Question to Marco re. fiasco of the famous "Ghostdivisi

German campaigns and battles 1919-1945.

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Question to Marco re. fiasco of the famous "Ghostdivisi

Post by Igorn » Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:13 pm

Marko wrote:Hi Igor

Here's an interesting tidbit about one of many unsuccessful German panzer counterattacks in Eastern Prussia.

The famous "Ghostdivision" - 7.Panzer Division - was on 15 January alarmed and committed in action against a Russian breakthrough N of Warsaw. But its attack soon bogged down as the divisional Panzer Regiment (in the morning 105 operational panzers) fall into a well prepared ambush and lost more then half of its tanks (in the evening 40 operational panzers) in a period of not less then 20 minutes (against zero Russian tank losses), before having to retreat from the battlefield and leaving most of the damaged vehicles behind. The Red Army unit responsible for 7th Panzer's disaster was apparently 60th Tank Destroyer Rgt. I would be really interested if you have any info on this engagement from the Russian side.
Marko wrote:Thanks for the extra info, Igor and donwhite :D .

The battle took place just W of Ostenburg (Pultusk) at Trzciniec and according to German sources the Soviet unit was 60th ATR (so not necessarily the correct designation). Other RA units in the area (again German sources) were 142nd, 42nd, 98th Rifle Divisions all apparently part of 2nd Shock Army.

Igor regarding your last post (thanks again for posting it), the German unit opposing the 65th Army was most probably 3rd Panzer Division, which launched a counterattack supported by two Tiger battalions in order to eliminate the Serock bridgehead.

Cheers
Marko
Hi Marco,

I refer to your earlier post regarding combat taken place in Eastern Prussia on 15 January 1945 at W of Ostenburg (Pultusk) at Trzciniec where 7.Panzer Division started its attack having 105 operational panzers and fall into a well prepared ambush and lost more then half of its tanks (in the evening 40 operational panzers) in a period of not less then 20 minutes (against zero Russian tank losses), before having to retreat from the battlefield and leaving most of the damaged vehicles behind.

I am looking for a western sources, preferably in English, describing this event in more details and will greatly appreciate if you can provide more information from western side about this interesting combat.

I am also greatly interested in tank composition of the 7. Panzer Division as of morning of Jan 15th 1945 (105 operational vehicles) and as of evening of Jan 15th 1945 (40 operational vehicles). Did it have any Panthers ? Do you have any combat reports from German side?

Many thanks in advance !

Best Regards from Russia,
Igor

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7th Pz Div

Post by donwhite » Thu Dec 14, 2006 4:56 pm

These figures are sourced from responses to questions I've previously asked on this forum about 7 PD. The original posts/responses can be located by searching on my username! (Sorry I don't have the links at hand).
As at 30/12/1944, 7 PD had 28x Pz IV (27 operating), 5x Bef Pz V (5 operating), 32x Pz V (32 operating).
03/01/45 division received 10x Pz IV/70(A)
08/01/45 division PzJag.Abt received 21x Pz IV 70(A).
The Division also had 14s Self-propelled AT Guns

David Glantz's 'From the Vitsula to the Oder' contains a description by the commander of 7 PD's Armoured Infantry Battalion of 'combined arms' counterattacks conducted by his command and one of the Pz Battalions. Most of the detail is naturally on the role of the armoured infantry. There is no real mention of tank losses in the account.

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7. Pz.Div. in January 1945

Post by Martin Block » Fri Dec 15, 2006 2:54 pm

The following data about the tank status of 7. Pz.Div. can be found in the records of the Gen.Insp.d.Pz.Tr. in the Bundesarchiv/Militärarchiv Freiburg:
[First figure = total, figure in ( ) = operational, (?) = operational status not given]

1.1.1945 (7. Pz.Div. status report)
1 (?) Pz.Bef.Wg. III
1 (?) Pz. III (5 cm L/60)
2 (?) Flakpz. IV (3,7 cm)
29 (27) Pz. IV (7,5 cm L/48)
39 (31) Pz. V Panther
= 72 (58+) tanks with Pz.Rgt. 25
13 (?) Marder III (7,5 cm)
1 (?) Marder III (7,62 cm)
= 14 (13) self propelled a/t guns with 1./Pz.Jg.Abt. 42

