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2nd Panzer Normandy

2nd Panzer Normandy

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2. Panzer Division
The division was depleted after prolonged fighting on the eastern front and during thewinter 1944 it was transferred to France for refitting. Since it had arrived in France earlyin 1944, the division was at full strength in most respects. It had also had time to train itsreplacements. Already on 1 April, the division was 573 men above authorized strength
1
.The organization of the division when it arrived in Normandy was
2
:The panzer regiment was strong. It had 94 operational Panzer IV in the II. Abteilung, plus2 in workshops on 31 May
3
. The I. Abteilung reported 73 Panthers operational and 6 inworkshops on 5 June
4
. Most likely the division recieved no tank replacements during thefighting in Normandy
5
.The Artillery regiment had its full complement of SP-Artillery, 12 Wespe (10,5 cmhowitzer on Pz II chassis) and 6 Hummel (15 cm Howitzer on Pz III/IV chassis)
6
.Additionally there were 26 towed artillery pieces in the regiment
7
.Usually a Panzer Division only had one of its four infantry battalions mounted on half-tracks, but the 2nd was an exception, having the I. battalion in both 2nd and 304th Panzer Grenadier Regiments equipped with armoured half-tracks. Consequently the division hada great number of SPW:s. On 31 May 468 were operational and 8 were in workshops
8
.The division had 25 PAK 40 7,5 cm towed AT-guns and 16 (plus 5 in workshops) JagdPzIV, also it had 8 8,8 cm Flak guns, that could augment the AT capabilities.
9
ThePanzerjägerabteilung had an unusual organization. The 1. Company had 7 JagdPz IV,while 2. and 3. companies had 4 and 8 respectively
10
.In terms of manpower the division was actually over strength by 296 men and had astrength (Iststärke) of 16 762 on 31 May
11
, but this probably inlcludes the 301. Fkl.Abt.with its 1 085 men
12
. This unit was subordinated to the 2. Pz.Div. at the beginning of June, but before D-Day it departed from 2. Pz.Div., except the 4. Kompanie.
13
Thus the strengthof the division was probably about 15 900 when it began to move to Normandy. Thedivision was fully motorized.
14
 In some publications, it has been stated that a Funklenk-Abteilung accompanied thedivision to Normandy. Both 301. and 302. Fkl.Abt. have been said to be the unit thatfought with the division in Normandy. However, neither of these took part in thecampaign. The 301. Fkl.Abt. was sent to the East Front, but one company (the 4.)remained in the west. It followed 2. Pz.Div. to Normandy. For more information on theseunits, see the narratives for 301. Fkl.Abt. and 302. Fkl. Abt.
 
When the allies landed the division was deployed in the area around Amiens. Two daysafter the invasion von Rundstedt decieded to send the division to Normandy
15
. At 03.00 on9 June the division received its orders to move.
16
It was decided to begin the movement atdusk.
17
However, since it was raining, it was begun at 14.00
18
, and during the evening themajority of the divisions wheeled elements passed through Paris
19
. The tracked units wereloaded on train, causing them to arrive later. On the morning of 11 July the wheeledelements of the division had reached Sées-Alençon, while only 6 trains with the trackedunits had departed
20
. The first elements of the division entered combat on 12 June
21
, but itwas not until 20 June that all units of the division had arrived
22
. Among the late arrivalswas the Panther battalion, which had arrived on the 19th with 52 operational vehicles anda further 20 that required minor repairs due to damage during the march
23
. Simultaneouslythe Panzer IV battalion arrived with about 75 % of its tanks operational
24
. Also the I./74Artillery battalion arrived with 2/3 of its Wespe and Hummel SP Howitzers combat readyon the 19th
25
.For most of June the division was mainly operating in the Caumont area. On 26 June theBritish operation Epsom was launched. 2nd Panzer Division's Panther battalion was lentto support the forces resisting the British offensive. On the 28th alone, the battalion wascredited with the destruction of 53 enemy tanks and 15 AT-Guns
26
.Casualties during June amounted to 275 killed in action, 1 021 wounded and 95 missing.
27
On 1 July the division had 85 Panzer IV operational and 11 in workshops requiring shortterm repairs, while the number of operational Panthers was 21
28
. Another 29 Pantherswere in short term repair 
29
, while 9 were in long term repair. Twenty had been lost duringJune
30
. During June, the Panther battalion was credited with the destruction of 89 enemytanks and 19 AT guns
31
.Since 1 June the organization of the Pz.Jäg.Abt had been changed, since on 1 July it had10 JagdPz IV each in 1. and 2. Companies, while 3. Company had 9 towed AT guns
32
.On 21 July the 326. Inf.Div. began to relieve the 2. Pz.Div.
33
Four days later the divisionreported that it had 13 Panthers operational and 26 in short term repair.
34
This did probably not include 2./Pz.Rgt. 3 which remained with the 326. Inf.Div. until 27 July.
35
The division seems not to have been involved in costly fighting during July, since it wasrated to have "Kampfwert I" (means that the unit was considered fit for any mission,offensive or defensive) on 30 July
36
. Its infantry battalions were still considered strong
37
.The division took part in the ill-fated Mortain attack. According to the divisional history,written by Franz-Joseph Strauss
38
, the division had about 60 tanks and 15 Jagdpanzersoperational when the attack was launched. The strength of its main combat units on 11August was: 820 men in 2nd Panzergrenadier Regiment, 760 men in 304thPanzergrenadier Regiment, 360 men in the Reckon battalion and 280 in the engineer  battalion
39
. Even after the Mortain battle the main combat units were still at close to half strength.The exact losses the division suffered during the Normandy campaign are not possible toestablish. It is known that losses during June were 275 killed in action, 1 021 woundedand 95 missing
40
. Casualties during July are not known, but in the period 1 August - 30September losses amounted to 315 killed in action, 370 wounded and 3 874 missing
41
.
 
