Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Assembly of SS-Panzer Regiment 5 “Wiking” at Cholm (1944)

On 19 May 1944, two weeks before the formation of Kampfgruppe Mühlenkamp, SS-Panzer Regiment 5 “Wiking” conducted an Appell (assembly) at its temporary quarters in the old Austro-Hungarian barracks in the Polish town of Cholm (present-day Chełm). Unit photographer Ernst Baumann of the Germania Regiment was present to record this event, offering us an up close and personal window back in time:


 This was the first formal roll-call of the entire regiment since its formation the previous year, including both the I. and II. Abteilungen (battalions). In addition to giving its commander, SS-Standartenführer (SS-Staf.) Johannes Mühlenkamp, an opportunity to see his whole regiment in one place at the same time, it was also an occasion to conduct the official change of command ceremony for I. Abteilung. Here, Mühlenkamp shakes the hand of a soldier from 7. Kompanie, while the outgoing I. Abteilung commander, SS-Sturmbannführer (SS-Stubaf.) Paul Kümmel (wearing glasses), stands to his immediate left. On the far right stands acting regimental Adjutant (operations officer) SS-Hauptsturmführer (SS-Hstuf.) Karl-Heinz Hahn, while to Hahn’s right the commander of 7. Kompanie, Knight’s Cross winner SS-Obersturmführer (SS-Ostuf.) Otto Schneider observes the proceedings. Film Nr. 148-11


While Mühlenkamp shakes the hand of an unnamed 7. Kompanie SS-Hauptscharführer (master sergeant), SS-Ostuf. Wolfgang von Thermann, the regimental O1 or aide-de-camp (on the left) looks on, along with SS-Stubaf. Kümmel. On the right stands the Ko mpanie Spiess (acting first sergeant), identifiable by the twin silver braids on his lower sleeve. The regiment had been posted to Cholm since the end of April 1944 and was in the midst of a general rest and reconstitution period, focusing its efforts on incorporating replacements, training new crews, repairing its tanks and preparing for the upcoming summer’s operations. A Panzer IV from I. Abteilung can be seen in the background on the left. Film Nr. 148-20



 What's interesting to see in these photos is how in May 1944 the ranks of the enlisted men are getting younger and younger. Look at the faces of these teenagers who are the crew members for the Panther tanks fighting the Russians

By the spring of 1944, “Hannes” Mühlenkamp had been a member of “Wiking” Division for over two years, since being assigned to command SS-Panzer Bataillon 5, the regiment’s immediate predecessor, in February 1942. Originally a member of the SS-Division “Das Reich,” Mühlenkamp had commanded that division’s Aufklärungs (reconnaissance) Abteilung for over a year before volunteering to command the first tank battalion created for the Waffen-SS. After active field service in the Soviet Union from June 1942 until February 1943, he was selected to command the new tank regiment to be formed for “Wiking” at the Altenneuhaus Training Area in Germany. Finally, after over a year of activation and training, the regiment and its new Panther-equipped II. Abteilung were committed to battle during the relief of the encircled city of Kovel in March 1944. Wounded in action five times before this photograph was taken, he wears the Ritterkreuz (Knights Cross) awarded on 4 September 1942 for his leadership during the division’s drive to the Caucasus that summer. Film Nr. 148-14


SS-Sturmbannführer Paul Kümmel,Bataillons Kommandeur, III.(gep.)/SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 9 “Germania” , began his military career in the Reichswehr, followed by brief service in the police. He joined the SS on 1 February 1932 as an enlisted man, initially serving in the machine gun company of the SS-Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler, but by 20 April 1936 he had been promoted to the rank of SS-Untersturmführer after attending the officer candidate school in Braunschweig. From 1936 to 1940, he served in a variety of SS assignments, ranging from positions in the SS Main Office in Berlin to junior leader positions in several regiments of the Allgemeine SS. On 19 March 1940, he transferred to the Waffen-SS, where he initially served as an SS-Hauptsturmführer in the 16. SS-Totenkopf Standarte. He served for a year as a battalion commander in Russia with the 8. SS-Totenkopf Standarte, followed by duty with the SS-Infanterie Regiment 10 (mot.), both elements of the 1.SS-Infanterie-Brigade, a unit primarily engaged in anti-partisan operations in the rear area of Army Group Center. By May 1943, he was training as a tank officer at the SS-Panzer Ersatz Regiment in Bitsch, and was assigned to 5. SS-Pz.Gren. “Wiking” on 13 August 1943, where he served for two months as acting commander of SS-Pz.Abt. 5 to gain practical experience. In November 1943, he was posted back to the school in Bitsch to complete his training. Finally, at the end of February 1944 he was once again reassigned to “Wiking,” where he briefly commanded I.Abt./SS-Panzer Regiment 5 Wiking after its breakout from the Cherkassy Pocket. Upon the promotion of SS-Stubaf. Franz Hack to regimental commander, Kümmel was transferred to command III.(gep.)/SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 9 “Germania” on 20 May 1944, which he led throughout the summer of 1944 until his 10 August 1944 transfer to the west. From the Fall of 1944, he commanded III.(gep.)/SS-Pz.Gren.Rgt. 20 of the 9. SS-Panzer Regiment “Hohenstaufen” until the end of the war. He died in Bad Windsheim on 27 December 1982. Film Nr. 148-17


