There was no single characteristic that made Balck such an outstanding combat leader. If that constitutes them as the best british division of WW2… About face. In December 1942 Hermann Balck wiped out a force ten times his size in the most brilliantly fought divisional battle in modern military history. On November 19 the Soviets launched Operation Uranus: the Fifth Tank Army crossed the Don River from the north and cut off the great bend sector, advancing as far as the north bank of the Chir and the west bank of the Don above the Chir. Balck’s tanks slipped into the rear of the Soviet column in the darkness “as if on parade,” he wrote in his memoirs. Its only significant combat power was the 11th Panzer Division, which only days before had been operating near Roslavl in Belorussia, some four hundred miles to the northwest. It seems to me that in many cases elite is given to divisions that were strongly equiped. Balck’s panzers then turned to meet a column of twenty-three Soviet tanks approaching in the second echelon. In my opinion the situation was so dismal that it could only be mastered through audacity—in other words, by attacking. When I arrived on the scene the situation had already been consolidated somewhat. The Fifth Tank Army had been virtually destroyed. At dawn I once again positioned myself at the decisive point. 4. fschj, 90 leichte, 1. 90. pzg, 5. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines. by Ron Klages & John Mulholland The following accounting of German divisions by month from September 1939 to May 1945 by front was compiled from the works of Georg Tessin in his epic accounting of the Wehrmacht and Waffen SS titled: Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS 1939-1945. Describing one of his earliest actions with the 11th Panzer Division, Balck wrote: I did not issue a written order, but oriented my commanders with the help of a detailed war game and extensive terrain walks. Whether you are buying or selling you will get the best service and prices here. Balck described his command style in his memoirs: My brilliant chief of staff, Major Kienitz, remained in a fixed position somewhat to the rear of the fighting, maintaining contact with God and me and all the world by radio. Locating two divisional command posts together violated German tactical doctrine and risked presenting the enemy with a very lucrative target. Before the Soviets knew what was happening, the panzers opened fire and rolled up the entire column, destroying every one of the enemy tanks. This will always be a subjective subject and most of the evaluations are based on post-war rememberances and not on what the wartime records say. The new Soviet attack was supported by more Fifth Tank Army strikes against XLVIII Panzer Corps. In the fall of 1944 Balck went to the western front, commanding Army Group G against Lt. Gen. George S. Patton Jr. in the Lorraine campaign. [The German defenders’] only hope lay with a single tired and depleted division that was coming up in driblets. I forgot what they were called, but I wish I can find more of them... Schweppenberg's statements were made after the war for the U.S. Foreign Military Studies. When the attack came, Balck and his key commanders were making a ground reconnaissance in preparation for the planned advance. The left side was held by the next-to-worthless Luftwaffe 7th Field Division, a unit of relatively well-equipped but untrained airmen serving as infantry. But before the two German units could link up, the Soviet Fifth Tank Army under the command of Gen. P. L. Romanenko crossed the Chir River, a tributary of the Don, and drove deep into German lines. Like Rommel, Balck was never a German general staff officer. In the bright moonlit night the Russians had attacked at the boundary between the two Panzergrenadier regiments. Balck, however, realized that in the coming fight, instantaneous coordination between the two divisions would be vital, and with the primitive and unreliable communications systems of the day, this was the only way to do it. Most of the Infanterie divisions are overlooked in favor of the panzers, yet these "boring" units were the ones who probably fought longer and harder than many of their most famous compatriots. Simultaneously, he moved his three maneuver regiments into their attack positions. His 110th and 111th Panzergrenadier Regiments were still moving forward from the railheads at Millerovo and could not arrive before the end of the day. With his entire division still strung out along the route of march from the Chir, Balck deployed his units in a circle around Tatsinskaya as they started to arrive. Get the best deals on Original WW II German Personal & Field Gear when you shop the largest online selection at eBay.com. Panzer-Division 3. 11. 3. Ground down by months of constant combat, only scattered remnants of the unit remained intact. His request was granted and, though still only a colonel, Balck was assigned to command the 11th Panzer Division. Tanks, infantry, and artillery march through the winter night with burning headlights. 