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1
H is t o r ie s o f G e r m a n a n d S o v ie t T a n k D iv is io n s
D u r in g W o r ld W a r II
2 N D P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

T h e P o lis h C a m p a ig n. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Fra n ce. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Y u g o s la v ia a n d G r e e c e. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 To M oscow and Back. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 K u r s k. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 France, 1944. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Attack in the Ardennes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 The Last Battle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

G R O S S D E U T S C H L A N D D IV IS IO N. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 1

The French Cam paign. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 In t e r lu d e. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 3 Operation Barbarossa. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 In fa n t r y D iv is io n G r o s s d e u t s c h la n d. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 T h e 1 9 4 2 C a m p a ig n

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 4 The W inter of Stalingrad. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 C it a d e l. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 6 B e lg o r o d

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 7
D e fe n s e o f U k r a in e a n d B e s s a r a b ia
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 7
E a s t P r u s s ia
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 9
M a n y G r o s s d e u t s c h l a n d \u2019s. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 9
5 T H L IG H T D IV IS IO N / 2 1 S T P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0

C y r e n a ic a : T h e F ir s t C a m p a ig n. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 1 British Counter-A ttacks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 T h e G a z a la B a ttle s. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 3 In t o E g y p t. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 5 Out of Egypt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 T u n is ia. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 7 A N e w D iv is io n. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 9 Norm andy Beachhead. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 L o r r a in e. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 0

THE 5TH GUARDS TANK CORPS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
T H E 8 T H G U A R D S M E C H A N IZ E D C O R P S
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 4
COM BAT PATH OF THE 12TH GUARDS HEAVY TANK REGIM ENT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
2
2 N D P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N
s2 N D P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N
T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D i v i s i o n w a s o n e o f t h e G e r m a n A r m y \u2019s f i r s t t h r e e p a n z e r d i v i s i o n s ,
fo r m e d
i n

O c t o b e r , 1 9 3 5 , a s p a r t o f G e r m a n y \u2019s g e n e r a l r e - a r m a m e n t . I t s f i r s t c o m - m a n d e r, G e n . H e in z G u d e r ia n , h a d p la y e d a v ita l r o le in c o n v in c in g th e h ig h c o m m a n d to c o n c e n tr a te ta n k s in to d iv is io n s fo r u s e a s a p o w e r fu l c o m b in e d -a r m s a tta c k fo r c e . G u d e r ia n u s e d h is n e w

d iv is io n to te s t h is th e o r ie s o f a r m o r e d w a r fa r e a n d th e u n it
q u ic k ly g a in e d a r e p u ta tio n a s a n e lite u n it.
W h e n G e r m a n y a n n e x e d A u s tr ia in e a r ly 1 9 3 8 , th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n s p e a r h e a d e d
th e tr iu m p h a l m a r c h o n V ie n n a . B r o k e n -d o w n ta n k s litte r e d th e r o a d fr o m

th e b o r d e r a t P a s s a u a ll th e w a y to th e A u s tr ia n c a p ita l. O n ly s c a tte r e d fig h tin g o c c u r r e d , w ith th e A u s tr ia n g a r r is o n a t B r e g e n z in fa r w e s te r n A u s tr ia fir in g o n a d v a n c in g G e r m a n u n its a n d s o c ia lis t m ilitia in th e V ie n n a in d u s tr ia l d is tr ic t o f F a v o r ite n h o ld in g o u t fo r s e v - e r a l d a y s in a la r g e b a k e r y. S e c o n d P a n z e r D iv is io n tr o o p s w e r e n o t in v o lv e d in e ith e r i n c i d e n t , a n d t h e d i v i s i o n \u2019s t r a n s f e r f r o m

B a v a r ia to its n e w
h o m e s ta tio n in V ie n n a
w e n t s m o o th ly.
M a n y A u s tr ia n s o ld ie r s w e r e tr a n s fe r r e d to th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n fr o m
th e fo r m e r
A u s tr ia n
B u n d e s h e e r \u2019s ( f e d e r a l a r m y ) s m a l l a r m o r e d f o r c e a n d i t s C a v a l r y D i v i s i o n .
O th e r s
jo in e d
a s
n ew
r e c r u its , a n d
b y
1 9 3 9
th e
u n it w a s
kn ow n
a s
th e

