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D 739 .F6713

UNCLASSIFIED
U&ARMYMILITAiY HISTORY INSTITUTt

no .A-871 Fgn MS

U.S. ARMY MILITARY HISTORY INSTITUTE CARLISLE BARRACKS. PA 17013-5008

ENGLISH

COPY

21 st PANZER DIVISION IN COMBAT AGAINST
AMERICAN TROOPS IN FRANCE AND GERMANY

This document is now unclassified, as shown on the cover or title page, and all other markings found on any pages are obsolete. If any photocopies are made of this document, all markings, other than UNCLASSIFIED, on each page should be obliterated so that there is no misunderstanding of the current classification of any information derived from it.

HISTORICAL DIVISION HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES ARMY, EUROPE FOREIGN MILITARY STUDIES BRANC

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED

MS # A-871

31st Panzer Division in Combat against American Troops in Prance and Germany

Edgar Feuchtinger, Generalleutnant a. D.

Translator: A.E. Chrigtensen.

Historical Division
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES ABMY, EUBOPE

UNCLASSIFIED

MS # A-871

UNCLASSIFIED
against American Troops in France and Germany.

Report on the Engagements of the 21st Panzer Division

Although I still have a good knowledge of all engagements of my division, I mast initially establish the fact that it is not possible for me to write my report in such form as I should like to, so that in the paragraphs in question it will give an indisputable picture of the daily engagements. Above all I lack a knowledge of the situation of the

enemy, my own war diary, and the corresponding maps in the scales 1:50.000, 1:80.000 or 1:100.000. must be taken into consideration. Inevitable blanks and also many mistakes I, coiripletely avoid, therefore naming Due to the frequent

the American divisions which fought opposite to us.

changes in the arrangement of the chain of conmand, the numbers of our own corps headquarters will not all be correct. the dates given will often be unavoidable. But I have made my report according to the best of my knowledge. Should it not also contribute to the heroism of a fine division which had always done its duty, and which was recognized by the enemy as a division of fair and excellent fighting qualities? Scumany captured Likewise, mistakes in

American officers and enlisted men personally told me. Concerning the historical evaluation of the division, its fighting power,-armament, and eouipment, the following is initially to be said: After the completion of the entire German campaign in Al©rice the 21st Panzer Division was torn to pieces in !TuniF,ia. The new

UNCLASSIFIED

MS # A-871 21st Panzer Division was constituted in France on 6 May 1943.

-3Assigned

to it were former members of the 21st Panzer Division who had been in Germany on account of wounds or illness, on leave, or with the replacement units at the time of the surrender of Tunisia. officers and enlisted men. Altogether, about 3,000

The mobile 936th Brigade which originated

from the only armored artillery brigade (self-propelled) was ordered to constitute the cadre of the formation. Our own construction staff

had to assemble all armored and unarmorea vehicles only from spare parts found in the salvage dumps of the campaign in the west 1940. tanks for the Panzer Begiment were supplied. Only the

All weapons were allotted

from German stocks, but we had to build the installations (self-propelled) and the towing mediums ourselves. Even after 6 June 1944 the division

had no replacements for vehicles, but had to build up everything even in the most difficult situations. As the only division or the German

Western Army the division had to go on fighting continuously at the most difficult points. On the first day of the invasion it was

employed at Caen as first reserve division, and at the beginning of February 1945 evacuated to the Oder front. Organization and Commanding Instances of the Division. Division commander: G 3: Maj Gen Peuchtinger

until the end of August 1944 Lt Col Frhr v. Berlichingen, then Major Scharnhorst.

G 4:

Major Frhr. v. Luedinghausen.

UNCLASSIFIED

MS # A-S71 G 2: & 1: Capt Vorster. Major Heeringer.

1/Lt: 1/Lt Ehode. 21st Reconnaissance Battalion. Commander: Major Brandt. armored reconnaissance companies. reconnaissance companies. heavy armored company.

l.,2. companies 3.,4. "

5. company

125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. Commander: Lt Col v. Luck.

First Battalion; l.,2.,3. 4. company companies armored troop carriers armored troop carrier with four 7.5 cm antitank guns, self-propelled. armored troop carrier with three 2 cm flat trajectory csnnon, self-propelled. armored troop carrier with four heavy rocket projectors. Second Battalion; 5.,6.,7. companies 8. company personnel carriers. like the 4th company.

MS # A-871 (strength and armament of the 1.-3. companies and the 5 .-7.

-4-

companies according to the organization of the 4-1 th Panzer Division, y. company infantry Howitzer company with six heavy field Howitzers "13" (cal 15 cm) on armored self-propelled carriage. 10. company four multi-tarrelled shell mortars with 24 muzzles each, eight 14 cm mortars self-propelled with 360 11. company carriage.

regimental headquarters company with sapper and engineering units, signals and communication antitank artillery, alarm and assault platoon.

l.,2.,3. supply companies. 1921 - Panzer grenadier Regiment. Coniaander; Col Seuch.

Organization like that of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. 22d Panzer Regiment. Commander: Col v. Oppeln-Bronikovski.

First Battalion; l.,2.,3.,4. Companies with each 17 tanks type "IT", 7.5 cm cannon (long) Second Battalion; 5.,6.,7.,8. companies with each 12 tanks type "IT1 , 7.5 cm cannon (long)

US # A-871 155th. Panzer Artillery Hegiment.

-5-

Commander:

Col Euehne.

First Battalion; 1. battery with four 10 cm guns 2. and 3. "batteries with, each four 12.2 cm horse-drawn Howitzers. Second Battalion; 4., 5. batteries \/ith each six light field Howitzers type "18" 10.5 cm gun on armored self-propelled carriage. 6. battery with six heavy field Howitzers type "IS", 15 cm gun on armored self-propelled carriages. Third Battalion; 7.,8.,9. betteries like those of the second battalion. 10. battery was a rocket-launcher battery with four rocket launchers of 48 muzzles on armored self-propelled. carriage (cal 8) 200th Assault Gun Battalion. Commander; Maj Becker. l.,S.,3,,4. batteries with each ten armored self-uropelled carriages, namely, four with 7.5 cm antitank guns, and six with 10.5 cm light field Howitzers type "18". 5. battery a coirpany with multi-barrelled shell mortars like those of the 10th company of the 125th and 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment©s.

MS # A-871 200th Armored Engineer Battalion. Commanderi Major HoegL.

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l.,2. companies with armored troop carriers. 3. company with personnel carriers, bridging-column with material for 60 t bridge, light engineer column. 800th Antitank Battalion. Commander: Maj Frhr. r. Synker.

l.,2.,3. companies with each eight 8 cm motor-drawn antitank guns. 305th Army (Heeres) Antiaircraft Battalion. Commander: Major Ohlendorf.

1 "battery with twelve 2 cm single-muzzled guns, two 3.7 cm twomuzzled guns ana two 2 cm four-muzzled guns (sell-propelled). 2., 3. batteries with each four motor-drawn 8.8 can antiaircraft guns and three 3.7 cm single-muzzled guns. Searchlight platoon, light antiaircraft column. 200th Armored Signal Battalion. Commander: 1. company: 2. company: Major Huehnlich. telephone company radio company

Light signal column.

MS # A-871 800th Armored Supply Detachment. Commander: Haj v. Streit.

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1.,2.,3.,4.,5.,6.,7. companies each 120 t. 200th Medical Battalion. Conunander: changed frequently. Oberstabsarzt Dr. Altmeyer.

Divisional Surgeon:

l.,2. medical companies. l.,2.,3. motorized ambulance platoons. l.,2. first-aid stations. Technical Services. Commander: Divisional Engineer Major.

l.,2.,3. workshop Qowpenie^. Service Troops. Commander: changed frequently. Oberstabsintendant Goeris.

Chief Supt>ly Officer: Administration company. Bakery company. Butcher company,.

G- 3 subordinate to division escort company. Military Police detachment.

MS # A-871

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American Csropai^ in IToraandy 6 Jun - 24 Jul 1S44. The division was not engaged here, as it was already employed in the area of Caen on the first day of the invasion and held its position here until 5 July. south and eest of Caen. American Campaign in Horthern _France 25 Jul - 14 Sept 1944. On 10 August the division had its first contact here with American forces. At that time the division was still involved in engagements Information about the American advance All the supply of the division As of 8 July it was engaged in the area

in the area of 7ire-Conde.

east of Rennes was very unsatisfactory. came from the area west of Paris.

In order to guard the supply columns

against surprise the division employed the First Panzer Reconnaissance Company on the northward road, north of St. Mans, and was in this vray constantly aware of the position of the American armored speaipoiots. . Only with small units was the division engaged in fights with the Americans in the pocket south of Falaise. Under the leadership of the

First SS Corps the "bulk of the division fought its way tack to Dimontier and the Tocruet sector. Subordinate to the Second SS Corps the division fought between Lisieux and Orbec from 20 August - 22 August, and on 22 August at about 17.30 hours orders came from the Second SS Corps that the division had to

MS # A-371

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be employed at once without relief in order to occupy a covering position south and east of le leubourg, to prevent the American armored forces from advancing from the Evreux district in the direction of the Seine near Elbenf, Eouen, BouiShevoulde. The division was subordinate Command post of the

to the 81st Corps (lit Sen Kuntzen) in this mission. corps was placed near Molineaux on the Seine.

Due to the continued engagements as of 6 July the division had suffered quite serious casualties. Although two personnel replacement

battalions had come to the division, the strengths of the companies of the Panzer Grenadier Regiments were only 40 - 50 men on 62, August. July the second battalion of the Panzer Grenadier Regiment had been transferred to the drill ground of Grafenwoehr for reconversion to Panther tank armor. The tank type "IV" available at that time had been The unit had taken eight tanks into Ko replacements In

taken over by the first battalion.

tne pocket of Falaise, and returned without a single one. were assigned.

As of 22 August artillery, assault gun units, antitank

units and anticraft units had lost 2/3 of their weapons owing to the fire of the enemy. So far no replacements had been assigned here either.

Consequently, the division was about 70^ below authorized strength, its striking power is to be estimated correspondingly or still lower. During the envening of 22 August things took a different turn. As

of 19.00 tne division hsd left its positions and was marching into the new sector. Prom Brionne all roads leading eastward were blocked to such When I motored

a degree that it was only possible to advance stet> by step.