72. inf, 1.skij, 12. panzer, 16pzg/116 panzer, 3. It was down to only eight operational tanks. 18. In the late 1970s, however, he finally started talking when he and Mellenthin participated in a number of symposiums with senior American generals at the U.S. Army War College. I just said, “See what you get by bringing attention to yourself?” We didn’t change our plan and we worked together in magnificent harmony from that point on, but we never again submitted anything in writing. The German command system in World War II emphasized face-to-face leadership, rather than the detailed and ponderous written orders so beloved by American commanders. This article originally appeared in the April/May 2008 issue of World War II magazine. Balck had pulled off a modern-day Cannae, and from that point on the 11th Panzer Division was known by the code name “Hannibal.”. by genstab » 19 Jan 2014, 18:48, Post 3. What they found was far worse than what they had expected. 3. $113.49. No change in plans. I was mobile, at the focus of the action. At the start of World War II, Balck commanded the lead infantry regiment that spearheaded the crossing of the Meuse River by Guderian’s panzers in May 1940. by krichter33 » 25 Feb 2014, 03:07, Post He was wounded seven times and in October 1918 was recommended for the Pour le Mérite, but the war ended before the award was fully processed. It was obvious to Balck that the Soviets’ next move would be an attempt to roll up the 336th Infantry Division. Muzzle velocity 550-1,130 m/s (1,804-3,707 ft/s), 3000 yards range.-7.5 cm Pak 40: German standard WW2 AT Gun, more than 20,000 built until 1945. The 110th broken through, the 111th overrun. To prevent that, he screened the division’s left flank with his own engineer, antitank, and antiaircraft battalions. Being a keen amateur and not an expert I would have thought it would be very difficult to sustain an elite(strong in all elements of warfare)unit of any size for a lengthy period of time. The Main Causes of The Superior Fighting Power of The Wehrmacht by krichter33 » 05 Mar 2014, 07:37, Post Balck concluded: The situation was desperate. Balck continually moved his units at night and attacked during the day, employing speed, surprise, and shock action. But arriving with its lead elements was the division commander, Hermann Balck, who was about to execute one of the most brilliant performances of battlefield generalship in modern military history. For the next three days Balck and his division fought a series of running battles, eliminating bridgeheads across the Chir as soon as the Soviets established them. Panzer General Gustav Fehn commanded the 5th Panzer Division and then the XXXth Panzer Corps as well as the XXIVth Panzer Corps. 4. If any changes were necessary, I drove out during the night and visited each regiment again. It was mobilised for World War II on September 26, 1939, disbanded on September 10, 1944, near Radom and reformed as the 26th Volksgrenadier Division on September 17, 1944, near Poznań by absorption of the new 582nd Volksgrenadier Division of the 32nd mobilisation wave. With his Panzergrenadier regiments not yet in position, Balck had little choice but to commit his units piecemeal. Then I drove back to my command post and telephoned Colonel Mellenthin, the chief of staff at XLVIII Panzer Corps. Along the 37-mile sector where the Chir ran mostly north to south before turning east and flowing into the Don, the Romanians had the flimsiest of defensive lines, with only a single 150mm howitzer for fire support. Any attempts at defense would mean our destruction. Nov 22, 2019 - Explore Gary L's board "German Generals of WW2" on Pinterest. If you are looking to sell your collection you will be sure to get the fairest price anywhere for it. 21. Describing one of his earliest actions with the 11th Panzer Division, Balck wrote: Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, Confederate General. Balck and his advance party arrived on the scene on December 6. The 26th Infantry Division was a pre-World War II German Infantry Division of the 1st mobilisation wave. While Rommel ran hot and cold, Balck had a rock-solid consistency that emanated from his steely intellectual and psychological toughness. As the division loaded on railcars, Balck and von Kienitz drove ahead to assess the situation firsthand. But Balck, leading from the front, reacting instantly to each enemy thrust, repeatedly parried, surprised, and wiped out superior Soviet detachments. Nonetheless, he was known widely for his dry, almost British sense of humor and consistently cheerful demeanor. by Ifor » 24 Feb 2014, 19:52, Post Excellent post! by Jeff Leach » 24 Feb 2014, 19:38, Post Instead, he held onto the money until the fall of 1944, when the 11th Panzer Division was again under his command as part of Army Group G. He then used all of the money “to cover the costs of a pleasant evening” with all of the members of the division who had fought with him in Russia. Infanteriedivision) was a German Army infantry division in World War II. Comparing panzer divisions on the offense with a defensive infanterie division doesn't make any sense. This book was written from a March 1945 intelligence document that was published by the military intelligence division of the war department of the United States. 