Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
Westphalia1812
Member
Posts: 339
Joined: 03 Jul 2019 20:01
Location: ..

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Westphalia1812 » 04 Jun 2021 15:05

Cult Icon wrote:
04 Jun 2021 14:54

Overall this was a more successful partnership.
Yes that is also my impression. It would also be interesting to see Lauchert or Schulz commanding PzRgt GD.

User avatar
Cult Icon
Member
Posts: 3569
Joined: 08 Apr 2014 19:00

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Cult Icon » 08 Jun 2021 11:39

Bayerlein's Feb 8, 1946 report " Critical Study of Experiences gained in German Armored Operations" has a surprising reference to GD, written from memory as a US prisoner of war:
In spite of actual experiences from the Eastern Front, it showed that the day of swift tank attacks was over, even against the Russians. A typical example is the first day of the battle of Belgorod-Kursk in July 1943, where the brand-new tank brigade Grossdeutschland (four tank battalions with 250 Panthers) drove furiously into the Russian antitank front, and was almost completely annihilated. Only six Panthers were left fit for use and the objective of the attack was not attained.
Bayerlein was in North Africa with Rommel, after which he was assigned the command of the 3.P (25 October 1943 – 5 January 1944). He was not involved in Citadel, so it is interesting to know where he was given this information.

Westphalia1812
Member
Posts: 339
Joined: 03 Jul 2019 20:01
Location: ..

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Westphalia1812 » 08 Jun 2021 21:59

Interesting thread from TDI dealing with the Strachwitz/Decker issue: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00003.html

Lawrence presents a pro GD/Strachwitz view.

User avatar
Cult Icon
Member
Posts: 3569
Joined: 08 Apr 2014 19:00

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Cult Icon » 09 Jun 2021 02:50

Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
08 Jun 2021 21:59
Interesting thread from TDI dealing with the Strachwitz/Decker issue: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00003.html

Lawrence presents a pro GD/Strachwitz view.
Is this (from 2001) similar to what he has in his book?

Westphalia1812
Member
Posts: 339
Joined: 03 Jul 2019 20:01
Location: ..

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Westphalia1812 » 10 Jun 2021 22:32

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Jun 2021 02:50
Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
08 Jun 2021 21:59
Interesting thread from TDI dealing with the Strachwitz/Decker issue: http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/ubb/Forum ... 00003.html

Lawrence presents a pro GD/Strachwitz view.
Is this (from 2001) similar to what he has in his book?
In his abridged version he doesn't comment on Strachwitz much. No judgement is given.

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 2624
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Aida1 » 28 Aug 2022 15:55

Translation of a report by Decker where he complains about Strachwitz

"Gen. Insp d. Pz. TR. Abt. Feldheer Bb nr 1300/43 of 25/07/1943

Panzer Brigade 10 Commander. Brigade command post 17.Juli 1943

Dear general

As agreed I report on my activities here after the first phase of the battle is concluded.
....
The Panzer Brigade was deployed with the G. D. , as second regiment Panzer rgt GD was added with 8 Pz IV companies and one Tiger company. As regt commander Graf Strachwitz, the 'pz lion'. The collaboration with him was unpleasant, during the attack he could not be got on the radio and operated on his own. That went so far that I was called to Gen von knobelsdorff (commanding général XXXXVIII Pzcorps) to justify myself because of the not functioning of the staff. Meanwhile St. commanded the brigade and deployed the Panther in an insane fashion, there was all the time, damage to tracks, there was no flank protection setup, and therefore the Panther who were vulnerable from the side were killed.
.....
When I came back after 4 days the Panther were reduced to 12 after nonsensical deployment.,after we had started with 206. Major von Lauchert was desperate and was glad that I came back. The losses in manpower were considerable, until now the Panther regiment had lost in officers only, 9 dead and 19 wounded.
I now built from the 2 regiments two Abteilungen, which now were the tank force. Immediately on the first day I was there, 23 tanks at a loss of two own tanks killed 58 enemy tanks mostly T 34 and 30 At guns. We have always fulfilled our missions, GD is very insightful which cannot be said from the commanding general. Obstlt Kohn who commanded an Abteilung will have reported correspondingly.
With my staff I slowly learned the ropes, we suffer from not having tents or caravans so that we are dependent on living in tanks, in the open terrain or in shacks.
Generally one can say that the Panther, although it still has some beginner problems and the motor is vulnerable, is a good vehicle. It is not secure against 75 mm ATG fire from all sides as the Tiger is.The gun is outstanding. The regiment has killed 263 tanks until now, KW I to a range of 3000 m and almost all T 34 to a range of 1500-2000 m. I ask to inform General Eberbach of the above message when the occasion presents itself. Otherwise everything is well, it is good living here. When everything is in order here, it does not matter what happens in Sicily.

