Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
User avatar
Cult Icon
Member
Posts: 1399
Joined: 08 Apr 2014 19:00

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 24 Apr 2019 20:33

Wittmann pre-Normandy fought in the Ukraine as part of Jochen Peiper's SS Panzer Regiment. Peiper was assigned for his fanaticism after the death of the previous commanding officer. LAH commander Wisch wanted a "character change" for the LAH armor and did not like the tight unit preservation and caution displayed by the late Panzer regiment commander, who lead the LAH armor at Kursk.

The new character of this unit under Peiper was relentless dash in the offense (but in the context of strong supporting forces) which was evident in Nov-Dec 1943 (48.Panzer Korps counterstrikes west of Kiev) and Jan 1944 (Operation Watutin). The Tiger company was effectively operational 1-2 platoons of a couple vehicles with Kling, Wendorf, and Wittmann being the key tank commanders of the vehicles (according to Agte, MW and the WSS Tigers of the LAH).

Wittmann's "star" was made here and he was quickly awarded two grades of the Knight's Cross- a very rare occurrence in such a short time period and made SS news & even spent time in morale-building activities.

IMHO whatever habits he displayed in Normandy was developed from the Eastern Front mobile warfare (ditto for WSS war crimes of the LAH in general, another story).

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2094
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by MarkN » 24 Apr 2019 21:26

headwest wrote:
24 Apr 2019 18:54
@Mark N and Juha - ah, that makes alot more sense, throwing everything they had to stop an advance and save large amounts of forces makes a much more complete picture. Although If these other formations did go east, and did do well, again monday morning quarterbacking here, if they had the additional 8 tigers with them they may have done more damage and gained more. I am assuming again though that Wittmann and the other tigers were providing a protection for the left flank then as well.

another very amateur observation from me is looking at the formation that day, wittmann was not leading the advance at all, like some have written. it seems more to me he was holding back to observe and possibly thought HIS left flank was covered with the ones behind him and on the road. thus IF the fatal shot came from his left he possibly thought he was protected there and thus looking front and right?
I have no idea where you are getting you narrative(s) from, but it/they seem to be somewhat biased towards highlighting the SS, the Tigers or Wittman at the expense of historical reality.

German doctrine was to counter-attack as soon as possible and as strong as possible. The 8th of July 1944 was not some gallant tactical aberration on Wittman's part.

The 2nd Canadian Corps had attacked astride the main Caen-Falaise road: Canadians on the west, British then Polish on the east. Against them was a single 25.Welle German division: 89.Inf-Div. It was far too much for the 89.Inf-Div to hold, but they fought doggedly. On the morning of 8th July 1944, they were trying to counter-attack to stop the advance. Due to numbers, their efforts were concentrayed west of the road against the Canadians. Try reading about that to understand what was going on on 8th July 1944, but you'll have to look hard as they weren't SS, they didn't have any Tigers and Wittman was not one of theirs....

Whilst it was still technically part of 89.Inf-Div's AO, their effort east of the main road had effectly ceased and at some point during the day 12.SS.Pz-Div was given responsibility.

12.SS.Pz-Div were, at that time, corps and army reserve, and were acting as firefighters in several areas. Eberbach, the 5.Pz.Armee commander was on the scene and ordered everything from the 12.SS.Pz-Div that could be pulled together to counter-attack east of the main road. That effort came under the banner of KG Waldmuller.

So, not only was the counter-attack based upon well known and understood doctrine, had been going on already for some hours before Wittman became involved, and his specific effort was initiated/ordered by the 5.Pz.Armee commander!

I have no idea where you think those 8 Tigers could have been used more effectively or how. I have no idea why you place them on the left flank when they were in the centre - albeit the 89.Inf-Div's effort was effectively spent by the time Wittman reached the party.

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 5777
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by Michael Kenny » 24 Apr 2019 21:30

headwest wrote:
24 Apr 2019 20:11
huh, that is very interesting to hear. I can't imagine that MW wasn't a very good tank commander though, he came up thru the Stug, and ll the other training and had been in many battles.
He was manufactured with the Tiger myth. He first came to public notice in July 1943 and was dead within 13 months. The SS Propaganda Dept went into overdrive in the summer of 1943 and a lot of 'aces' appeared almost overnight. Wittmann was one of the most hyped. Check his kill-claims which came in short periods rather than a slow steady accumulation. . Every single one is for his Tiger service and there is nothing at all from any other Stug/tank. You will find lots of internet mentions of his Stug 'kills' but nothing of any substance. He also gets the almost obligatory reference to him helping a poor wounded enemy soldier

eindhoven
Member
Posts: 484
Joined: 15 Apr 2004 17:54

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by eindhoven » 24 Apr 2019 22:01

