The story

Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann

Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann

Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann

Given the vast scale of armoured warfare during the Second World War, a single panzer regiment might seem like a rather small topic, but Panzer-Regiment 5 had the distinction of being the first armoured unit to be officially formed in Germany after the First World War, coming into existence in 1933. The regiment then took part in the invasions of Poland and France, before being deployed to North Africa. This first volume takes us to the end of 1941, by which time the Germans have advanced to the Egyptian border for the first time, before being forced to retreat west, abandoning the siege of Tobruk.

The first part of the book is informative but rather dry, dominated by orders of battle and lists of officer's names. The tone changes after the outbreak of war - the factual framework is still there, but supports a good account of the regiment's combat experience, well supported by first-hand accounts and copious well chosen photographs.

This is a very detailed work throughout, becoming increasingly readable as it develops. It should be of interest to anyone looking at the development of the German armoured forces before the Second World War, their deployment early in the war, or in the desert war in North Africa.

1 - Establishment of the Panzertruppe after World War I and the Formation of Panzer-Regiment 5
2 - Panzer-Regiment 5 from 1936 to August 1939
3 - Panzer-Regiment 5 in the Campaign in Poland, 1939
4 - Panzer-Regiment 5 in the Campaign in the West, 1940
5 - Panzer-Regiment 5 prior to Employment in Africa
6 - Panzer-Regiment 5 in the campaign in North Africa, 1941

Author: Bernd Hartmann
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 298
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2010 translation of 2002 original

Establishment of the Panzertruppe after World War I and the Formation of Panzer-Regiment 5

The military defeat of the Germans in 1918 also meant the end of the numerically very small German armor branch, which consisted of only nine battalions, each with five tanks. Independently operating armored formations-a separate armored force-did not exist in the First World War.

The lack of a sufficient number of German armored vehicles contributed in part to the defeat of the German forces during that conflict, especially in the face of the masses of tanks employed on the Allied side.

According to Article 171 of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was prohibited from having any "armored vehicles" or "any similar such materiel that could suit the purposes of war." Those provisions were monitored by an "Inter-Allied Control Commission" that was in force in Germany until February 1927.

In order to train for an armored force, which was vitally necessary in modern warfare, the German armed forces were reduced to using wheeled dummies that were pushed by soldiers or mounted on the chassis of light automobiles. The picture presented to the soldier on the ground by such displays was not well suited to conveying the elements of firepower, mobility and armor that defined the values of an armored vehicle or convincing them of the power and lethality of that new and modern type of weapons system.

From 1920 to 1926, Generaloberst Hans Seeckt was the Chief-of-Staff of the Army. Seeckt made the German Army into a gigantic school of leadership, which later proved itself immensely' and which attempted to do its bidding in the establishment of a modern army with special emphasis on technical proficiency and the mastery of weapons under the watchful eyes of the Inter-Allied Control Commission. Under Seeckt's authority, German soldiers and aviators received training on aircraft and fighting vehicles, under the strictest of secrecy, in the Soviet Union.

Following the disestablishment of the Panzerwaffe in the wake of the First World War, the tradition of combat vehicles was maintained in the Kraffahr- Abteilung of the Reichswehr.2 The motorized force consisted of seven battalions, which all reported to one of the seven divisions for mobilization purposes. The main mission of the battalion was to assure the flow of supplies for the divisions.

Supervisory responsibility for the motorized battalions fell to the Inspektion der Kraflfahrtruppens in the Ministry of Defense.

2.1927-33: From "Motorized Forces" to "Motorized Combat Forces"

At the end of the 1920s, the Inspector General of the motorized forces at the time, General der Artillerie Vollard-Bockelberg, who has been called the "trailblazer for the Panzertruppe,"4 gradually had the motorized battalion reorganized with motorcycle infantry companies and combat vehicle training companies (armored cars and dummy tanks). These would prove to be the nucleus of the future Panzertruppe. Thus, an increasingly motorized and combat-capable force evolved from what was once a transportation element.

In 1922, Hauptmann Guderian was transferred into the Motorized Forces Directorate from his light infantry battalion in Goslar. He was tasked with exploring the usage of motorized and armored forces and developed concepts for their employment, which later led to the idea of operational-level employment. He wrote in his memoirs:

By studying military history, the exercises in England and our own experiences with our dummy tanks, I was reinforced in my belief that tanks were only capable of their best performance if the other branches, on whose help they always relied, were brought to the same status in terms of speed and cross-country mobility.

In that formation, the tanks always had to play the most important role the other branches had to orient on the tanks.

One could not put the tanks in infantry divisions instead, one had to establish armored divisions, in which all of the branches that the tanks needed to be combat effective were present.'

Thus, thedevelopmentofmodern armoredforces was based on the concept of fast armored formations capable of large-scale actions at operational level, could accomplish missions independently and were capable of fighting as combined arms.

That concept became the basis for the command and control and doctrine of the Panzertruppe in the Second World War. It proved itself without reservation, and it still enjoys validity to this day in all modern armies. Guderian was the father of that concept.

After Guderian was promoted to Oberstleutnant in 1930 and assumed command of a motorized battalion, he returned to the Directorate of Motorized Forces on 1 October 1931 as its Chief-ofStaff. He reported to Generalmajor Oswald Lutz, who had been designated the head of the directorate on 1 April 1931. On 1 May 1933, the motorized battalions of the armed forces were redesignated as motorized combat battalions.

Both men complemented each other well, with Lutz eventually becoming known as the "father of army motorization" and Guderian as the "creator of the Panzertruppe."e One of Guderian's closest staff officers was Major i.G.' Walther K. Nehring, who was assigned there in January 1932.

After four years of hard work-often against the resistance of higher levels of command that were not prepared to accept armored vehicles as a separate branch-they created the prerequisites for the establishment of the first three armored divisions in October 1935.

3. The Armored School at KAMA

Following negotiations with the Soviets, an armor school for German personnel was established with the code name of KAMA. It was located at a former artillery base with a gunnery range about five kilometers from the city of Kasan, about 750 kilometers east of Moscow. In addition, there was an aviation school at Lipezk and a gas-warfare school at Saratow.

Starting in 1928, the Soviet Union provided training lands, living quarters, equipment (including armored vehicles under development for the Soviets) and about 60 personnel. In return, Soviet officers were permitted to attend courses and exercises in Germany.

The instructors, engineers, technicians and course participants who went to the Soviet Union were temporarily discharged from the military for the duration of the courses. Soviets also attended courses at KAMA. In ,July 1929, the first prototypes of German armored vehicles arrived at the school, which still bore the code name of "agricultural tractors" to hide their true intent." In addition to the training conducted, technical trials with the six heavy and four light "tractors" were given great emphasis.

The first course of instruction was given in 192930, followed by it second one from 1931 to 1932 and a third and final until September 1933. The school was dissolved in the fall of 1933, after German-Soviet relations worsened.

As a result of technical and tactical knowledge gained there, the approximately 30 officers who were trained there later formed the nucleus of the first German armored training units. The school had enabled the creation of the first batch of trainers and instructors, without which the rapid establishment of the first training formations in 1934-35 would not have been possible."

Many of those who attended or taught at the school were later to be found in leadership positions giment 5. Among them were Major within Panzer-Re Harpe (school director, 1932-33), HauptmannConze (tactics instructor), Oberleutnant Volckheim (tactics instructor), Oberleutnant Kiihn (gunnery instructor), Hauptmann von Koppen (class advisor), Oberleutnant Thomale (course participant) and Oberleutnant Mildebrath (course participant).

As a result, the armor school in the Soviet Union yielded significant importance for the development of operational doctrine, exerted influence on the organizational basis for the establishment of the first German armored formations that followed soon thereafter and influenced the initial construction of German armored vehicles.

Another course participant was Oberleutnant Klaus Muller, who wrote of his experiences in May 1972 in an article entitled So leblen and arbeiteten wir 1929 bis 1933 in KAMA."' Here are some excerpts:

Second Part of the Course: 1931-1932

As usual, the technical preparatory work started in the middle of January. All of the tractors received new experimental tracks, with and without rubber pads. The heavy tractors also received track pins with grease. It was soon determined that the tracks with rubber pads encountered too much resistance when steering. The greased track pins did not work out at all, since water and sand entered through the pin gaskets, thus providing an extremely effective abrasive leading to premature wear. The desired larger roadwheels could not be mounted on these tractors.

The larger roadwheels, double sprockets for driving the track and open track with ungreased pins were therefore slated for future construction.

Starting on 10 May 1932, the German course participants started on their way home by land via Dunaburg and the frontier at Bigossowo .

Since the rations the previous year provided enough calories but lacked in vitamins, Hauptmann Conze arranged for seeds to come from Germany. As a result, the camp garden was able to provide considerably more fresh vegetables than previously .

In July 1932, Oberstleutnant Guderian visited so as to be able to form an opinion on further developments after taking rides in both the small tractors and the heavy ones. He dictated that the development of the heavy tractors was to be emphasized.

