5th Panzer Army

The 5th Panzer Army (German: 5. Panzerarmee) was a German armoured formation that operated on the Western Front and North Africa. The remnants of the army surrendered in the Ruhr pocket in 1945.

5th Panzer Army
5. Panzerarmee
Active
  • 8 December 1942 – 30 June 1943
  • 24 January 1944 – 17 April 1945
Country Nazi Germany
BranchArmy (Wehrmacht )
TypePanzer
RoleArmoured warfare
SizeArmy
Engagements
Commanders
Notable
commanders

History

North Africa

The 5th Panzer Army was created on 8 December 1942 as a command formation for armoured units forming to defend Tunisia against Allied attacks which threatened, after the success of the Allied Operation Torch landings in Algeria and Morocco. The army fought alongside the Italian First Army as a part of Army Group Afrika. The army capitulated on 13 May 1943, along with its commander Gustav von Vaerst. The army was disbanded on 30 June 1943.

Normandy

The army was reformed on 24 January 1944 as Panzer Group West, the armoured reserve for OB West. The new army was placed under the command of Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg.[1] The method of employment of Panzer Group West in the event of an allied invasion was the subject of much controversy, with OB West commander Gerd von Rundstedt and Army Group B commander Erwin Rommel favouring different methods.[2] Rundstedt and Geyr von Schweppenburg believed that the panzer group should be held in reserve some distance from the front, to counter-attack Allied penetrations. Rommel was convinced that Allied air power and naval artillery would not allow the Germans the freedom to move large formations and so insisted that the panzers should be deployed much closer to the front line.[3] Adolf Hitler forced an unhappy compromise on the western commanders and refused to allow them to commit the panzer group without his authority. When the Allied Invasion began on 6 June 1944, Panzer Group West remained immobile; by 8 June, Geyr had been able to rush three panzer divisions northward to defend Caen against British and Canadian forces.[4] Geyr planned to launch the divisions in a counter-attack that would drive the British and Canadians back into the sea. On 10 June, Schweppenburg was wounded in an attack on the Panzer Group West headquarters at La Caine. Geyr’s tank units managed to limit the British advance for another month but he was relieved of his command on 2 July, after seconding Rundstedt’s request that Hitler authorize a strategic withdrawal from Caen. On 2 July he was replaced by Heinrich Eberbach. The panzer group fought against the Allied forces in Normandy, suffering heavy losses and eventually finding many of its divisions trapped in the Falaise Pocket. After the shattered remnants of the panzer group escaped from Falaise, it began a retreat towards the German border.

Retreat, Ardennes

In August, the remaining elements of Panzer Group West were reorganized as 5th Panzer Army, with a combat formation remaining in action under the title Panzer Group Eberbach. After a brief period under Sepp Dietrich, command of the army passed to Hasso von Manteuffel. The army saw heavy combat on the German border against Allied forces, the panzer divisions suffering heavily from Allied ground attack aircraft. In November the 5th Panzer Army began forming up in the Ardennes, alongside the newly formed 6th SS Panzer Army under Dietrich. Both formations took part in the Battle of the Bulge, the Fifth Panzer Army was set to be the main central force advancing westwards from the pre-existing front lines, suffering heavy losses in battles around Bastogne and in the armour battles around Celles and Dinant, the westernmost points of advance. After the offensive was cancelled, it continued its fighting withdrawal to the German border. In March, it was involved in efforts to eliminate the American bridgehead over the Rhine at the Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen. The 5th Panzer Army was encircled and trapped in the Ruhr Pocket, and surrendered on 17 April 1945.[5]

Commanders

Fifth Panzer Army (North Africa)

Panzer Group West

Panzer Group Eberbach

  • Heinrich Eberbach (10–21 Aug 1944)

Fifth Panzer Army (France)

Footnotes

  1. ^ Harrison 1951, p. 247.
  2. ^ https://www.feldgrau.com/WW2-German-Command-Tactics
  3. ^ Harrison 1951, pp. 249–251.
  4. ^ Harrison 1951, p. 333.
  5. ^ MacDonald 1973, p. 370.

Bibliography

  • Harrison, Gordon A. (1951) [1950]. The Cross Channel Attack. United States Army in World War II: The European Theater of Operations (online ed.). Washington, DC: Off. of the Chief of Military History, Dep. of the Army. OCLC 835823314. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  • MacDonald, Charles B. (1973). The Last Offensive. United States Army in World War II: The European Theater of Operations (online ed.). OCLC 569757222. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
A Diary for Timothy

A Diary for Timothy (1945) is a British documentary film directed by Humphrey Jennings. It was produced by Basil Wright for the Crown Film Unit.

