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Text by MARTIN WINDROW, Color plates by MICHAEL ROFFE. YEAR 1972
Detail of shoulder, collar and breast insignia on the tunic of an Army Unteroffizier or sergeant. The mid-war-style tunic has a field-grey collar, in place of the bluish-green 'badge cloth' collars often seen early in the war. The dark-green shoulder-straps, a survival from earlier in the war, have white infantry piping round the edge, and 9mm-wide silver braid identifies the rank. The silver Tresse is repeated round the edge of the collar. Breast eagle and collar-bars of 'field service quality' are woven in light grey on sage-green background.
Sent to southern sector of Russian front in March 1942; heavily engaged in capture of Kharkov, and subsequently reached Terek River at spearhead of German penetration in the Caucasus. In November 1942 the division was moved north to Stalingrad but avoided encirclement. Summer 1943, heavily committed to defensive fighting in Dnepr Bend. February 1944, cited for distinguished service on the lower Dnepr. Suffered heavy casualties in withdrawal; refitted in Poland, summer 1944, and subsequently engaged there in September 1944. October 1944, transferred to Hungary, fighting at Debrecen. Cited again for outstanding services. Engaged at Baranów bridgehead, January 1945; overrun by Red Army at end of war.
Main combat units: Panzer Regt. 23, Panzergrenadier (formerly Rifle) Regt. 126, Panzergrenadier (formerly Rifle) Regt. 128, Panzer Artillery Regt. 128, Panzer Aufkl. Abt. 23, divisional units numbered 128.
After its reorganization and re-equipment this division was employed on the southern sector of the Russian front in the summer and autumn of 1942. It was encircled and wiped out at Stalingrad in December 1942 - January 1943. March-April 1943, re-formed in Normandy, France. August 1943, transferred to northern Italy. October 1943, returned to Russia, southern sector, suffering heavy casualties west of Kiev. February 1944, cited for distinguished conduct. Further heavy losses during withdrawal from Dnepr Bend, March 1944. July 1944, engaged in southern Poland during Soviet summer offensive. October 1944, transferred to Hungary, engaged around Débrecen. December 1944 - January 1945, Slovakia; transferred to West Prussia, withdrawing into Schleswig-Holstein and surrendering to British forces in May 1945.
Main combat units: Panzer Regt. 24, Panzergrenadier Regt. 21, Panzergrenadier Regt. 26, Panzer Artillery Regt. 89, Panzer Aufkl. Abt. 24, variously numbered divisional units, primarily '40'.
Transferred to the south of France in August 1943 and brought up to strength, the division was moved to the southern sector of the Russian front in October 1943. Engaged west of Kiev; heavy losses during withdrawal from northern Ukraine in March 1944. April 1944, pulled back to Denmark for re-forming. September 1944, returned to central sector of Russian front. Engaged on Vistula line, and in defence of Warsaw. Withdrew into Germany in February 1945, and overrun by Red Army in May 1945.
Main combat units: Panzer Regt. 9, Panzergrenadier Regt. 146, Panzergrenadier Regt. 147, Panzer Aufkl. Abt. 87, divisional units numbered 87.
July 1943, transferred to Italy, and remained on that front throughout war. Cited for outstanding service between Apennines and Adriatic coast, November 1944. Surrendered near Bologna, May 1945.
Main combat units: Panzer Regt. 26, Panzergrenadier Regt. 9, Panzergrenadier Regt. 67, Reinforced Panzergrenadier Regt. 1027, Panzer Artillery Regt. 93, Panzer Aufkl. Abt. 26, most divisional units numbered 93.
While in process of formation in France, 1942, this unit was sent to the southern sector of the Russian front. It was engaged in the winter of 1942/3, and was disbanded early in 1943.
Continuously engaged in France from July 1944, throughout withdrawal across that country. September 1944, pulled back to Düsseldorf for rest and refitting. November, transferred to Cologne. Heavily engaged on southern claw of Ardennes offensive, December 1944, suffering serious casualties. January 1945, engaged in Kleve area. April 1945, went into American captivity in the Ruhr.
Main combat units: Panzer Regt. 16, Panzergrenadier Regt. 60, Panzergrenadier Regt. 156, Panzer Artillery Regt. 146, Panzer Aufkl. Abt. 116, variously numbered divisional units.
Under the command of Fritz Bayerlein, Rommel's old Chief of Staff in Africa, the formidable Panzer-Lehr was assembled in France from the demonstration units of various armoured schools. Apart from its unusually experienced and expert personnel, it received double the normal complement of armour; by June 1944 its establishment included 190 tanks, 40 assault guns and 612 half-tracks, and it was the second most powerful division in the Wehrmacht. It was very heavily engaged in the fighting in Normandy following the Allied landings, and suffered correspondingly high losses; by late July it could field only 50 armoured fighting vehicles. Rebuilt around Paderborn in the late autumn, it was committed to the Ardennes offensive in December 1944. It remained on the Western front, and the survivors went into American captivity in April 1945 in the Ruhr.
Main combat units: Panzer Lehr Regt. 103, Panzergrenadier Lehr Regt. 901, Panzergrenadier Lehr Regt. 902, Panzer Artillerie Lehr Regt. 130, Panzer Aufkl. Lehr Regt. 130, divisional units numbered 130.
The German Army's elite formation, at all stages of its history. It evolved originally from the Berlin Watch Regiment, and by 1940 was designated Infanterie Regt. (Mot.) 'Grossdeutschland'; it fought in France under the command of General Graf Schwerin. In 1941 it saw action in the Balkans and Greece, and as part of Guderian's 2nd Panzer Army during the first year in Russia. By early spring 1942 the unit had expanded to divisional strength. As happened in other cases of units with better-than-average establishments, the official re-designations tended to lag behind the facts; thus the 'GD' slowly became a Panzergrenadier unit, and then a Panzer formation, although its armoured strength was as good as, or better than, actual Panzer divisions for months or years beforehand.