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Author Topic: 130th "Panzer-Lehr" Division  (Read 8996 times)
Mad Russian
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« on: 13 November 2008, 04:42:44 »
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130th "Panzer-Lehr" Division

Panzer Lehr began forming at Potsdam in 1.10.44 and moved to the Nancy-Verdun area in January of 1944 to complete the process. It was formed from several ?©lite training and demonstration units, otherwise known as Lehr units, hence the name, Panzer-Lehr. Most of the division’s original cadre was drawn from Panzertruppenschule I and Panzertruppenschule II, the Panzerwaffe’s major training units. These training and demonstration units were some of the most experienced and highly trained troops in the Panzerwaffe, with almost all having seen some combat and many having received decorations for bravery. As a result of this, Panzer Lehr was considered an ?©lite unit from the time of its formation.

In early 1944 Panzer Lehr was transferred to Hungary for further training, and absorbed the 901st Infantry Lehr Regiment while there. It then returned to France to await the allied invasion as a part of the German Seventh Army’s armored reserve.

When the Western Allies launched Operation Overlord on June 6, 1944, Panzer Lehr, as a part of the strategic armored reserve, was held back from the fighting during the crucial first days. It was soon released, reached the front, and was committed to battle against the British and Canadians on June 8. It was placed in the front line adjacent to the 12th SS Hitlerjugend Division, where it defended Caen and fought several British offensives to a standstill. The division was involved in the heavy fighting for Hill 112 near Caen.

Like all German armored units engaged in Normandy, Panzer Lehr suffered very heavy losses from Allied air attacks. By the end of June the division's armored component was severely depleted. Despite this, it continued to hold against the British and Commonwealth forces, engaging in heavy fighting near the town of Tilly-sur-Seulles.
During the June fighting around Caen, the division had suffered around 2,500 casualties and lost 102 tanks.

During the month of July the division fought the Americans. Around the town of St. Lô. and near the villages of both Pont-Herbert and Le Desert. Fighting defensively around St. Lô. and counterattacking at both Pont-Herbert and Le Desert. The entire time fighting in the ancient hedgerows known as bocage.

On August 5, after a fighting withdrawal, it was ordered back to Alençon for rest and refitting. A battle group dubbed Kampfgruppe von Hauser was formed from the remaining battle-ready men and tanks, and this unit remained in combat. Later, when Kampfgruppe Hauser pulled back towards Fontainbleu to rest and refit, division commander Bayerlein ordered the rest of the division to follow.

During 24 and 25 July heavy bombers targeted the positions held by Pz.Lehr to pave the way for the ground units attacking within the framework of operation Cobra. The effects of this carpet-bombing have evoked much controversy.

According to the post-war manuscript by Bayerlein the division lost about 950 men 24-25 July, while other units subordinated to the division lost another 1,200 men. He also estimated that about 50 % of the soldiers killed and wounded during those two days were the result of the carpet-bombing. However most of the losses during these two days were probably mainly recorded as missing. During July the Pz.Lehr division lost 347 men killed in action, 1,144 wounded and 1,480 missing. It was explicitly stated that the majority of the missing were incurred due to the carpet-bombings.

Probably most casualties were not men killed or wounded by the bombing, rather they were stunned and taken prisoner when the US ground forces advanced. According to Ritgen, who at the time commanded the Pz.Kpf.Wg. IV battalion, no Pz IV was hit by the bombardment since they had been withdrawn to constitute a reserve31. Also he asserts that only very few Panthers and tank destroyers were destroyed during the bombardment.

Again it seems that carpet-bombings did not kill and wound large numbers of soldiers and neither does the available evidence indicate large-scale destruction of equipment. The important effect was the disruption caused and the effect on the morale of the men subjected to such an air attack. In fact the short bombings on 24 and 25 June caused almost 900 casualties on the US side.33 Probably this was not far from the losses inflicted on the Germans.

Within 7 months of its formation the division was reduced from one of the most powerful divisions fielded during the war to a shattered, combat-ineffective unit with only 20 remaining tanks. After spending a month refitting in the Saar, the division was moved to Paderborn.