Signed Decker"

Westphalia1812
Member
Posts: 339
Joined: 03 Jul 2019 20:01
Location: ..

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Westphalia1812 » 15 Sep 2022 08:59

Aida1 wrote:
28 Aug 2022 15:55
Translation of a report by Decker where he complains about Strachwitz

The Panzer Brigade was deployed with the G. D. , as second regiment Panzer rgt GD was added with 8 Pz IV companies and one Tiger company. As regt commander Graf Strachwitz, the 'pz lion'. The collaboration with him was unpleasant, during the attack he could not be got on the radio and operated on his own. That went so far that I was called to Gen von knobelsdorff (commanding général XXXXVIII Pzcorps) to justify myself because of the not functioning of the staff. Meanwhile St. commanded the brigade and deployed the Panther in an insane fashion, there was all the time, damage to tracks, there was no flank protection setup, and therefore the Panther who were vulnerable from the side were killed.

Signed Decker"
Töppel has this to say about Strachwitz:
It has already been pointed out that in the recent German literature on the Battle of Kursk, there is sometimes a tendency to minimize the failures and shortcomings of the German units involved in order to emphasize their tactical superiority over the Red Army to an even greater extent. Dieter Brand's contribution is an example of this.
Brand does not only claim that the attacking units of Army Group South had penetrated the Soviet defense positions within two days without major losses: In his opinion, the German leadership - in contrast to the Soviet one - was an example of "a clean and stringent cooperation, also probably supported by mutual trust, across all leadership levels from the HGrp [Army Group] to the battalion ". Let us check this thesis by the example of the Panzer-Brigade 10.
Panzerbrigade 10 was supposed to be the most powerful armored unit during Operation Citadel. It consisted of two tank regiments, namely the "Großdeutschland" tank regiment with a total of 135 tanks and the "Panther" tank regiment 39 with 200 tanks. The "Panther" was the newest type of German tank; it was used for the first time in the Battle of Kursk. Hitler was so convinced of its effectiveness that he postponed the date for the "Citadel" operation, which had already been postponed several times, by a few more days at the end of June in order to await the arrival of the "Panther" at the front. But the final start of the attack, July 5 1943, still came much too early for Panzer-Regiment 39. The last parts of the regiment did not arrive in the staging area until July 4, the eve of the battle. Due to the tight schedule, neither a thorough training of the crews had taken place, nor had the numerous technical deficiencies of the new tank type been eliminated. Thus, even before the attack began, two "Panthers" had to be written off as total losses after engine fires.
More serious than the inadequate training and the technical problems, however, proved to be the leadership difficulties within the Panzer-Brigade 10 in the first days of the enterprise "Citadel". The problems began with the fact that the brigade staff was not loaded for transport until 3 July 1943 in Berlin and did not arrive at the front until the night of 10/11 July.
Therefore, a provisional replacement staff had to be formed for the brigade commander, Colonel Karl Decker, who had already flown ahead to the troops on July 1. But even this would probably have remained a minor matter had it not been for serious personal disputes between Colonel Decker and Colonel Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz. The latter commanded the tank regiment "Großdeutschland", which was subordinated to Decker's brigade staff for the "Unternehmen Zitadelle". It is possible that Strachwitz, who at that time had already received one of the highest awards for bravery and was known at the front as the "Panzer Lion, " felt set back by this subordination. Perhaps the cause of the quarrel was only the different characters of the two men. What is certain is that in their case a very different understanding of leadership clashed. Strachwitz was a daredevil who had no regard for the troops under his command or for himself: "Two shots in the head, nine serious wounds, several minor wounds and a serious car accident were the receipts for his brashness. " Decker, on the other hand, was a more level-headed officer who commanded his units according to proven tactical principles. That the accusations of hesitation, even cowardice, leveled against him during the "Zitadelle" operation were unfounded was shown not only by an investigation conducted against Decker at the behest of the 4th Panzer Army, but also by his further career: promoted several times, decorated and named in the Wehrmacht report, he was appointed commanding general of the XXXIX. Panzer-Corps in the spring of 1945 as one of the youngest generals in the Wehrmacht.
During the enterprise "Zitadelle", however, Decker had a hard time. From the beginning, he came into conflict with the impetuous Strachwitz, who repeatedly acted on his own authority and complained to his superiors about the supposedly hesitant Decker. The commanding general of the XXXXVIII. Panzer Corps, General Otto von Knobelsdorff, took sides with Strachwitz: Knobelsdorff relieved Decker of his command on July 6 and put Strachwitz in charge of Panzer Brigade 10. Now Strachwitz was given the opportunity to dispose of the "Panthers" as he saw fit - with disastrous consequences for their crews. After Decker's verdict Strachwitz used the tanks "almost insanely" - without regard to flank protection or minefields. Again and again the tanks drove into Soviet ambushes and were destroyed by hits into the relatively weakly armored sides.