Source:
Captions by Remy Spezzano
"Kampfgruppe Mühlenkamp" by Douglas Nash and Remy Spezzano
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156646977396795&set=pcb.453865678749963&type=3&theater&ifg=1

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Panther '534' of Division Wiking in Poland

Having pushed to the row of farmhouses, Panzerkampfwagen V Panther '534' is now positioned to the right side of SS-Untersturmführer Gerhard Mahn's SPW (Schützenpanzerwagen). The tank commander transverse the turret as he looks for target. The 7.5 cm Kampfwagen Kanone 42/L70 could fire both high explosive and armored piercing ammunition; the amount of each type of shell carried was dependent upon the mission. In addition to the main gun, each Panther was armed with two MG-34 machine guns, with a total of 4,200 rounds of ammunition carried aboard the vehicle. The picture was taken by SS-Kriegsberichter Ernst Baumann at Nurzec-Stacja, northeastern Poland, on 22 July 1944.


Source :
Book "Kampfgruppe Mühlenkamp: 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking, Eastern Poland, July 1944" by Douglas E. Nash and Remy Spezzano 

Wiking Panther and Halftrack during Attack

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther '534' of SS-Panzer-Regiment 5 / 5.SS-Panzer-Division "Wiking" moves ahead into the farmyard. Contact is imminent, as shown by the tank commander taking cover inside his cupola. SS-Untersturmführer Gerhard Mahn (left, Chef 11.Kompanie / III.Bataillon / SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 9 "Germania" / 5.SS-Panzer-Division "Wiking") and his men continue to keep their heads down in case any Soviet infantry are encountered. Hanging inside the vehicle to the right of the Grenadier are three essential pieces of field equipment familiar to every German soldier: a Brotbeutel (bread bag), Essgeschirr (mess kit), and Feldflasche (canteen). The picture was taken by SS-Kriegsberichter Ernst Baumann at Nurzec-Stacja, northeastern Poland, on 22 July 1944.


Source :
Book "Kampfgruppe Mühlenkamp: 5. SS-Panzer-Division Wiking, Eastern Poland, July 1944" by Douglas E. Nash and Remy Spezzano 

Friday, February 15, 2019

The Surrender of 11. Panzer-Division

The surrender of 11. Panzer-Division "Gespensterdivision" at Koetzting, Czechoslovakia, May 1945: A Panzerjäger man turns in a sternantenne as others mill about a pair of Sd.Kfz.251s. Inside the building is a collection of gas mask canisters, while outside a small pile of rifles, ammunition and the ubiquitous Panzerfaust is forming. In all, some 9,050 German military personnel were counted as surrendering. Of these, 225 were officers, 1,713 non-commissioned officers, and 4,834 soldiers of the 11th Panzer Division. The rest were stragglers who came from a variety of different units. In terms of vehicles, some 155 motorcycles, 300 sedans, and 700 trucks were turned over to the Americans, but only seven tanks, 15 self-propelled guns, and five tank destroyers. The weapons count was also relatively low, with only six 150mm infantry howitzers and five 105mm howitzers being turned in.


