of their Waffen-SS counterparts. Both served as ‘firefighters’ on the most threatened areas of the front, as did other Panzer units such as the Tiger tank battalions. Somehow, the role played by Army Panzer Divisions was less glamorous and often comprised involvement in unknown battles fought in unknown places. However, while the Waffen-SS could be called in at given places and times, the Army Panzer Divisions still formed the backbone of the German armed forces, despite their progressive weakening. In fact the overall reorganization of the Panzerwaffe, started before Kursk, failed to restore their overall potential and instead merely produced some high-quality divisions. Although a lack of balance was not new in the Panzer Divisions, a new factor further weakened their combat effectiveness: the dispersion of forces.

On paper, the 1943 and 1944 Panzer Divisions were stronger than ever new tanks, a larger allotment of armoured vehicles for infantry and other units, self-propelled artillery and a new generation of tank hunters provided them with a firepower no one would have dreamt of just a few years before. However, only a few divisions ever came to be fully reorganized according to the intended establishments, and many others fought relentlessly still equipped with the same tanks, vehicles and weapons they had been using in early 1943. Lack of supplies, in particular fuel (which greatly hampered their combat capabilities), all too often reduced them to the status of a small Kampfgruppe, a battle group formed around the few armoured and motorized units. Nonetheless, these divisions were irreplaceable in their defensive roles and, as a result, reorganization only affected the newly raised ones and (to a certain extent) those that had been badly mauled and refitted. Yet, in spite of their overall poor shape, these divisions fought on all the fronts and still proved capable of hitting back and spreading havoc amongst their enemies. As the Ardennes offensive of December 1944 proved, the Panzerwaffe was still able to drive deep into enemy-held territory. However, this time the enemy had changed.

A PzKpfw V Panther Ausf D seeks cover somewhere in the battlefields of Italy once positioned, it will start firing against enemy targets. The only Panther-equipped army unit to see action in this theatre of war was the I./Panzer Regiment 4, detached from the 13. to the 26. Panzer Division.

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Panzer Divisions 1944 45

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This volume provides a detailed examination on the late-war changes to the German Army Panzer forces and the formation of new units, from the collapse on the Eastern Front, through operations on the Western Front in Normandy and the Ardennes, to the final battle for Berlin in 1945. The major organizational changes that took place in this intensive period are examined, together with the adaptation of German armoured doctrine, tactics, and the command. Details of unit histories and operations, illustrated in colour maps, are also provided in this packed treatment.


Formation Edit

Panzer Lehr began forming on 30 December 1943 [10] and moved to the Nancy–Verdun area in January 1944 to complete the process. [11] It was formed from several elite training and demonstration units. [12] Most of the division's original cadre was drawn from Panzertruppenschule I and Panzertruppenschule II, the Panzerwaffe's major training units. [11] These training and demonstration units were some of the most experienced and highly trained troops in the Panzerwaffe, with almost all having seen combat in the East, North Africa, Sicily or Italy and many having received decorations for bravery. [7] As a result of this, Panzer Lehr was considered an elite unit from the time of its formation. [13]

In early 1944, Panzer Lehr division was to be prepared for training to take place in Southern France. [14] Orders received on 6 March 1944 made it clear that the unit was to first be transported to the Vienna area. [14] On 19 March 1944, Panzer Lehr division took part in the German occupation of Hungary codenamed Operation Margarethe, as well to continue its training. [11] [15] [14] The division absorbed the 901st Panzergrenadier-Lehr-Regiment while there. The division left Hungary on 1 May, and returned to France on 15 May 1944 to await the Allied invasion as a part of the OKW's armored reserve, along with the I SS Panzer Corps and the 17th SS Panzergrenadier Division Gotz von Berlichingen. [16] These units could be released only with Adolf Hitler's personal authorization. [17]

