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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • #31
    German Cavalry had used the "Death's Head" insignia before. I believe the Cavalry in Hanover used it.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #32
      Brunswick and Prussia both had "Death's Head" Hussars, and this insignia continued in some squadrons of the Reichswehr 5th Cavalry regiment.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by canambridge View Post
        5 Kavallerie-Regimenter had originally been designated Kavallerie-Regiment Nord in June 1941. In May 1944 it was re-designated 42 Kavallerie-Regimenter and finally Kavallerie (or Reiter?) Regiment 5, (...)
        Yes, Reiter Regiment 5. That's why I didn't find a reference to it being in service during the war, the Kavallerie Regiment 5 had been disbanded as mentioned above. But the Reiter Regiment 5 was indeed part of the 4. Brigade (later, in 1945, becoming the 4. Division).
        Michele

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Michele View Post
          Yes, Reiter Regiment 5. That's why I didn't find a reference to it being in service during the war, the Kavallerie Regiment 5 had been disbanded as mentioned above. But the Reiter Regiment 5 was indeed part of the 4. Brigade (later, in 1945, becoming the 4. Division).
          My (typing) error, it was 4. Division, not 5.

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          • #35
            I am reading the unit history of the 23rd panzer, 3rd panzer, and Mot. ID Gd from June 42 to March 43.

            Mot ID GD's advance alongside the 24th Panzer is spectacular but then they are withdrawn after a pursuit and encirclement operation in which they net very little prisoners. According the unit history, their chief contribution to the campaign is destroying/overrunning many soviet tanks and artillery batteries. Their prisoner bag is small. Then they are shifted to AGC's reserve unit. I haven't read farther than that.

            I'm up to Sept for the 23rd Panzer and they are with 40th PzK/AGA in the Caucasus. In absolute (prisoners, divisions wrecked) terms their successes are a fraction of the 24th panzer. (They may have a higher tank claim though.) In August the Wehrmacht's summer offensive runs out of steam. The 3rd and 23rd panzer until Nov simply don't have the strength to break through Soviet defenses there as the LW shifts its priority to Stalingrad & the VVS becomes much stronger in AGA's sector. The difficult and more easily defensible terrain also halts them along with logistics problems. 'Impenetrable defense, Artillery superiority' is cited. Lots of armor counterattacks by the soviets.

            The 24th panzer is coming across as a monster division so far...easily the most successful division of the offensive which gets authorization for lots of tactical air support.

            According to the unit history, 3rd Panzer takes almost as many prisoners: it has 18,827 prisoners by the July 18. Then 10,000 more until the the end the year in the caucasus.
            Last edited by Cult Icon; 26 Aug 14, 15:00.
            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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            • #36
              24th was an excellent division. So was the 2nd, and 11 Panzer. However, many infanterie divisions were brilliant as well! I really wish such ratings that are to be found in the "Bewertungen des inneren Wertes" can be discovered. However, until now only a few have been listed here or there...

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              • #37
                The problem with German Infantry Division ratings is so many of them were destroyed and then rebuilt. Only a very few were sent back for rebuilding before they went under.

                Pruitt
                Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by canambridge View Post
                  I had never heard of these units before.

                  5 Kavallerie-Regimenter had originally been designated Kavallerie-Regiment Nord in June 1941. In May 1944 it was re-designated 42 Kavallerie-Regimenter and finally Kavallerie (or Reiter?) Regiment 5, in reference to the old 5th Cavalry Regiment of the Imperial Army. The "Feldmarschall v. Mackensen" title was authorized for Kavallerie-Regiment 5 on 6 December 1944. Interestingly the regiment (brigade and eventually division) also used the “Totenkopf” Death’s Head insignia.
                  The regiment was used to form 4. Kavallerie Brigade along with 41 Kavallerie-Regimenter (originally Kavallerie-Regimenter Sud) in May 1944. The brigade was expanded to 5 Kavallerie Division in February 1945.

                  Surrendered to the British at the end of the war.

                  It seems they were regarded highly to continue the lineage of a famous regiment and to honor a deceased Field Marshall of the Great War.

                  Still not sure what they actually did to be considered elite.
                  I have the history for Reiter Regiment 41 (Kavallerie Regiment Süd). These regiments become more and more important as mobile reserve units with the three Army Groups as the war progresses. By mid 1944 Süd was redesignated a Brigade and included a panzer division style auflarksrung Abt with light tanks, half tracks, and heavy weapons. A full panzerjäger abt was assigned with about 20 to 30 vehicles. The artillery became fully motorized and included a battalion of 10.5cm and a 12cm mortar battalion.
                  That puts it on par with being nearly a mini panzergrenadier division.

                  The other two regiments were likewise reinforced continually.