\u201c V ie n n a D iv is io n .\u201d T h e d iv is io n k e p t its A u s tr ia n c o n n e c tio n th r o u g h o u t its e x is te n c e d e s p ite th e o r g a n iz a tio n o f a n o th e r a r m o r e d d iv is io n , th e 4 th L ig h t D iv is io n (la te r r e n a m e d 9 th P a n z e r D iv is io n ) in V ie n n a la te r in 1 9 3 8 . A s o r ig in a lly o r g a n iz e d , th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n h a d tw o ta n k r e g im e n ts o f tw o b a tta lio n s e a c h a n d o n e m o to r iz e d in fa n tr y r e g im e n t o f th r e e b a tta lio n s .

TABLE OF CONTENTS
4
2 N D P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N
O n c e a g a in th e d iv is io n c a m e u n d e r th e c o m m a n d o f H e in z G u d e r ia n , fo r m in g p a r t o f
h is
X IX
P a n z e r
C o r p s
a lo n g
w ith
th e
1 st
a n d
1 0 th
P a n z e r
D iv is io n s
a n d
th e
G r o s s d e u t s c h la n dm o to r iz e d r e g im e n t. T h is c o r p s w a s to fo r c e its w a y th r o u g h
th e
d e n s e A r d e n n e s fo r e s t o f e a s te r n B e lg iu m , th e n b r e a k o u t in to th e o p e n fa r m la n d o f
n o r th e r n
F ra n ce
a n d
h e a d
for the
E n g lis h
C h a n n e l, tr a p p in g th e
best French
a n d
B r itis h tr o o p s in B e lg iu m .

T h e a tta c k b e g a n in e a r ly M a y, w ith th e ta n k s m o v in g s lo w ly th r o u g h th e d e n s e w o o d s a s F r e n c h c a v a lr y u n its fo u g h t a d e la y in g a c tio n in fr o n t o f th e m . L a s t-m in u te c h a n g e s in th e m a r c h o r d e r c a u s e d m a s s iv e c o n fu s io n a n d tr a ffic ja m s , b u t th e A llie s d id n o th - in g to ta k e a d v a n ta g e o f th is . T h e c o r p s b u r s t in to o p e n g r o u n d o n 1 3 M a y, w ith 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n , b a d ly e n ta n g le d w ith

th e n e ig h b o r in g 6 th

P a n z e r D iv is io n , tr a ilin g b e h in d th e c o r p s \u2019 o th e r tw o p a n z e r d iv is io n s . G u d e r ia n s e n t h is o ld d iv is io n d ir e c tly in to th e a tta c k a c r o s s th e M e u s e R iv e r a t S e d a n a s it a r r iv e d o n th e b a ttle fie ld . T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D i v i s i o n \u2019s m o t o r c y c l e b a t t a l i o n

s e c u r e d
a
c r o s s in g o f th e r iv e r, a n d
p r o b in g
a tta c k s b y th e V ie n n a D iv is io n s o o n fo u n d a s e r io u s w e a k p o in t in th e F r e n c h d e fe n s -
es. At the boundary of tw o French
a r m ie s , th e 2 n d
P a n z e r D iv is io n
fo r c e d
its w ay

b e tw e e n tw o w e a k r e s e r v is t d iv is io n s , b o th o f w h ic h b e g a n to c r u m b le . A s th e 1 0 th P a n z e r D iv is io n a n dG r o s s d e u t s c h l a n d r e g im e n t fo u g h t to s e c u r e th e s o u th e r n fla n k o f th e

b r id g e h e a d , G u d e r ia n
to o k
th e
1st and
2 n d
P a n z e r D iv is io n s a n d , h e e d le s s o f
a p p r o a c h in g F r e n c h c o u n te r a tta c k g r o u p s , h e a d e d w e s t to w a r d th e E n g lis h C h a n n e l.