Only a small correction DC North West; Serge Varin said he took the photos in March 1945. There is another aerial in 1947 showing the Tigers still there. In 1948 they are cut up and gone. Serge recounted what he saw decades later which may or may not have changed somewhat with the passage of time and Serge's memory but it all leads to the hullabaloo based off his descriptions and photos followed by researchers and various authors either presenting something new or regurgitating a previous author. The circular arguments about who shot who, the conflicting war diary numbers of 3 Tigers knocked out versus 5, the constant back and forth over the turret being blown up into the air and behind the Tiger (clearly not what happened evidenced by the RAF photo on 9 AUG 44), the theory from Serge himself about the Typhoon, distance calculations and arguments about ballistics etc, etc, Ad nauseam.

I am less interested in the above.

Seldom does anyone discusses Kurt Meyer on this fateful day but they really should examine his presence, his movement orders as the senior commander, and previous outcomes as a commander throughout the conflict to understand the snowball of events on 8.8.44. Pedestals begin to crack and fall apart. Sometime long ago I calculated and put out the attrition rates attributed to Michael Wittmann alone while specifically in command and per engagement as well as the concept of the Peter Principle as it applied to him. This was before anyone was actually doing a critical analysis of the man, documented losses in the records, or before I'd seen anyone use the Peter Principle in reference to him. Kurt Meyer, as least as I approached 8.8.44, deserved the same treatment. Something I delved into in my research and something Isecke intoned regarding differences in Wünsche and Kurt Meyer's tactical, technical, and fundamental ability to lead. "Hammer und Nagel" or, interestingly as a parable, the Law of the Instrument "I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."

In any case I'm glad to have contributed.

Nice succinct points MK and Juha on the overall tactical situation and movement of other units. Also Juha as you pointed out, "how much more effective were the cleverly used Pz IVs than the Tigers driving in odd formation in open to the ambush."

DC North West
Member
Posts: 38
Joined: 11 Jan 2019 17:02
Location: U.K. north west

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by DC North West » 24 Apr 2019 22:12

headwest

The full series https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=P ... 4klDGi421D it is under the Chieftain, he is the military historian for WOT America, and an Armour Officer in the American National guard, his blog is interesting, famous for his detail analysis of armour vehicles, though he has yet to do the Tigers, he has done panther.

lartiste
Member
Posts: 106
Joined: 04 Jan 2014 15:08
Location: EU

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by lartiste » 24 Apr 2019 22:15

Cult Icon wrote:
24 Apr 2019 20:33
Wittmann pre-Normandy fought in the Ukraine as part of Jochen Peiper's SS Panzer Regiment. Peiper was assigned for his fanaticism after the death of the previous commanding officer. LAH commander Wisch wanted a "character change" for the LAH armor and did not like the tight unit preservation and caution displayed by the late Panzer regiment commander, who lead the LAH armor at Kursk.

The new character of this unit under Peiper was relentless dash in the offense (but in the context of strong supporting forces) which was evident in Nov-Dec 1943 (48.Panzer Korps counterstrikes west of Kiev) and Jan 1944 (Operation Watutin). The Tiger company was effectively operational 1-2 platoons of a couple vehicles with Kling, Wendorf, and Wittmann being the key tank commanders of the vehicles (according to Agte, MW and the WSS Tigers of the LAH).

Wittmann's "star" was made here and he was quickly awarded two grades of the Knight's Cross- a very rare occurrence in such a short time period and made SS news & even spent time in morale-building activities.

IMHO whatever habits he displayed in Normandy was developed from the Eastern Front mobile warfare (ditto for WSS war crimes of the LAH in general, another story).
IMHO the cautious commander was SS - Standartenführer Georg Schönberger.

Do you have any source for aforementioned bold claim? I agree, that Peiper's wild SPW style was not really suitable for panzer regiment, but was it Wisch's intention to change the style? Indeed if I remember correctly it was Wisch who at the end of 1943 called Peiper to divisional staff and handed over the command of remnants of anihilated panzer regiment to Kuhlmann .... .

Michael Kenny
Member
Posts: 5777
Joined: 07 May 2002 19:40
Location: Teesside

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by Michael Kenny » 24 Apr 2019 22:34

If you read up on the 'Russian' Generals who came to Normandy you find a common theme-they all think the job will be easy and they can push the Allies back into the sea. They ignore the warnings of those who tried that before them and call them defeatist. They soon come to realise how wrong they were. A lot of men died died before the lesson was learned.

