" Panzer Abteilung 506 commander Abt.Gef. St. 30.9.1943
Preliminary experience report Panzer Abteilung 506
II.Tactical use in the Saporoshe bridghead as mobile reserve
20 september 12.00 the Panzer Abteilung 506 was subordinated to the 9.Panzerdivision , which itself had only 3-8 Panzer operational. This was under the command of XXXX Pz Korps for dealing with local breakthroughs.
Conditioned by the forming of the bridghead, the companies were used individually, the 20.,21.,22. and 23 .where the russians tried to break through the weak positions.The Panzer strengths were per company 10,11 and 13 Panzer. Each time, with the help of the Tiger it was succeeded in beating back the russians.The continuous being in action and the many shiftings did not leave much time for technical maintenance of the Panzer. There was barely enough time to replenish the fuel and ammo.
The 24. the Abteilung was in action as a unit with all operational Panzer with a strength of 13 Panzer, the 25. with 11 and the 26. with 9. After the attack on 26.9 , which was a break out of the bridghead into the enemy artillery positions, no operational Tiger was available anymore.
The superior command was made aware that when attacks were made out of the bridghead, Panzer that were disabled and could not be towed away, would have to be blown up and fall into the hands of the enemy.
The 9.Panzerdivision used the Tiger correctly, unfortunately it,as well as me could not prevent that the Tiger were required to do too much and orders were given to the company commanders which lead to the loss or disabling of Panzer, which were not necessary. The propaganda in our press presented the Tiger as an invulnerable battering ram. However, it can be killed by a T 34 or a 7,62 cm frontally from 500 m and from the side and from the rear from 1500 m.When dealing with breakthroughs, the infantry , whose morale had not really been strengthened by the retreat ,only went forward when a Tiger accompanied it into the old positions. That a barndoor attracts all the fire on itself on the battlefield, and that this separates the infantry from the Tiger is an old experience, which is however not believed. The low Sturmgeschütze are better suited for this mission, but not the big and 2,88 m high Tiger. The strength of the Tiger is its wide ranging 88 mm gun and not the armour. It should not be used as a moving wall. When, during the bringing forward of the infantry, the Tiger stood behind a cover against sight, from which they could give fire support as well, the infantry went down and could not be moved forward anymore.Then came orders like : Tiger attack too lame, advance further.When the Panzer made a jump of 1 km, in order not to stand on the top of a rise, then the infantry went down again, the Tiger haven driven away from them. The tight grouping of infantry together behind the Panzer could not be avoided by orders or instructions, but only through enemy mortar fire. Often, the Tiger stood for hours far in front of the infantry in the enemy artillery and mortar fire, without the infantry coming up. Because of the long standing under fire , the traktion is shot,Panzerbüchsen mostly fire at gun and opticals and the PAK hits from a long distance cause damage to the Panzer, even when they do not penetrate.When the Tiger moves back and looks for a better position , the infantry moves back immediately. It believes that when this Panzer cannot hold out in the fire, then it certainly cannot.
Lesson: the Tiger supports the advance of the infantry by direct fire and must have its freedom of movement during this.The infantry should not stick behind the Tiger like grapes , otherwise it will sustain the fire meant for the Panzer. It must advance open as if there were no Tiger."
Translation to be continued