O v e r t h e n e x t s e v e r a l d a y s G u d e r i a n \u2019s c o r p s a d v a n c e d r a p i d l y , p a y i n g n o a t t e n t i o n t o o r d e r s fr o m a b o v e to h a lt im m e d ia te ly. W h ile s o m e o f th e o th e r a d v a n c in g p a n z e r d iv i- s io n s w e r e c o u n te r-a tta c k e d

by French
arm ored
d iv is io n s , th e 2 n d
P a n z e r D iv is io n

b r u s h e d a s id e lig h t o p p o s itio n . O n 1 9 M a y th e d iv is io n c a p tu r e d a B r itis h a r tille r y b a t- te r y, s till in its b a r r a c k s a t A lb e r t w ith n o th in g b u t tr a in in g a m m u n itio n o n h a n d . T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n r e a c h e d th e C h a n n e l c o a s t tw o d a y s la te r a n d tu r n e d n o r th w a r d to c u t o ff th e B r itis h E x p e d itio n a r y F o r c e th e n r e tr e a tin g to w a r d D u n k e r q u e .

T h e
B r itis h
2 0 th
G u a r d s
B r ig a d e
a n d
som e
F ren ch
tr o o p s
b a r r ic a d e d

th e m s e lv e s i n s i d e B o u l o g n e , u s i n g t h e p o r t c i t y \u2019s a n c i e n t w a l l s a s a n a n t i - t a n k b a r r i e r . B y 2 3 M a y 2 n d P a n z e r D i v i s i o n \u2019s t a n k s w e r e d r a w n u p o u t s i d e t h e c i t y , s h o o t i n g t h e w a l l s a p a r t w h ile th e d iv is io n \u2019s a r tille r y s h e lle d th e p o r t. T h e ta n k s s u r g e d th r o u g h th e b r e a c h e s in th e w a lls o n 2 5 M a y a n d q u ic k ly s e c u r e d th e to w n . A s th e p e r im e te r w a s c o n s ta n t- ly s h r in k in g a r o u n d

the British
E x p e d itio n a r y F o r c e a t D u n k e r q u e , th e 2 n d
P a n z e r
D iv is io n
r e m a in e d
b e h in d
th e fr o n t to p r e p a r e fo r a
ren ew ed
o ffe n s iv e a g a in s t th e
F r e n c h s till h o ld in g o u t to th e s o u th .
For about a
w e e k th e G e r m a n
a r m ie s s o r te d
th e m s e lv e s o u t, a n d
th e n
the second
o ffe n s iv e
a g a in s t th e
French, know n
a s
Case Red, began. The
X IX
P a n z e r
C o r p s ,

in c lu d in g 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n , a tta c k e d a c r o s s th e A is n e R iv e r. T h is tim e th e F r e n c h p u t u p fu r io u s r e s is ta n c e , b u t a t th e k e y m o m e n t th e F r e n c h h ig h c o m m a n d p a n ic k e d , o r d e r i n g a w i t h d r a w a l . G u d e r i a n \u2019s t a n k s p o u r e d t h r o u g h t h e g a p , a d v a n c i n g r a p i d l y . O n th e m o r n in g o f 1 7 J u n e th e F r e n c h a s k e d fo r a n a r m is tic e , a r e q u e s t m a n y F r e n c h s o ld ie r s to o k a s a n o r d e r to la y d o w n th e ir a r m s .

3
2 N D P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N
T h e P o lis h C a m p a ig n
In A u g u s t, 1 9 3 9 , th e d iv is io n m o v e d fr o m

its h o m e s ta tio n in V ie n n a in to th e a llie d p u p p e t s ta te o f S lo v a k ia to p r e p a r e fo r th e c a m p a ig n a g a in s t P o la n d . M a n y s o ld ie r s th o u g h t

th is
o p e r a tio n
m ight
b e
a n o th e r
b lu ff
lik e
th e
m o b iliz a tio n
a g a in s t
C z e c h o s lo v a k ia th e y e a r b e fo r e , b u t th e h ig h
c o m m a n d w a s n o t w illin g t o a c c e p t a
p e a c e fu l s o lu tio n th is tim e .