At about the end of July, additional tactical and technical training followed for the German participants. Gunnery aids consisting of sub-caliber devices, air guns and firing at film (gunnery movies) were tested. For the gunnery movies, Hauptmann von Koppen received instruction at the weapons directorate and at the Ufa studios in Neu- babelsberg. In addition, improved firing devices were tested, which could be operated mechanically or electrically by the foot or the knee. There was an assortment of periscopes, sighting devices and different types of ammunition. The advantages and disadvantages of mechanical or electrical turret traversing mechanisms had to be determined, as well as sucking out or blowing out remaining gunpowder fumes. Since communications between and among members of the crew had to function without question, it was necessary to procure our own intercom system. There were difficulties in transmission from the non-moveable

part to the moveable part, the turret. The construction of the collector ring was no easy matter .

In the middle of August, the Russian course participants-some 100 commanders from all branches, as well as Red Army engineers-arrived. They remained until the middle of October. The Russian participants arrived without rank insignia, just as they had the previous year, so no one know who they were dealing with. All of the course participants were inquisitive and industrious. They placed special value on having a template for every type of order, which, it should be mentioned, could lead to a certain degree of rigidity. Camaraderie between the German and Russian participants was advanced by a weekly meal taken together .

The degree to which solidarity was fostered with the Russian forces is demonstrated by the invitation of all of the German course participants to a company function by the training company of the armor school in Leningrad. The political advisor of the company had issued the invitation and directed the evening affair, with the company commander practically functioning as a guest. When the Germans appeared, the Russians stood up, followed by a cheer that was given three times . despite beer and a lot of vodka, there were no drunk soldiers. The discipline was good.

We noticed whenever the Russians conducted combat gunnery that the targets were more lifelike than the ones we used, for example, Polish or Czech uniforms were portrayed. Russian exercises were also conducted with amphibious tanks, whereby an engineer company participated. The gunnery training continued. The ranges had to be laid out there were no plans. Since there were no barriers, warning devices or telephone bunkers, the range safety duties had to be carried out by cavalry. The Russian translator was clear and simple: "Whenever it's booming, everyone goes away they know, after all, that it's a gunnery range here."

Once a Panje cart" was hit by an armorpiercing round the horse was able to escape!

Somewhat more awkward was the occasion when a Soda machine gun was being loaded-which had to be done at maximum elevation-and the Russian course participant accidently stepped on the foot trigger and placidly emptied both magazines with a total of 1,000 rounds. In a neighboring factory, one worker was hit in the shoulder, another in the upper thigh. How the matter was handled remained a mystery .

Besides General Lutz and Oberstleutnant Guderian, General von Hammerstein- Equord12 visited us for a short while that year. Even if all of the higher-ranking officers traveled in civilian clothes and used code names, the actual secrecy as a practical matter was somewhat different. Whenever groups-always of the same size-always traveled from the Berlin-Zoo station at certain times of the year and always had additional baggage with them-all the same size and all numbered consecutively-then the rail officials and baggage handlers smiled in a friendly manner, wished them a goodjour- ney and a quick return. It was a bit stickier for a course participant whenever a wife, who was spending the time with relatives in a smaller town, was regularly visited by a

Herr Schulz from Berlin with a payroll and the husband had completely disappeared from the picture. In another case, people were upset when a wife gave birth to a son shortly after the husband's departure, and he had apparently left her in the lurch. The same people were even more amazed when the husband reappeared half a year later . In summary, 1932 must be considered a year of considerable progress in training and cooperation with the Russians.

As a result of the political changes in Germany, we no longer counted on a detail of participants from the Russians, which was, in fact, what happened. As a result, the training of the German participants could continue as planned without any interruption. Extensive driving exercises alternated with live-fire exercises with machine guns or 3.7-centimeter cannon, even though the gunnery range was not often made available as a result of the worsening of relationships . In addition, there were no more exercises with Russian forces. In the middle of the intensive training came the news that the training and testing base of KAMA was to be closed by 15 September.

The preparations for the departure started in the middle of August . what, whether and how everything would be brought back was left to the clear directives of Major Harpe, who certainly had no easy time of it in negotiating. In a cooperative effort involving all of the Germans and the Russian employees, all of the weapons, ammunition, tanks-tractors, that is-and military equipment, as well as the library, were removed. Everything had to be packed in crates and sealed. The crates for the tanks had to be enlarged, since the vehicles had taken on other dimensions in the meantime. Special lifting devices had to be fabricated for the transfer in Leningrad. Everything had to get to the railhead at Kasan under its own power or towed. The freight cars that arrived had to be thoroughly inspected and greased for the 14-day trip to Leningrad, since none of the axles could be allowed to overheat during the trip . The equipment was taken miner Russian guard on two trains to Leningrad. The movements all took place without incident, including Leningrad. The relationships with the Russian leadership were proper and irreproachable to the very end. In the meantime, all of the Germans had either departed from Kasan by train via Moscow or by ship via Leningrad. The last one to leave the camp was Major Harpe. Our leaving was not easy for the Russian workers. The initial period in the rebirth of the Panzertruppe was ended.

German Training Sites and Schools in the Soviet Union, 1922-33

4.1933-34: Establishment of the "Motorization Training Command"

The military and political situation in Germany changed fundamentally in 1933, when Adolf Hitler became the Reich Chancellor. Hitler recognized the operational possibilities of modern weapons systems, especially the importance of the new Panzertruppe.

The first formation of the fledgling Panzertruppe was established at Zossen, about 40 kilometers south of Berlin, on 1 November 1933. It consisted of officers who had attended the KAMA course and personnel details of around 50 men in all from the seven motorized battalions to serve as cadre and trainees.

For reasons of secrecy and deception, the new formation was referred to as Kraftfahrlehrkommando It initially consisted of a headquarterscommanded by Major Harpe and based temporarily in Berlin-Moabit-and a company disguised as a "Training Section" under the command of Hauptmann Conze. The new command reported directly to the Inspectorate of Motorized forces at the Ministry of Defense.

Duty Positions of the Motorization Training Command Zossen (as of 1 November 1933)

Adjutant: Oberleutnant Martin

Staff Captain: Hauptmann Baumgart

1. Kompanie ("Training Section"): Hauptman Conze

Officers: Hauptmann Thomale, Oberleutnant Kohn, Oberleutnant Ebert, Oberleutnant Henning and Oberleutnant Mildebrath

Officers in the Photograph on the Next Page with a Special Connection to Panzer-Regiment 5

1. Generalleutnant Lutz, the "Father of Army Motorization." Inspector General of Motorized Forces. Final rank: General der Panzertruppen.

2. Oberst i.G. Guderian, the "Creator of the Panzertruppe." Chief-of-Staff of the Inspectorate of Motorized Forces in the Ministry of Defense. Last rank: Generaloberst.

3. Major i.G. Nehring, operations officer in the Inspectorate of Motorized Forces. From 13 October 1937 until July 1939, he was the commander of Panzer-Regiment 5 (Oberst). Last rank: General der Panzertruppen.

4. Major Harpe, last commander of the KAMA Armor School. Effective 1 November 1933: Commander of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Last rank: Generaloberst.

5. Hauptmann Conze. Effective 1 November 1933, the commander of the 1st Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Acting commander of PanzerRegiment 5 during the campaign in Poland. Last rank: Generalmajor.

6. Hauptmann Thomale. Effective 1 March 1934, commander of the 2nd Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Last rank: Generalleutnant.

7. Major Breith. Effective 1 August 1934, commander of the 2nd Battalion of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Commander of the IL/Panzer-Regiment 514 until 1938. Last rank: General der Panzertruppen.

8. Oberleutnant Mildebrath. Effective 1 August 1934, commander of the 6th Company of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Battalion commander in Africa and occasionally entrusted with acting command of the regiment. Last rank: Oberst.

9. Hauptmann Kohn. Effective 15 October 1935, commander of the 1st Company of PanzerRegiment 5. Commander of the 11./Panzer- Regiment 5 in Africa as a Major. Last rank: Oberst.

The founders of the Panzertruppe, Zossen, November 1933.

10. Oberleutnant von Wilcke. Effective 1 October 1936, commander of the 2nd Company of Panzer-Regiment 5 as a Hauptmann. As a Major, commander of the IL/Panzer-Regiment5 effective 10 November 1938. Last rank: Oberst.

11. Oberleutnant Martin. Effective 1 October 1936, adjutant to the commander of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. As a Hauptmann, commander of the 5th Company of PanzerRegiment 5. As an Oberstieutnant, commander of the 11/Panzer-Regiment 5 in Africa. Mortally wounded on 27 May 1942.

12. Oberleutnant Ebert. Effective 1 November 1933, commander of the 1st Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Last rank: Oberstleutnant.

13. Oberleutnant Henning. Effective 1 November 1933, assigned to the 1st Company ("Training Section") of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. Assigned as a company officer to the 8th Company of Panzer-Regiment 5 until 1938.

Most of the military facilities at Zossen were constructed in the period from 1910 to 1913 to serve the forces training at the Zossen Training Area. The base camp was located at the western edge of the training area. Range II was only 1,000 meters away Range III, 500.

During World War I, forces were activated at the garrison, which later saw action in the conflict. In 1919, several elements of differing free corps were billeted at the garrison.

From 1925 to 1929, portions of the buildings were used as children's recreational facilities for the city of Berlin. On 1 November 1933, the Motorization Training Command was established in the garrison.

In accordance with directives from the General Staff of the Army on 14 September 1936, Zossen was to be expanded to become the Headquarters for the High Command of the Army.