5. gbj, 1. The designing of a medium tank to replace both the Panzer III and IV began in 1938. 10. Why is that you ask...? Our chief weapon is surprise; surprise and fear; fear and surprise. Balck did not have the combat power to eliminate the Soviets. 28. jager, 1. For example, in August 1916 the German OHL produced a table of the combat worthiness of Divisions. But the following day elements of the Fifth Tank Army crossed the Chir at multiple points, driving deep behind the left flank of the 336th Infantry Division. As he was saying something to Balck, Webski collapsed in midsentence—with a fatal shrapnel wound to his left temple. by krichter33 » 06 Mar 2014, 07:48, Return to “German Strategy & General German Military Discussion”. Fallschirmjäger-Division) was an elite German military parachute-landing division that fought during World War II.A division of paratroopers was termed a Fallschirmjäger Division. ‘Take them by surprise. That was the first time Balck and Mellinthin worked together, starting a successful partnership that would last for most of the war. 2. With only twenty operational tanks and one understrength infantry battalion, Balck moved toward Skassyrskaya to block the oncoming Soviets. Generally I visited each regiment several times a day. by Jeff Leach » 25 Feb 2014, 11:17, Post by krichter33 » 26 Feb 2014, 03:11, Post Gen. Erich von Manstein, the commander of Army Group Don, planned to break the siege with a dagger thrust to the Volga River from the southwest by the Fourth Panzer Army, supported by the XLVIII Panzer Corps to its immediate north attacking across the Don River. Our experts can answer any questions you may have on an of our items. In World War II, both German and American artillery fire direction was normally done at the battalion level. Hermann Balck was the sum of thousands of small factors that were deeply engrained in him by the system under which he grew up. The average loss rate of a U.S. infantry regiment in World War II was 100 percent after three months of uninterrupted combat missions. For this and other achievements Balck would be one of only twenty-seven officers in the entire war—Erwin Rommel was another—to receive the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds, the equivalent of an American receiving two, or even three, Medals of Honor. There are five Divisions you can choose from in CoD WW2: Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mountain, and Expeditionary. Panzer-Division 4. Balck always declined, saying he preferred to remain a line officer. He later wrote in his memoirs: In my position as Inspector of Mobile Troops I could only maintain my authority through fresh experience at the front. $23.90 shipping. We needed to crush the westernmost enemy column first in order to gain some swing space. 9 bids. There were several crack German divisions- Grossdeutschland and Panzer Lehr for example. Balck, however, ran afoul of German Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler and was unceremoniously fired by Hitler in late December. The real reason was that I had had enough of the High Command. Balck closed the ring around the XXIV Tank Corps, but his division had been moving and fighting too long and too hard. Describing this period, Balck wrote in his memoirs: Each day was like the next. Within a month he had the division back on its feet, though it was still short of authorized vehicles by 40 percent. Discussions on High Command, strategy and the Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) in general. To close the gap between the regiments I organized a counterattack with [the motorcycle company of the Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion] and some tanks. Only Balck’s 15th Panzer Regiment was in position. Balck pushed the principle to the extreme, forbidding any written orders at all. Hitler ordered Morozovskaya held at all costs. I wonder what other studies discuss such opinions from other commanders. 20. GERMAN ARMY WW2 ORDER OF BATTLE. Get your order fast and stress free with free curbside pickup. This was mainly because he wasn’t only a good commander, but also a fantastic human being. The Germans’ Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian allies proved to be weak reeds, especially when the weather in Russia turned cold. But Balck champed at the bit to get back into combat. By the end of November 1942 the German position in south Russia had deteriorated significantly. Founded in 1999. So, let’s get started, the Allied Grand Strategy in World War II was “Germany First” and it worked out, so let’s begin with a German Infantry Division from 1940. On the night of December 1, the 11th Panzer Division was alerted to move south from Roslavl to shore up the collapsing sector of the Romanian Third Army. Announcing that he was going to take the hill with or without them, he started moving forward. 