Given the status of the division on 30 July indicated above, it seem reasonable to assumethat casualties during July were not greater than those suffered in June. If that assumptionis valid, the division must have suffered casualties of about 7 000 men during thecampaign. Also this assumes that the losses during September were small compared toAugust.This contradicts many statements that the division was destroyed in Normandy. That thedivision was far from destroyed is also evident from the fact that parts of it were still inaction on 4 September 
42
. Evidently it had suffered severe losses, but many divisionssuffered even worse losses during the campaign, both on the German and Allied side.Date
Pz IV
CombatReady
Pz IV
inShort TermRepair 
Panthers
combatready
Panthers
inShort TermRepair JagdPz IVCombatReady
JagdPz IV
in ShortTerm Repair 31 May
43
94 2 67 3 16 35 June
44
? ? 62 17* ? ?19 June
45
? ? 52 20 ? ?1 July
46
85 11 21 29 12 511 August
47
9 ? 8 ? 5 ?* = Includes long term replacement Notes:
1
 
WFST/Op. (H)/West Nr.004662/44 g.Kdos, den 3. Mai 1944, Fehlstellen der Divisionen im Bereich OB West, Stand 1.4.44, T77, R1421,F000237f.
 
2
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
3
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
4
 
Panther Abteilungen Bestand nach Org und Gen Qu., BA-MA RH 10/70.
 
5
 
 No Panzer IV, StuG or PzJäg were sent to the division during June, July and August. 24 Panthers were sent to OB West 2 - 8 August to bedistributed to the units in the west. It is not very likely that any of these arrived in time to take part in the fighting in Normandy, since 34Panzer IV that were sent on 10 August did not arrive at the troops until 5 September. Lieferungen der Panzerfahrzeuge, Bd. ab Mai 1943, BA-MA RH 10/349.
 
6
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
7
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
8
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
9
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
10
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
11
 
Strength report to Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 31 May 1944, BA-MA RH 10/141.
 
12
 
See narrative for 301. Fkl.Abt.
 
13
 
Ibid.
 
14
 
H. von Lüttwitz,
 Einsatz der 2. Panzer-Division in der Normandie
, MS # B-257, p. 26.
 
15
 
OB West Ia Nr. 4484/44 g.Kdos, 8.6.44, T311, R25, F7029384.
 
16
 
H. von Lüttwitz,
 Einsatz der 2. Panzer-Division in der Normandie
, MS # B-257, p. 5.
 
17
 
Ibid.
 
18
 
Ibid.
 
19
 
OB West Ia Nr. 4463/44 g.Kdos, 9.6.44, T311, R25, F7029425.
 
20
 
OB West Ia Nr. 4487/44 g.Kdos, 11.6.44, T311, R25, F7029461.
 
21
 
Franz-Joseph Strauss,
Geschichte der 2. (Wiener) Panzer Division
(Vowinkel, Neckargemünd 1977) page 160f.
 
22
 
OB West Ia Nr. 4748/44 g.Kdos, 20.6.44, T311, R25, F7029696.
 
23
 
AOK 7 Ia Nr. 1578/44 geh. 20.6.44, T312, R1565, F001161.
 
24
 
AOK 7 Ia Nr. 1578/44 geh. 20.6.44, T312, R1565, F001161.
 

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