From 1937 to 1940, Camp "Zeppelin" was constructed, consisting of two bunker complexes,

"Maybach I" and "Maybach II." Communications Center "Zeppelin" was also constructed to support the facilities. On 26 August 1939, the German Army Headquarters moved to Zossen and occupied "Maybach I," among other facilities.

Just before the end of the war in 1945, the High Command of the Armed Forces moved to Zossen, occupying "Maybach II." As the result of an Allied bombing raid on 15 March 1945, large portions of the main garrison were destroyed.

The town of Zossen was approximately 3 kilometers distant from the military facilities. The ranges for the garrison were located just east of the main buildings.

In the winter of 1933-34, the emphasis for training was placed on driver's training for the future unit activations. The hilly terrain associated with the Zossen Training Area placed _link_ great demands on the driving skills of students, who referred to the area as the "waves of the Danube." During this period, the first chassis of what was to become the Panzer I arrived for driver's training. As a deception measure, the vehicles were referred to as "agricultural tractors.""

Stationing at the military facilities at Zossen as seen in a 1924 postcard.

Berlin-Zossen map (1:1,000,000) from 1940.

Chassis of a Panzer I used for driver's training at the Zossen Training Area.

On 1 March 1934, the Motorization Training Command Zossen was expanded to three companies. On 1 April, the headquarters of the command moved from Berlin-Moabit to Zossen. Effective 16 April 1934, a fourth company was added.

Command Positions of Motorization Training Command Zossen (as of 1 April 1934)'

Commander: MajorHarpe (formerly the commander of the KAMA Armor School)

Ist Company: Hauptmann Conze (formerly an instructor at the KAMA Armor school)

2nd Company: Hauptmann Thomale (formerly an instructor at the KAMA Armor school)

3rd Company: Hauptmannvon Koppen (formerly an instructor at the KAMA Armor school)

4th Company: (16 April 1934): HauptmannWenden- burg

In April 1934, the entire strength of the command, after the addition of 150 recruits, was 500.

On 1 June 1934, the Inspectorate of Motorized Forces was redesignated as the Motorized Combat Forces Command. Generalleutnant Lutz was simultaneously given permission to establish a second Motorization Training Command. The second command was established through personnel levies against the first command at Zossen, from assorted motorized battalions and from several deactivated cavalry regiments. The new command was designated as the Motorization Training Command Ohrdruf. That was the first "fusion" of the command at Zossen, which was the nucleus for the establishment later on of Panzer-Regiment 5. More were to follow.

Starting on 1 August 1934, the training command at Zossen was expanded with personnel levies from Reiter-Regiment3and Reiter-Regiment 8," as well as three motorized battalions (3, 5 and 6). This enlarged the command to two battalions. On 1 October 1934, the command positions were occupied as shown below.

Motorization Training Command Zossen Command Positions

Commander: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort

Commander: Oberstleutnant Harpe

1st Company: Hauptmann Thomale

2nd Company: Hauptman Volckheim

3rd Company: Hauptman Schwenck

5th Company: Oberleutnantvon Heinemann

6th Company: OberleutnantMildebrath

On 1 October, the Zossen command was redesignated as Kampf vagenregiment I and the Ohrdruf command as Kampfivagezregiment 2.'0 Both regiments initially kept their code names.

Both of those regiments, as well as the newly formed Kampfivagenregiment 3, that had been created out of Reiter-Regiment 12, were attached to Motorization Training Headquarters Berlin on the same date. All three elements were amalgamated

into Fighting Vehicle Brigade Berlin,20 with the first commander being GeneralmajorFessmann.

After serial production of the Panzer I was initiated in July 1934, the vehicle was delivered to all of the units, with the result that training could be started at the platoon and company level. The first company inspection took place in the spring of 1935.

The term "armored fighting vehicle" (Panzer- kampfivagen) represented a combination of "armored vehicle" (Panzerzuagen) and "fighting vehicle" (Kam- pfivagen). What that encompassed was a fully tracked armored vehicle with a main weapon, which is incorporated into a 360-degree traversable turret. For this work, the commonly used term "tank" will be used as shorthand for armored fighting vehicle.

Approximately 1,500 Panzer Is were built by the firms involved in their construction from 1934 to 1939.

With an effective date of 12 November 1934,21 special-purpose clothing was authorized for service on armored vehicles. It was designed to replaced the previous special-purpose uniform worn by the motorized forces. The branch-of-service color chosen for the new branch was rose pink.

The branch-of-service color appeared along the edge of the jacket collar (later discarded), around the collar patches, on the shoulder straps (enlisted personnel) and as underlay on the boards (officers). The crash helmet/beret had only national insignia on it, but the field cap for both officers and enlisted, whether in field gray or black, had branch-of-service piping on it as well (also later officially discarded).

Initially, both the field jacket and the crash helmet/beret combination had no national insignia. Effective 11 November 1935, the national insignia started to be worn on both items.22

Shown above is the special-purpose tanker's uniform in a period post card. This soldier was assigned to Panzer-Regiment 6, as indicated by the numerals on the shoulder straps. Members of other tank regiments wore analogous numerals.

The new uniform, consisting of black jacket and trousers, a dark-gray tricot shirt and black tie was chosen because it was not likely to show stains through oil and grease. It was also designed so that there were few areas that could get caught in the

narrow confines of an armored vehicle. The crash helmet/beret combination, which was never really popular with the crews, was only worn until around 1940, when it was replaced with a black overseas cap.

A contemporary book on uniforms written by Eberhard Hettler in 1939 introduced the specialpurpose tanker uniform by means of the illustration on the following page.23

Special-Purpose Clothing of the Panzertruppe

For service in armored vehicles, personnel in the Panzertruppe and those issued armored vehicles will wear special-purpose clothing made out of black cloth: protective headgear, field jacket and field trousers.

Protective Headgear: The national insignia on the protective headgear corresponds to that worn on the field cap, that is, it is made out of silver-gray cotton for noncommissioned officers and enlisted personnel and light aluminum weave for officers. The oak-leave wreath for enlisted personnel, noncommissioned officers and officers is made out of silver-gray cotton.

Field Jacket: Basic cloth is black piping on the collar and around the collar patches in the branch-of-service piping collar patches in black

with aluminum death heads. Shoulder straps with piping in branch-of-service color with the base cloth in black. Shoulder straps for noncommissioned officers with corresponding silver trim officers use the shoulder boards of the field blouse. Insignia for enlisted personnel and musicians the same as the field blouse. No silver trim around the collar for noncommissioned officers, but twin rings for company sergeants. National insignia for all ranks out of woven silver-gray cotton on a black base.

Black field trousers without piping.

Worn with the black special-purpose clothing is a belt without sidearm. For parades, officers wear a belt with four de guerre. Noncommissioned officers and enlisted personnel wear the marksmanship lanyard, if awarded.

Footgear: Light lace-up shoes.

Another distinguishing feature of the uniform was the use of the death's head on the collar patches. Contrary to modern interpretation, these had no sinister purpose. Instead, it was merely a borrowing from the cavalry tradition, not only of Germany, but also of many other European countries. The death's head on the tanker's uniform continued the traditions of the First World War. The tankers from that conflict had painted a large death's head on the front side of their tanks. The tanker's badge for former tank crews of the First World War that was instituted by the Ministry of Defense on 13 July 1921 also bore a death's head.

At left is the fighting vehicle badge of the Weimar Republic commemorating former crewmembers of armored vehicles of the First World War, featuring the death's head symbol of the Panzertruppe.24

The musical needs of the force were also addressed with the writing of the "Tanker's Song" by Leutnant Wiehle, a young armor officer. It was set to the melody of a hiking song and soon became universally known." It was mandatory to learn the song and it was sung at every ceremonial occasion.

The Panzer-Lied on a prewar postcard.

5.1935: Birth of the Panzertruppe and PanzerRegiment 5

On 16 March 1935, the government of the Reich introduced general conscription, reestablishing the sovereignty of the military. The Reichswehr had become the Wehrmacht.

Starting in the spring of 1935, the companies of Kampfiuagen-Regiment I (Zossen) received 21 tanks (three platoons of seven tanks each). The fourth platoon of each company initially received only dummy vehicles.21

InJuly 1935, during a road march to the Doberitz Training Area, the regiment showed itself in public for the first time. During its stay at the training area, the formation-from individual companies to the regiment-was melded into a cohesive whole by means of exercises.

On the return march to Zossen, a parade was held at the Potsdam gardens by this first element of the new Panzertruppe for the Inspector General of Motorized Forces, GezeralleutnantLutz.

On 25 July 1935, both regiments participated in an exercise at the Zossen Training Area, which was attended not only by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, General der Artillerie Freiherr- von Fritsch,27 but also by Hitler. This was followed by training and testing exercises at the Munster Training Area. While there, Lutz and Guderian proved the value of "combined-arms fighting" through the use of additional fully motorized elements from other branches of service that successfully worked together with the tanks. The effort to create an "armored division" had succeeded thanks to the dynamism, farsightedness and persistence of its creator, Guderian. The exercises were concluded at the training area with a parade for the Minister of Defense.