T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n a n d its s is te r u n it, th e 4 th L ig h t D iv is io n , w e r e a s s ig n e d to th e X X II P a n z e r C o r p s in th e 1 4 th A r m y o f A r m y G r o u p S o u th . T h e ir m is s io n w a s to s p e a r h e a d th e d r iv e o n K r a k \u00f3 w , th e o ld c a p ita l o f A u s tr ia n P o la n d . T h e h ig h c o m m a n d h o p e d th e tw o V ie n n e s e d iv is io n s (s e v e n o f th e e ig h t d iv is io n s o n th e G e r m a n s o u th - e r n w in g w e r e A u s tr ia n u n its ) w o u ld g e t a fr ie n d ly r e c e p tio n fr o m

th e fo r m e r A u s tr ia n s u b je c ts , b u t th e P o le s w e r e r e a d y a n d w illin g to fig h t. T h e c o r p s w a s a s s ig n e d to b r e a k th r o u g h P o lis h tr o o p s d u g in a lo n g a m o u n ta in o u s lin e o f fo r e s te d r id g e s .

W a r b e g a n o n S e p te m b e r 1 s t, 1 9 3 9 . T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n p u s h e d its ta n k s th r o u g h
th e r o u g h
te r r a in , o u tfla n k in g th e P o lis h
d e fe n s e s . L a te in
th e d a y th e P o le s h a d to
c o m m it o n e
o f th e ir fe w
m odern
m o b ile
fo r m a tio n s to
r e s to r e
th e ir lin e , th e
1 0 th
M e c h a n iz e d B r ig a d e . T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n fo u g h t th e ir w a y p a s t th e P o lis h d e fe n d -
e r s , w h o w o u ld
n o t c o m m it th e ir fe w
ta n k s to a
d ir e c t e n g a g e m e n t. T h e n e x t d a y
in te n s e
fig h tin g r a g e d
b e tw e e n
th e
2 n d
P a n z e r D iv is io n
a n d
th e
1 0 th
M e c h a n iz e d
B r ig a d e s u p p o r te d b y a u n it o f to u g h P o lis h b o r d e r g u a r d s . T h e P o le s fo u g h t v e r y h a r d ,
b u t s lo w ly b e g a n to r e tr e a t to w a r d K r a k \u00f3 w .

B y 6 S e p te m b e r th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n h a d g a in e d th e u p p e r h a n d in its s tr u g g le w ith th e P o le s , w h o la c k e d r e s e r v e s to b a c k u p th e ir d e te r m in e d d e fe n s e . O n th e n e x t d a y a p r e m a tu r e w ith d r a w a l b y o n e P o lis h a r m y o p e n e d a w id e g a p in th e P o lis h lin e s , a n d th e X X II P a n z e r C o r p s b u r s t in to th e o p e n in g . T h e P o le s w e r e s o o n in fu ll r e tr e a t o n th e s o u th e r n fr o n t, a n d th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n m a d e e n o r m o u s a d v a n c e s o n 8 a n d 9 S e p te m b e r. S o o n

th e
d iv is io n
w as
th r e a te n in g
t o
cut off the
e n tir e
P o lis h
A r m ija
Krak\u00f3w a, a n d th e P o le s n o w tr ie d to p u ll b a c k in to th e ir \u201c R o m a n ia n B r id g e h e a d \u201d a lo n g
th e b o r d e r w ith R o m a n ia .
A n a tta c k b y a P o lis h ta n k fo r c e a g a in s t th e 4 th L ig h t D iv is io n o n 1 8 S e p te m b e r, th e
d a y a fte r
S o v ie t fo r c e s in v a d e d
P o la n d , h a d
g o o d
success. A
ta n k
fo r c e
fr o m
2 n d

P a n z e r D iv is io n s to p p e d th e P o lis h a tta c k in th e b ig g e s t ta n k b a ttle o f th e c a m p a ig n , w h ic h a ls o m a r k e d t h e e n d o f s e r io u s c o m b a t in P o la n d . T h e P o le s h a d fo u g h t w it h d e te r m in a tio n a n d o p p o s e d 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n w ith s o m e o f th e ir b e s t m o b ile fo r - m a t i o n s , a n d a s a r e s u l t t h e d i v i s i o n \u2019s c a s u a l t i e s w e r e q u i t e h i g h .