This film shows 3 Pz IV wrecks from the area.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item ... 1060019742

DC North West
Member
Posts: 38
Joined: 11 Jan 2019 17:02
Location: U.K. north west

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by DC North West » 24 Apr 2019 23:52

Eindhoven
I agree, it is pointless debating who shot what.

Indeed, the official Canadian military history dated 23 December 53, more at the Strategic and Operational level has no mention of the engagement on the 8th, the only references to Tigers:-
“Moving forward from their position at Roquancourt 10:25 hours Essex Scot came to a halt when they observed that their objective was picked with Tiger tanks. A flood of conflicting reports reached the battalion, these placed the enemy on the objective, put friendly tanks there instead and finally admitted that nothing was known of the true situation. The tanks disappeared and at 11:50 they moved on.” I think the bottom line was they had no idea.
However, the history does quote from Kurt Meyer’s and other senior officers official interrogation on the impact of the Canadian advance.

I must say, I do like the management references for them both, the Peter Principle, being promoted to their level of incompetence and Maslow law of instruments, the use of hammer or gavel approach in treating everything irrespective of what is needed, being from the Midlands we have a saying using the Birmingham screwdriver a hammer, which effectively means the same.
Indeed, when considering Villers-Bocage you can see them in operation. The actual reality that of the nine Tigers that entered the town of Villers-Bocage throughout the day's battle, including Michael Wittmann's Tiger, all but one was either damaged or destroyed, including a number of Panzer Lehr Mark IV’s, was conveniently ignored by the original film. This gets lost in the Wittmann Tiger propaganda narrative of the morning. Consequently, the SS-Heavy Tank Battalion 101 were effectively removed from combat by the end of the day. Villers-Bocage was not the overwhelming German success that many narratives portray. Although the Tigers did stop the British advance, the victory was essentially Pyrrhic. Given, the Tigers lost during this battle were never replaced throughout the Normandy campaign. A smart commander does not take an open field tank like a Tiger into a town without infantry support. The City of London Yeomanry vehicles and soldiers were replaced in 72 hours.

headwest
Member
Posts: 129
Joined: 29 Aug 2014 22:18

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by headwest » 25 Apr 2019 00:26

Hi Mark and MK

I hope I am not coming across as a proponent of the SS or anything like that. I am really just learning all of this although I have had an interest in Wittmann (and KNispel) for a while. If you could point me to a good and accurate book on the battle this day was made of I would gladly read it

I actually did not realize this part was just a small part of that day. nor did I know that there were units to the west etc engaged

I would say, to clear this up, I am aver new novice with a large interest in WW2, european theater. I do not at all endorse Hitler or the policies, as a matter of fact I find it abhorrent yet fascinating these men who gave everything for that cause.

I think for me wittmann is so easily found and that made it something easy to read up on. I am learning now though that in the end he seems to have been a normal commander following orders that day. it doesn't disappoint me, it kind of amazes me the build up he has

I alsot think for me at least, that he was described as a "down to earth" quite man, who from quotes I could find (not sure if true) that his men did like him. also that he seemed uncomfortable with the fame made me think more of him I guess than the others who were pretty cutthroat. hope that makes sense

I enjoy learning all of this and thank you all for the info and time you take to set the record straight and talk to someone like me who enjoys learning and does not want a myth, but the facts. this again leads me to my main interest that is the small things and locations

someone mentioned meyer here, when that comes up I sit and wonder, well was MW a "good" guy or was he like meyer and the others

for me the interest was because I thought he might be different and possibly um good for lack of better words.

I hope I have made more sense, I shouldn't go off half cocked though with left flanks and stuff lol, I literally had no idea except the maps present around of MW part that day

thanks all

DC North West
Member
Posts: 38
Joined: 11 Jan 2019 17:02
Location: U.K. north west