Source :
"Panzerwrecks" magazine Nr.3
https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/wwii/the-german-11th-panzer-division-giving-up-the-ghost/

Thursday, February 14, 2019

German and Russian Forces at Brest-Litovsk

Hauptmann Ottens (Chef 5. Kompanie / Panzer-Regiment 8 / 10. Panzer-Division), who wears a black uniform Panzertruppen, talks intently with a Soviet tank officer at the Bug who was in the Brest-Litovsk area on September 18, 1939 when the Germans and Russian troops met. In the 1930s, there had been a certain level of technical cooperation between the German Reich and the Soviet Union; apparently the Germans were aware of all Soviet current tank types and were satisfied that the quality of their tanks seemed far superior. In return Hitler had ordered that the Soviet delegates were to be allowed unrestricted access to German tanks and the Luftwaffe. It is reported that the Soviet military protested during inspections at German armaments factories that they were not allowed to see everything. The Germans were surprised to receive these complaints and could not understand the distrustful attitude. The reason behind it was that the Soviets were not honest about their own tank developments and had expected the Germans to act in a similar way. By 1941 the era of this mutual cooperation had ended, and the longplanned Operation Barbarossa was ready to be launched.


Source :
"Panther" by Thomas Anderson
http://alifrafikkhan.blogspot.com/2011/10/album-foto-operasi-fall-wei-invasi.html

German Soldiers Inspecting Damaged Soviet Tank

Wehrmacht soldiers inspecting the damaged Soviet T-26 tank during Unternehmen Barbarossa (German invasion of Soviet Union). In 1941, the T-26 infantry tank was numerically the most important in service with the Red Army. The type was developed from the the British-built Vickers 6-Ton light tank, and the Soviets produced some 11,000 in variants. But by 1940 the T-26 was obsolete.


Source :
"Panther" by Thomas Anderson

Towing the Damaged Panzer IV

All Panzerkampfwagen IV A to D mounted the shortbarrelled 7.5cm KwK L/24. The PzKpfw IV Ausf F (later F1) mounted a 7.5cm KwK L/43, but neither gun was powerful enough (except at close range) to defeat the more modern Soviet tanks entering combat. Here pioneers load a damaged Ausf D on a Sonderanhänger (SdAnh) 116, the standard lowloading recovery trailer used by all tank units.


Source :
"Panther" by Thomas Anderson

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Panther Falls Into a Pit

A Panzerkampfwagen V Panther Ausf.G (turmnummer 415) of 1.Zug / 4.Kompanie / I.Abteilung / Panzer-Regiment 1 / 1.Panzer-Division having a problem after falls into a pit as a bridge under it collapses, summer/autumn of 1944. The rope or cable they are putting on the barrel will be used to rotate the turret 90 degrees away from the camera. A Bergepanther or FAMO with a winch. or another tank, could pull the rear of the Panther away from the embankment. As the rear is moved away from the wall the front will either slid down the face or roll down if someone is in the driver's seat to release the clutch. The engine would have to be checked to make sure oil has not filled the rear cylinders of the engine, if there is fluid in the chamber it will not compress like air/fuel and damage the engine. Otherwise the Panther should be good to go, now the driver's concussion might keep him from driving for awhile.


Source :
https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/missinglynx/hi-res-photograph-of-panther-and-wooden-bridge-t317508-s10.html

Friday, February 8, 2019

Tiger of SS Totenkopf Arrived at Kharkov

A newly-arrived Tiger of SS-Panzergrenadier-Division "Totenkopf" required for the upcoming offensive at Kursk. This is the Tiger of SS-Untersturmführer Walter Köhler (Chef 9.Kompanie [schwere] / SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 "Totenkopf"). The photo is taken after its arrival in Budy southwest of Kharkov in May 1943. The tank still needs markings and camouflage paint; it would become Tiger Nr.911. Köhler himself was killed in action in Tiger 911 near Kljutschi at the south bank of the Psel River during the Battle of Kursk on July 12 1943.


Source :
http://stabswache-de-euros.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2018-12-23T17:31:00%2B01:00&max-results=1