The narration was written by the British author E. M. Forster (spoken by Michael Redgrave) and is an account of the progress of the war during the first six months of the life of a baby named Timothy. The recovery of an English fighter pilot Dr. Peter Roper, who was shot down in his Typhoon fighter by anti-aircraft artillery fire on 7 June 1944, from German panzer column from the 5th Panzer Army (Panzer Group West) with units from the Panzer Lehr Division and the 12th SS Hitlerjugend Division, near Monts en Bessin South of the landing beaches of the Normandy invasion of Europe. He received AAA fire while attacking a German 5th Army Group panzer column that was blocking the advance to Caen. He was wounded through the right lower leg and yet was able to parachute from his disabled fighter.

Also featured are a coal miner, Goronwy, with a broken arm; Allan, a farmer; and Bill, a locomotive engine driver. Dame Myra Hess is featured giving a concert at the National Gallery in London, several years after her appearance in Listen to Britain, and John Gielgud performs as the Prince in the gravediggers scene from Hamlet.

In a documentary on Jennings made for Channel 4 television by Kevin MacDonald in 2000, it was revealed that the baby who was the subject of the film (Timothy James Jenkins) later moved to Brighton in the 1960s and became a mod before settling down to become a teacher; he died in November 2000.

Afrika Korps

The Afrika Korps or German Africa Corps (German: Deutsches Afrikakorps, DAK listen ) was the German expeditionary force in Africa during the North African Campaign of World War II. First sent as a holding force to shore up the Italian defense of their African colonies, the formation fought on in Africa, under various appellations, from March 1941 until its surrender in May 1943. The unit's best known commander was Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.

Army Group B

Army Group B (German: Heeresgruppe B) was the title of three German Army Groups that saw action during World War II.

Battle of Arracourt

The Battle of Arracourt took place between U.S. and German armored forces near the town of Arracourt, Lorraine, France between 18 and 29 September 1944, during World War II. As part of a counteroffensive against recent U.S. advances in France, the German 5th Panzer Army had as its objective the recapture of Lunéville and the elimination of the XII Corps bridgehead over the Moselle River at Dieulouard. With local superiority in troops and tanks, the Germans anticipated quick defeat of the defending Combat Command A (CCA) of the U.S. 4th Armored Division. With better intelligence, tactics and use of terrain, CCA of the 4th Armored Division and the XIX Tactical Air Command defeated two Panzer Brigades and elements of two Panzer divisions over eleven days of battle.

Battle of Kasserine Pass

The Battle of Kasserine Pass was a battle of the Tunisia Campaign of World War II that took place in February 1943. Kasserine Pass is a 2-mile-wide (3.2 km) gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia.

The Axis forces, led by Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel, were primarily from the Afrika Korps Assault Group, elements of the Italian Centauro Armoured Division and two Panzer divisions detached from the 5th Panzer Army, while the Allied forces consisted of the U.S. II Corps (Major General Lloyd Fredendall), the British 6th Armoured Division (Major-General Charles Keightley) and other parts of the First Army (Lieutenant-General Kenneth Anderson).

The battle was the first major engagement between American and Axis forces in World War II in Africa. Inexperienced and poorly led American troops suffered many casualties and were quickly pushed back over 50 miles (80 km) from their positions west of Faïd Pass. This result confirmed a prediction of Winston Churchill, who had strongly advocated that the invasion of France as laid out in the proposed 1942 plan Operation Roundup be delayed until the Allies could support such an ambitious undertaking, which would give the American troops time to get up to speed with the realities of war against the experienced and well-equipped Italians and Germans.

After the early defeat, elements of the U.S. II Corps, with British reinforcements, rallied and held the exits through mountain passes in western Tunisia, defeating the Axis offensive. As a result of the battle, the U.S. Army instituted sweeping changes of unit organization and replaced commanders and some types of equipment.

Battle of Longstop Hill

The 2nd Battle of Longstop Hill or the Capture of Longstop Hill took place in Tunisia during the Tunisia Campaign from 21 to 23 April 1943. The battle was fought for control over the heights of Djebel el Ahmera and Djebel Rhar, together known as Longstop Hill and vicinity, between the British forces of the First Army and German units of the 5th Panzer Army. The infantry of the 78th Battleaxe Division and Churchill tanks of the North Irish Horse captured Longstop Hill after bitter fighting, in which the tanks created a measure of tactical surprise by driving up the hill, a manoeuvre that only Churchill tanks could achieve. The attackers broke through the German defences, which were the last great natural barrier on the road to Tunis.

