Das Reich: Waffen-SS Armoured Elite by Michael Sharpe, Brian L. Davis

By Michael Sharpe, Brian L. Davis

Spearhead sequence; This sequence appears to be like on the innovative of conflict, and bargains solely with devices in a position to working independently within the leading edge of conflict. every one quantity within the sequence examines the selected unit's origins and heritage, its agency and order of conflict, its conflict heritage theatre through theatre, its insignia and markings. additionally lined are biographies of crucial commanders of every unit. every one identify ends with an evaluation of unit effectiveness - as noticeable by way of the unit Itself, through its competitors and within the mild of more moderen historic study. The books additionally contain an in depth reference part with a serious biography, a list of appropriate museums and websites, plus information regarding re-enactment teams and memorials. Das Reich; Raised in Holland in 1939, Das Reich grew to become one of many deadliest of Hitler's tank divisions, combating with contrast in lots of of the war's significant battles. After playing the Blitzkrieg within the West, Das Reich moved east and participated in operations within the Balkans and Operation 'Barbarossa', Hitler's invasion of Russia. It stayed at the japanese Iront until eventually October 1943, playing the various largest tank battles in historical past, akin to these of Kharkov and Kursk. by the point it was once despatched to southern France, to refit, the divisional power was once all the way down to round 2,500. a few 450 miles from the coast of northern France, Das Reich used to be anticipated, via either German and British analysts, to take 3 days to arrive any difficulty spot. in truth, whilst the invasion got here, the stream of 15,000 males and 209 tanks to Normandy took for much longer. Hampered by means of the resistance, together with Maquis, SAS and American Jedburghs, and Allied fighter-bombers, the march will be remembered for the outrageous reprisals at Oradour and Tuile. And while it reached typically, Das Reich's mix of veterans and recruits used to be all yet destroyed by the point the Falaise hole was once closed. it can spend the final days of the battle refitting after which scuffling with in Hungary and Austria, the place it surrendered to American forces.

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At Kharkov, Soviet forces were attempting an encirclement, presaging the fourth and last battle for the city. On 18-19 August the division was in the city outskirts, battiing grimly to hold the city won at such cost in the spring. A fresh crisis now arose to the west where on the 22nd around Starya-Lyubotin and Kommuna, the Panther battalion (see note at left) destroyed 53 Soviet tanks. On the next day, 12km west of Kharkov, it broke up a Russian tank assault. In the mid-August Malinovsky's forces crossed the Donets, and soon the German front was penetrated in three places.

For Das Reich, this was the start of a year of almost continuous combat in the east. For the initial attack the Second Panzer Group advanced on a line that took it east from around Brest-Litovsk, and in the opening days XXIV Motorised Corps had the task of regulating the vast transport column moving along this line. When the division was finally called up to the front, vehicular access on the one useable highway was denied, and so the grenadiers were forced to march instead. 1 Highway at Sluck.

In open defiance of the Fuhrer's orders Hausser nonetheless withdrew the corps through a narrow corridor from Kharkov on 15 February, back into positions on the River Uday. Here it was temporarily rested and reorganised to offset the enormous losses endured, while preparing for a planned counter-attack by Army Group South. Before that could be contemplated, Manstein moved to halt the drive of the South-West Front at Dniepropetrovsk. Then, on 19 February, the attack to retake Kharkov began. One notable action took place on the southern flank.

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