Panzer Lehr's panzer regiment had a battalion each of Panther and Panzer IV available. [11] Moreover, all the battalions in both panzergrenadier regiments were transported by tracked, armored vehicles, such as the Sd.Kfz. 251 halftrack. [18] [1] This is in contrast to ordinary Wehrmacht panzer divisions, where only the first battalion in the first panzergrenadier regiment was equipped with halftracks, with the remaining battalions equipped with trucks. The division's engineer and reconnaissance formations were also equipped with armored vehicles, [18] the armored reconnaissance battalion having a company of the new Sd.Kfz 234/2 Puma armored cars. [19] The division's panzer regiment also had the 316. Funklenk-Panzerkompanie (abbreviated 1./s.Pz. Kp. 'Funklenk' 316) ("316th Remote Control Panzer company") [note 1] attached while in Normandy this company was originally equipped with ten Tiger I tanks, and was allocated the first five of the new Tiger II tanks that are not used in Normandy since it broke down en route [20] and been replaced by 9 Sturmgeschütz self-propelled guns, which fought at Tilly and St. Lo until destroyed, at which point the 316th Company was disbanded. [21] [22] The division's panzer regiment had a total complement of 208 operating tanks and assault guns (10 Panzer III, 9 StuG III, 97 Panzer IV, 86 Panthers and 6 Tigers) as of 6 June 1944 plus nine tanks and assault guns under repair (1 Panzer III, 1 StuG III, 2 Panzer IV, 3 Panthers and 2 Tigers). [23] It also had 31 Jagdpanzer IV in its Panzerjäger battalion. [23] Another unique feature of this formation was that its panzergrenadiers were, for a large part, dressed in the double-breasted Sturmgeschütz jacket, instead of the standard field blouse worn by other German Army (Heer) units. [24]

Normandy Edit

The Caen battles Edit

When the Western Allies launched the amphibious invasion of Normandy on 6 June 1944, Panzer Lehr, as a part of the strategic armored reserve (Panzer Group West), was held back from the fighting during the crucial first days. [25] It was soon released, reached the front, and was committed to battle against the British and Canadians on June 8. [26] It was placed in the front line adjacent to the 12th SS Hitlerjugend Division, where it defended Caen and fought several British offensives to a standstill. [27]

On 13 June 1944, an attack by the 22nd Armoured brigade group of the British 7th Armoured Division outflanked Panzer Lehr's defences around Tilly-sur-Seulles and cut through the German lines, taking the village of Villers-Bocage and threatening Panzer Lehr's rear. Elements of Panzer Lehr, the 2nd Panzer Division, and the 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion were committed to defeating the British penetration. [28] [29] The ensuing Battle of Villers-Bocage saw the British withdraw to their start lines after two days of inconclusive fighting. [30] By 17 June, Panzer Lehr had been forced to withdraw. [31]

Like all German armoured units engaged in Normandy, Panzer Lehr suffered heavy losses in its transport from Allied air attacks. [note 2] [32] By the end of June, the division's armoured component was severely depleted. Despite this, it continued to hold against the British and Commonwealth forces, engaging in heavy fighting near the town of Tilly-sur-Seulles. [33]

By the end of June, the Panzer Lehr Division had suffered 2,972 casualties and reported the loss of 51 tanks and assault guns, 82 halftracks and 294 other vehicles. [note 3] [2]

The Saint-Lô battles Edit

On 1 July 1944, Panzer Lehr had only 36 operational Panzer IV tanks (additional 29 in short term repair and 10 in long term repair) 32 operational Panther tanks (additional 26 in short term repair and 8 in long term repair) and 28 operational Jagdpanzer and Sturmgeschutz (9 more in short term repair and 1 in long term repair). [2] [34] On 7 July, the division was ordered to pull out of Tilly-sur-Seules and head west to provide support to the divisions resisting the American advance near Saint-Lô. [35] [36] The area around Saint-Lô consists of small fields with high ancient hedgerows and sunken lanes, known as bocage. [37] The bocage made it extremely difficult for armor to maneuver and provided superb defensive positions to the infantry on both sides of the battle. [38]

On 10 July, Panzer-Lehr launched a counterattack against elements of the American 9th and 30th infantry divisions around the village of Le Dézert. [35] [39] [2] American M10 tank destroyers knocked out 30 of the Panzer Lehr's tanks and forced the remaining tanks to withdraw over the Vire Canal to relative safety. [40]

Over the next two weeks, the division fought a defensive battle of attrition. On 19 July, Saint-Lô fell to the Americans. [41] Six days later, the Americans launched Operation Cobra, their breakout from the Normandy lodgment. [42] By that time, the division had only 2,200 combat troops remaining [35] [43] and 12 Panzer IV and 16 Panthers fit for action and 30 tanks in various states of repair behind the lines. [35] The operation was preceded by a massive aerial bombardment by over 1,500 allied bombers. [44] Panzer Lehr was directly in the path of attack [43] and the division suffered about 1,000 casualties during this bombardment. [45] The division also lost at least 14 assault guns and 10 tanks. [46] Despite strong initial resistance, [47] by 27 July the German defenses has been penetrated. [48] On the same day, Bayerlein reported that Panzer Lehr was "finally annihilated." [9]

On 1 August, the Panzer Lehr had 33 tanks and assault guns operational and a further 44 in workshops. [2] and so on August 17 after a fighting withdrawal, it was ordered back to Alençon for rest and refitting. [49] The division was subsequently called back to Germany for rest and refitting. [50] During August, the division suffered 1,468 casualties. [51]