Fra n ce
T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n q u ic k ly r e d e p lo y e d to th e w e s t to p r e p a r e fo r th e a tta c k o n
F ra n ce
s c h e d u le d
t o
b e g in
d u r in g
th e
w in te r
o f 1 9 3 9 . F o r tu n a te ly
fo r
th e
tr o o p s

in v o lv e d , s a n ity fo r o n c e p r e v a ile d a t th e h ig h c o m m a n d a n d th e a tta c k w a s p o s tp o n e d u n til th e fo llo w in g s p r in g . T h is a llo w e d th e d iv is io n tim e to a b s o r b a n d tr a in r e p la c e - m e n t tr o o p s a n d o b ta in n e w e q u ip m e n t.

6
2 N D P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N

T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n w a s s e n t s o u th w a r d a lo n g th e c o a s t o f th e A e g e a n S e a , to h e lp th e m o u n ta in tr o o p s p a s t s u c h h is to r ic o b s ta c le s a s th e p a s s a t T h e r m o p y la e a n d M o u n t O ly m p u s . T h e r e , th e d iv is io n fo u g h t a s e r ie s o f s h a r p a c tio n s a g a in s t th e N e w Z e a la n d

D iv is io n . F ig h tin g in
th e n a r r o w
m o u n ta in
passes around

M o u n t O ly m p u s c o n tin u e d fo r s e v e r a l d a y s b e fo r e th e A llie s fe ll b a c k in s o m e d is a r r a y. O n 2 1 A p r il th e G r e e k fo r c e s in w e s te r n G r e e c e s u r r e n d e r e d , le a v in g th e A llie d d iv is io n s in g r a v e d a n - g e r o f to ta l d e s tr u c tio n . T h e A llie s q u ic k ly b e g a n to e v a c u a te th e ir tr o o p s . T h e G e r m a n a d v a n c e c o n tin u e d , b u t a s th e G r e e k m a in la n d n a r r o w e d s o d id th e fr o n t lin e s , a n d 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n w a s s o o n fo llo w in g b e h in d 6 th M o u n ta in D iv is io n a n d 5 th P a n z e r D iv is io n . T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n s a w n o m o r e s ig n ific a n t a c tio n in G r e e c e .

W ith th e in v a s io n o f th e S o v ie t U n io n o n ly a fe w w e e k s a w a y, G e r m a n u n its n o w b e g a n
to s tr e a m

n o r t h w a r d o u t o f G r e e c e . T h e G r e e k r a ilr o a d lin e s c o u ld n o t h a n d le t h e v o l- u m e o f tr a ffic r e q u ir e d to m o v e p a n z e r d iv is io n s \u2019 ta n k s a n d o th e r v e h ic le s , s o G e r m a n lo g is tic s o ffic e r s d e c id e d to s e n d th e v e h ic le s o f th e 2 n d a n d 5 th P a n z e r D iv is io n s b y s e a

t o
Ita ly. F r o m
th e r e
th e y
w o u ld
g o
b y
rail to
th e
a s s e m b ly
a r e a s
i n

P o la n d . M e a n w h ile , th e p e r s o n n e l o f th e tw o d iv is io n s w o u ld tr a v e l b y r a il fr o m G r e e c e to m e e t th e ir e q u ip m e n t.

T h a n k s to th e \u201c U ltr a \u201d c o d e -b r e a k in g p r o g r a m , th e A llie s le a r n e d
th e d e ta ils o f th is
a r r a n g e m e n t. A s u b m a r in e a tta c k s e n t b o th d iv is io n s \u2019 h e a v y e q u ip m e n t to th e b o tto m
of the
M e d ite r r a n e a n
S e a , le a v in g
2 n d
P a n z e r
D iv is io n
e s s e n t ia lly
unarm ed
w h en
Operation Barbarossa, th e in v a s io n o f th e S o v ie t U n io n , b e g a n in J u n e , 1 9 4 1 .
To M oscow
a n d B a ck
T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n s p e n t t h e e a r ly w e e k s o fOperation Barbarossa in P o la n d a n d
F r a n c e , a c q u ir in g n e w
ta n k s a n d tr a in in g o n th e r e p la c e m e n t v e h ic le s . T h e 2 n d a n d
5 th
P a n z e r D iv is io n s r e tu r n e d
to action
i n
O c to b e r, 1 9 4 1 . T h e a d d itio n

o f tw o fu ll- s tr e n g th p a n z e r d iv is io n s , e q u ip p e d w ith th e n e w e s t w e a p o n s a n d v e h ic le s , g a v e th e G e r m a n d r iv e o n M o s c o w