MS # A~871

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in advance through la Hage du Theil tov/ard Foqueville I was able to ascertain the presence of American tanks. Rapidly I turned the marching

division aside, and had the terrain to the north of La Hage and a wood north of it occupied. The task assigned to me fey Lt Gen Kuntzen early on the morning of 23 August was to contain the enemy in the area south of Bourgthevoulde as long as possible, and to take all equipment and vehicles to the opposite "bank of the Seine. On S3 August the weather i/as unfavorable for

the air force, but it could not be utilized for the crossing of the Seine by the numerous German infantry end armored divisions as no bridges were available, and consequently the crossing could only teke place by ferry. The third company of my engineer battalion had orders to build On 24 August the bridge was finished, but the weather

a bridge at Houen.

changed for the better, and two hours after having been set into working order the bridge was attacked by bombing planes and destroyed. The

defensive actions south of Sourgthevoulde vere carried out successfully. Until the 2y August the weak forces of the division managed to keep enemy away from the Seine. crossing of the Seine. the

This was an enormous success for the German especially

Although an immense amount of material

of the infantry divisions

was taken by the enemy, owing to the gain

in time it was still possible to tske at lerst double the amount (especially material of the motorized divisions) bank. to the opnosite

A successful break-through of the American forces to the Seine be

tween Rouen and Yrille on 24 August enormously impeded, if not making nearly impossible, the reformation of the following divisions, to such a degree that they vere unable to put up any resistance at the 1/estwall:

MS # A-371

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2.,9., 21., 116., units of the Panzer Lehrdivision, Panzer Division of the Army (Heer), 1., 2., 9., 10., 12., 17., SS Panzer Divisions, and about nine infantry divisions of the array. The roads were "blocked beyond description, especially the roads to Rouen which led to the Seine. The weather having changed for the

better some "bombing raids took place; they caused heavy losses, but I was surprised that the losses were not still heavier considering the immense mass of material. Yrille was the crossing-point of the division. by night-work the engineer battalion succeeded in vehicles of the division to the opposite bank. By day-and especially taking most of the

The ferrying site was

not attacked by the air force, probably because it v/as not discovered. On 26 August the division with all units which had crossed the Seine was ordered to march to the vicinity of Creil (north of Paris) for a short refreshening. On 27 August the order previously given out for

the division to move first cf all to Helms, and then to the vicinity of Vesone the same evening x-ras rescinded, and a combat group was also ordered to go to the Plateau of Lsngres. On 27 August I was ordered to Eparnay, to the First Army. Until the

crossing of the Seine on 28/29 August the combat group or the division wes commanded by Lt Col v. Luck, and, corresponding to the new situation after the crossing of the Seine, the group was led into the new area of combat.

On my march to Epernay on 28 August at 01.00 I was engaged by American armored reconnaissance vehicles at St. Grilles south of Fismes.

MS # A-871

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In the meantime the First Army had made further changes of position; the new situation made an immediate change of the route of msrch necessary, which x;as much impeded by the fact that the division was only able to inarch in small groups, and was spread all over the road from Reims to Rouen. According to a new order of the Army Group "G" to which the division was now subordinate, Molsheim - Schirmeck was chosen to serve as a new concentration area. Ihe movements of the division into the new area About the 6 September the first units

were now led through Uancy. arrived in the new area.

The units which had crossed the Seine on

29 August also arrived in the area of Molsheim by 9 and 10 September. A new phase of combat started when the division came to Alsace. At the outset it was subordinate to the Army Group "G" (Gen Blaskowitz) in Gerardiner, and e.s of 8 September to the 66th Corps under Lt Gen Lucht in Bainles Bains. The first task \ms to occupy blocking positions on Staff

the Moselle north of iflpinal using a combat group consisting of: of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment under Col Rauch, the first

battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the second battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, 200th replacement Training Battalion, 220th Panzer Engineer Battalion and 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment. Command post of the division was at Grandriller and as of 10 September at Peuconcourt. After having arrived in the area of Mols

heim the units were as fsr as possible equipped there, and by 10 Sept marched into the sector with a company strength of about bO men. At

MS # A-871

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that time no other portions of the division could be moved forward, as armament and equipment were missing. The fighting value of the

troops employed can "be regarded as satisfactory. During the night of 11 September the combat group was ordered to move to the area west of Epinal, and in co-operation with the newly constituted 113d Panzer Brigade commanded "by Col v. Usedom, carry out a relief attack for the benifit of the sorely pressed and almost quite encircled 16th Infantry Division commanded "by Maj Gen Heckel in the north-western vicinity of Dompaire. AS Col Eauch fell ill, Lt.Col

v. Luck took over the leadership of the combat group of the division, which on 12 September x^as subordinated to the 112d Panzer Brigade. 13 August passed most unfavorably for the Panzer Brigade, because both its Panzer battalions were attacked by fighter-bombers in the area of Hennesomt - Darnbus. On this occasion the Panther battalion lost

nearly all its Panthers necessary for employment, while the battalion equipped with tanks type "IV" lost about 30$. The first battalion of

the 192th Panzer Grenadier Begiment had also to endure a heavy air raid and suffered considerable losses. On. 13 and 14 September the thus

weakened brigade was no longer able to rescue the 16th Division, because the American forces were too strong and the 16th Division was already torn to pieces on 13 and 14 Sept. The arrangement of the chain of As of 14 September the 112d Pan

command was changed on 14 September.

zer Brigade tras nlaced subordinate to the 21st Panzer Division.

KS # A-871

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American Campaign in the Bhipela.nd 15 Sep « «& March 1945. As a logical conseauence of our new missions I moved Divisional Headquarters to Epinal on 15 September. Together with the combat

group available for employment, ny own division was engaged vest and north of Epinal, the greater part of the division (about 6000 - 7000 men) was placed in the vicinity of iHoleheim and was not ready for action owing to the lack of the most important weapons, ?.s for instance rifles, machine guns, guns of all sorts, spades etc. The G 4 of the division

was located in the area of Holsheim, and was ordered to eo.uip company after company and to send off at once to the combat group equipped coiSDanies according to the amount of weapons supplied. As of 20 Sept

new companies came up, and on 28 Sept the whole division v/ss employed once again. The Panzer Regiment, of which the second battalion was in Grafen

woehr for reconversion of armament and retraining, \-/as, with its first battalion, pieced in the vicinity of Xaiserslautera, and was e.t the Panzer strong point, waiting for new tanks of type "I?". But time

passed, and not until about 10 Oct did the battalion come bsck to the division vith about 24 tanks of type "17". The ll£thpanzer Brigade subordinpte to me disposed of the ll-rfth Panzer Grenadier P.egiment. Both battalions of the brigade nad suffered heavily.

After the first refitting on 16 September about 8-10 Panther tanks of the Panther Battalion were ready for action, and in the tank type "17" battalion about 20 tanks. In addition, the brigade had one reconnaissance

MS # A-871 company, one engineer company, and two columns. lo artillery was

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available; for its signal cojnjau.nics.tions it had a mixed company.

She

composition of the brigade was incorrect, despite its great number of tanks it \ms not able to manage a Isrge independent operation. If

the valuable material had "been given to the old division from the outset, the leadership might have achieved quite other results. As of 14 Sept

the division was subordinate to the XLVII Panzer Corps commanded "by Lt G-en Frhr. v. Funck; as of 15 Sept by Lt Gen Frhr. v. Luettwitz. Command post of the corps until 14 September was in Bain les Bains, as of 15 Sept in Grandviller. The corps WETS subordinate to the 5th Panzer

Army, which arrived on 11 September, command, post Hochwald, which had i been taken over by Lt Gen v. Manteuffel. By 17 September the lllst and 113d Panzer Brigades were transferred to the 41st Panzer Corps. Our mission west of Epinal was to prevent the enemy from advancing
*

on that place, a.nd to establish contact with the portions of the 16th Infantry Division which had escaped from the pocket. Both tasks were fulfilled on 15 and 16 September. The weak portions

of the 10th Division which had been withdrawn to the Moselle were attacked from west and also from north by American troops which had already crossed the Moselle. Here I had to employ my available reserves, On 16 Sept

and in counteratta,cks throw the enemy back on Tharn-Girmont.

a lateral threat from the woods east of Begreville had to be removed. On 16/17 Sept about 30CO men from the Luftwaffe arrived at Epinal. They were subordinated to the commander (Brig Gen v. Zirchbach), who was

MS # A-371 later killed in action there.

-ItoAS of 14 September, moreover, the command

post of the 16th Infantry Division (Kaj G-en Heckel) was in that place. Cn 17 September the forces subordinate to me were relieved from the positions west of Epinpl by the troops just arrived, and during the night of 17/18 September made ready for a new task in the area south of Bambervillers. On 17 Sept in the command post in Grandviller the corps For the operation the lllth

verbally ordered an attack on Luneville.

and 112th Panzer Brigades were subordinated to the corps, and my combat groun consisted of portions of my division and the llktth Panzer Brigade. When I reported to the corps on IS September ObOO in Bertrichrop, I was ordered to keep the combat group ready on the road Rarabervillers Baccarat, with the advance guard point vest of Baccarat, so that it might follow the llltH rnd llc^Panzer brigades on the roads Baccarat Lunevillo, or should be able to attack Luneville from south-west through the Montague sector. the division. Provisionally,©Baccarat was the command post of

At 10.30 I xms there informed, that the 111*^ Panzer

.Brigade had met with resistance on the road alon£j the river Meurthe and from the Hondon wood, end that the brigade had been compelled to envelop and attack nortn ol" the Hondon wood. My combat group was orderd to At 11.00 I fell in, the

attack Luneville through the Montpgne sector. first resistance i/as made at Fontenoy.

From there the group had to fight Gerbiviller was taken

its way through Domptail - Hoyen - Gerbiviller.

at about 15.00, then we penetrated to the railway bridges south of Luneville through Xerminil, and by 18.00 tne combat group had taken the

MS # A-8Y1 Montagne sector and the Meurthe sector south of Luneville.

-17The fact

that the western part of the ixiontagne sector was occupied and that the enemy grew ever more lively, made the situation difficult. Consequently

the sector had to remain occupied in order to prevent the enemy from advancing eastward through the tontagne sector, and in this way split the combat group and overpower the shattered portions. For the task

which they had to perform the combat group was fax too weak, but despite this orders came to continue the attack on the southern edge of Luneville. The resistance increased every hour, the Montagne sector was under heavy machine-gun and artillery fire, which centered especially on the villages end above all on Gerbeviller and Xerxerainil. On the morning of the 19 Sept the positions of the third Panzer Engineer Battalion placed on the hills west of Gerbeviller were attacked, but the attack vas repulsed. regrouping necessary. The development of the situation made a the

I placed the troops in the following order:

first battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Eegiment with a fighting strength of about 100 men in the vicinity of Xerxaminil, the 220th Engineer Battalion with a fighting strength of about 200 men in the vicinity of Gerbiviller, the second battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Reginent, fighting strength about 140 men, near Koyen: south of Luneville I placed

the 112th Panzer Brigade, the vehicles of which \.rere placed in the woods of Moncel. The three batteries of the second, battalion of the 155th

panzer Artillery Eegiment had been emplaced so rapidly that from the center of the sector they could command the ground in all directions with

KS # A-tf71 their fire.

-18She command post of the 135th Panzer Grenadier Regiment

was in Gerbiviller, that of the 112th Panzer Brigade in Xerxaznil. At the outset the command post of the division was placed in Moyen, later on in Fontenoy. On the forenoon of 19 Sept in Gerbiviller I it MS.S inpossible a) to take

conceived the situation as follows: Luneville,

"b) to repulse the ever increasing attacks on the Montegne A -oenetration

sector with Gerbiviller e.s the main point of effort.

into the Montagne sector cut off everything, because all bridges across the river lieurthe had been destroyed. At once I had the 220th Engineer

Bsttalion build &n emergency bridge across the Meurthe near Frambois. In this way all troops which might hsve been cut off managed to pass across the river during the night of 19/20 September. The 112th

Panzer Brigade lost part of their vehicles in the woods south of Luneville. The engagements both south of Luneville snd in the Montagne

sector developed in such a vay during the afternoon and the night of 19 September that the weak forces \/ere attacked by forces©so superior that the battalions were gradually withdrawn to the Meurthe and during the night of 19/20 September to the hills west of Fontenoy. The command

post of the division remained in Fontenoy, on the 20 September it was first of all moved to Badminit end then to Baccf.rat. neither the German nor the Allied air forces took much pert in the engagements. The weather uas not very favorable. As the lllth

and 11ZtfeBrigades did not reach their goals and also suffered heavy losses, orders to withdraw Onto the Meurthe river came from a higher

MS # A-S71

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instance on 20 ©September.