In Early November Panzer Lehr was transferred to Hasso von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army, part of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group G in preparation for the planned winter offensive, Operation Wacht am Rhein, commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge. On November 21 the fully rested and refitted Panzer Lehr was ordered out of its assembly area to counterattack the American forces driving towards the Saverne Gap. The counterattack stalled out, and Panzer Lehr was called back out of the line, much reduced in strength and with badly shaken morale.

The time spent refitting Panzer Lehr and several other units which had been committed prematurely meant that the operation had to be delayed. During the run up to the offensive Panzer Lehr was kept in reserve, along with the Führer Begleit Brigade. On December 15, the day before the offensive began, Panzer Lehr was still severely understrength, with only one of its two tank battalions ready for action. In compensation it was reinforced by two tank destroyer battalions and an assault gun brigade. The division's armored reconnaissance battalion was its only organic unit up to full strength.

On December 16, 1944, and Panzer Lehr moved out from the start positions in the center of the German line. The 26th Volksgrenadier Division was to clear the way for the division, but they soon became bogged down and the Panzer Lehr found itself moving forward at a crawl. The situation worsened over the next two days, with the 901st Panzergrenadier Regiment being halted by the Americans along the road to Wiltz, and the 902nd encountering heavy resistance in the town of Hosingen.

On 18 December, the assault got back underway. The horse drawn 26th Volksgrenadier had gotten itself mixed up in Panzer Lehr's column, greatly slowing the advance.

On the 19th the division's panzer regiments ran into a roadblock near Neffe, held by troops of Combat Team Cherry of the US 9th Armored Division. After initial success Panzer Lehr's follow up attack resulted in heavy casualties.

The 26th Volksgrenadier Division had secured the bridge over the Clerf river, opening the way to the road and rail-hub of Bastogne. Panzer Lehr's armored reconnaissance battalion raced ahead, attacking towards Wiltz before rejoining the division on the route to Bastogne. However, the majority of the division's armor had been sent North to Margaret to support 26th Volksgrenadier, so Panzer Lehr could not advance at the speed necessary to take the town before American reinforcements arrived to secure it. By the time the division reached the town, the US 101st Airborne Division had already secured it. Panzer Lehr was then divided, with half the division left to help 26th Volksgrenadier Division capture Bastogne, while the rest of the division, including most of its armor, were to continue on to the Meuse.

Over the next few days the Kampfgruppe helping 26th Volksgrenadier, made up of mostly the 901st Panzergrenadier Regiment, wore itself out in successive attacks on the town of Bastogne. As the remainder of the division sped east it enjoyed some minor successes, including the capture of a large American convoy, but it was brought to a halt by fierce resistance near St. Hubert, and was soon drawn into heavy fighting south of Bastogne. On the 21st, Manteuffel pulled Panzer Lehr out of the fight for Bastogne and grouped it with the 2nd Panzer Division and 116th Panzer Division Windhund for an assault on Dinant and the Meuse.

On the approach to Rochefort, the assaulting unit, 902nd Panzergrenadier Regiment, was met by a wall of fire. Nor was the advance to become any easier thereafter. On December 23, the division fought all day to reduce the town of Rochefort, suffering heavy casualties. The Americans finally withdrew – their only casualties 25 men killed and 15 men wounded, after holding off an elite panzer division for a whole day.

The road finally having been cleared Panzer Lehr resumed its advance to Dinant, only to meet Combat Command A of the US 2nd Armored Division near Buissonville. On Christmas Day 1944, on the plain beside the river Meuse, Manteuffel's three panzer divisions, together with the 9th Panzer Division from XXXXVII Corps, engaged the US VII Corps. The cloud cover had disappeared and allied air power came into play, bringing the panzer divisions to a virtual standstill. Panzer Lehr attempted several attacks, but all were halted by the overwhelming Allied air support.

The Meuse would not be reached; Wacht Am Rhein had failed.

After the failure of the Ardennes offensive, Panzer Lehr was refitted once again, though not to anywhere near the lavish standard of its earlier organizational levels. Many of the veterans were dead, and the Panzer Lehr of early 1945 bore little resemblance to that of June 1944.