But not only Decker, but also Generaloberst Heinz Guderian, the Inspector General of the Panzer Troops, was very critical about the deployment of the "Panther" under Strachwitz. In a report to the OKH, Guderian noted that proven principles of tank tactics had been violated. Guderian had visited the panzer brigade on July 10 1943, and had formed a picture of the situation on the spot. The quarrels between Strachwitz and Decker had not escaped his attention. In his report he noted: "Because of personal disputes, this brigade staff [Panzerbri-gade 10] did not function at first. Personal views must not play a role when the future of the Reich is at stake. " Unfortunately for the tank crews, leadership did not work at the battalion level either, at least in Panzer Abteilung 52. An experienced division commander would have been quite capable of mitigating the consequences of Strachwitz's reckless leadership and deploying the tanks tactically correctly, at least within the battalion framework. But Panzer Abteilung 52 was downright dogged by bad luck. The actual division commander, Rittmeister Karl von Sivers, fell ill before the unit was moved to the front and had to stay behind in Germany. The replacement commander, who arrived just before the start of the "Citadel" operation, was completely inexperienced. In addition, he did not brief his company commanders on the overall situation or on the planned combat operations before the first sortie. When Panzer Abteilung 52 was hit by massive Soviet artillery fire during the first engagement in the fighting on July 6, he lost his nerve and had to leave the command of the division to one of the company commanders. No sooner had the latter taken command than his tank received a direct hit from a Soviet antitank gun.
The company commander was seriously wounded and dropped out for further action. The next replacement commander was a lieutenant colonel from the OKH. During the operation "Zitadelle" he was supposed to report only about the technical experiences with the new tank type "Panther" and was completely overtaxed with the command of the battailon. Already after a few days he was relieved. It was not until July 22, 1943, when the "Zitadelle" operation had long since been aborted, that the actual commander, Rittmeister von Sivers, arrived at the front and took over his tank detachment again.
What fatal consequences the combination of Strachwitz's bravado at brigade level with the tactical leadership errors at battalion level had for the tank crews can be seen in a report by Walter Rahn, the ordnance officer of Panzer Abteilung 52. Rahn took part in an attack on July 7, 1943, as a gunner in the commander's tank: "The [...] Panthers rolled toward a semicircular rising section of terrain. When the foremost sections hit a minefield, there were no orders to prevent further drops. The densely packed combat vehicles were then fired upon by numerous T-34s dug in up to the gun on the semicircular hill. Our gunners saw only the flash of muzzle flash and were blinded by the rising sun. One Panther after another received hits and many burned out. Even the engine of the commander's tank burned after a shot from the right flank." In this case, it is hardly possible to speak of a "clean and stringent cooperation across all levels of command [...] down to the battalion" (Brand), which was probably also supported by mutual trust.
Not only Panzer-Abteilung 52, but the entire Panzer-Brigade 10 including the tank regiment "Großdeutschland" suffered such heavy losses on July 7 1943, that it had to temporarily stop its attacks and switch to defense. Of the original 200 "Panthers" of Panzer-Regiment 39, 20 were still operational on the evening of July 7, and of the 135 tanks of Panzer-Regiment "Großdeutschland", 32 were still operational. The second figure in particular makes it clear that the cause of the numerous failures of Panzerbrigade 10 was not only the technical deficiencies that still afflicted the "Panther". The tank regiment "Großdeutschland" with its already proven tank types also had very high failures. In the first place it was probably Strachwitz's ruthless style of leadership, which resulted in many unnecessary casualties in the face of the massive yet skillful Soviet defenses.
On July 8, Panzer Brigade 10 continued its attacks against a strong Soviet defense. In the war diary it says: "The own losses are heavy. [...] By 12:30 p.m., the brigade had only 9 operational tanks left." Only nine (!) tanks were still operational on July 8 1943, out of the original 335 combat arms. Numerous tank soldiers had been killed or seriously wounded, including the regimental adjutant and the commander of the II.Abteilung of the tank regiment "Großdeutschland". The originally best equipped and strongest of all attack units had thus melted down after a few days to a fraction of its combat strength. And by no means all Soviet defense positions had been overcome, as Dieter Brand claimed.
Kursk: Mythen und Wirklichkeiten einer Schlacht - Roman Töppel.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source= ... 2H79Slbhml