a tr e m e n d o u s b o o s t ju s t a s b o th s id e s w e r e b e g in n in g to
w ear dow n.
E a s t o f M o s c o w , a lo n g th e V o lo k o la m s k H ig h w a y, th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n s a w its fir s t
e x te n s iv e
com bat on
th e
E a s te r n
F r o n t. T h e
d iv is io n
a tta c k e d
r e p e a te d ly
i n
la te
O c to b e r, b u t th e S o v ie ts , in s p ir e d to d e fe n d M o s c o w

to th e u tm o s t, w o u ld n o t b r e a k . S e c o n d P a n z e r D iv is io n ta n k s w e r e e v e n a tta c k e d b y s q u a d s o f M o s c o w fa c to r y w o r k - er m ilitia

arm ed
w ith
n o th in g b u t b o ttle s fille d
w ith
g a s o lin e . W h e n
e lite
S ib e r ia n
tr o o p s
a r r iv e d
i n
N ovem ber
t o
b o ls te r
th e
fa n a tic
b u t
d w in d lin g
d e fe n d e r s
o f
Vo lo k o la m s k , th e G e r m a n a tta c k s p u tte r e d to a h a lt.
C ir c lin g w a r ily a w a y fr o m
th e d e te r m in e d d e fe n d e r s o f V o lo k o la m s k , th e 2 n d P a n z e r
D iv is io n
m oved
t o
th e 4 6 th
Panzer Corps sector to
try to
S o v ie t d e fe n s e s n o r th
o f
Moscow. The
d iv is io n
p e n e tr a te d
t o
w ith in
fiv e
m ile s o f c e n tr a l M o s c o w , a n d
2 n d

P a n z e r D iv is io n r e c o n tr o o p s r e p o r te d s p o ttin g th e s p ir e s o f th e K r e m lin in th e d is - ta n c e . O n c e a g a in th e S o v ie ts tu r n e d a w a y th e a tta c k e r s , a n d w h e n th e S o v ie ts c o u n - te r a tta c k e d th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n a n d its n e ig h b o r s w e r e c u t o ff. T h e d iv is io n le d a s u c c e s s fu l b r e a k o u t d o w n t h e o n e u s a b le h ig h w a y le a d in g a w a y fr o m

K lin , a n d s p e n t
th e r e s t o f 1 9 4 1 a n d e a r ly 1 9 4 2 r e tr e a tin g a w a y fr o m
th e S o v ie t c a p ita l.
5
2 N D P A N Z E R D IV IS IO N

T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n r e tu r n e d to its h o m e s ta tio n fo r th e r e m a in d e r o f th e s u m - m e r. D u r in g th e r e o r g a n iz a tio n u n d e r g o n e th a t s u m m e r b y a ll p a n z e r d iv is io n s , th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n g a v e u p its 4 th P a n z e r R e g im e n t, w h ic h w e n t to th e n e w

1 3 th P a n z e r D iv is io n , g a in in g in e x c h a n g e a s e c o n d m o to r iz e d in fa n tr y r e g im e n t. T h o u g h s o m e la te r c o m m e n ta to r s , in c lu d in g G u d e r ia n , w o u ld c r itic iz e th e m o v e , it d id h a v e a d v a n t a g e s . D e c r e a s i n g t h e n u m b e r o f t a n k s d i d w e a k e n t h e d i v i s i o n \u2019s f i r e p o w e r , b u t th e s m a lle r o r g a n iz a tio n w a s fa r e a s ie r to s u p p ly w ith fu e l a n d o th e r ite m s a n d c o u ld d e p lo y m o r e q u ic k ly o ff t h e r o u g h e r a n d le s s c o m m o n r o a d s t o b e fo u n d in E a s t e r n a n d S o u th e r n E u r o p e , w h e r e n e w c a m p a ig n s w e r e fo r e s e e n .