From the training area at Munster, the headquarters of the 2nd Battalion and the 5th Company moved to the Ohrdruf Training Area, where the ad hoc Panzer-Abteilung Nurnberg was established under Major Breith. In addition to the elements cited above, the battalion was also composed of elements from the rest of Kampfwagen-Regiment I and its sister regiment, Kampfivagen-Regiment 2. The mission of the battalion was to present the fledgling Panzertruppe to the general public for the first time at the Reich Party Days in Nuremberg from 10 to 16 September 1935. The battalion was then paraded at the Buckeberg, which was an annual gathering of farmers, where the armed forces put on displays to demonstrate its importance and capabilities to the agricultural community.

Panzer-Abteilung Nurnberg at the Buckeberg in 1935.

The presentation of the Panzertruppe at the Reich Party Days in 1935.

On 27 September 1935, the Kommando der Kraftfahrkampftruppen was redesignated as the Kommando der Panzertruppen. Lutz, the commanding general, was promoted to become the first General derPanzertruppen on 1 November 1935.

On 1 October 1935, Kampfiuagenregiment 2 (Ohrdruf) was deactivated and the personnel used to form the first four tank regiments: 1, 2, 3 and 4. On 15 October 1935, the first armored contingent of the German Armed Forces, Kraftfahrlehrkommando Zossen/Kampfivagenregiment 1, was redesignated as Panzer-Regiment 5. The command positions of the regiment were occupied as follows on 15 October 1935:28

Commander: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort

Commander: Oberstleutnant Streich

1st Company: Hauptmann Kohn

2nd Company: Hauptmann Thomale

3rd Company: Hauptmann Linke

4th Company: Hauptmann Wendenburg

5th Company: Oberleutnantvon Heinemann

6th Company: Oberleutnant Mildebrath

7th Company: Hauptmann von Langenthal

Organization of the 3. Panzer-Division at the End of 1935

Legend to German entries: ab= effective DivKdr= Divisionshonimandeur= Division Coinnrander Generalleutnant= Generalleutnant DivKdo = Divisions Kommando = Division Headquarters AuJblAbt = Aufhldrungs-Abteilung = Reconnaissance Battalion PzAbwAbt = Panzerabwehr-Abteilung= Antitank Battalion NachAbt= i achrichten Abteilung= Signals Battalion PiKp = Pionier Konipanie = Engineer Company ArtAbt = Artillerie-Abteilung = Artillery Battalion ArtRgt = Artillerie-Regiment = Artillery Regiment not = motorisiert = motorized BrigKdr = BrigadeKommandeur = Brigade Commander Schiitzen-Brigade = Rifle Regiment, Schiitzen-Bataillon = Rifle Battalion Kradschiitzenbataillon= Motorcycle Infantry Battalion Abteilung= Battalion.

In addition, both of the battalions had a light tank platoon and a signals platoon. The regiment had a maintenance company

15 October 1935 can be considered as the birth date of the Panzertruppe. The goal of having a branch of service capable of conducting operational-level missions that stood on its own and with its own command had been realized. Initially, it consisted of three armored divisions, which also had motorized or armored components from other branches of service. The first three armored division that reported to the Armored Forces Command were

1. Panzer-Division (headquartered in Weimar)

Commander: GeneralleutnantMaximilian Reichsfreiherr von Weichs (originally cavalry)

2. Panzer-Division (headquartered in Wurzburg)

Commander: Oberst Heinz Guderian (originally infantry, then motorized forces)

3. Panzer-Division (headquartered in Berlin)

Commander: GeneralmajorErnstFessmann (originally cavalry, then motorized forces)

Panzer-Regiment 5 was assigned to the 3. PanzerDivision. Some claim that the birth date of the regiment was actually 1 October 1934, but since the official designation of Panzer-Regiment 5was not used until 15 October 1935, that is the date that will be given precedence in this study.

The establishment of troop elements for the new armored divisions meant that Panzer-Regiment 5 had

to give up considerable amounts of personnel. For instance, the activation of Panzer-Regiment 6 in Zossen meant that officers and men from Panzer-Regiment 5 had to be reassigned. In addition, the new regiment received personnel levies from Reiter-Regiment 4 (Potsdam). Together with Panzer-Regiment 6, the two tank regiments formed the 3. Panzer-Brigade of the 3. Panzer-Division. In addition to providing personnel for its sister regiment, Panzer-Regiment 5 also had to provide two complete companies to help establish Panzer-Regiment 4 on 15 October 1935. The division was organized as follows on 15 October 1935:

The Garrisons of the 3. Panzer-Division in the Brandenburg Region (see map on next page)

Berlin: Headquarters of both the 3. Panzer-Division and the 3. Panzer-Brigade

Eberswalde: Headquarters of the 3. Schutzen-Brigade, Schutzen-Regiment 3 IL/Artillerie-Regiment 75

Neuruppin: Panzer-Regiment 6 Headquarters and the L/Artillerie-Regiment 75

Wunsdorf: Panzer-Regiment 5 Panzerabivehr-Abteilung 39

Rathenow: Pionier-Bataillon 39

Bad Freienwalde: Kradschutzen-Bataillon 3

Stahnsdorf: Nachrichten-Abteilung 39 Aufhlarungs- Abteilung 3

6. Panzer-Regiment 5 in the Wunsdorf Garrison

The small town of Wiinsdorf, in the province of Teltow, 42 kilometers south of Berlin, was selected as the garrison for Panzer-Regiment 5. It had already served as a military garrison during the First World War. The buildings for the infantry gunnery school were constructed there from 1911 to 1913. In 1925, the training battalion of Infanterie-Regiment 9 (Potsdam) moved there in 1925. It was followed in 1931 by the 3./Preuf3ische Kraftfahr-Abteilung 3.99 In 1935, Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 39 moved in. The garrison was later named the Hindenburg-Kaserne.

In addition to the troop units stationed in the garrison, there was also a military gymnastics school. It was established between 1914 and 1916. German athletes trained there for the 1936 Olympics. During the First World War, there were also a number of prisoner-of-war camps erected in the vicinity of Wunsdorf. Also, in 1918, Wunsdorf became the

home of the replacement battalion for the German armored forces of the First World War.

The location of various training facilities close by made it a good location for tank training. There was the nearby Zossen Training Area, which had been established in 1907, the Doberitz Training Area, which was approximately 50 kilometers away, and the Kiimmersdorf Gunnery Ranges.

In the years 1935-36, there was considerable construction for the new garrisons, on the order of magnitude of some 80 buildings. These were intended for Panzer-Regiment 5, the Armor School and the Motorization Training and Testing Battalion. Panzer-Regiment 5 started moving to Wunsdorf on 20 October 1935. The move was underscored by a large motor march that morning from the previous garrison at Zossen along Reich Highway 96 to Wnsdorf. There was a large civilian population present to witness the move, all accompanied by the music of the regimental band.

After the companies moved in, they immediately started work on making the sterile environs more hospitable, so that the soldiers would have a comfortable "home" during their time of service, which would offer comfort and respite after the daily duties. As a result, noncommissioned officer and enlisted common areas were established, as well as reading rooms, table tennis areas and game rooms. All of the rooms had a civilian radio. The windows were decorated with curtains and flower boxes. Commemorative displays were set up in the long hallways.

In addition, gunnery ranges, a small sports facility and a gymnasium were all established using their own means.

The 1st Battalion built a boathouse on Lake Wiinsdorf. Members of the battalion had the opportunity to participate in rowing or simply enjoy the water there. Many recruits from all areas of Germany thus became acquainted with the beautiful local scenery.

In October 1935, the regiment received its first conscripts from the reintroduction of the draft in March of that year.30 The were sworn in along with the other recruits of the garrison in a ceremony on 7 November.

Legend: Lutz-Kaserne: Built 1934-35 as Garrison IV. Occupied on 20 October 1935 by the IL/PanzerRegiment 5.

Panzertruppenschule: Armor School.

Kraftfahrlehr- and . Motorization Training and Testing Battalion.

Heeresspm-tschule: Army Sports School.

Hindenburg-Kasenw Panzerabwehr-Abteiluug 39.

Cambrai-Kaserne: Built 1934-35 as Garrison III. Occupied on 20 October 1935 by the Headquarters of Panzer-Regiment 5 and the L/Panzer-Regiment 5.

20 October 1935: The commander of Panzer-Regiment 5, Oberstleutnant Zuckertort, enters the garrison of Wiinsdorf, signified by the white tape, as the first vehicle after moving along Reich Highway 96. His vehicle is the command version of the Panzer I, the Panzerbefehlswagen L

20 October 1935: The 1st Battalion of Panzer-Regiment 5 enters Garrison III with its vehicles. The garrison was christened the Cambrai-Kaserne on 22 February 1938. To the left is the battalion headquarters to the right is the regimental headquarters.

20 October 1935: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort after arriving at the new garrison.

The 2nd Battalion was billeted in Garrison IV, which was later christened the General-Lutz-Kaserne. View from the garrison in the direction of Reich Highway 96. To the left is the battalion headquarters on the right is the billet of the 5th Company.

A postcard of General-Lutz-Kaserne in 1936. The Fighting Vehicle Memorial, which was dedicated on 16 March 1936, featured a "heavy tractor" from the KAMA Armor School. The billets of the 5th Company are on the left, one of the battalion mess halls is in the middle and the billet of the 6th Company is on the right.

The boathouse of the 1st Battalion of the regiment along Lake Wiinsdorf.

Bronze memorial of the 2nd Battalion of Panzer-Regiment 5 in Wiinsdorf. It reads: "In the Spirit of Comrades from the World War: Attack-Fight-Win." Both this memorial and the one below feature the only German tank of the First World War, the A7V.

