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SS-Panzer Grenadier Division "Götz von Berlichingen"
According to an order by Hitler dated 3 October 1943 the 17. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. was to be formed, a process that was begun on 15 November.1 The structure of the division was 2:
Due to its late formation the 17. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. was still not fully combat ready when the allies landed. It was reported that on 1 June one third of the men had 22 weeks of training and the remainder had 25 weeks of training. Its manpower strength amounted to 17 321 men on 1 June, but it was short of 233 officers and 1 541 NCO:s, while it had a surplus of 741 privates.3 This meant that the division was short of about 40 % of its officers and NCO, a serious disadvantage. At the beginning of June the division had many deficiencies. The greatest was probably the lack of vehicles. The supply services of the division completely lacked transportation on 1 June.4 According to a report concerning the situation 15 May the division had only 257 trucks and towing vehicles of all types.5 No deliveries of JagdPz IV had yet occurred, but the 3. Kompanie of the had three 7,62 cm Pak (Sf) and nine 7,5 cm Pak (Sf).6 By using the Aufkl.Abt., StuG.Abt., SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 38 and one reinforced artillery battalion (consisting of four batteries with le.FH and one battery with s.FH) a mobile Kampfgruppe was formed.
Except for vehicles the division was rather well equipped. On 1 June it had the following equipment7:
On Hand Machine Guns 8 cm mortar 7,5 cm le.IG 15 cm s.IG (Sf) 10,5 cm le.FH 15 cm s.FH 10 cm K 7,5 cm Pak 2 cm Flak 2 cm Flakvierling 3,7 cm Flak 8,8 cm Flak Flamethrower Motorcycles Cars 1 008 99 8 12 25 12 4 22 44 7 9 12 72 275 1104 Shortage 146 0 21 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 0 0 2 410 22
Trucks RSO Towing vehicles SPW Marder StuG Bef.Pz.
245 2 10 0 12 42 0
1 441 0 245 0 0 0 3
A disadvantage was the shortage of Panzerfäuste. According to Stöber the division did not receive any until mid-July and then only in insufficient quantities.8 The division had all 42 StuG StuG it was authorized, but it lacked command vehicles. Such were not delivered to the division until 12 August when three Pz IV (Bef.Wg.) arrived.9 It seems that the division received no replacements of assault guns during the battle. Lack of transport meant that the division could not be moved immediately to Normandy after the allied invasion. On 6 June only reconnaissance of roads to Normandy occurred, but on 7 June the first units began to move.10 The unit that moved fastest was the Aufkl.Abt. which reached Balleroy (half-way between St. Lô and Bayeux) already on 8 June, despite being subjected to several attack by enemy fighter-bombers.11 These attacks caused only slight losses.12 Only four of the six infantry battalions began the march to Normandy on the 7th and not even these could be fully motorized. The remaining two infantry battalions had to use bicycles for their march to Normandy. On the eveneing of the 7th the artillery and 2./SS-Flak.Abt. 17 began moving north, while the assault guns and the Marders were loaded on train.13 The trains carrying the assault guns and panzerjägers were subjected to several air attacks. One StuG was destroyed when petrol barrels were hit and three men were killed during these attacks. The 17. SSPz.Gren.Div. claimed to have shot down two fighter-bombers.14 At about 10.00 on 9 June the assault guns and Marders had unloaded between Montreuil and la Fleche. Thereafter they began marching towards Mayenne.15 On 10 June the SS-Aufkl.Abt. 17 went into action on the sector weakly held by the 352. Inf.Div.16 The same day the most advanced elements of SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 37 had reached La Chapelle (south east of St. Lô).17 One day later it was reported that parts of the division were in position south west of Carentan, ready to attack in northerly or easterly direction.18 On 14 June it was reported that most of the division had arrived. One component that did not arrive in June was the engineer battalion, which remained in the Saumur area, to work on crossings over the Loire river. It was not until 10 July it began moving from Saumur to Normandy.19 It arrived two days later.20 The le. Brückenkolonne did however remain in the Saumur area.21 The ration strength of the battalion amounted to 726 before it began the movement.22 Also the Flak battalion remained near Saumur. It was not until the end of June it deployed in Normandy.23 The Flak battalion had a strength of 657 men.24 One battery, the 1./SS-Flak-Abt. 17, remained guarding the bridges at Saumur since it had no vehicles to tow its 8,8 cm guns.25 Since the Flak battalion, the engineer battalion and most of the Panzerjäger battalion were missing when the division arrived in Normandy, it probably numbered no more than about 15 500 men. When they arrived, the missing elements did not compensate for the losses incurred. The first major actions for the division were fought southwest of Carentan. On 13 June the SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 37, supported by assault guns attacked the US 101. Airborne Division.26 Until 15 June (inclusive) the division lost 79 killed in action, 316 wounded and 61 missing. Twenty-four assault guns were still operational, while thirteen were in short term repair.27