Battle of Sidi Bou Zid

The Battle of Sidi Bou Zid (Unternehmen Frühlingswind/Operation Spring Breeze) took place during the Tunisia Campaign from 14–17 February 1943, in World War II. The battle was fought around Sidi Bou Zid, where a large number of American units were mauled by German and Italian forces. It resulted in the Axis recapturing the strategically important town of Sbeitla in central Tunisia.

The battle was planned by the Germans to be a two-part offensive-defensive operation against US positions in western Tunisia. Generaloberst Hans-Jürgen von Arnim commanded several experienced combat units, including the 10th Panzer Division and the 21st Panzer Division of the 5th Panzer Army, which were to sweep north and west towards the Kasserine Pass, while another battle group attacked Sidi Bou Zid from the south. Facing the attack was the II US Corps (Major General Lloyd Fredendall).

In a few days, the Axis attack forced the II US Corps to take up new defensive positions outside Sbiba. Axis troops were then given time to consolidate their new front line west of Sbeitla. The success of the offensive led the German High Command to conclude that despite being well equipped, American forces were no match for experienced Axis combat troops.

The success at Sidi Bou Zid was reversed by April counter-attacks by British and American forces.

Battle of St. Vith

The Battle of St. Vith was an engagement in Belgium fought during the Allied advance from Paris to the Rhine in World War II. It was one of several battles on December 16, 1944 constituting the opening of Germany's Ardennes counteroffensive (more commonly known as the "Battle of the Bulge").

The town of St. Vith, a vital road junction, was close to the boundary between the 5th and Sepp Dietrich’s Sixth Panzer Army, the two strongest units of the attack. St. Vith was also close to the western end of the Losheim Gap, a critical valley through the densely forested ridges of the Ardennes Forest and the axis of the entire German counteroffensive. Opposing this drive were units of the U.S. VIII Corps. These defenders were led by the U.S. 7th Armored Division and included the 424th Infantry (the remaining regiment of the 106th U.S. Infantry Division), elements of the 9th Armored Division's Combat Command B and the 112th Infantry of the U.S. 28th Infantry Division. These units, which operated under the command of Generals Robert W. Hasbrouck (7th Armored) and Alan W. Jones (106th Infantry), successfully resisted the German attacks, thereby significantly slowing the German advance.Under orders from Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, Clarke gave up St. Vith on 21 December 1944; U.S. troops fell back to positions supported by the 82nd Airborne Division to the west, presenting an imposing obstacle to a successful German advance. By 23 December, as the Germans shattered their flanks, the defenders’ position became untenable and U.S. troops were ordered to retreat west of the Salm River. As the German plan called for the capture of St. Vith by 18:00 on 17 December, the prolonged action in and around it presented a major blow to their timetable.

Friedrich von Mellenthin

Friedrich von Mellenthin (30 August 1904 – 28 June 1997) was a German general during World War II. A participant in most of the major campaigns of the war, he became known afterwards for his memoirs Panzer Battles, first published in 1956 and reprinted several times since then.

Mellenthin's works were part of the exculpatory memoirs genre that fed the post-war revisionist narrative, put forth by former Wehrmacht generals. Panzer Battles was instrumental in forming the misconceptions that influenced the U.S. view of Eastern Front military operations up to 1995, when Soviet archival sources became available to Western and Russian historians.

Hans-Jürgen von Arnim

Hans-Jürgen von Arnim (German: [ˈaɐ̯niːm]; 4 April 1889 – 1 September 1962) was a German general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II who commanded several armies. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Hasso von Manteuffel

Hasso von Manteuffel (14 January 1897 – 24 September 1978) was a German general during World War II who commanded the 5th Panzer Army. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds of Nazi Germany.

After the war, he was elected to the Bundestag (West German legislature) and was the spokesman for defense of the Liberal Party. A proponent of rearmament, he was responsible for coining the new name for the post-World War II German armed forces, the Bundeswehr.

Heinrich Eberbach

Heinrich Eberbach (24 November 1895 – 13 July 1992) was a German general during World War II who commanded the 5th Panzer Army during the Allied invasion of Normandy. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany.