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 2624
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Aida1 » 22 Sep 2022 20:21

"Annexe 1 to communication Gen. Insp. d. Pz. TR chef gruppe Nr 80 /43

Report about the deployment of PzRgt (Panther) v. Lauchert.
I. Tactical experiences
The deployment of new tanks doesn't free the command from acting according to proven principles for the use of tanks. This is specifically applicable concerning the collaboration with other weapons and the use of united tank units.
The general Inspector had set up a brigade staff for the Div Gross Deutschland reinforced by a Panther regiment, to ensure the command of the over 300 tanks of this division. This staff did not come in use because of personal frictions. The command of the tanks suffered from this as did the cooperation with other weapons. Personal considerations should not play a role when the fate of the Reich is in play.
It is wrong to pull away other center of gravity weapons where Panther are used, only while the panther are there.
Rather it is correct to build a clear additional center of gravity by other weapons-artillery, engineers, air force, APC batallions - to achieve a resouning and fast success with the Panther with low losses.
The attack is to be brought fast in the depth of the enemy defense system to take out the enemy artillery and ensure the going along of Panzer Grenadiere and infantry.
After the high losses of the first days, the further losses were relatively higher while the number of Panther entering into battle was very low(partially only 10 Panther),and the defense could easier be successful. Even more because the support of the Panther by other weapons was insufficiently ensured. "

To be continued

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 2624
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Aida1 » 23 Sep 2022 08:01

"The enemy defense through 7,62 cm PAK and tank guns only had success against the Panther by flanking fire. There were no penetrations through the front armor. It needs to be concluded from this that monitoring of the flanks has to be given the main focus.
For this all other weapons have to be drawn in
The Panther unit has to be structured accordingly on a broad front to to take out a flanking of the core of the attack.
In case of being fired on, the vehicles have to be positioned frontally to the enemy fire.
In pushing through a deep mined main battle zone, in the future the subordination of Pz kp(Fkl) has to be provided.
Timely cooperation with engineers is to be ensured in any case. Material to cross marshes has to carried with foresight, to prevent the attack from stagnating.
II. Organisation
The structure of the fighting echelons of the Panther regt has proven itself. In no case can the platoons, companies and Abteilungen become weaker. In the equipment with wheeled vehicles a lot can be reduced especially because the supply of of all tanks is practically never necessary because of the losses that occur.