Within seven months of its formation, the division was reduced to a combat-ineffective unit with only 20 remaining tanks. [12] At one point, in September, it consisted only of a panzer grenadier battalion of company strength, an engineer company, six 105mm howitzers, five tanks, a reconnaissance platoon, and an Alarmbataillon (emergency alert battalion) of about 200 men recruited from stragglers and soldiers on furlough in Trier. [52] After spending a month refitting in the Saar, the division was moved to Paderborn, receiving 72 tanks, 21 assault guns and replacements, to compensate for the losses suffered in Normandy. [12]

The Ardennes Edit

Operation Wacht am Rhein Edit

In early November 1944, Panzer Lehr was transferred to Hasso von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army, part of Field Marshal Walter Model's Army Group B in preparation for the planned winter offensive, Operation Wacht am Rhein, commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge. On 21 November, the partially refitted Panzer Lehr was ordered out of its assembly area to counterattack the American forces driving towards the Saverne Gap. [53] [54] At that time, it has a strength of 34 Panzer IV and 38 Panther tanks. [50] [55] The counterattack stalled, [56] and Panzer Lehr was called back out of the line, [57] much reduced in strength. [58]

The time spent refitting Panzer Lehr and several other units which had been committed prematurely meant that the operation had to be delayed. [59] During the run up to the offensive, Panzer Lehr was kept in reserve, along with the Führer Begleit Brigade. [60] On 15 December, the day before the offensive began, Panzer Lehr was still severely understrength, with only one of its two tank battalions ready for action, the other restored to its parent unit, the 3rd Panzer Division. [61] Both of its panzergrenadier regiments were at 80 percent of its authorized strength. [62] It had only 57 tanks (30 Panthers and 27 Panzer IV) and 20 Jagdpanzer IV/70's by the time the attack jumped off. [62] [63] In compensation, it was reinforced by two tank destroyer battalions and an assault gun brigade. [64] The division's armored reconnaissance battalion was its only organic unit up to strength. [64]

Wacht am Rhein opened on 16 December 1944, and Panzer Lehr moved out from the start positions in the center of the German line. The 26th Volksgrenadier Division was to clear the way for the division, but they soon became bogged down and the Panzer Lehr found itself moving forward at a crawl. [62] [65] The situation worsened over the next two days, with the 901st Panzergrenadier Regiment being halted by the Americans along the road to Wiltz, and the 902nd encountering heavy resistance in the town of Hosingen. [66]

Bastogne Edit

On 18 December, the assault got back underway. The 26th Volksgrenadier Division had secured the bridge over the Clerf River, opening the way to the road and rail-hub of Bastogne. [67] Panzer Lehr's armored reconnaissance battalion raced ahead, attacking towards Wiltz before rejoining the division on the route to Bastogne. [68] The horse-drawn 26th Volksgrenadier had gotten itself mixed up in Panzer Lehr's column, greatly slowing the advance. [69]

On the 19th, the division's panzer regiment ran into a roadblock near Neffe, held by troops of Combat Team Cherry of the U.S. 10th Armored Division. [70] After initial success, Panzer Lehr's follow up attack resulted in heavy casualties. Combat Team Cherry pulled out, and the way to Bastogne was open again. [71] However, the majority of the division's armor had been sent north to Mageret to support 26th Volksgrenadier. [72] After the taking of Mageret, a local informed Bayerlein, the division's commander, that a column of about 50 American tanks and infantry was seen moving to Longvilly. [73] Bayerlein ordered his troops to halt and set up a roadblock, giving him a chance to regroup and reorganize his troops. [73] By the time that Panzer Lehr moved out again and reached the town of Bastogne, the US 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles) had already secured it. [74] Panzer Lehr was then divided, with half the division left to help 26th Volksgrenadier Division capture Bastogne, while the rest of the division, including most of its armor, were to continue on to the Meuse. [75]

Over the next few days, the Kampfgruppe helping 26th Volksgrenadier, made up mostly of the 901st Panzergrenadier Regiment, wore itself out in successive attacks on the town of Bastogne. As the remainder of the division sped east, it enjoyed some minor successes, including the capture of a large American convoy, [76] but it was brought to a halt by fierce resistance near St. Hubert, and was soon drawn into heavy fighting south of Bastogne. [77] On the 21st, Manteuffel pulled Panzer Lehr out of the fight for Bastogne and grouped it with the 2nd Panzer Division and 116th Panzer Division Windhund for an assault on Dinant and the Meuse. [78]

