|116th Panzer Division|
The 116th Panzer Division, also known as the "Windhund (Greyhound) Division", was a German panzer division that saw combat during World War II. It was constituted in the Rhineland and Westphalia areas of western Germany in March 1944 from the remnants of the 16th Panzergrenadier Division, and the 179th Reserve Panzer Division. The 16th had been badly mauled after combat on the Eastern Front near Stalingrad, and the 179th was a second-line formation that had been on occupational duty in France since 1943.
In 1944, it participated in opposing the Normandy Landings and was trapped in the Falaise Pocket following Operation Cobra. Along with the 2nd SS Panzer Division, it was responsible for holding the pocket open to allow German troops to escape. It managed to escape, although with only 600 infantry and 12 tanks intact. In October, it fought against American forces in the Battle of Aachen, with the town falling to the Americans on 21 October. It was moved to Holland for refitting and was soon fighting in the area of the recently completed Operation Market Garden offensive (17–25 September) with the 10th SS Panzer Division against the British. On 8 November, the division repulsed an attack from the US 28th Infantry Division in the Hürtgen Forest during the larger Battle of Hürtgen Forest, recapturing the town of Schmidt, thus providing the name to the 28th of the "Bloody Bucket Division".
The 116th then participated in the failed "Wacht am Rhein" Operation in the Ardennes, where it participated in the middle spearhead and later held the Allies at bay for other units to retreat, before being withdrawn over the Rhine in March. It then opposed the 9th US Army's advance across the Rhine, thus stopping the planned Allied breakthrough as well as opposing Operation Varsity's airborne landings. With 2,800 men and 10 tanks against 50,000 Allied troops and supporting tanks, the division held off the US 30th, the US 35th, the US 84th, the 4th Canadian and the US 8th Armored Divisions. On 18 April 1945, the majority of the division was forced to surrender to the 9th US Army, having been trapped in the Ruhr Pocket. It was described by the Commander of the 9th Army to New York Times reporter John MacCormac, in March 1945, as "the famed and best German Panzer Division", and was listed as the same in an article on 27–28 March. Remnants of the division continued to fight in the Harz mountains until 30 April, only surrendering after all of their resources had been exhausted. The 116th Panzer Division participated in the following battles: Normandy, Arnhem, Aachen, the Hürtgen Forest, the Ardennes Offensive, the Reichswald and the Ruhr Pocket.
Commanding officers[edit | edit source]
- Generalmajor Gerhard Müller, creation – 30 April 1944
- General der Panzertruppe Gerhard Graf von Schwerin, 1 May 1944 – 31 August 1944
- Oberst Heinrich Voigtsberger (deputy), 1 September 1944 – 13 September 1944
- Generalmajor Siegfried von Waldenburg, 14 September 1944 – German surrender
References[edit | edit source]
- Axis History Factbook: 116. Panzer-Division "From Normandy to the Ruhr", by Heinz Gunther Guderian, History of the 116th panzer Division
The Essential Tank Identification Guide---Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions 1939- 1945 Authors: Jorge Rosado and Chris Bishop Published by Amber books Ltd. ISBN 1-904687-46-6
2 - Panzer En Normandie : Histoire Des Équipages De Char De La 116. Panzerdivision (juillet-août 1944) Frédéric Deprun, YSEC Éditions, 2011 (ISBN 978-2-84673-135-5)
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