Ritterkreuz Award Ceremony for Panzer Ace Michael Wittmann

On 14 January 1944, panzer ace Michael Wittmann was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross) along with his gunner, Bobby Woll, for their achievements which have so far destroyed 88 enemy tanks. The presentation was made at Vinnitsa, Ukraine, by his divisional commander SS-Oberführer Theodor "Teddy" Wisch, who also nominated him for the Eichenlaub to his Ritterkreuz. This picture shows Wittmann with his crew, from left to right. SS-Panzerschütze Werner Irrgang (Funker), SS-Rottenführer Bobby Woll (Richtschütze), SS-Untersturmführer Michael Wittmann (Zugführer in 13.Kompanie (schwere) / IV.Abteilung / SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 / 1.SS-Panzer-Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler"), SS- Panzerschütze Sepp Rößner (Ladeschütze), and SS-Sturmmann Eugen Schmidt (Fahrer). Behind them is Wittmann's Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger I Ausf.F "S04", with 88 victory rings on its barrel. Actually the Ritterkreuz recommendation sent by Divisionskommandeur Wisch to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) on 10 January 1944 "only" included Wittmann's winnings as 66 tanks, but something incredible happens: in the four day span between the submission of the proposal to the official approval notification, this tank master went berserk and destroyed no fewer than 22 additional tanks to hoist his winning score to a total 88!












Source :
https://ww2images.blogspot.com/2019/02/ritterkreuz-award-ceremony-for-michael.html

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Panzer IV of SS Panzer Regiment "Hitlerjugend"

An excellent close-up of a Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf.H (turmnummer 615) from 6.Kompanie / II.Abteilung / SS-Panzer Regiment 12 / 12.SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend" with schürzen (side skirt) and zimmerit (anti-magnetic mine paste), on exercises under the supervision of army officers in Belgium in the end of 1943. Several vehicles from 6./SS-PzRgt. 12 feature the names of the crew's sweethearts painted on the tanks: here we have 'Wilma' painted on the commander's Cupola and 'Paula' painted on the driver's visor (along with a heart?). The commander and loader are wearing Kriegsmarine U-Boat leather jackets, which were an item particular to the Hitlerjugend and LSSAH Divisions. These uniforms were initially given to the Italian Navy, but were reclaimed by the LSSAH when they went to Italy to disarm part of the Italian Army in 1943. Alongside these leather uniforms were found large stocks of Italian camouflage material, which were soon made into clothing for the two divisions. Note, the radio operator appears to be wearing a feldgrau M40 side cap rather than the standard black Panzer cap (as worn by the loader). The commander wears an M43 camouflage field cap affixed with a non-regulation metal totenkopf. The picture was taken by Kriegsberichter Kurth from PK (Propaganda-Kompanie) 698.


Source :
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-297-1722-27,_Im_Westen,_Panzer_IV.jpg
http://ww2incolour.blogspot.com/2011/07/panzer-iv-of-hitlerjugend-division.html

Panther Crewmen of SS Panzer Regiment "Hitlerjugend"

Panther crewmen from the 4.Kompanie / I.Abteilung / SS-Panzer-Regiment 12 / 12.SS-Panzer-Division "Hitlerjugend" in Normandy, summer of 1944. Note the variegated nature of the uniforms worn. A black cloth blouse surrounded by green sailcloth. The two men on the left are SS-Sturmmann Eberhard Wenzl and Heinz Rohrbach, the two on the right are Gerhard Mahlke and Probst, nicknamed the “crow” (Rabe).


Source :
"The Panzers and the Battle of Normandy" by Heimdal

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Camo Foliage of German Armored Vehicle

The ability to properly camouflage vehicles became increasingly important as the war continued and the Western Allies and the Soviet Union first gained air dominance, followed by air supremacy, especially on the Western Front. It was doubly important for the armored scout, since his mission was to see and hear and not to be seen or heard. While relatively easy to hide positions for individuals, the task for armored vehicles, particularly heavy armored cars with relatively high silhouettes such as this one, was exponentially more difficult. During the wintertime, when deciduous trees lost their foliage, the task was made even harder.


Source :
"Scouts Out: A History of German Armored Reconnaissance Units in World War II" by Robert Edwards

German Aufklärer Tested by Two NCOs

In order to be effective, the training had to be practical. Here an armored scout is tested by two noncommissioned officers next to a heavy armored car. Judging by the decorations on the front NCO, it must be later in the war, since he has both a Wound Badge and an Iron Cross, First Class. Although frontline units were reluctant to let personnel go, there was a huge demand for combat-experienced leaders on the home front in order to provide the best training possible, and it was not uncommon to see leaders detached for such duties for periods of time.