Assault on Dinant Edit

After a day spent on reorganising the attack, Panzer Lehr finally got underway. It fought its way through St. Hubert and the road to Dinant and the Meuse again seemed open. [79] On the approach to Rochefort, the next town on the road to Dinant, Bayerlein, who was leading his division's vanguard in person, shouted to his men -

Also los, Augen zu, und hinein! ("OK, let's go! Shut your eyes and go in!") [80]

The assaulting unit, the 902nd Panzergrenadier Regiment, was met by a wall of fire. Nor was the advance to become any easier thereafter. On 23 December, the division fought all day to reduce the town of Rochefort, suffering heavy casualties. The Americans finally withdrew – their only casualties 25 men killed and 15 men wounded, after holding off an elite panzer division for an entire day. [81]

Bayerlein later compared the defence of Rochefort to that of Bastogne. [82] Panzer Lehr made two rescue attempts to save 2nd Panzer [83] and succeeded in retaking Humain, but unable to go any further. [84] After another failed rescue effort by 9th Panzer, Panzer Lehr was ordered to fall back. [85] Of the 2nd Panzer Kampfgruppe, only Major Cochenhausen and 600 or so of his men managed to escape on foot, abandoning almost all of the division's armor to the advancing Allies. [86] The Meuse would not be reached Wacht Am Rhein had failed. [87]

Relief of Bastogne Edit

The remnants of Manteuffel's strike force were pulled back for one final attempt to take Bastogne. [85] Panzer Lehr began to move into its new positions, [88] after US 4th Armored Division, the spearhead of George Patton's US Third Army, began its attack to relieve Bastogne [89] and a corridor to the surrounded 101st Airborne was created. [90] Panzer Lehr was then involved in the unsuccessful operations to close the corridor, [91] and finally the exhausted division was pulled out of the battle. Panzer Lehr had once again been virtually annihilated. [ citation needed ]

The Netherlands to Ruhr Pocket Edit

After the failure of the Ardennes offensive, Panzer Lehr was refitted once again, though not to anywhere near the lavish standard of its earlier incarnations. Many of the veterans were dead, and the Panzer Lehr of early 1945 bore little resemblance to that of June 1944. [92]

Panzer Divisions 1944-45 by Pier Paolo Battistelli (Paperback, 2009)

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On June 22, 1941 when Germany attacked the Soviet Union, her Panzer divisions were to play a major role in this titanic struggle. At its peak, 19 out of the 21 existing Panzer Divisions were deployed against the Soviets. Although overwhelmed by Soviet numbers, the superior skill and capability of the German Panzer divisions meant that in three months the Germans, with the Panzers as their spearhead had advanced deep into Soviet territory, inflicting terrible losses on the Soviets. However, after these initial successes the German offensive began to falter, culminating in the disastrous defeat at Kursk.

In this book, the organizational history of the Panzer divisions is covered, from the early successes of 1941 through to the dramatic re-organization of the Panzer Divisions and the introduction of revised Blitzkrieg tactics as the war began to turn and the Panzer divisions experienced their first taste of defeat. Pier Paolo Battistellii examines the impact of the introduction of the Panther tank shortly before the final failure at Kursk, and goes on to explain the evolution of German armored doctrine, tactics and the command system, providing a detailed overview of the major combat actions of the Panzer Divisions on the Eastern Front.

Pier Paolo Battistelli earned his PhD in military history at the University of Padua. A scholar of German and Italian politics and strategy throughout World War II, he works both in Italy and abroad writing titles and essays on military history subjects. A contributor to the Italian Army Historical Office, he is currently revising his PhD thesis, The War of the Axis: German and Italian Military Partnership in World War Two, 1939-1943, for publication.

Panzer Divisions 1944-45 , Pier Paolo Battistelli - History

The period 1944-45 was one of change for the Panzer Divisions. In summer 1944 the new-type Panzer Division was introduced with a reduction in the number of tanks, a change that was mainly seen in North-West Europe. On the Eastern Front, where the bulk of the Panzer Divisions were still employed, the organizational changes were introduced only slowly, mainly during periods of rest and refit. In 1945 the division was again reorganized with a reduced strength to reflect the deteriorating German manufacturing capability and to incorporate news weapons such as the Panther (Mark V).

This volume provides a detailed examination on the late-war changes to the German Army.
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In the wake of Italy's rapid annexation of Albania in April 1940, Mussolini's decision to attack Greece in October that year is widely acknowledged as a fatal mistake, leading to a domestic crisis and to the collapse of Italy's reputation as a military power (re-emphasized by the Italian defeat in North Africa in December 1940). The Italian assault on Greece came to a stalemate in less than a fortnight, and was followed a week later by a Greek counter-offensive that broke through the Italian defences before advancing into Albania, forcing the Italian forces to withdraw north before grinding to a half in January 1941 due to logistical issues. Eventually, the Italians took advantage of this brief hiatus to reorganize and prepare a counteroffensive, the failure of which marked the end of the first stage of the Axis Balkan campaign.