On the 20 September there were heavy fights

at the crossing points at the Meurthe river and in and around the wood of Wondon. On 18 September the wood had already "been occupied ©by-

American troops, which kept in hiding there, and the fact caused much trouble in the fights of the 20 September and the following days. enemy had "been brought to a, standstill in the sector of Glonville Fontenoy - Domptait. Here a main line of resistance could "be built As of 20 Sept the divisional commend The

up during the days following.

post was pieced in Baccarat, and that of the 112th Panzer Brigade in Thiebsuraesser (?). Practically no reserves could be built up, as the large combat sectors end the small forces claimed the employment of all available troops. The situation at the northern flank of the division was difficult, as the two Panzer brigades 111 end 113 had to extend to the north c,nd the point of junction with the lllth Brigade xr^.s as fer away as north of the Vesonze sector. Both brigades also suffered heavy losses. The

few available tanks were used as mobile antitank artillery or PS the backbone for counterattacks. In delaying actions the weak forces

succeeded in holding the wood of Mondon until orders were given to the effect that new positions hod to be occupied north of the Vesonze sector, which, however, did not take pl?ce until a, satisfactory joinup at the right hp.d been achieved, as the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division arrived. This took place about the 22 September. Owing to these fights

MS $ A-371

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it was rendered po- sible to keep the enemy away from the "bank of the Meurthe north-vest of Baccarat and to consolidate positions at Arerailies. On the 22 September the co>iciend post of the HStfiBrigs.de

was moved to Chazeller (west of Blamont). In the wood of liondon no join-up \ts,s ordered or in existence and so the division group had to fight nearly on all sides, but after the capture of the Vesonze sector Domjgvin became the point of contact with the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division. Panzer Brigades were disbanded. During the days following the

The greater part of the 112t&panzer The units of the

Brigade was united with the 21st Panzer Division.

brigade \;ere assigned to the existing battalions of the 21st Panzer Division. In .the meantime weapons had been supplied to other units in

the district of fc©olsheim and these come to the division for employment. The division had to hold the following front; west of Herbeviller west of Hablainville Domjevin - St. Martin Azerviller - Meurthe Menunnont - Kossoncourt -

western edge of the wood west of Baccarat

Anglemont - Bru - Legarainil - Homsern - Font de Rambervillers. While the right sector across the Meurthe south of Fontenoy and

the vicinity of Xaferviller were engaged from the outset, the situation developed only gradually in the vicinity of Rambervillers end in the Kontagne valley south of Rambervillers, and v;hen the positions were occupied as of 25 - 28 September no contact wfes established with the enemy UD till then. For the mission the division was subordinated to the

combat commander of Baccarat (Lt Col Brueckner) and the combat Conmrnder

MS # A_371

..jgi..

of Eambervillers (Col v. Streilbl).

Further a security "battalion no ?

in the vicinity of Bambervillers and north of it and a combat group vith about 150 men from a former signal regiment (Luftwaffe), conraanded by Col Oelker and forming part of the Ottenbacher combat group. These

portions csrried 0n delaying tactics in the wood of Padoux and south of it. Their withdrawal behind the Montagne resulted in the advance

on Rambervillers. For the combat mission the division MU.S organized in the following way. Division command post as of 23 September in Pexonne. Armored Reconnaissance Battalion in the Yeson# sector with command post in St. Martin. The 125th Panzer Grenadier Begiment placed west of Herbeviller and north-west of Badroenil , Command post of the Begiment pieced vrpst of Vsrgneville. To the right, the Second Battalion with command post in Vaxainville. To the left, the First Battalion with command post in Badmenil. The 19ad Panzer Grenadier Begiment adjoining the 135th Panzer Grenadier Begiment tdth command post in St. Barbe. In the

same place was also the advanced divisional command post for the left sector of the division. To the right, the First Battalion (command post in Kenarmont) to the left the Second Batt. (Henit)

Coi©imand post of the security battalion in

MS # A-871

-22-

Coramand post of the group of Ool Oelker was located in a sawmill east of Fraipernas. Of the 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment the second battalion was placed in the Vesongesector east of Kablaiville - Merviller, the first battalion in the vicinity of Baccarat - St. Barbe, the third "battalion in the vicinity of Foret de St. Barbe - Bru Foret de Rambervillers. Command post of the regiment in Pexonne. Of tanks about four

The 2<Jd Panzer Regiment had not yet arrived. "Panthers" and five type "IV" were available.

They belonged to the former

112&Brigade and were kept as a mobile reserve behind the right sector of the division. The antitank-gun equipment was very defective. Only

three 8.8 cm antitank guns were available, not until October were old Russian antitank guns assigned as replacements, but they were worn out and consequently useless. The Panzer Engineer Battalion was placed in Pexonne, the companies being distributed to the regiments for the building of barriers. The point of main effort of the engagements was in the northern sector of the division, here daily attempts at penetration hsd to be repulsed. Here, it is impossible for me to comment on the daily battles, but on the basis of further documents many interesting operations might be elucidated. Through repeated day and night reconnaissance in the wood

of Kondon, partly also carried out across the Meurthe river, valuable reconnaissance results were procured. Through questioning of prisoners

MS f A-871

-23-

captured on such occasions the divisions opposite to ours could always be ascertained; they oxten changed. At the beginning of October the main point of effort of the American attacks centered on the Parroy wood, and increasing combat activity began in the vicinity of lambervillers and south of it. It would be possible to compile an

interesting and detailed monograph on the battles there which were carried out with increasing ferocity for such a work. supposing there was a demand

The tattles are worthy of notice on account of the

characteristic strategy practiced in a rocky and wooded terrain, in which, nevertheless, the tank weapon played an important part. The division got into a position which grew more and more difficult task of defense was not only impeded by the broadness of the front (about 52 km in length) ana the rapid destruction of units which did not belong to the division but whose loss had to be taken into account (by higher instances), but also by tne intentions, changing daily of the enemy. In the north and the south sectors the mode of

attach of the enemy changed almost every day. At the beginning of October the main point of effort of the American attacks obviously moved to the south sector; accordingly, the command post of the division was moved to Etton 1©Etupe on about the 5 September. After the seizure of Eambervillers heavy and costly defensive combats developed in the direction of east and northeast. In these, we succeeded in repulsing

all attempts at penetration. But the vast and wooaed terrain required many troops, and they were not available for the division. She companies

MS # A-871

-24-

had a combat strength of only 50 * 60 men, and they were constantly engaged in combat, without shelter, and the weatner became more and more chilly and rainy. The division was put in a very difficult

situation when the Americans succeeded in penetrating ever deeper into the ranks of two adjoining divisions to the left (16th and 706th Divisions). The result of this, for the 21st Panzer Division was, that it got orders to constitute about 10 companies during tne month of October, and to give them up to the two adjoining divisions to the left as reinforcements; further, the left wing had to be extended ever more, and the few tank reserves had often to be diverted to tne left. In the rocky and

wooded terrain the tank type "17" was still more inferior to the Snerraan tank than under normal circumstances. At the beginning of October the first battalion of the <slst Panzer Regiment and the regimental staff came back to the division. They brought with them about 26 tanks, type The

"IV", ready for action, but 1/3 of them were always under repair.

tanks of the former 112th Brigade had to be given up to other units by the division. From the 200th Assault-gun Battalion a company with They were

ten guns had arrived by the division in the meantime.

assigned to the antitank battalion, hence the term H company." During the period of 1 October - 11 November 1944 the division nad at its disposal, on an average each day, in the combat area of the Vosges, the following number of heavy weapons: 15 tanks type "IV",

4-5 light field Howitzers with self-propelled carriage, 9 batteries of 3 guns, among them 3 batteries with heavy field howitzers type "18 ,

MS f 4-871

-25-

2 batteries with 8.8 cm antiaircraft guns, about 6-8 antitank guns (8.8 cm), 10-antitanK guns (7.5 cm). Tne number of weapons was never greater than this but often considerably longer owing to losses. On

the 52 km-broad front employment always had to be carried out as at points of main effort. The lighting power ox the infantry grew ever

smaller on account of losses ana especially on account of the giving up of aoout ten companies to the left. Despite orders of tne higher

leadership the engineer battalion had to be employed as infantry and, furthermore, permanent alarm companies. The alarm companies generally

consisted of personnel of rather older age classes, taken from supply troops. They were not supposed, to nave a full infantry fignting power,

and yet they performed much more than could be expected, and many defensive successes were due to tnem. After the capture of Hambervillers at the beginning of October the left wing of tne division was placed in Jeopardy. Tne division

formed a small combat group consisting of 2 ^ companies of the first (self-propelled) battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, | company of the 200 antitank battalion -|- of the third battalion of tne 155tn Panz er Artillery Eegiment. Tneir task was, first, to

prevent the enemy, who ftad reacned or even passed Bra - Jeameril Autrey, from advancing turtner eastward ana, second, to defend tne wood of Ramberviliers. Tne combat group was subordinated to the

sector of Col Oelker. The command post was placed east of Praipernas.

MS # A-871

-26-

After the decrease of engagements in the wood of Pauroy, the ever increasing attacks on the whole front of the 21st Panzer Division, and the a"bove mentioned giving up of ten conpanies to the left adjoining divisions the sector of the division on the right wing (Vesonz^ sector) Was taken over "by the right adjoining division so that the right wing of the 21st Panzer Division was now in the vicinity of Herbeviller. In this way the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion was disengaged. On

the left wing it had to relieve the first battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and take over the leadership of the left wing troops because the staff of Col Oelker had been assigned a new mission. How

the first battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment again took over the area northwest snd west of Baccarat. The artillery battalion

was kept as it was except that the third battalion of the 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment was instructed to co-operate with the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion. The infantry fighting power of the 21st

Reconnaissance Battalion was not very great, as only two reconnaissance companies of about 60 - 70 men each, reinforced with about 150 men of the former combat group of Col Oelker were available as infantry. Composed and organized in this way the whole sector of the division was attacked more and more during the month of October. The width of the

secto* and the weakness of the forces seemed to make the formation of reserves nearly impossible. few tanks. They were, indeed, formed with only a

The casualties increased ever more, surprisingly small was

the number of cases of illness, though the season was advanced, the

MS # A-871 nights already very chilly, and much rain fell,

-27~ for months the fighting

troops had had no roof over their heads and only opportunities for the most necessary care of the tody. Under such circumstances three distinct points of attack developed during the month of October. 1. a. 3. From the wood of Mondon toward Badonviller - Blamont; from the vicinity east of Baraberviller toward Eaon I 1 Etupe; from the Montagne sector south of Bambervillers toward the road St. Die - Etival. The tattles in each individual sector were all equally ferocious. were mucft surprised by the maneuvering the wood. We

ability of the American tanks in

Speaking generally the large numerical superiority which By

they enjoyed proved very advantageous to the American division.

the eastward penetration of the enemy through the Montagne sector south of the division it left wing was jeopardized and the front had to "be extended ever more eastward. The daily tattles south of the road cleAned our Hie

Jeamleit - La Jalle - later on, the "battles of this road

utmost efforts confronted as we were with a very superior enemy.

situation was rendered extremely difficult "by the circumstance that the division had to fight with its left wing unprotected. Hew makeshifts

had to "be devised day lay day and reserves arrived a platoon at a time. Troops of all arms had constantly to be constituted into single infantry groups. Under such circumstances the division was frequently In the middle of October

subordinated to new command headquarters.

