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ROBERT C. STERN, illustrated by DON GREER and RON VOLSTAD
Immediately following the cancellation of the Kursk attacks, the units of the SS-Panzer-Korps were withdrawn for transfer to Italy. Strong Russian attacks on the Mius positions west of Rostov forced an alternation of these plans and the switching of Das Reich and Totenkopf to the region of Stalino. These views of Totenkopf's StuG-Abt date from that period.
An Obersturmführer adjusts his earphone volume while standing in the cupola of his StuG III ausf G. He is wearing the standard Field Gray assault gunners uniform. [National Archives]
The men of a mortar platoon march across the rear of an advancing company of StuG III ausf Gs. Of interest is the three stripes insignia on the rear plate of the rear assault gun, this was a modification of the Kursk insignia adopted by Totenkopf in the Spring. [National Archives]
Another version of the three-stripe marking, this time in Black, can be seen of this early Tiger of Totenkopf. The four tankers visible are all wearing the one-piece tankers coverall and a variety of headgear. The solider straddling the barrel of the 8.8 is probably a grenadier just hitching a ride. Note the death's head collar tab, characteristic of the division's uniforms. [National Archives]
This Totenkopf Unterscharführer is an excellent study of a forward observer. Around his neck is the camouflage mask which would be raised up over his face. Presumably his Knight's Cross and collar insignia would be tucked into his smock in order to camouflage his entire upper body. [National Archives]
A well known shot, showing two grenadiers standing by the second company pennant of one of Totenkopf's motorized infantry battalions. These pennants were used as rallying points during combat, indicating the location of the company HQ. The three stripes may indicate the battalion number, or may be the divisional insignia.
A recon squad of Totenkopf's Auf-Abt mounts their SdKfz 250/1. The divisional insignia is faintly visible on the vehicle's front plate. The Fall mud has arrived and the Winter parkas have again made their appearance. Note the variety of fur with which the parka's hoods are lined. In the background is a StuG III ausf G. [National Archives]
The Winter's battles west of the Dniepei brought Leibstandarte back from sunny Italy to the snows of Central Russia. This snow camouflaged early StuG III ausf G is interesting in that its kills are denoted not only by rings around the gun barrel, a fairly common practice, but also by vehicle silhouettes on the superstructure. [Bundesarchiv]
A 7.5cm Pak 40 of LAH is seen here behind a natural camouflage of snow blocks. Note that while the front of the gun is painted White, everything behind the shield, and therefore theoretically invisible to the enemy, is still Panzer, Grey. [Bundesarchiv]
An old friend, "S13" of Das Reich's sPz-Abt follows "S33" through the first snow of the Winter 1943. Last seen in the wheat fields around Kursk, these Tigers are now a little worse for the wear. Note the extensive damage to the external fittings such as the Feifel system, "S" mine projectors and hull skirts. In spite of the onset of Winter, these vehicles are still in their Sand Yellow and Red Brown camouflage. [Bundesarchiv]