On 2.1.1945 Stab, 2. and 3./Pz.Jg.Abt. 42 arrived with 21 new Pz. IV/70(V)
On 3.2.1945 10 Pz. IV/70(A) arrived as replacements for the II./Pz.Rgt. 25

15.1.1945 (Gen.Qu. overview 'tank status on all fronts')
1 (1) Pz.Bef.Wg. III
1 (1) Pz. III (5 cm L/60)
2 (2) Flakpz. IV (3,7 cm)
29 (28) Pz. IV (7,5 cm L/48)
37 (37) Pz. V Panther
31 (29) Pz. IV/70(V) and Pz. IV/70(A)
= 101 (98) tanks and tank destroyers with Pz.Rgt. 25 and Pz.Jg.Abt. 42
13 (12) Marder III (7,5 cm)
1 (1) Marder III (7,62 cm)
= 14 (13) self propelled a/t guns with 1./Pz.Jg.Abt. 42

No further tank replacements arrived between 15.1. and 1.2.1945.

1.2.1945 (7. Pz.Div. status report)
0 Pz.Bef.Wg. III
1 (?) Pz. III (5 cm L/60)
2 (?) Flakpz. IV (3,7 cm)
8 (0) Pz. IV (7,5 cm L/48)
19 (2) Pz. V Panther
27 (4) Pz. IV/70(V) and Pz. IV/70(A)
= 57 (6+) tanks and tank destroyers with Pz.Rgt. 25 and Pz.Jg.Abt. 42

7 (?) Marder III (7,5 cm)
1 (?) Marder III (7,62 cm)
= 8 (7) self propelled a/t guns with 1./Pz.Jg.Abt. 42

35 of the remaining non operational tanks/tank destroyers and 3 of the self propelled a/t guns were reported to be in short term repair, the rest in long term repair (14+ days)

So total losses during second half of January 1945 (most of them likely on 15.1.1945) were:
1 Pz.Bef.Wg. III
0 Pz. III (5 cm L/60)
0 Flakpz. IV (3,7 cm)
21 Pz. IV (7,5 cm L/48)
18 Pz. V Panther
4 Pz. IV/70(V) and Pz. IV/70(A)
= 44 tanks and tank destroyers
6 Marder III (7,5 cm)
0 Marder III (7,62 cm)
= 6 self propelled a/t guns

There is a vivid several page long account of the battle in a German book published in 1989 called 'So war es wirklich' by Joachim Huber, himself a veteran of the 5./Pz.Rgt. 25. The counterattack was carried out by Pz.Rgt. 25, i.e. with something up to 70 tanks and 10 tank destroyers at the most. Apparently Pz.Jg.Abt. 42 was not directly involved. Huber's company lost 5 out of its 13 Pz. IV L/48 in just a matter of minutes on the afternoon of 15.1.1945 when the attack of Pz.Rgt. 25 ran into the Russian ambush. He states that his company came out relatively lucky because it was positioned more towards the center of the attacking force. Other companies positioned on the flanks suffered much worse.

Martin Block
Last edited by Martin Block on Sat Dec 16, 2006 6:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Igorn » Sat Dec 16, 2006 3:50 am

Donwhite and Martin,

Thanks very mush for a highly interesting info. I have also checked the thread recommended by donwhite and discovered that as ususal Kamen added a lot value to the discussion.

However I still have some points to be clarified. In his post Marco refered to both morning and evening reports dated Jan 15th, which means prior to attack of the 7. Panzer Division and after the attack. Report provided by Martin is more likely to be the morning report. But what about the evening report? Is there any German documents detailing events of Jan 15th ?

Martin, I greatly appreciate your contribution. By the way, what is the official name and reference of the archival document from Freiburg Archive you reffered to? Thanks in advance.

Maybe someone can refer me to the good book in English where is this very combat described from German side? I would be very grateful.

Thanks and Regards,
Igor

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Post by Martin Block » Sat Dec 16, 2006 6:07 am

The status reports of 7. Pz.Div. can be found in BA/MA RH 10/146 and the Gen.Qu. report is taken from BA/MA RH 10/352. You are correct Igorn, the data for 15.1.1945 should be the tank status before the attack. Unfortunately I do not have the status for the evening of that day or any day shortly after. It seems like only few 7. Pz. Div. documents from the later stages of the war made it into any archives.