MS # A-871

-H8~

the 41st Panzer Corps was transferred to the Lover Ehine, the 89th Corps £oming from Holland and under command of Lt Gen v. Gilsa took over the command, only to "be relieved by the 64th Corps under Lt Gen f humm on the 31 October. In October the right wing of the battalion had to endure two extremely heavy attacks, The first one was clearly revealed in time

by means of the eneny©s extended adjustment fire, increased patrol activity, and a great noise of vehicles and voices in the night and measures could be takent so that no success at all v?as achieved^ whereas the methods of the enemy in the second one on 31 October were quite different. The division disposed of very good reconnaissance

patrols which every nigfct reconnoitered far into the terrain of the enemy, and through them and their prisoners the division was least to a certain degree of the enemy. at

rather well informed as to the intentions

On the 31 October ab about 08.15 an excellent

reconnaissance.patrol, which had been in the wood of Hondon and at the Meurthe river, returned and reported that no changes had taken place in the enemy forces. At OB.30 artillery fire started surprisingly, and Owing to

increased in intensity in the course of a very short time. the artillery fire no other noises could be noticed,

The Second Free

French Tank Division took advantage of the noise and occupied the nearest jump-off position without being heard. After the barrage

had died down the enemy moved in concentrated attack and rushed through the foremost line o © sentries. Only the fifth and seventh companies

MS # A-871

-29-

of the 135th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, with a few heavy weapons "belonging to the eighth and ninth companies, were placed in the attack sector and the headquarters company which was employed as reserve with a few tanks. For support the fourth, fifth, and sixth "batteries of the 155th Artillery Hegiment were also in position in the sector. Apprt from one

antitank gun (cal 8.8) only Bussian antiaircraft guns were available as replacements for antiaircraft combat troops. The guns, however, had

a dispersion of several hundreds of meters and were quite unsuitable for the task set. action. Consequently they did not put one single tank out of

The combined efforts of the antitank defense, of the tank

fighting weapons, and the artillery, in directed fire and in addition to that, the four available tanks of type "I?" had been successful, however, in bringing the enemy attack to a standstill shortly after it had got started, knocking out more than 40 enemy tanks very speedily. The attack did not pass the line Merviller - Migneville - Ancerville. Our own losses were small.In the evening of the same day I moved the command post of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Eegiment to Fenneviller. -| company to the west of Baccarat was over-run, on the SI October Baccarat was t&ken by American and French troops. On the next day and The

the day after (1 and 2 November) a new line was built on the right wing. It led through Domeore west of Ancerviller - Vacgneville We were not

Bertrichamps, St. Barte La Bourgence - Foret de Montagne.

allowed to occupy the Meurthe position further back as this position was not to "be improved. Instead of that some special oonvic*. field

MS # A-871

-30-

battalions (German soldiers) were employed, they had, however, nothing to do with the division. At the same time a rehabilitation "battalion

of about 300 men was subordinated to the division, on the 29 October they were employed in the vicinity of Foret de Montagne. Though some

achievements could be credited to the unit its total fighting power was very slight. be seen. After two or three days the battalion was no more to

On the 1 November I employed a fortress machine gun battalion It consisted of elderly men, quite

in the Foret de Bertrichamp. insufficiently armed. type "08".

Each of the three companies had six machine guns

They did their best, but were not equal to the task.

Originally they had been intended to occupy the West Wall, a task which would have been more suitable for them. Very shortly only shattered

portions were to be seen of the battalions. The third point of attack of the Americans was against Eaon 1© Btape. Surprisingly, American and French units succeeded in taking As already mentioned, this was due to the fact that

Eambervillers.

the weak combat group of Oelker which fought on a broad front south of Eambervillers had withdrawn to the eastern bank of the Montagne river, and in this way Bambervillers was taken from the south. weak garrison weapons The

one company of the ? Security Battalion without heavy The result

was not able to resist the American tank attack.

of the fall of Eambervillers \ ras that the security battalion, weak and completely without combat experience, x/as put in a very herd pressed situation in the area of Doncienes - Eoville - Anglemont. On

MS # A-871

-31-

about 3 November the security units were expelled and pressed back to the area of Nossoncourt - Henil, bat the advancing American troops (French divisions) were repelled by the security detachments of the I92d Panzer Grenadier Regiment employed in this area. On the following

morning the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment carried out a counter attack with two weak battalions (reinforced, witn the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division) ana recaptured the area west of Hossoncourt <Anglemont, which was necessary for the defense. It was possible to

hold the entire sector nearly the whole of October. At the beginning of October the pressure of the enemy grew strongest in the area north of Bru - St. Benor and gradually in the Poret de St. Barbe. Not until

the beginning of November did the enemy succeed in passing through the Toret ae St. Barbe. For some days the iiith company of the 19<jd Panzer Grenadier Begiment delayed the attack west or Tnierville until orders came to occupy tne Meurthe position on the 4 November. The defense of

the whole sector was carried out by the second oattalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Begioent and an alarm company from 28 September » 4 November. Tne average fighting strength of the battalion was about The

150 men, that of tne alarm company about 60 - 80 men.

200th Panzer Engineer Battalion was the right adjoining battalion in the area east of Menarmont - Barien. Or heavy weapons the

combat group of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Begiment had the first battalion of the 155th Artillery Begiment with two light batteries and one heavy one, one platoon with antitank guns cal 8.8 cm, one assault gun company with tour - six guns ready for action. The

MS # A-871

-32-

f irst "battalion of the 192d Panzer G-renadier Regiment and the sixth company of the second battalion were assigned to the two adjoining divisions. With the capture of the Meurthe position on 4 November 1944, one phase of the "battle had come to.an end since we, by delaying tactics, succeeded in detaining the enemy as long as t>ossi©ble. It v/as the

intention of the higher leadership to gain as much time as possible in order to build up the important rearward positions, of which the Meurthe position was the first in this sector, and make them as strong as possible. In different conferences with the commander of the army

groups, the Commander-in-Chief of the 19th Aray to whom the division ned. again been subordinated on about 12 October efter the extraction of the 5th Panzer Army, and those corps, to which the division vas subordinate, I gave expression to the main troubles of ray sector, the northern one, and my apprehensions of new attacks through Badonviller Element auf Zabern - Strassburg. I pronounced my opinion thct it would

be a dangerous mistake to relieve the Panzer divisions just now and employ instead of them an infantry division without much combat experience, and v;hich, moreover, would not be able to keep its reserves so mobile that even the weakest might be employed at different points of main effort, on critical days and at decisive moments. In addition

to excellent morale in the Panzergrenadiers, and artillery easily moved, this was of decisive importance for successful defense in such situations.

MS # A-871

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By higher instances an engineer battalion of the army (Heeres) was ordered to be employed in the vicinity of Raon 1* Etape at the end of October with the mission of constructing obstacles for the Meurthe position and blasting the "bridges across the river. blasting in Eaon 1* Etape could oe avoided. In the miaole of October the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division, which was the left adjoining division, was relieved by the 553d Division. It was not difficult to transport the assigned supply of all sorts to the zront. G7he food supply was adequate, ammunition supplies Devastation and

were also up to requirements, gasoline and lubricant supplies were insufficient, but, nevertheless, enough for the carrying out of all necessary movements* supplies of arms and particularly of tanks were very poor and so were clothing supplies. Ho supplies of vehicle at

all were assigned to the division and it had to make both ends meet by means of its own construction staff and the workshop companies. But the state of affairs was still such that all movements, even future larger ones, could be carried out without assistance from others. In October the activity of the German and the American air forces was not strong. But as soon as the weather permitted the Allied air force was on the spot. seen in the skies. Hie German Luitwaffe was hardly to be

In November the activity 01 the Allied Air Force

constantly increased. Haturally, it would be possible for me to give many details of the battles, and the strategy employed in the individual engagements.

MS # A-ovl

-34-

But perhaps such, reports would "be of no reel interest , and I should not be able to compile such appropriately without having at my disposal the documents necessary for the compilation of & retrospective diary of this sort. After the capture of tne Meurthe position the sector of the division grew considerably smaller. The right boundary of the division to the

553d Division was north of Ancervillcr, and the left one to-the 716th Division "by this time east of Etival. On the 3 November the command

post of the division was moved to Celles, to the same place es those posts of the 155th Panzer Regiment, the 200th Signal Battalion and the SOOth Engineer Battalion. The Command post of the 125th Panzer

Grenadier Regiment v/as in Badonviller, and that of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment in La Tronche. The situation was rather quiet, the occupation of the new positions occurred without enemy action. Bear guards and reconnaissance patrols of good fighting quality remained in contact with the enemy with the object of delaying a pursuit by him. The bridges across the Meurthe

having been blasted, ferry communication had to be established across the river, which had risen due to high water, and even tanks were taken to the eastern bank. On the 5 Hovember the division got orders that it be rested for about 14 days as of the 12 Eovember in the area of Molsheim - Scnirmeck Pfalzburg. At the same time tne division had to be ready as array

group reserve at the line of demarcation "between, the 1st 8nd the

MS # A-871

-35-

19tli Armies and be available at any time, particularly in the area, of Badonviller - Blamont and Pl©alzburg - Saarburg. was to "be started at once. Preliminary reconnaissance

On the 9 November at 12.00 the division got

orders to march one armored group and the first "battalion of the l<J5th Panzer Grenadier Regiment to the 13th SS Corps on the French Hied in the vicinity of Ham sur Nied. Partly on the 9 November ana t>artly during the night of the 9/10 November the group had to be extracted and at once marched off. As of the 7 November the advanced detachments of the 708th Division which were to relieve the division had come to the command post of division. Belief was to take place after the arrival of the trans~ the

portation trains of the division from Slovakia and be finished by the 14 November. Early in the morning of 10 November orders came through

that the relief had to be carried out very speedily, as the divisional headquarters of the 708th Division, which had arrived on the y November, had to take over©the command of the sector not later than the 10 Novem ber end that the 21st Panzer Division with its lest portions had to give up its positions during the night of the 10 November, if the

combat sector was much smaller and the 708th Division arrived at full strength tne relief caused no difficulties, and the ?08th Division had to be rapidly loaded and moved. The greatest difficulty in the

relief and deps.rture of the 21st Panzer Division was caused by the weather, as snow had fallen in the Vosges on the 9 November and the Danube Pass Road was blocked by snov; and ice. But the air force of the

MS t JU871 enemy could not go into action.

-36.