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                  • #39
                    The original regiment GD (reinforced mot.) was an elite that prided itself as being the 'best drilled' infantry regiment in the army. It was also given mountain infantry training. The regiment (3,900 men) was used with another elite unit- Sturmpioneer battalion 43 in France. It also had a stug company (3 x 2 stug III). It was used as a breakthrough unit and took 1,108 casualties while achieving its objectives.

                    For Sea Lion, it was developing tactics between July to Sept. 1940. It was canceled by then. It participated in Greece.

                    It was an extensively trained, armed, and experienced unit by Barbarossa, being manned by veterans. Its armament was closer to an infantry division than a regiment in several areas. It was 5 battalions, 20 companies strong with 4 and 5th battalion being equipped with heavy weapons and special vehicles.

                    The Regiment was given the mission of supporting Guderian's panzer divisions as a rearguard, flankguard, and breakthrough regiment (it was used to clear forest areas as well). It played a role in the minsk, smolensk, and kiev pockets. It was attached to the 10th Panzer division. Then it was eventually used to boost the 3rd and 4th Panzer division for Typhoon during its attacks on Tula. It penetrated the outskirts of Tula at one point and engaged in house to house fighting. It held the front with 3rd Panzer and 4th panzer. Then it defended against the soviet wintercounteroffensive until Feb. 1942, where it was down to just 30 men, 3 officers. It had suffered 4,070 casualties.

                    An interesting bit is that Guderian's son was an officer in this regiment and Graf von Schwerin (later commander of 116th PzD in the west, then corps commander) was the regiment's commander for a period.
                    Last edited by Cult Icon; 11 Oct 14, 23:55.
                    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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                    • #40
                      I think Grossdeutschland's combat performance was one of the best throughout most of the war. You should read Spaeter's three volume history of the unit. It's one of the best divisional histories I have read.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
                        I think Grossdeutschland's combat performance was one of the best throughout most of the war. You should read Spaeter's three volume history of the unit. It's one of the best divisional histories I have read.
                        Haha, I am doing that right now and I bought vol. 3 over the weekend. I am up to Rzhev 1942. What are the others that you like?

                        How is volume 3?
                        Last edited by Cult Icon; 12 Oct 14, 18:24.
                        Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                        Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                        Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                        Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Volume 3 is excellent and also goes into the histories of the Fuhrer Begleit and Fuhrer Grenadier Brigades/Divisions, the Brandenburg division, and the Kurmark Division. Other unit/battle histories I really like are anything my Jason Mark, especially Death of a Leaping Horseman, Island of Fire, and Into Oblivion, Hubert Meyer's History of the 12th SS, Armored Bears, Panzers in the Sand, History of Panzer Regiment 8, History of the 21st Panzer Division by Kortenhaus, any battle or unit histories by Wilhelm Tieke, Panzerregiment Grossdeutschland by Jung, the Hermann Goring Division by Kurowski, anything by George Nipe and Douglas Nash, history of the 23rd Panzer Division, the five volumes of Das Reich by Weidinger, From Normandy to the Ruhr by Guderian, the history of the 1st Fallschirmjager Division (2 Volumes) by Christensen, The Lions of Carentan, Last Laurels, The Drama Between Budapest and Vienna, Glantz's Stalingrad Trilogy ...and many more......I can read a little German, but not that well. I really need to learn the language, of course then I would be completely broke!!!

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                          • #43
                            Out of your books how was 'Das Reich' series? Does it have a lot of SS puffery?

                            The best one I have read is 'Leaping Horseman'. (5 stars).

                            GD-1 is also really detailed and well done, biases and all (4.5 stars).

                            3rd Panzer I/II is better done than 23rd Panzer, but there are many gaps (3.5 stars)

                            23rd Panzer lacks context but the division's troop movements are adequately presented. (3 stars)

                            Panzer Wedge 1942- 3rd Panzer 1941 is an interesting period piece, and adds bias with interesting color and details. (2.5 stars)




                            Now, I did some research on Panzerkorps GD. So essentially during the chaos of late 1945/early 1945 GD split itself into five weak mechanized formations- essentially 2 panzer division's worth of assets spread out into 5 brigade side units.
                            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Despite being SS books, the Das Reich books are very well written, very tactical, with a lot of personal accounts as well. Of course Weidinger doesn't go into any of the atrocities, except for a long piece trying to make sense (excuses?) for Oradour, yet their isn't any real propaganda type language. The same with H. Meyer's !2th SS book, very detailed and a little dry, yet very professionally written, of course glossing over war crimes, but I sort of expect that. I haven't bought or read the 5 volume Leibstandarte set, because it is rather expensive, so I don't know how those are.

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                              • #45
                                Thanks, nice to hear that. It looks to me that you've practically read them all.

                                I have 12th SS 1 and 2 around.

                                The SSLAH set is odd. Some are being printed at a fair price, others are out of print and being bidded up to the hundreds of dollars.
                                Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                                Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                                Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                                Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                                Comment

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