The first of two volumes examining the Axis campaigns in the Balkans, this book offers a detailed overview of the Italian and Greek armies, their fighting power, and the terrain in which they fought. Complimented by rarely seen images and full colour illustrations, it shows how expectations of an easy Italian victory quickly turned into one of Mussolini's greatest blunders.

The Wehrmacht's last Blitzkrieg campaign was indeed a lightning war, since German forces were required to seize both Yugoslavia and Greece before redeploying immediately to the East ready to attack the Soviet Union in a matter of weeks. Although the plans for the conquest of Yugoslavia were developed in haste, the campaign was extremely successful: in a short space of time, both Yugoslavia and Greece had fallen, accompanied by the capture of large numbers of British, Australian and New Zealand troops. The 1941 Balkan campaign was an apparently brilliant military accomplishment that demonstrated once again the superiority of the Wehrmacht, and its cutting-edge campaigning skills.

This superbly detailed work details the opposing forces that took part in this campaign, documents their weapons and analyzes the effectiveness of their tactics. It explores the initial Axis campaign against Yugoslavia, the breakthrough of the Metaxas Line and advance into Macedonia and the withdrawal of Allied troops south. Detailed battlescenes depict key moments in the land, sea and air battles that took place in the Balkans, vividly bringing to life events of almost 80 years ago.

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The Second Battle of El Alamein marked a major turning point in the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War.

El Alamein saw two of the greatest generals of the war pitted against each other: Rommel and Montgomery. Through key profiles and a chapter devoted to “The Armies,” El Alamein 1942 explores what made these men inspired leaders and what led to their respective defeat and victory.

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Before World War II Edit

The 3rd Panzer Division was formed on 15 October 1935 [1] from elements of the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Division as well as a variety of other Military and police units, and was headquartered in the German capital Berlin. It was one of three tank divisions created at the time, the other two being the 1st and 2nd Panzer Division. [1] Germany had renounced the Treaty of Versailles earlier in the year which had forbidden the country, among other things, from having tank forces, a treaty Germany had violated almost from the start by secretly developing tanks and operating a covert tank school in the Soviet Union. [2] [3]

Members of the divisions tank regiment participated in the Spanish Civil War on the Nationalist side as part of the German Legion Condor. The division also took part in the annexation of Austria, the so-called Anschluss. [3]

Action During World War II Edit

The 3rd Panzer Division participated in the 1939 invasion of Poland, where it was the most numerically powerful Panzer Division, with 391 tanks. [4] It was engaged in the northern sector, operating from Pomerania, and advancing via Toruń to Brest-Litovsk. [3] In May 1940 it was part of the German forces invading Belgium, advancing via the Albert Canal to Brussels and into France. Like the other German tank divisions the 3rd lost one of its two tank regiments in late 1940 to allow for the creation of further tank divisions, and gained an Infantry regiment instead. [5]

The Division was ordered to prepare for service in Libya, North Africa that same year to help support the Italian efforts there. The deployment was cancelled by Hitler however after Mussolini launched an invasion of Greece 28 October 1940 without prior warning to his German Ally. The Division was instead diverted to Operation Felix though the operation was never initiated. [6]

The 3rd Panzer Division was part of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, which began on 22 June 1941. Initially it was engaged in the central sector of the advance but was then redirected south to participate in the Battle of Kiev. From there it participated in the Battle of Moscow, advancing towards Tula. With the Soviet counterattacks in the winter of 1941–42 the division acted as a stand-by emergency force and, in March 1942, participated in the defense of Kharkov. The division participated in the Case Blue, the German attack in the southern sector of the Eastern Front in June 1942, in which the 3rd Panzer Division advanced towards the Caucasus. Initially successful the operation was ultimately a failure, with the division suffering heavy casualties in the process, especially in the fighting around Mozdok. It narrowly escaped encirclement on its retreat by crossing the frozen Sea of Azov near Rostov. [5]

The 3rd Panzer Division took part in the Battle of Kursk, attacking west of Belgorod. Following the German failure the division was engaged in the defense and retreat that followed. It remained on the Eastern Front for the remainder of the Second World War, fighting in the Ukraine, Romania, Poland and Hungary. At the end of the war saw the division engaged in Styria where it evaded Soviet forces and managed to surrender to the US Army instead. [5] The majority of the divisions soldiers were released from captivity by July 1945. [7]

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