According to instructions I departed daring the night of the 10 November and on the 11 November, in the morning, I reported to the 13th SS Corps in Many, east of Ham sur Hied (Trench ^ied). The 13th SS Corps was commanded by Obergruppenfuehrer Pries, Chief of Staff was Ooerfuehrer v. Einem. was as follows: The situation, as I found it there,

Apart from the llth Panzer Division all divisions

subordinate to the corps were badly mauled, the armored spearpoint 8 of the enemy had reached Moerchingen and part of them crossed the Nied river; no reserves were available to prevent the enemy from advancing across the Hied against Falkenberg - St. Arnold. The first

Army, with its command post in St. Arnold, its Commander in chief It Oen v. Knobelsdorff, its Chief of Staff, Col Manthey, expected the arrival of the division as early as 10 November. She army

also expected the Panzer division to be brought up to strength and not just such small units as the division already had. She mission of the division, which arrived on 11 November, was to defend the Hied sector south of Bazancourt - Ham sur Hied and the wood east of Hied, as the enemy was already advancing by 11 Novem ber through Ham, eastward. support. The adjoining divisions were without

The division on the right flank was the 17th SS Panzer

Grenadier Division; left flank units were combat groups of the llth Panzer Division and several infantry alarm units.

MS # A-871

-37-

The comraand post of the 13th SS Corps was moved on the afternoon of the 11 November to the garden-city in the vicinity of the Falkenberg mine, the command post of the 21st Panzer Division was moved to Elvange. The strengths of the divisions had not been changed. The promised

freshening-up did not take place, and thus everything remained as it was. The division neither received personnel replacement? nor But things turned

replacement of arms or equipment, as was promised.

out still worse, because the arms and equipment promised for the refreshing had already been sent from Germany to the place of refreshing. They were there unloaded oh the transportation trains when the penetration by assault against Strassbourg took place, and were taken by the enemy. As usual the evaluation of the enemy denoted that he was numerically and materially superior. reserves were made available. By the fall of M;etz, too,

At .this time his intention mist have been:

as speedily as possible to cross the French Hied, the last natural obstacle before the old Maginot line, in order to occupy the Maginot line in advance of the withdrawing German troops and by implication get a spring-board for the attack on the West Wall. At that moment

the American leadership did not succeed in carrying out its intention, I think, but, conversely that, it no doubt succeeded in carrying out its main intention, which was to attack the German positions on as broad a front as possible, to take particular advantage of weak points, to compel the German leadership to let go off its reserves, and then to

MS # A-871 make the main attack.

-38-

The previous intention of the army group to defend the Nied could not "be carried out after the arrival of the division, "because the enemy, as I have already mentioned, had crossed the Hied at Ham and north of it. I now employed the division so that.the left sector of

the division, being most jeopardized, got the 125th Panzer Grenadier Division, which had come first and the first "battalion of which could "be employed some hours previously. The "battalion had at once to Contact

occupy the western and southern edges of the wood of Hemilly.

to the left x;ss particularly difficult to maintain as the enemy advanced eastward and for the time "beingnone of our own troops had contact. By

means©; of the use of numerous assault troops and a few tanks the enemy could be deceived as to our weakness for some time, until the division was able to extend to the left. At the outset the 193d Panzer Grenadier Beginent vas employed to the right, as reserve, the reconnaissance "battalion was assigned. But

even on tne 12 Hoveiaber I nad to have the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment extend already its left wing and in the course of the 12 and 13 Hovember occupy tne southern edge of the wood of Heniltz up to the railway line south of the wood. The 31st Reconnaissance Battalion and portions of South of

the 220th Engineer Battalion took over the northern sector.

the railway-line connection was established with an infantry regiment which had been diverted from the 553d Division. Counterattacks of

the 17th S3 Panzer Grenadier Division fixed for the 13 and 14 Eoverober

MS # A-871

-39-

and which were to take place north of the sector of the division were unsuccessful. The 21st Panzer Division succeeded in containing the enemy. Snail

enemy groups which penetrated into the wood of Remilly were repulsed. On the 15 November the situation of the left adjacent units grew ever more critical. The enemy had succeeded in advancing from Many A further extension

eastward and in taking Thiecourt«*Mainvillers.

of the southern flank had been necessary. Due to this, portions of the engineer battalion had to be employed as infantry on the south wing. Tne pressure of the enemy increased more and more, fhe artillery fire

of the enemy covered the positions and villages unceasingly behind the front. Likewise, the rearward roaas were constantly under artillery

fire. As soon as the weather cleared up there was strong fighter 2 bomber activity, ou^ own aircraft did not appear. The command post of the division in Elvinge was hit by artillery fire several times. On the 16 November the positions were withdrawn to Viller - Stoncourt Chanville and later on to the road Chanville - Arcience. The enemy, who outflanked both our flanks more and more and penetrated into the wood of Remilly, Aad to be evaded on the 17 November so that a connected line again could be established, but in doing so our weak forces were still more and unnecessarily split up. The plateau west of the German Nied was occupied on the 17 November and in this way a new, firm line was established. The movement of the rear guards were not carried out until

the 18 November, the change of position of the artillery to the area east

MS # A-871

-40-

of the German Hied was carried out during the night of the 17 - 18 Novem ber. On the 18 November the command post of the division was moved to

the former command post of the corps in the vicinity of the Falkenberg mine. The instruction of the corps were to the effect that we had to This was not,

withdraw slowly to the Maginot line using delaying tacties. however, to be carried out by the division.

On the 18 November at

20,00 in the new command post I got orders to extract the division immediately. During the 19 November the division was to arrive in the

area of Saarlsutern - Wallerfaagen and would there be subordinated to the 82d Corps (Lt Gen Hoernlein). According to instructions the command

post of the division was to be located in the palace of V/allerfangen. After the relief during the. night of the 18 November the march was carried out in the morning of the 19 November. Despite good flying

weather the m?rch was carried out without incident, we managed to take the whole division to the new sector, ready for action by the 19 Novem ber in the afternoon. Of course the forces grew ever weaker because On the 20 November a

no raising to strength had as yet taken place.

personnel replacement transfer battalion from Germany came to the division. The situation of the 82d Corps was such that the 19th

Infantry Division and the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division were engaged with a superior enemy in the sector west of Herzig and Saarlautern. The old boundary of the "Belch" was in our hands as a whole. -The division was assigned two missions.

MS # A-871 1. Close gape in the area of the two divisions.

-41-

2.

In any case nola the old boundary of the "Belch" in order to prevent the enemy from penetrating into the valley of the Saar river.

We were instructed to intervene in the area of the 19th Division on the 20 November. The command post of the division was requested to be moved to Gisingen. Immediately I got into touch with the 19th

Division, which had its command post west of Gisingen, and ascertained that the division only consisted of weak combat groups which were engaged in the area of the French Hied. The first mission of the division was to

bar the crossing of the Hied river at Niedaltdorf and then to relieve an encircled combat group in Waldbuechen east of Piltstnoff. Tne

192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment (command post of the regiment in Niedaltdorf) employed there rescued the group and two assault guns of the 19th Division. The stream-crossing was held. An armored assault

of the enemy at about 13.00 from the west on Gerstlingen was repulsed by two tanks type "IV" and one company of the la2d Panzer Grenadier Eegiment. So the tasks set for the day were done, and in the evening In the night

preparations for new attacks west 01 the Hied were made.

orders came from the corps that the division had to intervene in the area of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division in the early morning of the 21st November. After having been reorganized in the training camp of

Baumholder individual units of this division were employed in defensive combat west of Merzig, situated west of the former boundary of the "Helen."

MS # A-871

.

-43The organization of

These units were employed as of the 16 November.

the division had not yet been finished, heavy weapons, particularly artillery, were not yet complete. Hilbringen west of Merzig. Command post of the division was in

On the 20 November the situation in the Of the very few

25th Panzer Grenadier Division was dangerous.

batteries the division had, two had been captured by the enemy, the same thing happened with some tanks type "Y" which could not drive back, partly due to engine troubles and difficult terrain, partly to damage caused by direct hits. The mission of the 21st Panzer AS of 21 November at One

Division was to remedy this state of affairs.

06.00 tne new command post of the division was in Mechern.

battalion of the 192d panzer Grenadier Hegiment and the 21st Artillery Battalion stayed in the combat area of Kiedraltdorf for defensive tasks, the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and the first battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment with two battalions of the 155th Panzer Artillery Hegiment were moved to the new sector. 21 November at 07.00 the troops were ready for action there. tanks type "IYU of the 22d Panzer Segiment were available. On the Only six The tank

battalion of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division had about six tanks ready for action. Thanks to replacements the Panzer Grenadier

companies agpd& had a combat strength of about 50 men to each company. The attack was launched through Silwingen into the wood south of Budingen and east of Waldwisse and was successful. We managed to

rescue the two batteries and some encircled combat groups of the

MS # A-871

-43-

25th Panzer Grenadier Division and to recapture the Panther tanks which had not been able to move. At the moment of towing off the accident

happened that the Panther tanks of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment which vere placed rearward about 500 m south of the wood to the south of Budingen, were taken for enemy tanks and four of them were destroyed by our own fire. Tor the 22 November the division had orders to let the point of main effort remain in the sector of the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division and to try and get into contact with scattered portions of this division in the forward terrain. Further, the attack was at all points to reach

the old boundary of the "Belch." For this mission I had an advanced command post of the division located in Sllwingen. The advancing companies met with strong resistance from armored groups. They succeeded in occupying Lannstroff and Waldwieae. In the

afternoon the division was instructed to continue the attack northward against Wehingen - Eft as strong enemy forces were advancing on Borg. Toward evening orders came to withdraw from the enemy and in the morning of the 23 ^ovember transfer the division to the Orscholz oblique front for support of the 4th Division. On the 23 November as of 05.00

the division marched through Merzig - Hettlach - Taben - Both into the area of ?rendenburg - Weiten - Saha - Menrich - Kissingen - Huenslnger Beuwen. By the 23 November at noon weak portions were ordered into the West Wall positions of the Orscholz oblique front, the bulk was to follow on the 23 and early on the 24 November. the situation of the 416th Division had On the 23 November

US % A-871

-44-

become critical.

In the vicinity of Oberlenken - Tettingen the

Americans had taken some forts, along the road Borg - Muenzingen very valuable installations had been occupied, reserves were not available and nothing impeded the American tanks in their advance through Muenzingen to Saarburg. In this situation the division got orders on She command post of the

the 24 November to close the gap at Orscholz.

416th Division was in Trassen, divisional commander was Maj G-en Pflieger, connection was immediately established with the command post but in this situation the 21st Panzer Division could not exoect any support from a division which was already fighting \rith its last reserves. the command post of the division in Meurich. I established

Under its new coriander,

iwaj Spreu, the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment was employed on the west in the vicinity of the road Muenzingen - Borg incl., the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment was employed to the last. Regimental command -oost

of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Eegiment was in i-luenzingen, that of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Eegiment in Faha. 5?he command post of the

155th Panzer Artillery Hegiment was in the vicinity of the division in Meurich, in the same place, the third battalion; the first battalion was in the vicinity of Beuren, the second battalion north of Faha. The

reconnaissance company and the division escort company were employed in the area of Tettingen. From the 24 to the 26 November there were heavy the sector of the division. engagements in

We succeeded in recapturing most of the Sven the 10th American

forts and, likewise, Oberlenken and Settingen.