Adolf Hitler visits Zossen before the war.

Krupp-Daimler Sd.Kfz. 3 of Kraftfahr-Abteilung 4. Like all of the other motorized battalions of the Reichswehr, it had to provide personnel for the establishment of the Motorization Training Command Zossen. The soldier in the middle is the future Hauptmann Bassenge, who was a member of the regiment from 1937 to 1939, ending his assignment there as the company commander of the 3rd Company.

One of the first: Kurt Helms, horn on 19 July 1912 in Schonebeck on the Elbe. At 17, he entered the military. In November 1933, he was transferred from KraftfahrAbteilung 4 to Motorization Training Command Zossen. In the image, he is wearing the uniform of a member of the motorized battalion. Upon his transfer, he started training new recruits in the 1st Company in April 1934 as a noncommissioned officer. After the training command was redesignated as Panzer-Regunent 5, he was transferred to the regimental headquarters and later became the First Sergeant of the 5th Company. He participated in the campaigns in Poland, France and North Africa. In 1942, he was captured at El Alamein.

23 April 1934: Swearing-in ceremony for recruits at Zossen. All the way to the left is Hauptmann Conze, the commander of the 1st Company. The 2nd Company can be seen in the far right of the image.

Transitional training from horses and trucks to tankers. In November 1934, the black tanker uniform was introduced, which initially featured no national insignia. They were not added until the beginning of November 1935.

A Model A Panzerlat the Zossen Training Area. Until 1940, the Panzer Iwas the mainstay of the tank regiments. It had originally been conceived as solely a training and exercise vehicle. Operations in Spain, Poland, France and North Africa quickly demonstrated that neither its armor nor armament were capable of standing up to a fight against enemy armor. By the end of 1941, it had disappeared from front-line service, except in a variety of specialpurpose modifications.

Zossen, 1934: Soldiers of the training command after a combat exercise.

1934: An evening social. An apple wine cooler cost 15 Pfennig.

Spring of 1935: Combat training on a PanzerI.

11 May 1935: Cleaning and maintenance of personal clothing and equipment.

Potsdam, July 1935: the first public parade of the Motorization Training Command Zossen.

August 1935: Instructional and testing exercises. Divisional-level exercise involving combined arms at the Munster Training Area. In the middle of the picture is Oberstleutnant i.G. Walther K Nehring, who was the operations officer of the Inspectorate for Motorized Combat Forces in the Ministry of Defense. He was a close associate of Heinz Guderian, the "Creator of the Panzertruppe." (Photo courtesy of the Chr. Nehring)

Postcard view of exercises with Panzer l's at a training area.

14-17 September 1935: Panzer-AbteilungNurnbergat the Reich Party Days at Nuremberg. The ad hoc battalion was composed of elements of both the Zossen and Ohrdruf motorization training commands under the command of MajorBreith, who is seen here in the lead Panzer I. He was the commander of the Zossen command's 2nd Battalion, effective 1 August 1934.

18 June 1935: The Motorization Training Command Zossen had its own hand.

20 October 1935: Oberstleutnant Zuckertort, the commander of Panzer-Regiment 5, enters the grounds of the Wiinsdorf garrison after road-marching on Reich Highway 96 from Zossen. His command and control vehicle, a Panzerbefehlswagen I, breaks the white tape that had been placed across the road.

The Cambrai-Kaserne in Wiinsdorf. It was initially built under contract from the Army Construction Office in Berlin from 1934 to 1935 as Garrison III. It was occupied on 20 October 1935 by the headquarters of PanzerRegiment 5 and its 1st Battalion (Commander: MajorStreich).

Guard force in front of the Cambrai-Kaserne (period postcard). A soldier of the regiment sounded the trumpet three times daily: "Reveille" (0600 hours), "Prelude to Taps" (2045 hours) and "Taps" (2100 hours).

Another view of the armor memorial at the Cambrai-Kaserne (period postcard).

A close-up view of the A7Vmodeled in the memorial.

General-Lutz-Kaserne along Reich Highway 96 in Wunsdorf-Zossen. It was built under contract from the Army Construction Office in Berlin from 1934 to 1935 as Garrison IV. It was occupied on 20 October 1935 by the 2nd Battalion of PanzerRegiment 5 (Commander: MajorBreith).

Marker on the company billets of the 7th Company in Wunsdorf.

Memorial in front of the company. The First Sergeant of the company, Oberfeldwebel Rother, can be seen on the left. To his left is Oberleutnant Lessen.

Conscription was reintroduced in Germany on 16 March 1935. The first draftees for Panzer-Regiment 5 are greeted at the Wunsdorf train station and escorted back to the garrison by the regimental band.

October 1935: Draftees for the 1st Battalion of Panzer-Regiment 5 enter the garrison.

7 November 1935: Swearing in recruits at the General-Lutz-Kaserne.

The regimental hand. The soldiers were assigned to the headquarters of the regiment.

Panzers in the Sand

A nother trip to my local bookshop, David’s during my lunch break today and I picked up these two beauties, “Panzers in the Sand“, volumes one and two by Bernd Hartmann.

They cover the history of Panzer Regiment 5 from 1935 to 1945. The tank regiment took part in the invasion of Poland and then France and then joined Rommel’s Afrika Korps. It took part in the battle for Tobruk and El Alamein.

Following the surrender of the German forces in Africa, the regiment was reformed as Panzer-Abteilung 5, an assault gun unit and was sent to the Eastern Front and fought until the end of the war.

The books are in first class condition and cost me £7 each (originally £19.99 in 2011). They are packed with photographs, diagrams and maps and tell the story of many of the individual combatants. A quick flick-through shows there are photos or diagrams on almost every pages across both volumes.

They look like they will be a really useful and interesting addition to my military history library and coincide with my recent purchase of the Perry Afrika Korps and Desert Rat 28mm miniatures.

The author, Bernd Hartmann, served in the German Army, post-war and retired as a lieutenant-colonel. He is a spokesman for the veteran’s association for Panzer Regiment 5.

Panzers in the Sand: Volume One 1935 – 41

  • by Bernd Hartmann
  • ISBN 184884505-7
  • Published by Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2010
  • 298 pages

Panzers in the Sand: Volume Two 1942 – 45

Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann - History

Panzers in the Sand Volume One (Hardback)

The History of the Panzer-Regiment 5

£15.00 was £19.99

You save £4.99 (25%)

+£4.50 UK Delivery or free UK delivery if order is over £35
(click here for international delivery rates)

Need a currency converter? Check for live rates

In September 1939, the tanks of Panzer-Regiment 5 swept into Poland, a devastating part of the German blitzkrieg that opened World War II with a terrifying display of military force. The following spring, the regiment rumbled across France, again showing the destructive power of the panzer. But the unit&rsquos greatest fame would come in the North African desert, where Panzer-Regiment 5 joined Erwin Rommel&rsquos vaunted Afrika Korps as it battled the British back and forth beneath the scorching sun of Libya and Egypt.

Not another regimental history! Many keen readers of this column will now be mouthing these words as they try to decide whether this one stands out from the rest. It does if for no other reason than it is the unique story of one of the most famous Wehrmacht regiments of the Second World War. Unique because it was there from the erliest days of Hitler's planning for war and was in action in Poland, Holland, Belgium and France, North Africa and subsequently on the Eastern Front. The author, Bernd Hartmann, a retired Oberstleutnant in the Bundeswehr, is an official spokesman for Panzer Regiment 5's Veteran's Association. He is well qualified, therefore, to write a history of a tank unit that epitomised the Third Reich's military might. Its 10 year span is split into two. This first volume covers the period from 1935, when Panzer Regiment 5 was formed in W_nsdorf, south of Berlin, until Tobruk and Operation Crusader in late 1941. As an aside, it is interesting to note that the Regimental Headquarters and 1st Battalion were based in Cambrai Kaserne! The second volume, covering the period 1942-45, will be reviewed in the next issue of the Tank.

Most readers will know something about Blitzkrieg tactics, the German Generals who became household names, and the tanks, often formidable, that we faced in France, North Africa and during the final phases of the War. Few of us are so conversant with life at regimental level when training for operations. Few of us are so conservant with life at regimental level when training for operations and in action itself. For this reason alone it is worth reading. For the military historian, this profusely illustrated book provides a factual historical record that can add another dimension to research on particular events, organizations, equipment or influences on decision making.

There are three main areas that were of considerable interest to this reviewer. First the extraordinary lengths the Germans went to learn about tank warfare. The Soviet Armour School at KAMA, 750 km east of Moscow, was used to train officers from 1929-33. The selected few - included the the Oberst Guderian - were temporarily discharged from the German Army to ensure complete secrecy. These courses enabled to German Armoured Troops to be built up rapidly from 1935. Doctrinal development and trials of prototype tanks were geared to ensuring that large-scale, combined arms operations were both understood and achievable. This was soon to be proven in action. Secondly, there are several sections on Lessons Learned after major operations. The extraordinary advance through Benelux countries and through France in 1940, covering 5,000 km in 6 weeks, was immediately followed by lessons and recommendations sent through the chain of command. Upgunning and uparmouring certain tanks were deemed to be high priority, as was low-level tactical points about firing at the short halt to increase accuracy. Finally, the several vivid personal anecdotes by German sub-unit commanders and crewmen of life during the operations in the Libyan desert could have been written by a British Tanky. The flies, dust, discomfort and disease were nor respecter of persons or nationalities. German crewman did, however, appreciate our rations - when they managed to purloin some. Maybe the grass is always greener. This is an informative and enjoyable read that does underline our similarities at crew level. As a former member of the Fifth it was particularly interesting to read about our direct counterparts.