The division was moved north, into Holland, where it was engaged fighting 21st Army Group. Panzer Lehr saw very heavy fighting and again sustained heavy losses. When the US 9th Armored Division captured the Rhine bridge at Remagen, Panzer Lehr was sent to crush the bridgehead. The attack was unsuccessful, though the division fought well and inflicted many casualties. The Allies' overwhelming numbers and constant air cover had reduced Panzer Lehr to a weak shadow of its former strength. Engaged in a fighting retreat across northwestern Germany, the division was trapped in the Ruhr Pocket and the remnants of the once powerful division were taken prisoner by the Americans, in April, when the pocket surrendered.


PRIMARY SOURCES:

Normandy Fighting
Panzer Lehr
Feldgrau
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Mad Russian
Guest

« Reply #1 on: 13 November 2008, 04:43:59 »
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Tactical Organization of the 130th "Panzer Lehr" Division at specific times.

1944

Panzergrenadier-Lehr-Regiment 901
Panzergrenadier-Bataillon I
Panzergrenadier-Bataillon II

Panzergrenadier-Lehr-Regiment 902
Panzergrenadier-Bataillon I
Panzergrenadier-Bataillon II

Panzer-Lehr-Regiment 130
I. Abteilung, Pz.Rgt.6
II. Abteilung, Pz.-Lehr-Rgt.130
316.Panzerkompanie (Funklenk)1

Panzer-Artillerie-Lehr-Regiment 130
Panzer-Artillerie-Abteilung I
Panzer-Artillerie-Abteilung II
Panzer-Artillerie-Abteilung III

Panzer-Aufklärungs-Lehr-Abteilung 130
Panzer-Flak-Artillerie-Abteilung 311
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 130
Panzer-Lehr-Pionier-Bataillon 130
Panzer-Nachrichten-Abteilung 130


Note: The 316th Radio Control Panzer Company (316.Panzerkompanie (Funklenk)) was equipped with a mix of Tiger I and Tiger II heavy tanks, plus remote-controlled demolition vehicles which could be operated from the Tigers. There is some dispute as to how many (if any) were actually in service during the Normandy Campaign. (See "BIV Demolition Units" and "Tiger Battalions!" in the references.)


PRIMARY SOURCES:

Fighting In Normandy
Panzer Lehr
Feldgrau
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Mad Russian
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« Reply #2 on: 13 November 2008, 04:45:06 »
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130th "Panzer Lehr" Division War Service

Date Corps Army Army Group Area

1.44 - 3.44 forming - D (OB West) Nancy-Verdun

4.44 XXII Befh. Ungarn - Hungary

5.44 reserve OKW - Paris

6.44 I. SS 7. Armee B Normandy

7.44 LXXXIV 7. Armee B Normandy

8.44* LVIII 5. Pz. Armee B Normandy

9.44 (Kgr.) LXXX 1. Armee G Luxembourg

10.44 - 11.44 refreshing BdE - Sennelager

12.44 Vogesen 1. Armee G Saarpfalz

1.45 XXXXVII 5. Pz. Armee B Ardennes

2.45 reserve 1. Fallsch. Armee H Lower Rhein

3.45 XII. SS 15. Armee B Lower Rhein

4.45 LXXIV 15. Armee B Ruhr pocket


PRIMARY SOURCES:

Feldgrau
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Mad Russian
Guest

« Reply #3 on: 13 November 2008, 04:46:04 »
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Order of Battle 130th Panzer "Lehr" Division at Select Times

June 1944
Panzer Lehr Regiment 130
PzKw IV (75mm Long) - 101
PzKw V - 89
PzKw VIa (Tiger I) - 3
StuG - 9
Flakpz38 - 12


November 1944
Panzer Lehr Regiment 130
PzKw IV (75mm Long) - 34
PzKw V - 38
Flakpz IV (20mm Quad) - 4
Flakpz IV (37mm) - 4


8 December 1944
Panzer Lehr Regiment 130
PzKw IV (75mm Long) - 27
PzKw V - 30
Flakpz IV (20mm Quad) - 3
Flakpz IV (37mm) - 4

replacements in transit:
PzKw IV (75mm Long) - 10
PzKw V - 10


PRIMARY SOURCES:

"Panzer Truppen: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1943-1945" Volume 2 by Thomas L. Jentz
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