MS # A-871

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Tank Division employed to support the attack could not enable to gain headway. It was ferocious hand to hand fight involving casualties On the 26 November the whole sector from

and prisoners on "both sides.

Oberleuken through Tettingen - Nennig and the Moselle sector up to the line of demarcation of the 2lato Division was assigned to the division. A fortress machine gun company employed on the Moselle was AS of tne 25 November the 416th Division

subordinated to tne division.

took over the Orscholz sector east of Oberlenken. of this division was transferred to Taben - Roth.

Then the command post A change took place Lt Gen Hahm

in the leadership of the 82d Corps on the 25 November. came to replace Lt Gen Hoernlein. had taken place shortly before. The division was now reorganized.

A change of the chief of the corps

On the 26 November the ferocity

of the battle diminished and calmed down still more on the 2? November. The 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment took over the sector Oberlehken Tettingen, the command post remained in Muenzingen, while the 125th Panzer Grenedier Regiment, reinforced by a fortress machine gun battalion, took over the rest of the divisional sector. The 21st

Reconnaissance Battalion and the Division Escort Company, divisional reserve, end command post of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment were all in Zorwig. A new commend post was established in Niederlenken, and Heurich remained as advanced command post of the Orscholz oblique front, a point of main effort. The reorganization was carried out on the

MS # A-871

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28 Movember.

This being done the division got instructions of a new That same night the sector had to The 21st Division was subordinated

change of positions at about 22.00.

be given up again to the 4th Division.

to the 13th SS Corps in Scheldt north of Saarbruecken. © The corps was commanded by SS Obergruppenfuehrer Simon. On the 29 lovember by 09.00 hrs

I had to renort there.I ordered the commanders of the division to report in Tuettlingen at 11.00 hrs. By the 13th SS Corps I was instructed to support the two divisions (the 340th Division commanded by Major Gen Trierenbcrg and the 559th Division commanded by Lt Gen v. tiUehlen) heavily engaged on the hills west of the Sear river between Voelkingen and Dillingen. First of all

it was necessary to take action immediately for the benefit of the division of Lt Gen v. Muehlen. (Command x>ost in Wallerfangen). Accordingly, I gave orders in Tuettlingen and got the troops first arriving started off. They were the following: the Second B&ttslion

of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the Third Battalion of the 155th Panzer©Artillery Regiment, and six tanks type "IY". The rest of

the division followed, the First Battrlion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment hgd to stay for the time being southeast of the Orscholz front. When I arrived at the post of the 559th Division in the school building of Vsllerfangen, I was confronted with e very difficult situation (at about 14.30). The terrain on the French Bled end west of it, until

the 22 November held by the 21st Panzer Division, had been lost; on the 29 November American units had succeeded in pushing through Gisingen

MS # A-371 on Wallerfangen (in the Valley of the Saar) and since 14.00 hrs St. Barbara was in the possession of the Americajis.

-47-

This meant that

the enemy controlled the plateau there and with it the Valley of the Saar in this sector. Consequently, the first arriving combat group

of the division was launched against St. Barbara in order to repulse the enemy there. recaptured. The attack succeeded, at 16.00 hrs St. Barbara was

Considering the plateau on which St. Barbara is situated,

this was a real success, which enabled the division to enjoy a breathingspace. After their arrival, the other portions of the division vere As the First Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier

employed.

Begiment had remained in the Orscholz front, only three battalions of an average combat strength of 120 - 125, men could be taken into consideration. The 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, with its regimentsl

command post in Wallerfangen, was employed in the area of Wall erf angen St. Barbara, and the rest of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Eegiment, with
a

its command post in Farm Ober Loenberg, was employed in the v/ooded district north of St. Barbara - Wallerfangen. The artillery was

placed east of the Sas.r.( Divisional command post in the pelace of Wallerfangen). Eight adjoining division was the 19th and left adjoining As of the 29 November the road-net in

division the 559th Division.

and about fallerfangen - Saarlautern and the bridge Dillingen Wallerfangen were under very heavy American fire.

MS # A-871

-48-

Th.ou.gh the Vest ©.Jell positions were situated east of the Ssn.r river, we had to continue fighting against a. great superiority with, what ©:ss left of the division and in unfavorable terrain. Ap-oarently the

pillboxes of the West Wall would "be occupied by fortification units Volkssturm and police troops. But as a matter of fact all uniformity Some pillboxes were occupied, but

in the occupation was not attained.

by no means the tactically iiaportant ones; generally the most spacious and best constructed ones, but most of them were not occupied at all. To us the whole meaning of the combe, t was to be that every day gained west of the West Wall relieved the situation, contained the enemy, and inflicted losses on him, and, on the occupation of the ",,*est Y/all, enabled the divisions arriving to take it over entirely. But the

contrary was the case, & fact which was again and again stressed by the division. By the combats in the open terrain against an enemy

numerically and materially absolutely superior the divisions v/ere completely torn to shreds and melted together in the true sense of the words. losses. The success aimed at could never be proportionate to the

No more *"as done at the West Wall, no field positions dug But the troops which leter on had to

between the pillboxes either.

occupy the \/est VJa.ll were so badly mauled that they were not able to occupy it, and it also often happened that the enemy was already in the pillboxes of the 1/est tfell before our troops arrived. The

engagements of the 30 November and 1 December were carried out on this background. Outflanked from north and south the division was

MS # A-871

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attacked in its positions.

On the 30 Hbvember and. 1 December the

Americans repeatedly attacked St. Barbara, employing great quantities of material, fights around each house developed, nor did the American forces on the evening of the 1 December, quite succeeded in recapturing the whole village. On the 1 December the 19th Division placed to the

right of the division with its remaining weak forces withdrew to the pillboxes east of the Saar river; thus the northern wing of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Division was outflsnked south of Itzebart through the wood and the last reserves of the division escort company had to be employed there in order to prevent the division from being out flanked and isolated. The situation being so, orders came at 18.00

that the division had to withdraw unobserved by the enemy and to occupy the West Wall positions as far as both sides of Dillingen. First Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment was again assigned to the division. The withdrawal from the enemy v/as not Only rear The

observed by him; it was carried out from 20.00 to 22.00.

guards which reached the eastern bank early in the morning of the 2 December, remained in contact with the enemy. Despite the

circumstances that tfallerfangen was constantly under heavy artillery fire, tha,t the division command post in the palace received a

number of direct hits, that the bridge to Dillingen and the corresponding roads were also under constant fire, the fire of the enemy happened to decrease just during the withdrawal and the crossing of the Ssar river. Thus the movements could be carried out without losses.

MS # A-S71

-50-

Divisional headquarters ( G 3 section) left Wallerfangen at 22.00 hrs. On the 2 December at 01.00 hrs the movement was brought to an end. The 192d Panzer Grenadier Begiment was transferred to the area east of Nalbach. The divisional command post was in Piesbaeh. Hesitatingly

the enemy followed on to the Saar river on the 2 December. were made at crossing the river.

No attempts

In the meantime the situation south On the ©60 Kovember the division

west of Saarlautern became critical.

was again subordinated to the 82d Corps (Lt Gen Hahm), the sector of which extended to Voelkingen. Considering the threat to the Saar river

in the vicinity of Saarlautem - Toelkingen, where a withdrawal to the West Wall was not yet allowed in order not to lose contact with other corps Of the First Army, which in part was still engagend in the vicinity of the Maginot line, I was instructed on the 2 December at 18.00 hrs to advance, with a combet- group as strong as possible, from the patch of woodland south-west of vlaldga.ssen on Lisdorf - Saarlautern and thus intercept the attack of the enemy against Saarlautern. was to take place on the 3 December. For the carrying out of the mission I gathered together everything that was available: The Staff of the I92d Panzer Grenadier Begiment Inis

with the First and tne Second Battalions, each with a fignting strength of about 150 men, the Eeconnaissance Battalion with a fighting strength of about 100 raen, the First Engineer Company with about 60 men. An

artillery staff was placed with the combat group, the artillery regained in its positions as it had to do justice to both the missions assigned

MS # JU871

the division.

Contact was established with the 341st Division (Kaj Gen

Trierenberg), which was engaged in the sector, the artillery of this division was employed as support for the attack. Eight tanks type "IV" On the

of the 22d Panzer Regiment were available for the mission.

2 December the division was informed that a company of the Second Battalion of the 22d Panzer Regiment, which was still in Orafenwoehr for reconversion of armament, had arrived at Kaiserslautern and it would immediately be started off to the division with 17 tanks of type "V", Bat the company unfortunately, was not able to be employed on the 3 December. OB the 3 December at 06.30 hrs the combat preparation of forces was finished. She division command post with <S 3 sector for the mission

had been transferred to the vicinity of Bass. Reconnaissance showed that the northwestern part of the large wood west of Waldgassen was already occupied by the enemy and the presence of tanks could also be ascertained. The plateau whieh completely controlled the Valley of the

Saar was occupied by the enemy, defensive weapons of all sorts were in position there. An attack on the valley with the weak group meant certain

death to the detachment and the impossibility of reaching the goal set. As all reconnaissance results were missing more exact reconnaissance had to be carried out. The preliminary condition for an attack was the

possession of the wood of Waldgassen and the possibility of neutralizing the enemy on the adjacent plateau, and these task had first of all to be accomplished. In attacks parts of the wood were cleared, but it was

MS # A-871

-52-

not possible also to take the northwestern edge as the tanks type "IVn could not make their way through the deep soil of the wood but had to be towed out with great effort. All visible targets outside the

wood in the direction of northwest were immediately raked with very heavy artillery fire. An attack by day was consequently impossible.

Under such circumstances I did not order an attack carried out but postponed it until that night. It was ordered that the attack was to take

place at 05.00 nrs along narrow strips and our own minefields nad particularly to be considered. The attack t/as not carried out. At

19.00 hrs orders carae that the division was to occupy Sas.rlautern on the 4 December with sll available forces and prevent the town from being tpken by the enemy. The former task was cancelled.

The following forces were employed in the defense of Saarlautern: the Staff of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the Second Battalion of the 125d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the First Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion with the Third and Pourth Co©rapanies and eight tanks type "IV" of the 22d Panzer Regiment. The Panther tank company, which had been started off, had not The total strength of the companies was et the most 50 men.

yet arrived.

The Second Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment h&d suffered so severely in the preceding engagements that it was to have some hours rest, and needed reorganization. employed until two days later. Consequently, it could not be The Third Battalion of the Artillery

Regiment was able to support the attack, advance observers of all

MS # A-8V1

-53-

"battalions were placed with the foremost defense troops.