Heinz Ziegler

Heinz Ziegler (19 May 1894 – 21 August 1972) was a German general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II acting commander of the 5th Panzer Army and commander of the 14th Army. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Josef Harpe

Josef Harpe (21 September 1887 – 14 March 1968) was a German general during World War II who commanded the 9th Army. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords of Nazi Germany.

Harpe served on the Eastern Front, where he commanded XXXXI Panzer Corps and the 9th Army. From September 1944 to January 1945 Army Group A, when he was relieved of his command due to the inability of German forces to stop the Soviet Vistula–Oder Offensive. He ended the war commanding the 5th Panzer Army on Western Front.

Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg

Leo Freiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg (2 March 1886 – 27 January 1974) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II, noted for his pioneering stance and expertise in the field of armoured warfare. He commanded the 5th Panzer Army (formalised as Panzer Group West) during the Invasion of Normandy, and later served as Inspector General of Armoured Troops. After the war he was involved in the development of the newly built German Army (Bundeswehr).

List of World War II military units of Germany

The List of World War II military units of Germany contains all military units to serve with the armed forces of Germany during World War II.

Major units above corps level are listed here. For smaller units, see List of German corps in World War II and List of German divisions in World War II.

Operation Ochsenkopf

Unternehmen Ochsenkopf (Operation Ox Head) also known as the Battle of Sidi Nsir, and the Battle of Hunts Gap was an Axis offensive operation in Tunisia from 26 February – 4 March 1943, during the Tunisia Campaign of the Second World War. The offensive and a subsidiary operation Unternehmen Ausladung, was intended to gain control of Medjez el Bab, Béja, El Aroussa, Djebel Abiod and a position known as Hunt's Gap, between the British First Army and the Axis Army Group Africa (Heeresgruppe Afrika/Gruppo d'Armate Africa). The offensive gained some ground but none of the more ambitious objectives was reached before the operation was called off, due to increasing losses of infantry and tanks, particularly the heavy Tigers. Unternehmen Ochsenkopf was the last big Axis offensive by the 5th Panzer Army before the final Allied offensive in April and May, which occupied Tunisia and took the surviving 250,000 Axis troops into captivity.

Ruhr Pocket

The Ruhr Pocket was a battle of encirclement that took place in April 1945, on the Western Front near the end of World War II, in the Ruhr Area of Germany. Some 317,000 German troops, consisting mostly of unarmed Volksturm militia and Hitlerjugend units were taken prisoner along with 24 generals. The Americans suffered 10,000 casualties including 2,000 killed or missing.

Exploiting the capture of the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen on 7 March 1945, the U.S. 12th Army Group under General Omar Bradley advanced rapidly into German territory south of Field Marshal Walter Model's Army Group B. In the north, the Allied 21st Army Group under Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery crossed the Rhine in Operation Plunder on 23 March. The lead elements of the two Allied army groups linked up on 1 April 1945 east of the Ruhr Area to create a massive encirclement of 370,000 German troops to their west.

While the bulk of the U.S. forces advanced east towards the Elbe river, some 18 U.S. divisions remained behind to destroy the isolated forces of Army Group B. The reduction of the German pocket was begun right away on 1 April by the U.S. Ninth Army, with the forces of the U.S. First Army joining on 4 April. For 13 days the Germans delayed or resisted the U.S. advance. On 14 April, the First and Ninth Armies linked up, splitting the German pocket in half and German resistance began to crumble.

Having lost contact with its units, the German 15th Army capitulated the same day. Model dissolved his army group on 15 April and ordered the Volksturm and non-combatant personnel to discard their uniforms and go home. On 16 April the bulk of the German forces surrendered en masse to the U.S. divisions. Organized resistance came to an end on 18 April. Unwilling to surrender with his rank of Field Marshal into Allied captivity, Model committed suicide on the afternoon of 21 April.

XII Corps (United States)

The XII Corps fought from northern France to Austria in World War II. Constituted in the Organized Reserves in 1933, it was activated on 29 August 1942 at Columbia, South Carolina. XII Corps became operational in France as part of Lieutenant General George S. Patton's Third Army on 1 August 1944. Initially commanded by Major General Gilbert R. Cook, bad health forced MG Cook to relinquish command to Major General Manton S. Eddy within three weeks. MG Eddy commanded the corps until late April 1945, when his own health problems forced him to turn over command to MG Stafford LeRoy Irwin.

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