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Post by Marko » Fri Jan 05, 2007 12:21 pm

Hi Igor,

The panzer figures, quoted by me, come from a small but fairly new book on the division by Hohensee and Huber Die 7.Panzer-Division im zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945. Kleine Divisionsgeschichte. Further info comes from Details zur Regiments- und Divisionsgeschichte 1944/45 by Egloffstein&Hegen&Huber and Panzerregiment 25 (Rothenburg) by Rothe.

Marko

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Post by Igorn » Sat Jan 06, 2007 10:11 am

Marko wrote:Hi Igor,

The panzer figures, quoted by me, come from a small but fairly new book on the division by Hohensee and Huber Die 7.Panzer-Division im zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945. Kleine Divisionsgeschichte. Further info comes from Details zur Regiments- und Divisionsgeschichte 1944/45 by Egloffstein&Hegen&Huber and Panzerregiment 25 (Rothenburg) by Rothe.

Marko
Marco, Thanks for your reply. I wonder if there are both status reports in the above books: morning (before the attack) and evening one (after the attack). If yes, is there are any reference to the primary source?

Thanks and Regards,
Igor

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Post by Marko » Mon Jan 08, 2007 10:10 am

Igorn wrote:
Marko wrote:Hi Igor,

The panzer figures, quoted by me, come from a small but fairly new book on the division by Hohensee and Huber Die 7.Panzer-Division im zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945. Kleine Divisionsgeschichte. Further info comes from Details zur Regiments- und Divisionsgeschichte 1944/45 by Egloffstein&Hegen&Huber and Panzerregiment 25 (Rothenburg) by Rothe.

Marko
Marco, Thanks for your reply. I wonder if there are both status reports in the above books: morning (before the attack) and evening one (after the attack). If yes, is there are any reference to the primary source?

Thanks and Regards,
15.01.1945 (morning) = 102
15.01.1945 (evening) = 40
16.01.1945 (midday) = 25
17.01.1945 (morning) = 25
17.01.1945 (evening) = 15
18.01.1945 (evening) = 5
19.01.1945 (evening) = 2
20.01.1945 (midday) = 1
21.01.1945 (evening) = 23 (includes replacement Pz.Jg.IV plus repaired panzers)
22.01.1945 (evening) = 19
23.01.1945 (morning) = 19
23.01.1945 (midday) = 0
28.01.1945 (???) = ~6
Panzer losses in January 1945: 118

The downside is the authors don't mention their sources, otherwise all the mentioned books are based on solid research. The Red Army units involved in the battle on 15.01.1945 are claimed to be 60th Anti-Tank Artillery Division (?), 94th Heavy Tank Regiment and 340th Rifle Regiment.

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Post by Igorn » Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:32 am

Hi, Marko!

This is exactly kind of information I was looking for. :beer:


Best Regards from Russia,
Igor

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Post by Rich » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:00 pm

Marko wrote:The Red Army units involved in the battle on 15.01.1945 are claimed to be 60th Anti-Tank Artillery Division (?), 94th Heavy Tank Regiment and 340th Rifle Regiment.
Quite possibly the reference to the 60th AT Artillery is a literal transliteration of "divizion", a term that apparently was still used occassionally when referring to some battalion-size artillery units? In other words "divizion" in the old sense of a two or three-company/battery unit often commanded by a captain or major. That appears to make the most sense in the context of the other units participating.

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Post by Martin Block » Wed Jan 10, 2007 4:11 pm

@Marko
Please note that the figures given in the book give not the totals but the number of combat ready tanks only. Although only about 6 tanks were reported operational in the divisional status report dated 1.2.1945 another about 50 non-operational tanks were listed in short and long term repair.

32 more tanks/tank destroyers and assault guns were lost between 1.2. and 1.3.1945.

On 15.1.1945 the 7. Pz.Div. had available
101 tanks and tank destroyers with Pz.Rgt. 25 and Pz.Jg.Abt. 42
14 Marder III self propelled a/t guns with 1./Pz.Jg.Abt. 42

After that the following replacements were sent to the division:
17 StuG III in early Feb 1945
17 Pz. IV/70(V) in early Feb 1945
In addition to that crews from the II./Pz.Rgt. 25 had picked up a trainload of 13 to 17 (sources vary) Pz. IV/70(V) which was intended for another unit (most likely Pz.Jg.Abt. GD) in late Jan. 1945.

