Tanks in Creta, 1941

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CNE503
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Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by CNE503 » 31 Dec 2017 15:01

Hello,

If I understand correctly, 5. Panzer-Division, on June 22nd, 1941, didn't have any significant number of tanks. It had only 23 tanks (17 PzKpfw III with 3,7cm gun, 6 PzKpfw IV) at hand. Were these ones those belonging to the 5./Panzer-Regiment 31, thus deployed in Creta that ultimately became 1./Panzer-Abteilung 212?

Thank you for your clarifications.
Cheers,

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

yantaylor
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by yantaylor » 31 Dec 2017 15:34

Hello CNE503.

Panzer Regiment 31 did hand over its 5th company over to Panzer-Regiment 212 and this company remained in Crete.

I am not sure about the armour which the 5th Company had, but I have read that some of its Beutepanzer may have been French.
You can find all sorts of stuff regarding Pz.Abt. 212 and its strength, it may have contained six platoons of armour as well as the 5th panzer company.
Funny enough in August 1944 I have found that the battalion contained;

Stabskompanie -
Panzer-Zug - 2 PzKw-Ib, 3 Hothckiss (f), 2 Somua (f), 1 5cm Pak (Sfl)
Nachrichten-Zug - 2 kl. Pz.Bef.Wg.
1. Kompanie - 1 kl. Pz.Bef.Wg., 10 PzKw-II, 5 PzKw-III, 4 PzKw-IV (L/43)
2. Kompanie - 12 Hotchkiss (f), 3 Somua (f), 6 PzKw-IV (L/43)

Regards
Yan.

CNE503
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by CNE503 » 31 Dec 2017 17:51

Thank you Yan!
Have you this company's armor strength on June 22nd, 1941? According to Jentz, the only remaining armor in 5. Panzer-Division on June 22nd, 1941 was these 17 PzKpfw III with 3,7cm and 6 PzKpfw IV. It stroke me that it is roughly the establishment of an armored company, and that it would have been possibly the tanks in this 5./Panzer-Regiment 31 deployed in Creta. For the other companies, 5. Panzer-Division should have processed like its sister unit 2. Panzer-Division, which handed over all its tanks to other armored divisions after the conclusion of "25" and "Marita" in preparation of "Barbarossa". As a consequence, 2. Panzer-Division had no tank at all on June 22nd, 1941.

Cheers,

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

yantaylor
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by yantaylor » 01 Jan 2018 15:24

I had a quick look about this morning and found that on the 25th June 1941, the 31st panzer regiment had;

26 x Pz IIs
55 x Pz IIIs [50mm L/42]
13 x Pz IVs [75mm L/24]
9 x PzBefWgs

Another site says that on 10th September 1941, it had;

55 x Pz IIs
105 x Pz IIIs [50mm L/42]
20 x Pz IVs [75mm L/24]
6 x PzBefWgs

So things are confusing, but!

When 5. Panzer Division left Greece to take up positions for Barbarossa it left one of its companies behind from the 31st Panzer Regiment to used for the invasion of Crete. This company was used to form Pz.Company Kreta which contained;

5 x Pz IIs
17 x Pz IIIs

I hope this is of help to you

Yan

CNE503
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by CNE503 » 01 Jan 2018 19:00

Well, these figures contradict Jentz's ones that I found on Leo's website for June 22nd, 1941 (http://www.niehorster.org/011_germany/a ... -06-22.htm). I don't know what to think about that... Even if I'm pretty sure that this is first hand material, could you please tell me what is your source?

If I remember correctly, 5. Panzer-Division wasn't involved in "Barbarossa" but joined only for "Taifun" late September 1941. It would be consistent with the release of nearly all of its armor to its sister units, wouldn't it?

Cheers,

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

NagaSadow
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by NagaSadow » 01 Jan 2018 21:02

Hello!

On 21th June 1941 5. Pz.Div. reported
37x 2cm Kw.K.,
7x 3,7cm Kw.K.,
10x 5cm Kw.K. and
6x 7,5cm Kw.K.
operational.
Now the 7,5cm belonged to Pz.Kpfw. IV and the 5cm Kw.K. to Pz.Kpfw. III. The 3,7cm Kw.K. were most likely Pz. III or Pz.Bef.Wg. III. The 2cm Kw.K. might have been Pz.Kpfw. II or Panzerspähwagen.
The numbers do increase in July and August but i assume there was a lot of fluctuation as the 5. Pz.Div. was was supposed to go to the DAK at that time and presumably exchanged most of its equipment because of that.
Source: 5. Pz.Div. war diary annex.

CNE503
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by CNE503 » 01 Jan 2018 21:28

Hello,

Panzer-Befehlswagen III only had a dummy wooden gun, hadn't it? So we can assume that Jentz's figures (17 PzKpfw III, 6 PzKpfw IV) are right, except for the vehicles equipped with a 2cm gun which could have all been, as far as we know, light recon wheeled vehicles and not PzKpfw II.

My question is to identify where these tanks were at this time: were they deployed in Creta but still depending of their parent division, or were they other tanks?