Tank: The Regimental Journal

This is a very detailed work throughout, becoming increasingly readable as it develops. It should be of interest to anyone looking at the development of the German armoured forces before the Second World War. their deployment early in the war, or in the desert war in North Africa.

This is the first in a series of photographic histories about the German tank unit, Panzer Regiment 5. It features unpublished photographs backed by excellent text, beginning with the creation and evolution of the German Panzer Arm from pre-war training in Russia to its expansion in Germany following the Nazis arrival in power. The development of kit and the tanks is also addressed, as is their usage in conjunction with the infantry, dive-bombers and artillery.
The actions of the Regiment in the Czechoslovakian, Polish, French and North African campaigns are also explained, again supported by extremely interesting photographs.
This book will appeal to both those who have a general interest in German armour, and others looking for a detailed, high quality publication on the subject.


The first of a 2 volume set originally published as a German edition but now an English translation has been done, following the history of Panzer-Regiment 5. The author was too young to have served in WW2, but did serve in the Panzer troops after WW2 and chose to write a record of one of their longest established Panzer units. Spread over 2 volumes, he sorts out the conflicting accounts and recollections of events to establish the best truth of events and prepare a fine history on the unit. Making use of records plus a lot of opportunities over the years to get accounts from veterans, many of which you find throughout the book.

First published in German in 2002, these two volumes are a comprehensive history of Panzer-Regiment 5 by a veteran of the formation. The unit was among the first of the new Wehrmacht to be equipped with tanks back in 1935 and it took part in the Polish and French campaigns. The unit is most famous, however, for its deployment, in March 1941, to North Africa where it formed part of first 5 leichte Division and then 21 Panzer Division. Following its defeat in Tunisia in 1943, the regiment was reformed (equipped with Sturmgeschutz lll) and fought on the Eastern Front, before (this time equipped with Panthers) fighting as part of the new Panzer brigades in the West. The regiment ended the war as part of 25 Panzer Division north of Berlin.

This really is a cracking read - a mixture of good old fashioned military history, personal anecdotes and technical information. Both the men of the regiment and the machines they fought in are given equal attention and both volumes are illustrated with many period photos, many of which are unseen. The bulk of the two volumes is devoted to the fighting in North Africa and this is essential reading for any students of the Desert Campaign. The photographs of Panzer lll's, heavily modified by the regiment in the field, provide perfect inspiration for anyone tacking any of Dragon's new kits, while there are enough new images here to whet the appetite of most Panzer fans. Overall i can't recommend these volumes highly enough.

Military Modelcraft International

Panzers In The Sand, is the first of a two volume history of Panzer Regiment 5. A minor irritant is that this book has been translated into English, from German, by an American. Occassionally the translation (such as the letter home from an Afrika Corps soldier, complaining that he was ignored as a 'newbie') sounds silly. The book also uses the irritating Americanism describing tank crewmen as 'tankers', instead of the British expression 'tankies'.

Now that I've got that off my chest I can happily say that this is a truly fascinating account of life in an armoured regiment during its formative years, between 1935 and 1941. Overall, the narrative is well informed and interesting. But what really makes this book stand out is the wealth of photographs, illustrating daily life for the soldiers and showing the regiment in action in Europe and Africa.

Robert Widders Blog

Panzers in the Sand Volume One

In September 1939, the tanks of Panzer-Regiment 5 swept into Poland, a devastating part of the German blitzkrieg that opened World War II with a terrifying display of military force.

Author: Bernd Hartmann

Publisher: Pen & Sword Military

Category: World War, 1939-1945

In September 1939, the tanks of Panzer-Regiment 5 swept into Poland, a devastating part of the German blitzkrieg that opened World War II with a terrifying display of military force. The following spring, the regiment rumbled across France, again showing the destructive power of the panzer. But the unit's greatest fame would come in the North African desert, where Panzer-Regiment 5 joined Erwin Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps as it battled the British back and forth beneath the scorching sun of Libya and Egypt.

Panzers in The Sand 1935 - 1941 V. 1 The History of The Panzer-regiment 5 by B


С самой низкой ценой, неиспользованный товар без единого признака износа. Товар может быть без оригинальной упаковки (например, без оригинальной коробки или этикетки) или оригинальная упаковка может быть распечатана. Этот товар может являться товаром, не прошедшим заводской контроль, или новым, неиспользованным товаром с дефектами. См. подробные характеристики товара с описанием его недостатков.

Это цена (за исключением сборов на обработку и доставку заказа), по которой такой же или почти идентичный товар выставляется на продажу в данный момент или выставлялся на продажу в недавно. Эту цену мог установить тот же продавец в другом месте или другой продавец. Сумма скидки и процентное отношение представляют собой подсчитанную разницу между ценами, указанными продавцом на eBay и в другом месте. Если у вас появятся вопросы относительно установления цен и/или скидки, предлагаемой в определенном объявлении, свяжитесь с продавцом, разместившим данное объявление.

Panzers in the Sand: The History of Panzer-Regiment 5, Volume One 1934-41, Bernd Hartmann - History

Military Modelcraft said, "A cracking read -- a mixture of good old-fashioned military history, personal anecdotes and technical information."

  • Combat history of a renowned German tank regiment in World War II
  • Covers the unit's formation, its campaigns in Poland and France, and its first months with the Afrika Korps
  • Firsthand accounts from tank commanders and crews with hundreds of photographs, many of them not available anywhere else

In September 1939, the tanks of Panzer-Regiment 5 swept into Poland, a devastating part of the German blitzkrieg that opened World War II with a terrifying display of military force. The following spring, the regiment rumbled across France, again showing the destructive power of the panzer. But the unit's greatest fame would come in the North African desert, where Panzer-Regiment 5 joined Erwin Rommel's vaunted Afrika Korps as it battled the British back and forth beneath the scorching sun of Libya and Egypt.

Complete your review

Tell readers what you thought by rating and reviewing this book.

You Rated it *

Please make sure to choose a rating

Add a review

  • Say what you liked best and least
  • Describe the author's style
  • Explain the rating you gave
  • Use rude and profane language
  • Include any personal information
  • Mention spoilers or the book's price
  • Recap the plot

The review must be at least 50 characters long.

The title should be at least 4 characters long.

Your display name should be at least 2 characters long.

Panzer-Regiment 5 in the Campaign in North Africa, 1942

1. 25 January–25 May 1942: Counterattack and Recapture of Cyrenaica Preparations for the Attack on the Gazala Line

The communications center of the British 22nd Armoured Brigade radioed the following to Cairo on the first day of the New Year:

The DAK sang the German national anthem in its positions last night. It may be the case that Rommel’s formations no longer have any tanks, but to speak of a beaten army is premature. We should not deceive ourselves into believing that these soldiers, led by an unbroken general, are inclined to give up. They will continue to fight like the devil.¹

At the beginning of 1942, the regiment was with its parent division, the 21. Panzer-Division, Generalmajor Böttcher commanding, in the vicinity of the high ground around Belaudah, some 20 kilometers southeast of Agedabia. On 4 January, the future Oak Leaves recipient, Oberleutnant Rolf Rocholl, assumed command of the 6th Company.²

By 7 January, the division had been pulled back to the Marsa el Brega position in the area around El Agheila. The positions there favored the defense due to the marshy terrain and the sandy desert, which was difficult to negotiate, that adjoined it to the south.

The British operation, Crusader, ended at that point and, correspondingly, the withdrawal movements of Panzergruppe Afrika. The British had not been successful in their effort to envelop and destroy the Axis forces. In addition, they were then burdened with a long logistics line of communications it was nearly 1,200 kilometers to Alexandria. The enemy ceased their advance in order to receive more reinforcements. Of paramount importance for Panzergruppe Afrika was the battlefield reconstitution of its troop elements.

The Luftwaffe forces on Sicily were reinforced, with the result that the British naval forces and the island of Malta could be engaged more effectively than previously. That enabled the Axis to be resupplied almost without interference across the Mediterranean. At the beginning of January, large amounts of materiel arrived in Tripoli, especially armored vehicles. The DAK had 139 tanks at its disposal on 19 January, after 220 had been written off during the winter fighting. The Italian XX Corps (Motorized) had ninety armored fighting vehicles of Italian origin.

The widely dispersed elements of the British 8th Army facilitated the commander-in-chief of Panzergruppe Afrika, General der Panzertruppen Rommel, in his intention to conduct a counterattack to retake Cyrenaica. By doing so, he hoped to beat them to the punch in their approach and attack. Remaining idle in the Marsa el Brega position would have meant handing the initiative over to the enemy and inevitably led to the lost of Tripolitania. To deceive the enemy, Rommel had a few decrepit huts and the hulk of a stranded ship set on fire during the evening of 20 January. What he intended to do was accomplished: The British leadership concluded from the fires that Panzergruppe Afrika was continuing its withdrawal to the west. Instead, under the cover of rain and a sandstorm, the Germans moved out to attack.