11. That in turn sealed the fate of the German Sixth Army in Stalingrad—which finally fell on February 2, 1943. He got it back, carefully graded. Troops of the Third Reich fought all over Europe, North Africa, the Atlantic Ocean and the Middle East during the Second World War. There is no division that performed well consistently for the entire duration of the war. Then repeat the process the next day some 10 or 20 kilometers farther west or east. The only thing standing in front of them was a thin defensive screen of scratch units. Best division in WW2. But tactical victory did not translate to operational success for the Germans, who were being pushed farther and farther back from the Don. This is mostly overlooked issue when discussing the Fallschirmjager and the Waffen-SS, and it may explain the less than stellar performance of German vanilla infantry, most glaring an issue in Barbarossa, but already showing signs during Fall Gelb. By the end of the day the 15th Panzer Regiment had destroyed another Soviet corps and its sixty-five tanks without suffering a single loss. Still strung out along the line of march and arriving little by little, the 11th Division faced what amounted to mission impossible. He never lost his nerve and he almost never made a tactical mistake. Hundreds of dead Russians lay in and around our positions. The new Soviet thrust, Operation Saturn, threatened to drive to Rostov at the mouth of the Don on the Azov Sea. After securing the town with brief but heavy fighting on December 24, he moved on to Tatsinskaya, which put him in the Soviet rear. Post The initial mission of the 11th Panzer Division was to form the reserve of the XLVIII Panzer Corps’ advance on Stalingrad. Only then would it be possible to suggest particular divisions that proved themselves to be effective over longer periods, and through different types of actions, than other divisions......... Another facet is a problem that reared its ugly head with the Stosstruppen in WWI. Unfortunately, my very competent chief of staff, Major von Kienitz, brought everything together in the form of an operations order and submitted it to corps. In any specific situation Balck almost always did what would have been expected of a typical well-trained and experienced German senior officer—and he always did it consistently and unwaveringly, time after time. Balck’s father, William Balck, was one of the German army’s foremost tactical writers in the years prior to World War I, and as a division commander in that war won the Pour le Mérite, Germany’s highest military order (popularly but somewhat irreverently called the “Blue Max”). The 1st Parachute Division (German: 1. On his last day in command his division destroyed its thousandth tank since his arrival. We would just have to hope—against reason—that the hodge-podge of troops covering Morosovskaya would hold for a day. As Balck analyzed the flow of orders from the corps, he realized that if the new threat was significant enough to derail the corps’ advance toward Stalingrad, then simply pushing the Soviet tanks back across the river—as he was now being instructed to do—was far too timid a course of action. TANK DIVISIONS (Panzer-Divisionen) 1. According to modern British doctrine fighting power is made up of physical. Owing to Allied deception measures, some German armored units failed to engage the Anglo-Americans until after D-Day. 9. Well, that other thread was locked so here it is direct from Field Marshal Harold Alexander, Army Group commander in Italy. When Balck commanded the Fourth Panzer Army in August 1944, his counterattack brought the Soviet offensive in the great bend of the Vistula River to a halt. I have always been a soldier, not a clerk, and I didn’t want to be one in time of war. When the commander of the Soviet XXIV Tank Corps learned that German tanks were in his rear and his line of communications had been cut, he ordered all his units to consolidate around his position at Hill 175. by krichter33 » 06 Mar 2014, 02:56, Post Balck’s 15th Panzer Regiment was down to about twenty-five operational tanks when it came upon the rear of a march column of forty-two tanks from the Soviet Motor Mechanized Corps at Nizhna Kalinovski. by BDV » 27 Feb 2014, 02:07, Post The second most produced tank during WWII. Are there any other such subjective assessments out there??? Crush them. DESCRIPTION. 