Cheers,

CNE503
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

Brevity
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by Brevity » 01 Jan 2018 21:52

CNE503 wrote:If I understand correctly, 5. Panzer-Division, on June 22nd, 1941, didn't have any significant number of tanks. It had only 23 tanks (17 PzKpfw III with 3,7cm gun, 6 PzKpfw IV) at hand. Were these ones those belonging to the 5./Panzer-Regiment 31, thus deployed in Creta that ultimately became 1./Panzer-Abteilung 212?
Hey CNE

This info from Panzertruppen is based on 5. Panzer Division's KTB but it hardly tells the whole story, as it doesn't include the II. Abteilung that remained in Greece for some time. The 5. coy was detached and sent to Krete, and the rest of the battalion was scheduled to entrain in Saloniki around 1 July and apparently rejoined 9 July.

Jentz wrote the division tank losses in Greece were 1/I 10/III 2/IV but this isn't fully accurate either. His numbers are the same as reported on 3 May. But on 16 May they announced that another Pz.III is to be cannibalised, and next day they clarified the final tally is 14 tanks, of which 7 burned out completely and 7 sustained other damage that was irreparable. All or almost all of these losses occured near Thermopile on 24 April, where reinforced 1. coy was virtually wiped out.

So 17/III and 6/IV is actually just 1 decimated battalion.

After leaving Greece, 5. Panzer-Division moved to area Berlin-Potsdam-Brandenburg-Rathenow in mid-late June (Panzer-Regiment 31 to Doeberitz). In early July the division was ordered to reorganize and prepare for tropical service. But on 7 September, division was ordered to Russia...
It's kind of common knowledge that 5. Pz. Div. was fully reequipped with new Pz.III and IV in summer 1941, and their tanks were modified for tropics. Apparently, the new tanks were delivered around July.
ImageHosted on Fotki
CNE503 wrote:For the other companies, 5. Panzer-Division should have processed like its sister unit 2. Panzer-Division, which handed over all its tanks to other armored divisions after the conclusion of "25" and "Marita" in preparation of "Barbarossa". As a consequence, 2. Panzer-Division had no tank at all on June 22nd, 1941.
Are we certain that 2. Pz. Div. handed over their tanks? I thought they only turned in old Pz.III with 3.7cm gun, but otherwise took their old tanks to Russia?

2 Pz Div left Greece and from mid-May was located in Augsburg - Ammersee - Nuernberg-Fuerth. Around 10 July transport to SE Poland (Radymno - Przeworsk - Jaroslaw - Munina area). From there, details sent to Lviv area to test guns against abandoned Russian tanks. Mid-late August transport to... France (yea, no kidding!), Bordeaux area. On 8 September, vacations are over and they have to travel East. It doesn't seem 2. Pz. Div. was being prepared, or even considered for Africa.

second part inc

yantaylor
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by yantaylor » 01 Jan 2018 21:54


Brevity
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by Brevity » 01 Jan 2018 22:36

So how many tanks were actually sent to Crete?

Records from 1941 say nothing, but the tanks stayed on the islands so we can still find them later on

Through March-May 1943, Pz Abt 212 recorded strength of
10 Pz.II (usually 8-9 operational at a time)
6 Pz.III kurz (5 operational, 1 in repair at all times)
10 Pz.IV lang (8-9)
3 Befehlswagen (3 or 2)

However, this is a 1943 paper so there is no column for Pz.I, and both kinds of Pz.III (3.7 cm and 5 cm gun) are listed together (see below). Also, German tanks only

Beutepanzers on 31 May 1943
5 Somua 35f (2 operational + 3 in repair)
15 Hotchkiss 38 (12+3)
6 Mark I (3+3)

What is the meaning of "Mark I" here - some British tanks captured on Krete?

Finally there is this list from September 1944
Image
All seems clear except the number of Pz.III somehow increased from 6 in 1943 to 7 in 1944

So all in all it seems 5./Pz Rgt 31 went to Crete with
2 Pz.Ib
10 Pz.II
6-7 Pz.III (including 2 w/ 37 mm gun and the rest w/ 5 cm)
3 kl.Bef.

10 Panzer IV lang and French tanks were shipped later but before spring 1943

Hope it helps

James A Pratt III
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by James A Pratt III » 02 Jan 2018 01:49

There was an issue of After the Battle magazine a while back that listed all the British tanks on Crete and their fates.

CNE503
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Re: Tanks in Creta, 1941

Post by CNE503 » 02 Jan 2018 09:26

Well gentlemen, it is an excellent discussion, with a lot of very interesting and documented contributions. Nevertheless, I fear that 5. Panzer-Division armor on June 22nd, 1941 is less clear to me now than just before! As we say in France, grandeur et décadence de la recherche historique*...
The 17 PzKpfw III and 6 PzKpfw IV that Jentz mentionned were more than probably not those deployed in Creta.
Thank to Brevity, I noticed that Jentz probably didn't take into account II./Panzer-Regiment 31. Well, I will think about that now.

Many thanks to everyone for this discussion!
Cheers,

CNE503

* Litterally, it means greatness and decay of historical research. When you are on the verge of succeeding and that unexpected problems come that force you to restart the whole process...
"Sicut Aquila" / "Ils s'instruisent pour vaincre" / "par l'exemple, le coeur et la raison" / "Labor Omnia Vincit"

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