Pocket calendar for 1942 for members of Panzergruppe Afrika. The calendar was presented to the soldiers by the German propaganda ministry.

On the morning of 21 January, Rommel had the military police put his order for the attack on display at all of the road maintenance buildings in Tripolitania and the Syrte Bend:³

Headquarters, 21 January 1942

The Commander-in-Chief of Panzergruppe Afrika

German and Italian Soldiers!

You have difficult fighting against vastly superior enemy forces behind you. Despite that, your fighting morale remains unbroken. At present, we are numerically stronger than the enemy to our front. Therefore, the field army is moving out today to attack to destroy that enemy.

I expect that every soldier will give his all during these decisive days.

Long live Italy! Long live the Greater German Reich! Long live our leaders!

General der Panzertruppen

On that same morning, two radio messages from the Führer Headquarters arrived.⁴ In one message, Panzergruppe Afrika was redesignated as Panzer-Armee Afrika. In the other, Rommel was awarded the Swords to the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross. A few days later, he would also be promoted to Generaloberst.

The redesignation did nothing to change the organization of the forces in the field.

Panzer-Armee Afrika attacked with elements along the Via Balbia and with the DAK through the desert to the northeast. Panzer-Regiment 5 was employed as the main effort of the 21. Panzer-Division along the right wing. Stuka dive bombers effectively supported the attack. The enemy was completely surprised by the attack, and his positions were broken through on the first attempt. The British troop elements were scattered and started to withdraw to the east.

The 21. Panzer-Division advanced to an area approximately seventy kilometers east of El Agheila by the evening of the first day of the attack. It continued its attack in the direction of Saunu the next day.

On 23 January, Panzer-Regiment 5, advancing about two kilometers in front of the main body of the division, encountered strong enemy armor forces. In the engagement at Saunu, the regiment, supported by 8.8-centimeter Flak and antitank elements, was able to eject the enemy, despite its own numerical inferiority. The German forces were also able to inflict heavy casualties on their opposing number.

The success was made possible primarily through adroit tactical maneuvering. Protected on the flanks by the Flak and an antitank company, Oberleutnant Sandrock’s tank company opened fire on the advancing enemy tanks—initially sixteen—from partially concealed positions on a ridgeline. In the face of the effective tank fire, the enemy pulled back, only to run into the guns of the antitank company. When the enemy started to withdraw yet again, Oberleutnant Rocholl’s company was employed, which initiated an immediate counterattack from its partially concealed positions. Rocholl’s tanks were able to complete the destruction of that enemy tank company. The Germans were then attacked by a force of forty tanks. That attack was also turned back in the face of the combined arms fires. When the enemy attacked with yet more reinforcements, Oberleutnant Rocholl’s tanks attacked it in the flanks while the Flak fixed the force from the front. Kampfgruppe Mildebrath was thus able to turn back all enemy attack efforts—in all, some eighty tanks. All further efforts by the enemy to turn the engagement at Saunu to his favor also failed. Exploiting the fires of the support weapons, the tank companies of the regiment were able to conduct flank attacks while suffering few friendly loses, interdicting the enemy and destroying him.

The DAK attacked Msus on 25 January. The logistical elements of the 8th Army were located there. Large stocks were captured, which were able to supply the DAK for several weeks.

During the period from 21 to 26 January, the German forces destroyed or captured 600 wheeled vehicles, 280 tanks or armored vehicles and 126 field pieces, decisively weakening the combat power of the 8th Army. Panzer-Regiment 5 was able to report that it had captured or destroyed 122 tanks or armored vehicles, 37 field pieces, 2 aircraft and 312 wheeled vehicles in the period from 21 to 25 January. In addition, it took 492 prisoners.

On 29 January, Panzer-Armee Afrika was able to recapture Bengasi with large amounts of all types of supplies. Approximately 1,300 vehicles were captured, temporarily solving the transportation problems of the field army. By 6 February, all of Cyrenaica was back in the hands of the Axis forces.

Counterattack to regain Cyrenaica from 21 January to 6 February 1942.

On 6 February, the regiment reported the personnel strength as above.

The main body of the 21. Panzer-Division remained in the Msus area until 8 February without encountering significant enemy resistance.

The 8th Army evacuated Cyrenaica after the loss of Msus and Bengasi and taking considerable losses. It occupied positions along the western edge of Marmarica to the south of Gazala. For the British, the planned attack to retake Tripoli had failed before it had even started.

On 9 February, the 21. Panzer-Division marched through Maraua to the north and reached the Via Balbia on 10 February. The division then remained in an assembly area in the vicinity of Derna for the remainder of the month. Generalmajor Böttcher transferred acting command of the division to Oberst von Bismarck on 18 February.

Replacements—very young and still insufficiently trained—arrived to the division in several march groups. The deficiencies in weapons and combat training were intensively targeted. There was also time to present deserving soldiers with awards. In addition to the well-known awards, such as the Iron Cross, the Armor Assault Badge and the Wound Badge, soldiers of the regiment also received Italian awards for the first time—for example, the Italian Bravery Medal (awarded in silver to Oberleutnant Grün, for instance) and, above all, the Italian Africa Commemorative Medal.

The cooperation between the German and Italian formations was more intense in the North African theater than anywhere else and more publicly acknowledged. As thanks and recognition for the achievements of the German soldiers, who bore the main burden of the fighting, and in order to visibly demonstrate the commonalities of the two nationalities, the Italians established the Remembrance Medal for the Italian-German campaign in Africa. In the jargon of the German troops, it was referred to disrespectfully as the Orange Order, the Sardine Order, the AM medal, the "Avanti Order or the Sandstorm Order." The first medals were presented to soldiers of the regiment on 19 January 1942. Not every soldier in Africa received the award automatically. The award conditions specified a longer period of time in the African theater of war.

Obverse of the medal (approximately three times larger): The bronze medal had the Arco dei Fileni triumph arch in its center. To the right was the German swastika with the Italian fasces on the other side. To the bottom was a figure-eight knot, symbolizing the inseparability of the brothers-in-arms.

Reverse of the medal: Two armored warriors, recognizable as a German and an Italian by the shape of their respective helmets, pull the teeth out of the symbolic British crocodile. The ribbon for the medal contained the colors of the two states: green, white and red for the Italians and black, white and red for the Germans. The common element—red—was in the middle of the ribbon. The medal was worn on the uniform in the form of a ribbon bar on the left breast.

At right are certificates for the award of the Italian Commemorative Medal. It was issued in two European standardized sizes, DIN A5 (top) and DIN A4 (bottom). The more elaborate award certificate has the signature of Hauptmann Otto-Friedrich von Senfft zu Pilsach, who had been awarded the Knight’s Cross to the Iron Cross as an Oberleutnant on 27 June 1941, while serving as the company commander of the 4th Company. In January 1942, he was the acting commander of the regiment’s 1st Battalion.

During the night of 27–28 February, the 21. Panzer-Division relieved the 15. Panzer-Division in the Tmimi position. Panzer-Regiment 5 occupied an assembly area as the divisional reserve.

Major Mildebrath, who had been the acting commander of the regiment since 25 November 1941, turned over command to Oberst Müller on 1 March. Mildebrath, who was then soon promoted to Oberstleutnant, assumed command of the 1st Battalion.

The new regimental commander, Oberst Müller, at his command post.

During the first half of March, there were only occasional encounters with British reconnaissance elements, which felt their way forward against the Tmimi position. Otherwise, it was quiet along the front.

On 14 March, the enemy took an important hill in the area between the 21. Panzer-Division and the 90. leichte Division. On 16 March, the 21. Panzer-Division retook the hill. On 21 March, the enemy took an important strongpoint. On 22 March, the penetration by the enemy was sealed off and cleaned up. Panzer-Regiment 5 played an important role in that counterattack.

During the time from April until the issuance of the attack order on 20 May, the division enjoyed relative calm. It was in an assembly area, only attacked occasionally by fighter-bombers. Once again, replacement personnel arrived and important materiel was issued, for example, tentage (to replace that lost in the winter fighting), but also armored cars, antitank guns, signals and engineer equipment and, most importantly, additional tanks.

Among the new tanks were the Panzer III with the longer-barreled (L60) 5-centimeter main gun, and the first Panzer IV’s with the longer-barreled (L43) 7.5-centimeter main gun. With the arrival of the 3rd and 7th Companies, the regiment almost reached its authorized strength levels based on the table of organization and equipment (TO&E) of 1 February 1941.

The battalion physician of the 2nd Battalion, Dr. Alfons Selmayr, wrote about the time frame in his memoirs:

The enemy had evacuated Cyrenaica. We pursued and went into rest positions east of Derna. From Msus, we proceeded north to the Via Balbia . . . Derna was bypassed to the south on the new bypass road. We encamped a few kilometers north of the road at Kilometer Marker 39 east of Derna. As was normally the case, the terrain was flat and rocky to the south were the dschebbel and the airstrip at Martuba. The battalion was reconstituted. Initially, it was led by Oberleutnant Rocholl. The Headquarters Company [was commanded by] Leutnant Schorm, Signals Officer Leutnant Wendorff, and Adjutant Leutnant Schumann. The platoon leader of the light platoon was Leutnant Dohani. The 6th Company, Oberleutnant Rocholl the 8th Company, Oberleutnant von Hülsen . . .