Yu g o s la v ia a n d G r e e c e
A fte r r e - a lig n m e n t o n th e n e w , s m a lle r ta b le o f o r g a n iz a tio n , th e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n
s p e n t s e v e r a l m o n th s in
P o la n d
b e fo r e m o v in g to R o m a n ia
i n
p r e p a r a tio n
fo rF a ll
M a rita, the attack on
Y u g o s la v ia
a n d
G r e e c e . T h e d iv is io n
filt e r e d
in to B u lg a r ia
i n

e a r ly A p r il, 1 9 4 1 , a n d c r o s s e d in t o Y u g o s la v ia o n 6 A p r il. A s in P o la n d , t h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n w a s s e n t in to m o u n ta in o u s c o u n tr y to c o o p e r a te w ith m o u n ta in tr o o p s a n d a id th e ir a d v a n c e . T h e 2 n d P a n z e r D iv is io n w a s to a d v a n c e w e s tw a r d in to s o u th e r n Yu g o s la v ia a n d th e n tu r n d ir e c tly s o u th w a r d to a d v a n c e o n th e im p o r ta n t G r e e k p o r t o f S a lo n ik a .

T h e
Y u g o s la v d e fe n d e r s w e r e
w illin g e n o u g h
s o ld ie r s , b u t h a d
b e e n
c a u g h t in
th e
m id s t o f m o b iliz a tio n a n d e v e n a t fu ll p a p e r s tr e n g th th e ir u n its w e r e s e r io u s ly s h o r t
of m odern
w eapons
a n d
e q u ip m e n t , e s p e c ia lly
a n ti-ta n k
guns. The
r o u g h
te r r a in
p r o v e d m o r e o f a h in d r a n c e to th e G e r m a n a d v a n c e th a n th e e n e m y, a n d ta n k c r e w s
o fte n
d r o v e th e ir v e h ic le s a lo n g s tr e a m b e d s r a th e r th a n

m a k i n g u s e o f t h e r e g i o n \u2019s b a d ly - k e p t r o a d s . A Y u g o s la v d iv is io n c o u n te r - a tta c k e d o n 7 A p r il, c a u s in g s o m e a n x - io u s m o m e n ts , b u t th e 2 n d

P a n z e r D i v i s i o n \u2019s t a n k s d r o v e o f f t h e a t t a c k e r s a n d
th e
a d v a n c e c o n tin u e d .

O n 8 A p r il th e d iv is io n c r o s s e d th e G r e e k fr o n tie r, w h e r e th e G r e e k 1 9 th M o to r iz e d D iv is io n h e ld a lin e o f e n tr e n c h m e n ts a n d p r e p a r e d p o s itio n s . T h e G r e e k s h a d p la c e d th e ir m o s t m o b ile d iv is io n s , th e 1 9 th a n d th e C a v a lr y D iv is io n , in fr o n t o f 2 n d P a n z e r D i v i s i o n \u2019s a d v a n c e b u t t h e p a n z e r d i v i s i o n s i m p l y s h r e d d e d t h e o p p o s i t i o n . O n t h e n e x t day 2nd

P a n z e r D iv is io n
u n its o c c u p ie d
S a lo n ik a

w ith o u t o p p o s itio n , ta k in g o n e o f E u r o p e \u2019s le a d in g p o r ts a n d is o la tin g th e G r e e k d iv is io n s fig h tin g a lo n g th e s o - c a lle d M e ta x a s L in e to th e e a s t. D e m o r a liz e d b y w o r d o f S a lo n ik a \u2019s r a p id fa ll, th e G r e e k d iv i- s io n s a lo n g th e b o r d e r w ith B u lg a r ia la id d o w n th e ir a r m s .

T h o u g h
2 n d
P a n z e r D iv is io n
h a d
fo r c e d
the surrender of a
g o o d

p a r t o f th e G r e e k a r m y, th e c a m p a ig n w a s n o t o v e r. A llie d u n its w e r e la n d in g in G r e e c e to h e lp p r o p u p th e G r e e k a r m ie s . G e r m a n a n d B r itis h u n its c la s h e d a s e a r ly a s 1 0 A p r il. Ita lia n a g e n ts i n

E gyp t
h a d
c o r r e c tly
id e n tifie d
th e
A llie d
u n its
d is p a tc h e d
t o
G r e e c e ,
m ostly
A u s tr a lia n s a n d N e w
Z e a la n d e r s , a n d th e s e e n g a g e m e n ts c a m e a s n o s u r p r is e to th e
Germ ans.

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