7. Pz.Div. left East Prussia in mid April 1945 with nothing!

That amounts to a total loss of
148 to 153 tanks, tank destroyers and assault guns
14 Marder s/p guns
between mid Jan. and mid Apr. 1945

Martin Block

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Post by Marko » Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:26 pm

Hi Martin

I hoped you'd jump in with a commment or two.
Please note that the figures given in the book give not the totals but the number of combat ready tanks only.
I was thinking along the same lines, many thanks for the confirmation and further info.
Quite possibly the reference to the 60th AT Artillery is a literal transliteration of "divizion", a term that apparently was still used occassionally when referring to some battalion-size artillery units? In other words "divizion" in the old sense of a two or three-company/battery unit often commanded by a captain or major. That appears to make the most sense in the context of the other units participating.
Sounds like a perfect word for Abteilung in Russian :D .

Marko

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Post by Rich » Wed Jan 10, 2007 9:31 pm

Marko wrote:
Quite possibly the reference to the 60th AT Artillery is a literal transliteration of "divizion", a term that apparently was still used occassionally when referring to some battalion-size artillery units? In other words "divizion" in the old sense of a two or three-company/battery unit often commanded by a captain or major. That appears to make the most sense in the context of the other units participating.
Sounds like a perfect word for Abteilung in Russian :D .

Marko
:D Of course it also is a perfectly good German word too 8) , the Divizion as meaning a tactical grouping of two Kompanien was common during the Napoleonic Wars in both the Prussiches and the KuK Armee. :wink: In fact I think it may have entered the Russian via Prussian and Austrian officers employed by the Imperial Russian Army around that period.

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Red army units involved?

Post by donwhite » Fri Jan 12, 2007 4:43 am

Slight deviation here. I'm trying to match the Red Army units possibly involved (mentioned by Marko) against 7th Pz Div on the 15th Jan'45. David Glantz's "From the Vitsula to the Oder: Soviet offensive Operations October 1944-March 1945" has a map for the 15th january 1945 that shows 7th Pz Div Immediately to the rear of 5th Jager Divison's front which almost corresponds exactly with the opposing front of 2nd Shock Army. 2nd Shock Army's Tank/anti-tank assets as at 1st Jan'45 were the 30th Gds Tank Bde(IS-II), 46th & 260th Seperate Heavy Tank Regt's(IS-II), 1196th(Su-76), 1297th(Su-76), 1434th(Su-85) & 1476th SU Regt's(Su-76) & the 760th AT Arty Regt. According to Conde (Commander of II/PzG Regt 6) the Armoured group of 7th Pz Div was ordered on the night of the 14th Jan'45 to counter attack the next day north of Makow to help the 299th ID reform its defensive lines. Apparently the next day (16th Jan'45)the armoured group was ordered back to the sector of 5th Jager and/or 7th ID. On the 15th Jan'45 this would put it against 48th Army. This army (as at 1st Jan'45) had the 342nd Gds Heavy SU Regt (ISU-122), 881st & 1902nd Su Regt's(both SU-76), 5th & 13th AT Arty Bde's, 220th Gds At Arty Regt. 8th Mech Corp was also lurking immediately to the rear of 48th Army. 1st Gd Tank Corps was in a likewise position behind 2nd Shock Army. Conde does not provide any great detail for the engagement on the 15th Jan'45 aside from stating that they 'also suffered some tank losses' and two APC's.

Additional sources: Charles C.Sharp "Soviet Order of Battle World War II" Vol III, VI & XII
Bovoi Sostav Sovetskoi Armii (Chast V)

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Post by Kamen Nevenkin » Fri Jan 12, 2007 12:40 pm

Hi Donald,

a brief description of the clash between 7.PzD and 2nd Shock Army could be found in the Fedyuninsky's memories:

http://militera.lib.ru/memo/russian/fedyuninsky/10.html

A wonderful source for additional information on the battles in that region is volume 15 – 4 (10) of the Zolotarev's document collection, which is partially dedicated to the East Prussian operation. In particular, it contains 134 original documents for the period 3.12.1944 - 24.5.1945. There one could find everything ever needed for a serious research: Stavka directives, front orders, front and army daily reports, casualty statistics, order-of-battle of various formations, VVS strength returns, etc., all in all 200 pages.

Kamen

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