There was a small operation. Our engineers emplaced mines at Signali, and we were directed to cover them. Both of the battalions took off I was in a staff car with an ambulance. That evening, we crossed old scenes of fighting. In one of our knocked-out tanks, there was still a driver, carbonized and half decomposed at his driver’s station. A horrifying picture. We had to leave him in his steel grave . . .

Tents finally arrived. We received a large tropical tent and set it up a bit off to the side of the battalion. Our two vehicles were parked near it . . .

The new regimental commander, Oberst Müller, had lost his lower left arm in the campaign in Poland. A Leutnant Gehring arrived at the 8th Company he had had his left leg amputated to the upper thigh. I was completely upset and told him that I thought it was inappropriate that he was employed here, since he would never be able to use his prosthesis in the summer during a sandstorm. He didn’t take offense at my comments, but he stayed. That I should later be proven right will be stated at the outset . . .

Large celebration on the occasion of the first year’s anniversary for the regiment in Africa . . .

The best times for me was the daily training for my people. I was fortunate to have men who thought like me to instruct. The people were also really good and willing. Otherwise, the usual infirmary grind with immunizations, etc. A nighttime storm practically tore down our tent. Unteroffizier Werner and I held on to the tent poles for nearly two hours, so at least we were able to keep dry. That’s how four weeks passed. Occasional, bombers would fly over us, but they only dropped bombs on the airfield at Martuba.

Broke camp and headed south through Martuba into the desert. But this time, it offered a view as in paradise. The downpours have caused it to sprout everywhere and we took up positions in a pretty meadow full of daffodils. The 5th Company went forward to an outpost line for a few days . . . Orders were received to check the entire regiment for amoebas. . . . Rocholl and Hülsen received the German Cross in Gold. We received alcohol a big drink fest at our location, then it moved on to the Headquarters Company . . . We received a certain Major Martin as the new battalion commander. Instruction for the entire battalion, company by company, in first aid. I was busy the entire day, but it was all really enjoyable and the work paid off, as would later be seen . . . The preparations for the attack were completed. We received two new Panzer IV’s with the long gun, which made us very happy. The 7th Company also finally arrived from the continent and brought a lot of medical equipment with it . . .

With the introduction of the long main gun for the Panzer IV, that tank became the standard armored fighting vehicle of the German Army for the remainder of the war. It was more than adequate against all enemy armor employed in Africa.

In the time between January and May 1942, a total of 328 tanks were delivered to the DAK. Individually, they numbered: 4 Panzerbefehlswagen III’s 30 Panzer II’s 245 Panzer III’s and 49 Panzer IV’s.²

On 25 May, just before the attack on the British Gazala Line, Panzer-Regiment 5 had the following tanks in its inventory:³


Vuonna 1941 Erwin Rommelin komentama Saksan Afrikan armeijakunta saapui operaatio Sonnenblumessa Tripoliin vahvistamaan Italian Pohjois-Afrikassa olevia joukkoja ja maaliskuun lopulla joukot valtasivat brittien etuvartion El Agheilan. Helpon voiton seurauksena Rommel aloitti täysmittaisen hyökkäyksen, joka huhtikuun puoleen väliin mennessä oli edennyt aina Sallumiin Egyptiin. Liittoutuneiden ainoa Libyassa oleva tukikohta oli saarrettu Tobrukin satamakaupunki, joka oli vahvojen akselivaltain joukkojen saartama.

Akselivallat Muokkaa

Halfayan solasta, joka oli vallattu 27. toukokuuta, tehtiin puolustuksen keskus. Sollumin ja Halfayan solan väliselle alueelle muodostettiin taisteluosasto, johon kuuluivat tukikohta Halfaya: Jalkaväkirykmentti 104:n I pataljoonan 1., 3. ja 4. komppania, yksi kevyt ja yksi raskas ilmatorjuntapatteri (I/ilmatorjuntarykmentti 33: 4 kpl 88mm ilmatorjuntatykkejä) sekä Italian 2. kenttätykistörykmentin I patteristo (8 kpl 100/17 haupitsia). Lisäksi keskustaan oli ryhmitetty Italian 62. jalkaväkirykmentin II pataljoona. Oikea sivusta oli heikosti miehitetty, mutta hyvin miinoitettu. Etuvartio oli Bir el Siweiyatissa. Tukikohta Qalalaan ryhmitettiin vahvennettu 6. keidaskomppania, jolla oli vahvennuksena neljällä 100/17 -haupitsilla varustettu patteri sekä yksi tai kaksi jalkaväkijoukkuetta. [1]

Tukikohta 208:n, joka sijaitsi kahdeksan kilometriä Fort Capuzzosta länteen, miehityksenä oli moottoripyöräpataljoona 15:n 4. konekiväärikomppania, raskas ilmatorjuntapatteri (I/Ilmatorjuntarykmentti 33, 2 x 2 cm ja 4 x 88 mm) sekä yksi 50 mm ja kolme 37 mm panssarintorjuntatykkiä panssarijääkäripataljoona 33:sta. Tukikohta 206:n, joka sijaitsi kahdeksan kilometriä Fort Capuzzosta etelään, miehityksenä oli komppania moottoripyöräpataljoona 15:stä vahvennuksenaan kaksi patteria kenttätykistörykmentti 33 I patteristosta ( 8 x 10,5 cm leFH), kolme 37 ja kolme 50 millimetrin panssarintorjuntatykkiä panssarijääkäripataljoona 33:sta sekä neljä 2 cm ilmatorjuntatykkiä ilmatorjuntarykmentti 33:n I patteristosta. [2]

Ryhmityksen syvyyteen oli valmisteltu tukikohdat Capuzzo miehityksenään vahvennettu jalkaväkikomppnia, Musaid miehityksenään jalkaväki- ja kranaatinheitinkomppaniat sekä Ober Sollum miehityksenään jalkaväki- ja kranaatinheitinkomppaniat. Capuzzossa oli vahvennuksena kaksi 37/45 panssarintorjuntatykkiä sekä yksi 2 cm ilmatorjuntatykki ja kahdessa muussa tukikohdassa panssarintorjuntajoukkueet varustettuina 47/32 panssarintorjuntatykein. Kaikki joukot olivat Italian 61. ja 62. jalkaväkirykmenteistä. 61. rykmentin I pataljoona loppuosa miehitti Bardian ympäristössä olevat vanhat puolustusasemat. Triedustelupataljoona 33 teki valvontatukikohdan Sidi Suleimaniin, minkä tehtävänä oli valvoa liittoutuneiden toimia. [2]

Toisen linjan muodosti liikkuva jalkaväkireservi, jonka muodostivat moottoripyöräpataljoona 15:n loppuosa, kenttätykistörykmentti 33:n 3. patteri (4 x 10,5 cm leFH) sekä yhdeksän 2 cm ilmatorjuntatykkiä ilmatorjuntarykmentti 33:n I patteristosta. Kolmas elementti puolustusjärjestelyissä oli Capuzzon eteläpuolelle sijoitettu panssariosasto, johon kuuluivat panssarirykmentti 8, jalkaväkipataljoona 104:n 2. komppania, komppania moottoripyöräpataljoona 15:stä, komppania panssarijääkäripataljoona 33:sta sekä raskas ja keveä ilmatorjuntapatteri ilmatorjuntarykmentti 33:n I patteristosta. Panssarirykmentin I pataljoonan kalustona oli 13 PzKpfw II, 18 PzKpfw III ja 8 PzKpfw IV -panssarivaunua. Rykmentin toisen pataljoonan vahvuudesta ei ole tietoa, mutta oletettavasti se oli suurempi kuin ensimmäisen. [3]

Loppuosa Saksan 15. panssaridivisioonan joukoista oli Ras el Mdauuarin tasangolla Tobrukin lounaispuolella. Panssarirykmentti 5 sekä Saksan 5. kevyt divisioona varmistivat Tobrukin saartoa. Panssarirykmentti 5:n vahvuus oli 15. kesäkuuta 39 PzKpfw II, 38 PzKpfw III ja 19 PzKpfw IV -panssarivaunua, mutta osa kalustosta kuului kuitenkin panssarirykmentti 8:lle. [4]

Liittoutuneet Muokkaa

Tiikeri-saattueen saavuttua 12. toukokuuta Aleksandriaan sai Egyptissä olevat joukot panssarivaunutäydennyksen, mikä mahdollisti Battleaxen aloittamisen. Saattueessa toimitettiin kaikkiaan 238 panssarivaunua, joista 21 kappaletta oli keveitä Mark VIC -vaunuja, 15 kappaletta Mk IVA Cruiser -vaunuja ja 67 Mk VI Cruise -vaunuja sekä 135 Matilda II - jalkaväentukivaunuja. Vaunumäärä kuitenkin hieman laski, kun kuusi Matildaa ja 16 Mk VIB -vaunua siirrettiin 16. toukokuuta Kreetalle. Lisäksi neljä Matildaa kuljetettiin toukokuun lopulla Tobrukiin. [4]

Saksan 15. panssaridivisioona ilmoitti 15. kesäkuuta kello 6.15 liittoutuneiden tunnusteluhyökkäyksistä Sollumissa. Hyökkäykset rantatiellä torjuttiin tykistötulella. [6]

Watch the video: German Königstiger- King Tiger 1943-1945Королевский Тигрмасштабисториямоделизмminiatures (August 2022).