The 125th

Panzer Grenadier Regiment hed occupied,with its first "battalion and regimental units, the Vest Wall positions Dillingen up to Saarlautera exclusive. Command posts: Of the division, in Piesbach, of the 125thPanzer

Grenadier Regiment, in Dieffeln, of the I92d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, northeast of Saarlautern, of the Artillery Regiment, in Piesbach. At 06.00 hrs the battalions were gathered together southeast of Saarlautern and moved forward at 07.00 hrs to occupy the lines of pillboxes. Just "behind the first of the "blasted "bridges over the Saar

river the First Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment was encountered ©by the enemy, and it was ascertained that rather large American forces had penetrated into Saarlautern, which the German leadership did not know of till then. Further advance was now very

difficult as a num"ber of pillboxes were occupied and being defended "by the enemy and some tanks were already in Saarlautern. By

reconnaissance patrols and from prisoners it was ascertained that the so-called suspension "bridge had fallen into the hands of the enemy undamaged on the 3 December at noon and that forces were led across it into the city. This was the start of days of battle, they were extremely hard, and called for the utmost efforts of leadership and of men. The

higher leadership ordered us to clear Saarlautern by assault, but made no trooris available. Street-fighting, fend in addition to that,

MS # A-871

-54-

pillbox fighting demand large reserves of men end large number of troops. The 400 - 500 men employed "by the division were like a drop

in the ocean, and they would not have teen able to -prevent the enemy from pushing through Saerlautern very speedily. Consequently the

division escort company was immediately sent in, and an el arm company of two battrlions formed, consisting of all arms of the division, particularly supply troops, workshop companies, combat, trains etc. Of

course, only a. limited fighting power could "be attributed to the conroany, "but, nevertheless, they fought excellently in Saarlautern between 5 and 11 December, and it was partly due to them that the American units did not succeed in occupying and pushing through Saarleutern and the West V/all. As, on the 4 December, the situation uas clearly perceived, The First

an attempt at recapturing the bridge had to be made.

Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Begiuent with one engineer company end six tanks type "IV" were thrown in. First of all the

pillboxes (300, 301, 302, 305 etc.) in the center of the town in the neighborhood of the Sas.r river had to be taken, then the old fortification, a factory on the Sear, and a bridge. For artillery

support the corps artillery (one Howitzer end one 15 cm cannon), a battery with the division artillery commander Col Bebinger, likewise were employed. As a result of the attack we succeeded in recapturing a

number of pillboxes, among them the important pillbox 305, the fortification, and the factory. The task of the engineers; to blast

the bridge, could not be carried out since it was protected by several

MS # JU871

-55-

tanks to which our own tanks type "IV were inferior both in number and approach. During the following days the situation of the portions

of the division employed in Saarlautern grew more and more difficult. The only reinforcements the division got was one company of Panther tanks, tut they could not alter the situation, In view of the heavy losses suffered day by day. On the 5 and 6 December the battles of

the pillboxes 300 « 305 were particularly ferocious and the latter changed hands several times. The staff of the First Battalion of

the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the artillery observer, and others, were for a long time confined in pillbox 305 but at long last and with great effort we succeeded in delivering them on the 6 December. On the 6, 7 and 8 December the battles inside the town were very heavy, particularly In the neighborhood of the railway station, the rails behind it and the rearward situated line of pillboxes. She great advantage of the American troops was that again and again they brought up new troops, while the units of the 21st Panzer Division simply melted away. Hot one single replacement came. I believe that

the war history of this city calls for particulars appreciation as both sides fought to the bitter end. An exact report on the events

of each individual day can only be compiled by means of pertinent documents. The mission assigned to the division by a higher instance

to prevent a break-through of the Vest Wall was able to be accomplished. The first mission of the 4 December to prevent the enemy from penetrating into Saarlautern across the Saar river could not be

MS # A-871

-56-

fulfilled es the enemy had already crossed the Saar river 18 hours prior to the arrival of the division on the 4 December. As of the b December the combat activity in the area of Dillingen increased day "by day. In the sector of the right adjoining division

(the 19th Division) the enemy had already crossed the Saer river about the 4 or 5 December. The American units had already worked

their way up through the wooded terrain east of the Saar "between Beckingen and Dillingen end were threatening the -unprotected north flank of the division. made available. Toward off the danger new reserves hsd to "be This time

Alarm units had once more to be formed.

they were taken from the 305th Antiaircraft Battalion of the Army (Heeres) and the 200th Antitank Battalion for the supnort of the weak groups of the 135th Panzer Grenadier Begiment. cars end three tanks were supplied. A few armored patrol

With this reinforcement an

attack was launched through Dieffel into the wooded district northwest of the Pachener Hills. The enemy, who had advanced in the direction

of epst and south, was pushed "beck to the Pachener Hills, and weak portions of the First Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Begiment sealed off the Pachener Hills from the south. The 19th Division

launched an attack from north and northeast on the 9 December "but neither vas successful. nad arrived. On the 10 December the ? Infantry Division

They attacked the position on hills from the east but

it was not successful either.

MS # A-871

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As of the 7 December the group of pillboxes at the northwest edge of Dillingen became the scene of very heavy engagements in which the division was involved. These pillboxes were either not occupied at They had

all, or they were occupied by police troops or Volkssturm.

fallen into the hsndg of the Americans and served as e spring board for a further advance to the north as no fortifications existed eastward. The last tanks and reserves, this time from the First

Battalion of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Eegiinent and the 220th Engineer Battalion, were employed to neutralize the new enemy. Heavy battles

followed around individual pillboxes in the neighborhood.of the
*

slaughter-house of Dillingen, of the northwest edge of the city and along the road Diiiingen northward. On the whole, Dillingen was held, remained in the possession of

some pillboxes, for instance 72 and 73, the Americans.

The tanks type "IV" were employed on the road leading

to the north and turned out to be valuable for pillbox-warfare. Food and ammunition supplies were up to requirements. got no reinforcements. These engagements were not supported by the German Air Force. The The division

combat activity of the Allied Air Force depended likewise on the weather. On the 11 December at 18.00 hrs orders came that the division had to march out of the area Dillingen - Sa&rlautern on the 12 December, portions starting already during the night of the 11 - 12 December. division had already arrived. The relieving

MS # A-871 The 21st Panzer Division was transferred to the vicinity of Weissenburg (Alsace). The commander of the division went on in

-58-

advance to the 89th Corps near tfeissenburg on the morning of the 13 Decem ber. The relief was accomplished without difficulty. On the morning

of the 12 December the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment and the Panzer Artillery Eegiment were started off. The 125th Panzer Grenadier

Segiment with the Third Battalion of the 15t>th Panzer Artillery Eegiment and the Panzer Eegiment, which only disposed of 20 tanks ready for action, had to remain in their old positions until the 14 December. Likewise, the alarm regiment had to stay in Saarlautern until the 14 December. The artillery positions were taken over by the division artillery of the engineers, artillery corps. just arrived, and by two battalions of a VolksThe march through Neunkirchen - Pirmasens - Weissen-

burg to the new area took place without activity of the air force of the Allied. At 11.00 hrs I reported to the commanding general of the 89th Corps with command post in t/eiler west of V/eissenburg by Lt Gen Hoehne Chief of Statt Lt Col Eoesner and WPS instructed to take action

in the district south of Leiubach for the support of the 245th Division (Lt Gen Kegler) as soon as the first portions of my division arrived. On the 12 December the first portions were able to be employed south of Lembach, the first end second battalions of the Artillery Eegiment v/ere employed in the area of Ifingen - Lembach and to the south of

MS $ A-371 Zleinbach.

-59Support was necessary for the 245th Division because the

division was fighting in scattered groups, yrithout contact \;ith other troops. On the 13 December the division was subordinated to the
9

21st Panzer Division, and the staff of the 245th Division employed as reconnaissance staff in the West I-Jall sector. The portions of the

245th Division and the portions arriving of the 31st Panzer Division were put together in the sector of Lembach - Klein"bach « Rott - Weissenburg. The 135th Panzer Grenadier Regiment did not come to be On the 13 December the division took over the The

employed any more.

command post in Ueiler, and the corps v;as transferred to Otterbach.

left adjoining division was the 356th, (It Gen Franz), which was slowly v;ithdr?ving to the Lauter sector to the east of Veissenburg. The

advance of the American troops on "feissenburg through Kleeburg Steinselz became dangerous to the division, as Rott was occupied by the enemy on the 14 December, and from here he advanced in a northerly direction on Vfeiler and- threatened the east flank of the division. A counter

attack drove him from the hills north of Rott; there were heavy battles on the road Kleinbach - Weissenburg. On the right flank Lembach had to

be surrendered and a retreat was undertaken in the direction of Wingen. But an uninterrupted front had been established, snd a breakthrough by

surprise had been made impossible for the enemy.

The defense of the

city of "I©/eissenburg was carried out in such a way that the city remained undamaged.

MS # A-871

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On the 14 December orders came from the corps that the division had to disengage itself from the enemy during the night end occupy the sector of the V/est Wall from Bunderthal to Nieder Ottenbach on the 15 December. Strong rear guards were to remain in contact with the The rear guards were veak, otherwise

enemy and to delay his following up.

the division should not have been able to occupy the sector assigned. !The divisional comr.iand post WPS transferred to Birkenhoerdt on the 15 Decem ber. On that day the 125th Panzer Grenadier Hegiment and the best

portions of the division -arrived in the new sector from the Saar sector. The organization was carried out as follows! on the right flank

the S45th Division, in the center the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment, on the left flank the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. ©The artillery

was placed with one battalion in the vicinity of Birkenhoerdt, two battalions east of Bergzabern, and the artillery of the 245th Division in the area of Busenberg - Vord. Weidenthal. The tanks were x>ut in

rea.diness behind the left flank. The positions of the ©,/est t/all having been occupied, the division commend stand was transferred to Gleisrellen (G 3 section) on the 1? December. In the divisional sector of

the West !7all two Panzer Grenadier Replacement Training Battalions were already enroloyed. These two battalions were assigned to the division, The Replacement Training

and in this way its strength was enhanced.

Battalion of the division, which vras in Kaiser si autern at the time, had been brought up to a strength of 600 men by means of replacements. During the following days battles around individual pillboxes and at

MS # A-8V1 Nieder Schlettenbach took place.

-61Tne city VIES not occupied by the As,

combat group of the 245th Division "but "by American troot>s.

additionnally, three pillboxes along the rosd Hieder Schlettenbach Bobentp-1 vere occupied "by the enen^, these had to "be taken, too, as they controlled Kieder Schlettenbsch and the valley leading to iSrlenbach. Reconnaissance had "been carried through but the operation

hed to "be put off owing to the fact that an American attach had "been started in the wood of Bien at the same time, and to the fact that the trnks of the Panzer Reginent and the 125th Panzer Grenadier Eegiment were already employed. The attack ns.s repulsed "by the

256th Division, "but PS a new one uas expected the tanks hs.d to stay behind the 256th Division. But the attack on Kfieder Schlettenbach

was not carried out at ell in the end "because on the 23 Decenber orders came to give up all positions to the 245th Division, which had been reinforced, and on the 23 - 24 December to march off to the area of Landau - Anveiler for a short refreshing. tanks had to remain in their positions. The freshening up was carried out very speedily. The strength of Artillery and

the Panzer Grenadier Companies vas brought up to 80 - 90 nen ep.ch, the light machine gun companies and the heavy raacnine gun companies un to 75$ of authorized strength. The second battalion of the Panzer

fiegiment did not appear, but one company of this unit with 1? tanks type "7" arrived on the <J3 December. The tanks were speedily repaired

or rebuilt, so that the situation with regsrd to tanks of the regiment

MS # A-371 (first ©battalion)© was the following: 2 companies of Panther tanks with 17 - 34 tanks type "V" (Panther) 2 companies of tanks type "IV" with 20-40 tanks type" "I?". The antitank battalion was to get 20 tanks ty.pe "IV". did not come to the division until the 8 January 1945. But they

-62-

On the 27 Decem

ber at 23.00 hrs a special missions officer of the Army Group came to the division command post in Moerzheim. He ordered the commander

of the division to remort unaccompanied to the Coramander-in-Chief of the Army Group Gen Blaskowitz, in Wachenheim on the 28 December at 11.00 hrs. Tne following persons were present there: Comuander-

in-Chief of the First Army, Lt G-en Obstfelder, Commanding General of the 89th Corps, Lt Gen Hoehne, of the 90th Corps, Lt Gen Petersen, of the 13th SS Corps, SS Obergruppenfuehr-er Simon, the division commanders of ten infantry divisions, the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division, the l?th SS Panzer Grenadier Division and the alst Panzer Division. We were informed that we vere to report to the Comaander-

in-Chief Vest, Gen of Army v. Eundstedt, and we proceeded by Car immediately to his command post at Nauheim. There it was revealed to Eae conference Besides the above-

us that Hitler wanted to spe?k to us at 17.00 hrs. took pla.ce in the Fuehrer Headquarters at Nauheim. mentioned, the following persons tsrere present:

Gen of Army v. Rundstedt,

MS # A-871 Gen of Army Keitel, Gen Jodl, Lt Gen Burgdorf, It Gen Bohle, Lt Gen Scherff, Himmler, Bormann, Jegeleln and Lt Gen Thomale.