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by DC North West » 25 Apr 2019 10:47

headwest
May be of interest

A number of Historians are producing new or updated books on Normandy for the 75 anniversary.
James Holland Normandy 44 Day and the Battle for France is on preorder he his highly rated.
Niklas Zetterling is updating his work on Normandy and has done detail study on Kursk
Christopher Lawrence has produced a detailed work on Kursk they both contribute to http://www.dupuyinstitute.org/blog/
Indeed it was Christian from Panzerworld who directed me to them.
Professor John Buckley British Armour Normandy Campaign and Stephen Napier the Armoured Campaign of Normandy, serious historical works well researched.
On Tiger Crew there is the Tiger Project, with Memoirs edited by Dale Richard Ritter.
British memoir, Patrick Delaforce series covers a number of units, Churchill’s Desert Rats in North West Europe covers Villers Bocage. Eric Hunt battleground Europe series and Kevin Baverstock Breaking the Panzers.
Thomas Jentz and Hilary Doyle are the recognised experts on the German Army vehicles, though Wolfgang Schneider has produced a Tiger series but it uses a lot of Thomas Jentz. It his interesting to compare Schneider’s account against Delaforce account for Viller Bocage, there are some differences of opinion. Schneider has be criticised for comments regarding Operation Goodwood and his view on the King Tiger Gordon engagement, has there is a degree of Historians fallacy in play.
As we have seen from these discussions individual crew experience, no matter how interesting, need to be treated with care, for the simple reason that an individual in a tank has limited field of vision of what is happening around them, which is further restricted when batten down. Discounting one account to totally favour another account to support a weak theory is poor research, inevitably the truth is somewhere in between.
David Fletcher Steven Zaloga are the regarded experts on Allied Army vehicles. Though for Sherman Pershing RP Hunnicutt is regard has the authority.

In the U.K. we have series of charity shops which are excellent for finding historical history books. Oxfam bookshops are excellent recycling old historical works.

Regards DC

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2094
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by MarkN » 25 Apr 2019 11:14

headwest wrote:
25 Apr 2019 00:26
I hope I am not coming across as a proponent of the SS or anything like that. I am really just learning all of this although I have had an interest in Wittmann (and KNispel) for a while. If you could point me to a good and accurate book on the battle this day was made of I would gladly read it

I actually did not realize this part was just a small part of that day. nor did I know that there were units to the west etc engaged

I would say, to clear this up, I am aver new novice with a large interest in WW2, european theater. I do not at all endorse Hitler or the policies, as a matter of fact I find it abhorrent yet fascinating these men who gave everything for that cause.

I think for me wittmann is so easily found and that made it something easy to read up on. I am learning now though that in the end he seems to have been a normal commander following orders that day. it doesn't disappoint me, it kind of amazes me the build up he has

I alsot think for me at least, that he was described as a "down to earth" quite man, who from quotes I could find (not sure if true) that his men did like him. also that he seemed uncomfortable with the fame made me think more of him I guess than the others who were pretty cutthroat. hope that makes sense

I enjoy learning all of this and thank you all for the info and time you take to set the record straight and talk to someone like me who enjoys learning and does not want a myth, but the facts. this again leads me to my main interest that is the small things and locations

someone mentioned meyer here, when that comes up I sit and wonder, well was MW a "good" guy or was he like meyer and the others

for me the interest was because I thought he might be different and possibly um good for lack of better words.

I hope I have made more sense, I shouldn't go off half cocked though with left flanks and stuff lol, I literally had no idea except the maps present around of MW part that day
I sense a major disconnect between what you claim to be looking for (specific and historically accurate details) and what you really want (to be told a ripping good yarn of daring-do).

The 'Wittman Legend' was a creation of wartime Nazi propganda. The post-war historical narrative is biased towards providing ripping good yarns of daring-do to satisfy the appetite of legions desperate to rehabilitate those who implemented the policies you consider "abhorrent". Your understanding of 'Wittman' is channelled directly from wartime Nazi propaganda which, whilst you caveat in brackets as "not sure if true", you seem inclined to believe.

If you want to know the historical accurate version of Wittman's military exploits, you'll have to research yourself and read yourself the contemporary documentation: German, Russian, British and Canadian war diaries, combat reports etc etc etc. I bet if you did that you'd come up with a completely different narrative to the wartime Nazi propaganda.

If you want to read a ripping good yarn of daring-do to feed your "fascination", then keep asking others on the internet to tell you their opinions and ripping yarns or read the books of authors feeding you their opinion and ripping yarns. Does it really matter whether it is historically accurate or not?