47th, 6th, 20th, 50th, 18th, 1st Can, 2nd Can as 'Good' If successful, it would cut off Army Group Don from the rear and seal off all of Field Marshal Ewald von Kleist’s Army Group A in the Caucasus. The next step would be to study the ENTIRE unit history of the division. The odds he faced were scarcely short of incredible: the Soviets commanded a local superiority of 7:1 in tanks, 11:1 in infantry, and 20:1 in a local superiority of 7:1 in tanks, 11:1 in infantry, and 20:1 in artillery. Another Soviet corps had been wiped out at the hands of Balck’s understrength division. He later returned to Russia to command the XLVIII Panzer Corps, where Mellenthin was still the chief of staff. Balck pushed the principle to the extreme, forbidding any written orders at all. Marcus is right it will be difficult to arrive at a concensus, this discussion will just end up as one persons opinion against anothers. by Marcus » 23 Feb 2014, 11:52, Post He was always one step ahead of his enemy, even in the relatively few situations when he was initially taken by surprise. He was shot after being captured by Yugoslavian partisans in 1945. After the war Balck supported his family by working as a manual laborer in a supply depot. Of the 154 divisions deployed against Soviet Union in 1941, including reserves, there were 100 infantry, 19 panzer, 11 motorised, 9 security, 5 Waffen-SS, 4 "light", 4 mountain, 1 SS police, and 1 cavalry. Upon his arrival in Russia he found a dismal situation. 4. It was his opinion that the German parachute troops (1st and 4th Para in particular which were in Italy) were the finest troops he'd experienced. by krichter33 » 23 Feb 2014, 03:34, Post The best German division during WWII was the 4th Panzer Division. That, along with the fact that he spent most of the war on the eastern front, accounts for his relative obscurity today. Manufactured by United States and some other western allies in WWII. The XLVIII Panzer Corps was suddenly threatened with annihilation. By the end of the day the Soviet I Tank Corps had lost fifty-three tanks and effectively ceased to exist. At approximately 9:00 a.m. on December 7, the LXVIII Panzer Corps sent Balck’s division command post a warning order to have the 15th Panzer Regiment prepare for a counterattack. Over the next three days Balck continued to tighten the vise on the Tatsinskaya pocket, which finally burst on December 28, with the Soviets attempting a breakout to the northwest. Nobody expects the Fallschirm! This was mainly due to America’s lend-lease program that provided US military aids to foreign allied nations. by Sheldrake » 05 Mar 2014, 13:22, Post Original WW II German Collectibles. Categorized as a medium tank, M4 Sherman had an average 75mm main gun with 90 rounds and had a relatively thin armor (76mm) compared to other tanks in the era.Introduced in 1941, Sherman is named after … And he was in a position to know: as a general staff officer during the war, Mellenthin had worked at one point or another for virtually all of Germany’s greatest commanders—including such legends as Rommel and Heinz Guderian. The Soviets mistook the German tanks for their own. by Sheldrake » 06 Mar 2014, 03:31, Post By the end of the day, however, Balck received operational control of one of the Panzergrenadier regiments and an assault gun battalion from the newly arriving 6th Panzer Division. Several days later Balck and his operations officer were conferring over a map when a low-flying Soviet fighter plane made a strafing run at them and put several bullet holes into the map between them. By December 15 the 11th Panzer Division had been marching by night and fighting by day for eight continuous days in a seemingly never-ending cycle of fire brigade actions. But Balck had several opportunities to become one, receiving more than one invitation to attend the Kriegsakademie. When Balck first arrived at Morozovskaya a Soviet tank corps was bearing down on the city from the north, and threatening to envelop the town of Tatsinskaya on the left. Panzer-Division 2. ‘Each day was like the next,’ Balck wrote. Balck’s losses for the same period were 16 tanks, 12 antitank guns, 215 soldiers killed in action, 1,019 wounded, and 155 missing. The other contender for the accolade of best tank is the Soviet T34, earlier versions of … Photographical journey through the German snipers and sharpshooters of World War II. This was the official reason I gave when I requested a transfer to the front as commander of a division. Germany had ten panzer divisions in Normandy, including five from the Waffen SS. Creating these elite units meant that the regular units were depleted of these soldiers. Russian penetration at Point X, counterattack, everything cleared up by evening. For reasons of secrecy, it was originally raised as the 7th Air Division, or Flieger-Division, before being renamed and reorganized as the 1st Parachute Division in 1943. Panzer-Division by Sheldrake » 05 Mar 2014, 03:48, Post Explore our list of World War, 1939-1945->Personal narratives, German Books at Barnes & Noble®. The 336th Infantry formed the shield against which the Soviets struck; the panzers were the hammer that destroyed them. 2. On lower ground, the Germans had perfect belly shots when the Soviet tanks crested the higher ground to their front. Speed, surprise, and artillery march through the winter night with burning headlights division... 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