-63-

The object of

the conference, which I suppose is well known by now, was to show the mistakes of the offensive in the Ardennes and to issue orders to the effect that, in the night of the 31 December - 1 January, we start a new offensive in the Vosges, further, the object was to inform us that sufflcent divisions and weapons were available, so that each fortnight we could start a new offensive at a different point and could finally move forward with 45 divisions and in the end recapture the territory lost. She object of the operation was to be that the enemy be induced to transfer divisions from the Ardennes to Alsace, and, if possible a recapture of Alsace by the German armies. Finally, Gen of the Army With each

v. Bondstedt made a speech declaring loyal!ty to Hitler.

divisional commander Hitler discussed the condition of his division and issued corresponding orders to Gen of the Army v. Bondstedt, Lt Gen Buhle, or Thomale. The attack was to start without artillery

preparation ae a surprise one, in order to exploit the allegedly festive mood of the New Tear. For the mission the division was transferred to the area between Eft sen and the road Zweibruecken - Plrmasens on the 31 December. Orders were given to move into position on the 1 January. The division was to

follow the SS Division on the right flank of the attack. The S3 Division was assigned the task of pushing through Bohrbach In one assault, and stand there, whereas the 21st Panzer Division was to push

KS $ A-871

-64-

forvard, prst the l?th S3 Division, through Pfslzburg to the road Saarburg - Zabern and then "block the depression of Zabern. But things never came thus far. Already, on the 31 December, the

division had to lend one Panther tank company to the 17th SS Division as no replacement tanks had arrived so far. Hot until 8 January did the On the 2 January the

21st Panzer Division get its 20 tanks type "IV".

diverted Panther tenk company returned to the division with only four tanks out of 17. Until the 5 January the division regained in its On the 2 and. 3 January, after the failure of

position of rep dine ss.

the 17th SS Division, the leadership hoped to "be able to launch the division through Baerenthsl on Zinsweiler or through Phillipsburg on Niederbronn, and the 25th Panzer Grenadier Division through Wingen on Ingweiler. But the small initial achievements vere brought to neught On the 5 January at 1900 hrs orders from Lt Gen

by the 5 January.

Staedke, Chief of the Army Group, xrere brought to me b,y Col ^est, that the division was to be transferred to the district north of Veissenburg during the night, and, on the 6 January, was to push forward through tfeissenburg betvreen Hocht/ald and the forest of Hrgenau up to Zabern and block the depression of Zabern. It uas knovm about the enemy that he For the carrying out of reinforcemer: s in

had evacuated the district of "Jeissenburg.

this task, the division got no further support, artillery or planes.

Despite roads blocked by ice and the rocky terrain,

the division was moved into the district ordered on the 6 January at 09.CO hrs. 2?he attack was launched so that the division advanced in

MS # A-871

-65-

two groups.

To the rights

One group consisting of the 192d Panzer

Grenadier Regiment, 21.

Reconnaissance Battalion, these already

moving ahead, the First Engineer Company, the First Battalion of the 155th Artillery Regiment. To the left: One group consisting of the

125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, the First Battalion of the 22d Panzer Regiment vith a"bout 14 tanks type "V11 and 20 tanks tyr?e "IV", the Engineer Bettglion \rithout its First Company, antitank units of the First and Second Battalions of the 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment. of advance to the right: I/eissenburg - Siedsetz - Sulz - V/oerth Ober Seebach - Hofen - Honweiler Maps of the Maginot line were not Path

Gundershoffen etc., to the left:

Surbach - Gimstett - Griesbach etc.

available to the company, and higher instances declared them a mere trifle. On the 6 January the division was subordinated to the newly Despite the reports on the

arrived 34th Panzer Corps (Lt Gen Decker).

resistance being offered the carrying out of the task was ordered. A battery had been assigned to the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion, they managed to break the resistance at Riedselz and advanced to the neighborhood of Indolsheim. Here they met with a new and stronger

resistance v.©iiieh could not be broken by the 21st Reconnaissance Battalion. The First Battalion of the 192d Panzer Grenadier Regiment

with the First Battalion of the 155th Panzer Artillery Regiment vere assigned as reinforcements. During the afternoon Indolsheim was taken

after heavy battles, r-nd a bridge rs.s built in the night of the 6 7 January. The cemetery situated a few hundred meters south of the

MS I A-871 village was still toeing strongly defended,in the hands of the enemy.

.66-

On the 6 January the left combat group encountered the enemy and captured Ober Seebach - Hieder Seebach. At the outset the division

command post was in Bledselz, as of the 7 January, in Ober Selzbach. The attacks of both combat groups launched on Schoenenberg - Aschbach Oberroedera - Buhl were not very successful on the 7 and 8 January. Owing to fog the radius of visibility was only some hundred meters. But reconnaissance and engagements made it clear that the division was standing in front of a strongly fortified and mined position which was being fiercely defended. The artillery activity of the enemy, which The

on the 6 January had been weak, increased in strength and weight.

actions of the 6, 7 and 8 January clearly showed that one Panzer Division was not able to storm the Magi not line, for the position had finally become such. Without documents it is Impossible to describe the numerous On the 8 January at noon I reported that

battles of these days.

continued attempts at attacks here would be absurd and only incur unnecessary casualties. The division had to repulse other attempts, and

proposed an attack, on the following day, through Hieder Boedern northern edge of the wood of Hagenau - Hatten in order to launch a flank attack on the system of positions which existed until then. The

proposal was accepted, and in the night of 8 - 9 January the division and combat groups of the 125th Panzer Grenadier Regiment were transferred to the district of Nieder Hoedern for preparation for the attack. The

UNCLASSIFIED
MS # A-871 -6?advanced divisional command post us.s ©or?nsferred to the sajae place. On the 9 Janusry st 05.00 the attack "began through the wood south and southwest of Eieder Roedern with combat grou-os of the Panzer Grenadier Begiiaent. Pillboxes at Sela Buch were token, and at 11.00 hrs the In heavy

attack had advanced to the pilltox positions east of Hatten.

individual actions and tank attacks the pillboxes i^ere taken during the day. The tattles of Hatten - Tittersdorf, pilltox positions south of

Buehl end Ober Roedern, which now developed in this sector, were particularly heavy and ferocious. A "breakthrough here, which wasinnfact achieved to a certain degree, would have meant a "breakthrough of the Kaginot line. leadership uss minded to hold this line. creased from day to day. Eut the American

!Ehe American reserves in

Very small sectors, which we had to attack

with weak companies were able to be defended "by the enemy with "battalions up to 1000 men. The ultimate result of these "battles could

be foreseen if German reinforcements did not arrive. The attacks on Saffelheirn - Drusenheiin - Ol©fendorf launched across the Ehine, did not "bring any notatle or even perceptible relief during the week of the 14 - 21 January. A parachute regiment of the

7th Parachute Division came to the division as reinforcements for tnree clays, out on the 18 January it was moved "back to its division, then employed at Sai©l©elheim. On the 12 January the 39th Pan?er Corps had the 39th Corps was employed

surrendered the command to the 89th Corps; in the sector of the Ehine.

On the 31- January the division was

UNCLASSIFIED

UNCLASSIFIED
MS # A-8V1 -G8informed that it would "be relieved by the ? Infantry Division, which had been brought up to full strength, and was commanded by Lt©Gen Bork. The surrender of command took place on the & January, on the

23d division was subordinated to the Army Group "Upper Hhine" (SS Oberstgruppenfuehrer Hauser). It was assigned to the 14th SS

Corps (Gen der SS und Polizei v.d. Bach-Zelewski). fhe command post was situated southeast of Schwarzhacn. was transferred to the east. On the 24 January the corps

The 39th Panzer Corps took its place.

In the sector of Bischweiler the task of the division WPS to support the attacks of the 7th Parachute Division (Gen Lt ^rdmann) and those of the 10th SS Panzer Division, which hs.d. come to a standstill epst of Bischweiler. In the evening of the 23 January and during the

day of the 24 January the positions west of the rord Drusenheim Kerlisheim were occupied. First of all the result of the attack of

the 7th Division on Hagen.au on the 35 January had to be axmited, and . . then we hnd to push through to the west, south of Hagenau. This was

never carried through "because as of the 26th January the 10th SS Panzer Division was transferred to the east owing to the development of
v

events on the eastern front, and further attacks were cancelled. the 31 January the division was withdrawn from its positions and transferred to the area of Landau.

On

But after three days it too was

transferred to the eastern front (Kuestrin). I have described in the foregoing the engagements of the division in general, and pointed out in what sectors end at what datee it vras Tseen

UNCLASSIFIED

KS # A-871 engaged.

UNCLASSIFIED
U i. * ^ **-

_69-.

Clear combat reports with regard to each day with precise figures for numbers, modes of employment, and strengths are "beyond asy pov;er to furnish with a map having only s. scale of 1 : 250.000. As stated

Elready at the beginning, the documents mentioned would ©be necessary. With these documents e. consecutive report OL. the combats could be compiled < if more shouidbe recuired.

UNCLASSIFIED

lllinHlllllinuiiuiiniiiiiiiiiiiiiiM..,,!,,,,,.,,., 3 Dfl31 0177611 D

V •= "'.P.', ;v' HUJI0 RY HISTOW iNSTTTUTE

c/,;, :"'._£• SAoRACKS, PA 17013-6006

UNCLASSIFIED

The felsose of this manuscript to non-U.S. personnel is controlled. Non-U.S.personnel desiring access to this manuscript should forward their requests to fhsir r@spsetive MiJitary Attache, Washington D.C., who in furn should transmit requests to Assistant Chief ©f Steff/ G^Dqpstritosnt of She Army, Washington 2S, D.C, Afites Chief, Foresgn y«ss«

UNCLASSIFIED REGTRICTEP-

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