Source :
"Scouts Out: A History of German Armored Reconnaissance Units in World War II" by Robert Edwards

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Panzers on the Russian Steppe

A pair of Panzerkampfwagen IIIs (probably Ausf.Js) flank a Pz.Kpfw.IV Ausf.G or H. as seen through the view port of an accompanying AFV. All of these panzers have turret and hull “Schurzen” armor skirts, which were designed to protect their thinner sides from Soviet anti-tank rifle fire. Note the tactical number, "560" on the turret Schurzen of the Pz.Kpfw.lll at left, and what may be a periscope projecting from the roof of the Pz.Kpfw.lIl at right. If this is so, the panzer is probably a Beobachtungspanzerwagen (armored artillery observation vehicle).


Source :
Book "Panzer Vor: German Armor At War 1939-45" by Frank V. De Sisto

A Column of Panzer III

A column of Panzerkampfwagen IIIs is led by a pair of Ausf.Js or Ls. At a distance, and without the benefit of viewing certain features, or knowing the chassis numbers, it is nearly impossible to accurately determine which of these two models are being viewed. There were Ausf.Js built with the short 5cm KwK38 L/42, which were then retrofitted with the L/60 version of the gun; some were originally built with the L/60 gun. Furthermore, early Ausf.Ls had the hull side escape hatch; later production models did not. This could blur the distinction between the two models. If they could be viewed, the engine deck vent cowls could easily differentiate an Ausf.J from an Ausf.L. On the Ausf.J they ran side-to-side, while on the Ausf.L they ran fore-to-aft.


Source :
Book "Panzer Vor: German Armor At War 1939-45" by Frank V. De Sisto

Panzer III of 13. Panzer-Division in the Kuban Area

Maykop, Kuban, August 1942: This Panzerkampfwagen III (Ausf.J or L) of 13. Panzer-Division stands ready for action, with its long L/60 main gun at the 12 o'clock position. Note the escape hatch on the side of the hull; there was one on each side, primarily for the use of the driver and the radio operator in emergencies. Later Ausf.Ls dispensed with this feature entirely. This panzer is also fitted with the spaced-armor panels.


Source :
Book "Panzer Vor: German Armor At War 1939-45" by Frank V. De Sisto

Ritterkreuzträger Georg Grüner

Georg Grüner joined as a cadet in the Panzer Regiment 1 in 1936. On 1 September 1938 he was promoted to Leutnant and Zugführer in Panzer-Abteilung 33. With this unit he participated in the Polish campaign. Then he came in the 1st Company of the Panzer-Regiment 33, with whom he joined the Western campaign. From June 1941 he fought in Russia, where he was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold on 18 October 1941. For his outstanding work as a platoon leader in the Kursk area, he was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 25 November 1941 as Chief of the 1st Company. Subsequently, he was promoted to Hauptmann and a short time later seriously wounded in the battlefield. After his recovery, he was given the job as the commander of I.Abteilung / Panzer-Regiment 2 in March 1943, which was repositioned in France after its destruction in Stalingrad. Subsequently, it was used in Italy. At the end of November 1943, the regiment came to the eastern front. In forming a bridgehead over the Gornyi-Tikitsch at Cherkassy in February 1944, he was particularly distinguished. On 11 March 1944, he died in these operations. Posthumously he was awarded the Eichenlaub to his Ritterkreuz on 26 March 1944, and promoted to Major.


Source :
https://ritterkreuztraeger.blogspot.com/2019/01/georg-gruner-in-hoffmann-postcard.html

Friday, January 18, 2019

Panzer IIIs Relax on the Russian Steppes

A company-sized detachment of Panzerkampfwagen IIIs (Ausf.J or L) relax on the steppes of the Soviet Union. Some, such as the second panzer from the left, have applique spaced-armor arrays (although it only has the frame for the array on the mantle), while others do not.


Source :
Book "Panzer Vor: German Armor At War 1939-45" by Frank V. De Sisto

Panzer III at Terek River Front

German forces from Heeresgruppe Süd operating at Terek River, Caucasus, Soviet Union, September-November 1942. This Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf.J or L has the frame for additional spaced armor on the mantle, but the armor itself has not been fitted, due to production shortfalls. That on the superstructure front has been fitted. This particular panzer is unique in that it has what appear to be either S-mine or smoke dischargers mounted on each fender, just behind the mud flaps. There also seems to be a third discharger mounted just forward of the rod antenna.


Source :
Book "Panzer Vor: German Armor At War 1939-45" by Frank V. De Sisto
https://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-second-world-war-terek-river-front-caucasus-september-november-1942-37029502.html