III. Training

The time for training was too short. The drivers therefore did not get the necessary practice. The technical staff is not trained enough.,the gunners and commanders did not get the necessary tactical training.
This lacking training made itself very much felt.
A large part of the technical breakdowns and also tactical losses is to be ascribed to be this. "

To be continued

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 2624
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Aida1 » 23 Sep 2022 11:09

"Situation of the rgt after 10 days
In the first days there was a strong reduction of the combat strength through enemy action and technical breakdowns
On 10.07 in the evening there were:
At the enemy 10
Total loss 25 (of which 23 through hits and burning out. 2 by burning on the march)
In repair services and workshop 100 of which 56 with hits and mine damage, 44 with technical damage, however ça 60% of the technical damage are light.
Already repaired and on the way to the place of deployment ça 40 Panther. The remainder ça 25 are not yet in the repair services.
On 1107 in the evening there were in use 38 Panther, total loss 31, in repair 131.
There is a slow increase in combat strength.
The high number of broken down Panther through hits (until 10.07 81 Panther) points out the heavy combat.
The deeply staggered, strongly mined main battle zone of the Russians had to lead to an above average breakdown of material through hits and mine hits.
The Tiger and Panzer IV were also not spared from this.
The fact that Panther appeared for the first time on the battlefield, exposed them to a general interest. Comparisons with the losses of other tank units were not made.
Therefore, commands and troop came too fast to the conclusion: the Panther is of no use.
To this is to be remarked in conclusion:
The Panther has proven itself in deployment. That at first there were a large number of technical breakdowns has to be expected because a long troop test was not made. The curve of vehicles ready for action is rising. After fixing the problems with the fuel pump and the motor, the technical breakdowns will remain within normal limits.
The above average number of breakdowns through enemy fire points out the heavyness of the fighting. "

Concluded

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 2624
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Aida1 » 23 Sep 2022 12:38

"The panzer officer with the chief of staff OKH. HQ OKH 26.07.1943
Note to the experience report of the Gen. Insp. /Chef Gruppe Nr 80/43 gkdos of 17.07.43
I. Panther
1)tactical experiences
Command errors:
a)Withdrawing other weapons where Panther are used
b) faulty collaboration with other weapons
c) brigade staff did not work because of personal frictions
Conclusions:

a) use of the Panther in center of gravity, with it all other available
weapons
b) means against flank vulnerability of the Panther:
- collaboration with other weapons
- broad structuring of the attack front

Opinion panzer officer :
Needed collaboration with other weapons only with incorporation of Panther Abteilungen in their old division (known there, collaboration established, confidence in the command,...). "

to be continued

User avatar
Aida1
Member
Posts: 2624
Joined: 04 Aug 2019 08:46
Location: Brussels

Re: Poor performance by "GD" during ZITADELLE

Post by Aida1 » 23 Sep 2022 13:15

"2)Organisation
a)composition of combat echelons has proven itself(each company 4 platoons with 5 Panther each and 2 Panther in the company troop)
b) equipment with wheeled vehicles can be reduced

3.Training
a) training level bad because during the training period there was rebuilding instead of training
b) large part of losses through bad training

Opnion Panzer officer :

More time for training!

4.Technique

a)Gun good, observation made difficult after a few shots because of powder gases

b) side vulnerability (hull 40 mm armor)

c) tower hatch jamming(dismounting in case of fire etc.. impossible)

d) fuel pumps work bad, therefore a mixture of oil and fuel in motor hull. The gas which forms cannot get away because of the air tightness of the hull(amphibious ability),therefore burning out of Panther when hit in the hull.

Opinion panzer officer:

Improve fuel pumps, giving up on amphibious ability... "

Concluded

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”