Casualties continued to mount and until 24 June (inclusive) they stood at 186 killed in action, 641 wounded and 72 missing.28 On 27 June all the six infantry battalions were still considered strong. The Aufkl.Abt. on the other hand was rated to be weak. The division had 18 combat ready StuG and 32 7,5 cm AT guns (incl SP) plus four 8,8 cm Pak 43.29 During June casualties amounted to 233 killed in action, 777 wounded and 86 missing.30 The division did not receive many replacements. Until 17 July the division had been allocated 208 replacements and only half of them had yet arrived.31 On 21 July the division had the following artillery subordinated32: I./SS-Art.Rgt. 17: six 10,5 cm le.FH II./SS-Art.Rgt. 17: nine 15 cm s.FH Art.Abt. 456: 1. Bttr with four 12,2 cm guns, 2. Bttr with two 8,8 cm guns, 3. Bttr with three 15,2 cm gunhowitzers Two days later the following status of the division was reported33: Two weak battalions and five "abgekäpftes" battalions. Ten heavy AT guns Ten StuG Five light artillery batteries (three heavy batteries with Pz.Lehr) Mobility 30 % Combat value rating IV The division was partially surrounded in the Coutances pocket after operation Cobra, but broke out with considerable loss of equipment.34 At the beginning of August parts of the division were withdrawn for refitting, while other elements remained attached to 2. SS-Pz.Div and took part in the Mortain attack.35 Later they were subordinated to 10. SS-Pz.Div.36 At the end of June 31 JagdPz IV were loaded on trains in Germany and sent to the SS-Pz.Jäg.Abt. 17.37 Except for 3./ SS-Pz.Jäg.Abt. 17 this battalion had remained in its original location when the division began marching towards Normandy. During August this unit began moving north. When it had reached Chateau Gontier it was ordered to move westwards to deploy between Laval and Rennes.38 Events forced the battalion to be committed in the Laval area on 5 August.39 After a brief action at Laval the battalion retreated towards Sablé-sur-Sarthe, but unfortunately US forces had already bypassed Laval. The battalion had to fight its way east with heavy loss.40 Large parts of the division had been withdrawn before the pocket at Falaise was formed. This saved the division from heavy casualties during the last stages during the battle in Normandy. Nevertheless casualties were very heavy. On 15 September the division had a strength of 16 832 officers and men. During the first half of September the division had only 163 casualties. It had received 7 770 replacements and 153 convalescents. Thus it seems that the division had about 8 000 casualties during the campaign in Normandy and northern France.41 Most of the replacements the division had received were probably men from SS-Pz.Gren.Brig. 49 and SSPz.Gren.Brig. 51, which were absorbed by the Götz von Berlichingen division.42
Notes: G. Tessin, Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS (Mittler & Sohn, Frankfurt am Main and Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1966-1975). BA-MA RH 10/324. BA-MA RH 10/324.
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
BA-MA RH 10/324. BA-MA RH 10/112. BA-MA RH 10/324. BA-MA RH 10/324. H. Stöber, Die Sturmflut und das Ende, Geschichte der 17. SS-Panzergrenadierdivision "Götz von Berlichingen" (Munin, Osnabrück 1976) caption to photo opposite p. 64. Lieferungen der Pz.-Fahrzeuge, Bd. ab Mai 1943, BA-MA RH 10/349. H. Stöber, Die Sturmflut und das Ende, Geschichte der 17. SS-Panzergrenadierdivision "Götz von Berlichingen" (Munin, Osnabrück 1976) p. 48-50.
11 Ibid. 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid. 14 Ibid p. 51f. 15 HGr B Ia Nr. 3233/44 g.Kdos, Tagesmeldung 9.6.44, T311, R3, F7002366. 16 Stöber, op.cit. p. 49. 17 OB West Ia Notiz 10.6.44, T311, R25, F7030049. 18 HGr B Ia Nr 3342/44 g.Kdos, Tagesmeldung 11.6.44, T311, R3, F7002373. 19 KTB SS-Pi.Btl 17, 10.7, T354, R156, F3800694. 20 KTB SS-Pi.Btl 17, 12.7, T354, R156, F3800697. 21 Stöber, op. cit. p 269. 22 KTB SS-Pi.Btl 17, 8.7, T354, R156, F3800926. 23 Stöber, op.cit. p. 477. 24 Ibid. p. 459. Strength refer to Iststärke. 25 Ibid. p. 389. 26 See Stöber, pp. 72 -79. 27 See 17. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. Ia Tgb. Nr. 1101/44, 20.6.44, BA-MA RH 19 IX/2 or Stöber p. 455f. 28 KTB HGr B Ia Anlagen, BA-MA RH 19 IX/3, frame 15 on Mikrofiche 1 29 AOK 7 Ia Nr. 3454/44 g.Kdos., 27.6.44., T312, R1565, F001375. 30 Stöber, op.cit. p. 118. 31 H.Gr. B Ia Nr. 4924/44 g.Kdos., 18.7.44, T311, R3, F7002570. 32 Gen.Kdo. LXXXIV A.K. Ia Nr. 035/44g.Kdos 22.7.44, Taktische Gliederung der Artillerie, Stand 21.7.44, T314, R1604, F001388. 33 Gen.Kdo. LXXXIV. A.K. Ia 048/44 g.Kdos. T314, R1604, F001373. 34 Stöber, op.cit. pp. 243 - 260. 35 Ibid, pp. 282ff. 36 Ibid, p. 311ff. 37 Lieferungen der Pz.-Fahrzeuge, Bd. ab Mai 1943, BA-MA RH 10/349. 38 Stöber, op. cit. p. 321. 39 Ibid. p. 326f. 40 Ibid, pp. 326 - 332. 41 Gliederung 17. SS-Pz.Gren.Div. "Götz von Berlichingen", Stand 15.9.44, BA-MA RS 3-17/13. 42 For information on these two brigades see Stöber, op. cit., p. 501f.