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Sinking of 2 Panzer-Div 20/21 May 1941
Posted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 2:52 pm
According to Jentz, in Panzertruppen, 2 Panzer Division lost most of its tanks when the transport ships 'Marburg' and 'Kybfels' were sunk on 20/21 May 1941, the unit thus being delayed from participation in Barbarossa. Does anyone have any detail of the actual losses and the cause, perhaps from the divisional history? Any help would be appreciated.
Posted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 4:21 pm
I got the impression from your posting that these ships were providing logistical support for Barbarossa, which made me think they were lost in the Baltic. This website says that both ships were sunk in the Mediterranean in May 1941. It does not list cargo or reason for loss, however.
http://www.wlb-stuttgart.de/seekrieg/km ... r-sued.htm
Operation Marita/Merkur connection
Posted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 10:57 pm
The 2nd Panzer was in on operation Marita, the overrunning of Greece. That date is the date a German convoy headed to Crete was sunk IIRC.
2nd Panzer was not going to Crete as part of Operation Merkur, 5th Panzer was to support that operation. Or maybe were being sent from the south of Greece to a good port with a railhead that could take them to the East? I think rail transport in Greece would have been a mess at the time. Maybe they were unlucky enough to get caught up in the British naval attacks to prevent the invasion of Crete.
Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 7:57 am
The two freighters were conveying armour from Greece to Brindisi, Italy for onward transportation by rail to the East prior to Barbarossa.
They were sunk by Royal Navy submarine. There are pics. in the old Podzun-Pallas 2PD pictorial history.
Re: 2nd Pzr sunk
Posted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 4:22 pm
Hey good guess on my part. Funny they were sent to Italy. One would have thought they would be sent to Salonika and then thru Bulgaira or Serbia to Rumania. Probably the Agean was thought too dangerous at the time.
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 1:49 am
Oh I don't know, 2PD was probably earmarked for AG Centre not South. Italian railnet connected with Ostmark, more direct and as you say Greek railnet was probably damaged at the time.
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 2:47 pm
Many thanks for the replies.
The confusion amongst sources is quite extreme for theis movement of the division from Greece to Germany. According to one divisional history, (Die 2.Panzer-Division - Bewaffnung-Einsatz-Manner, by Franz Steinzer),
''The wheeled elements of the 2nd Panzer Division moved back to Jugoslavia via Albania and were entrained in Split. The tracked elements of the division were taken aboard the freighters "Marburg" and "Kybfels"in Patras harbour. They were to be ferried to Tarent in Italy from where they should be brought back to the Reich via rail. During their second voyage both ships were lost to enemy action en route with a full load of panzers, APCs and artillery tractors aboard. While personnel losses were moderate, all of the "hardware" had to be written off''.
Jentz agrees with this, but the loss of the entire tracked equipment of a panzer division is a major loss to be such an obscure event. To add to the conusion, the Halder Diaries state:
12 May 1941
Loading of 2 Armoured Division for Taranto starts 13 May.
20 May 1941
Morning conference: 2. First echelon of 2 Armoured Division (three ships) has landed at Taranto
21 May 1941
During the night a signal indicates that two transport vessels of 2d Armored Division have struck mines in the western end of the Gulf of Corinth.
22 May 1941
Morning conference: Second Armored Division (which sailed from Patras) reported to have lost in sinking: 122 tanks, 200 motor vehicles, 29 motorcycles, 1,328 men.
Heusinger: Reports from Greece:
1. The announcement of loss of tanks off Patras has proved erroneous, The tanks of 2d Armored Division have already been landed at Taranto. The losses seem to be largely in light and medium artillery of the division. Very hard to replace because of shortage of prime movers. Personnel losses: Morning figures confirmed.
Hence the confusion!
Thanks for the help,
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 5:54 pm
Sorry for relying on my memory re Brindisi. I think the Podzun 2PD book said loss by submarine, but my memory may be in error again. Needless to say I no longer have the book.
There was photo of one of the freighters sinking with survivors on the shore. It gave number of personnel losses which were light.
Posted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 7:37 pm
Great information everyone! This is what Feldgrau is all about, dragging up the obscure pieces of history and piecing them together for future generations. I'll be adding all this excellent info to the 2.Pz.Div unit history ASAP.
I checked the unit history by Podzun and it doesn't list the KIA but it does have some interesting photos of the indicident and the text as listed by another poster above. Looking on a map of where they were sunk it seems unlikely they were hit by British subs as they were awfully close to the Greek mainland between islands just off the coast. In fact, "Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945" says that on 5/21 the British minelayer Abdiel laid a mine barrage east of Cape Dukato and within 24 hours it sunk the Italian destroyer Mirabello, the gunboat Matteucci, and the two German transports in question! It looks like it was mines, and not a sub after all.
Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 2:11 am
This then leads to the question as to whether these losses should be added to the normally quoted figures for German casualties in the Greek Campaign.
British Commonwealth army losses quoted for Greece and Crete seem to include the men lost on sunken ships during the evacuations, so it seems not unreasonable to add 2nd Panzer Division's loss of 1,328 men to the German total. They are twice German fatalities in over running Yugoslavia!
Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 8:57 am
Sid, where did you come up with the loss of 1,328 men? Are you refering to the sinking of the two transports? I read that the man power losses were light, it was the armor that suffered. I also wouldn't suggest that the losses were a part of the Greek campaign per-say as they occured after the campaign in Greece proper had ended. What I'd like to know is if the armor loss tables I've seen account for these lost tanks in May of 1941 or not. Does a spike in the loss tables occur in late May?
Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 9:14 am
Yes, 1,328 sounds far too high. Jason, you have checked the Podzun 2PD book. I remember one or two good pics. of the hold in one ship, full of Panzer III's. Another with 5 or 6 men standing on the shoreline. Trouble is I sold the book 10 years ago.
Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 2:52 pm
Interesting discussion all. The figure of men lost comes from the Halder Diary, but I suspect that this may have been the number of men carried. A large number of men were picked up fromthe Greek islands such as Kephalonia. As for the tanks, I do not believe (following Halder) that any were lost at all. They seem to have been on the first convoy since he says (20 May 1941) ''First echelon of 2 Armoured Division (three ships) has landed at Taranto''. On 22 May he says, ''The announcement of loss of tanks off Patras has proved erroneous, The tanks of 2d Armored Division have already been landed at Taranto. The losses seem to be largely in light and medium artillery of the division.''
Other sources that mantion the incident include:
The Goebbels Diaries 1939-41, trans. By Fred Taylor.
23 May 1941 (Friday)
Yesterday: We have not been lucky at sea. Two transporters with 700 men on board and heavy equipment, on their way from Patras, struck mines. With heavy losses.
A History of the Panzer Troops 1916-1945, by Werner Haupt.
Panzer divisions prepared for the Balkan campaign by the OKH -with the exception of the 16th Panzer Division, which did not see action -were ordered back to Germany as soon as the fighting died down, in order to refresh and replace personnel, weapons, equipment and vehicles, for the campaign against the Soviet Union… This refreshment was absolutely necessary, as the Balkan campaign had resulted in a great deal of damage to the tanks -losses had to be made up as well. For example, the 2nd Panzer Division lost most of their artillery during shipping from Patras to Tarento.
Panzertruppen, Volume 1, by Thomas L. Jentz.
Tracked vehicles from Panzer?Regiment 3 had been loaded on the ships "Marburg" and "Kybfels" for the return trip. Both ships were sunk by enemy action with the loss of all the Panzers; on board.
Die 2.Panzer-Division - Bewaffnung-Einsatz-Manner, by Franz Steinzer.
1941: THE BALKAN CAMPAIGN
After a short time of recreation in Greece the division was ordered back, the occupation duties being taken over by Italian units which received a rather cool welcome in Greece. The wheeled elements of the 2nd Panzer Division moved back to Jugoslavia via Albania and were entrained in Split. The tracked elements of the division were taken aboard the freighters "Marburg" and "Kybfels"in Patras harbour. They were to be ferried to Tarent in Italy from where they should be brought back to the Reich via rail. During their second voyage both ships were lost to enemy action en route with a full load of panzers, APCs and artillery tractors aboard. While personnel losses were moderate, all of the "hardware" had to be written off.
The captions of the photographs in this book read as follows:
Rficktransport, Verladung in Patras, 1. Transport auf die Schiffe "Marburg" und "Kybfels". Die Verladung des PzRgt 3
On the way home: Panzers are loaded aboard the transport ships "Marburg" and "Kybfels" in Patras harbour
Drei Mann und ein Scil ? so leicht ist der Panzer
So gefrdBig ist ein Schiffsbauch
The naval loading capacities were very impressive
Die "Marburg" in der Kiellinie der "Kybfels"
"Marburg" and "Kybfels" in line ahead
Auf hoher See
Am 21 Mai 1941, nach dem Auslaufen des 2. Transportes, wurden die "Marburg" und die "Kybfels" versenkt, im Hintergrund die brennende "Marburg"
During their second transport voyage both ships were sunk by enemy action. The "Marburg" is burning in the background
Gerettete erreichen die Insel Kephalonia
Most survivors reached the island of Kephalonia
Grabstdtten von ertrunkenen Kameraden in Agustoli
Drowned comrades were buried in Agustoli
Fahrt entlang der Bucht von Cattaro
Near Cattaro (Cotor)
Soldatenfriedhof 35 krn nord6stlich von Athen, 1976 angelegt, auf dem alle Gefallenen unserer Division beerdigt sind
A view of the new military cemetery of the 2nd Panzer Division. Situated 35 kms northeast of Athens all deads of the division have been buried here since 1976
Ruckmarsch der Raderfahrzeuge in die Heimat durch Albanien
The wheeled elements of the division moved back via Albania
SanAbt 82 beim Verladen in Sibenik
San Abt 82 in Sibenik. They will not be idle for a long time to come ...
As to whether these German losses should be included in the casualties of the Balkan campaign, I would say no. The British had similar losses not directly related directly to campaigns and these are not included in campaign totals, but under a separate ''loss at sea during transportation'' heading.
The above shows the confusion in the sources. If 122 tanks had been lost, as Halder indicates, we would surely have heard a lot more about it. It would also have been the single highest loss of German armour in the entire war.
Posted: Fri Apr 23, 2004 5:55 am
Excellent post Dankane. Das Heer, Der Zwei Fronten Krieg, Burkhart Mueller-Hillebrand, E.S. Mittler & Sohn has panzer appendices. Only 1 Panzer IV is shown as being lost in May 1941.
Posted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 1:21 pm
according to the history of the PzJgAbt. 38(SF) FRIEDENS - UND KRIEGSERLEBNISSE EINER GENERATION, Schweinfurt 1961? the ships were transporting the artillery of the 2nd PzD and a part of its tanks when they were sunk. Human losses in these sinkings for the 2nd PzD were 2+5+33 drown and 3+33+108 missing.