Here are two brief excerpts from Canadian War Diaries. They tell, briefly, of the same engagement of German armor getting into their lines and inflicting casualties. The narratives are a bit different due to the different units using different time settings (about 0830 v about 1000) and having different AFV recognition skills (Panther v Mk.IV) etc etc.
Image
...
Image

Now, to put this into context. This engagment occured about 3 hours before the Wittman incident and less than a mile away. The blue line indicates Wittman, the red oval represents where this engagment occured.
Image

Now, you'd probably just call it "sour grapes" that I have brought this up because I'm positing this against Wittman's abysmal failure. I doubt you'll ever find anybody writing about this engagment in their book or telling it on the internet - even though it is a far better ripping yarn of daring-do. Why? Perhaps because it wasn't the SS, it wasn't a Tiger and it wasn't loudly promoted by wartime Nazi propaganda. Nobody. it seems, is interested in telling the story that others around Wittman partly succeeded while he and the SS wunderfighters failed miserably.

User avatar
Cult Icon
Member
Posts: 1399
Joined: 08 Apr 2014 19:00

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 25 Apr 2019 12:49

lartiste wrote:
24 Apr 2019 22:15
IMHO the cautious commander was SS - Standartenführer Georg Schönberger.

Do you have any source for aforementioned bold claim? I agree, that Peiper's wild SPW style was not really suitable for panzer regiment, but was it Wisch's intention to change the style? Indeed if I remember correctly it was Wisch who at the end of 1943 called Peiper to divisional staff and handed over the command of remnants of anihilated panzer regiment to Kuhlmann .... .
Yes, that's him. Westemeier & friends (veterans interviews) analysis and Agte (veterans). There was not an official complaint but telling was Wisch's endorsement of Peiper (and the details of his character traits that he saw suitable) and how Schonberger was not awarded the RK despite having the most multi-day destructive run for the LAH and in Waffen SS history. It was only after his death that the RK was delivered for events half a year prior. This is off-topic so pm me if you want to continue.

headwest
Member
Posts: 129
Joined: 29 Aug 2014 22:18

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by headwest » 25 Apr 2019 15:33

Hi Mark

I think the whole narrative has swung away from my initial interest, which simply was where MW and the Tigers started from and trying to trace their route, and what that place was today (the starting point)

I think as this went on an you, MK, and Eind, were discussing the true facts it turned into more of end battle info. which again, i am interested in.

From my point of view as well and probably for most starting out, you find the stories that are easy to find, with lots of info, whether right or wrong, and decided if your interested. My initial interest in Wittmann wasn't even as a commander and tactician, it was more, was this person different than the typical SS. I even mention I am not interested in Villers, or how many tanks or whatever, but where was he that day as well, his CP, and where did he end up after where pics we have were taken.

and with his last battle i knew that no one knows for sure what happened to him, I was much more interested in him as a person, and the events of the morning

which you have totally enlightened me on! all of you! i appreciate that. I feel I am rubbing you the wrong way and its honestly not at all my intention. I think your knowledge, and what you have provided is awesome and it actually has made me re think the propaganda and the truth quite a bit. So if nothing else you should applaud yourself for absolutely showing someone some real facts and not myth or daring do ! and them walking away with a different perspective

its also not all the German side for me, I have huge fascinations with Basilon, Doss, and others. Wittmann was again an easy find for me coupled with again what i thought might be someone different. These men, all fascinate me, heck i was even trying to find the house where MW and his wife were staying after getting married.

anyway, i hope you know this for me has been a real education and appreciated.

MarkN
Member
Posts: 2094
Joined: 12 Jan 2015 13:34
Location: On the continent

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by MarkN » 25 Apr 2019 16:09

headwest wrote:
25 Apr 2019 15:33
I think the whole narrative has swung away from my initial interest, which simply was where MW and the Tigers started from and trying to trace their route, and what that place was today (the starting point)

I think as this went on an you, MK, and Eind, were discussing the true facts it turned into more of end battle info. which again, i am interested in.

From my point of view as well and probably for most starting out, you find the stories that are easy to find, with lots of info, whether right or wrong, and decided if your interested. My initial interest in Wittmann wasn't even as a commander and tactician, it was more, was this person different than the typical SS. I even mention I am not interested in Villers, or how many tanks or whatever, but where was he that day as well, his CP, and where did he end up after where pics we have were taken.

and with his last battle i knew that no one knows for sure what happened to him, I was much more interested in him as a person, and the events of the morning

which you have totally enlightened me on! all of you! i appreciate that. I feel I am rubbing you the wrong way and its honestly not at all my intention. I think your knowledge, and what you have provided is awesome and it actually has made me re think the propaganda and the truth quite a bit. So if nothing else you should applaud yourself for absolutely showing someone some real facts and not myth or daring do ! and them walking away with a different perspective

its also not all the German side for me, I have huge fascinations with Basilon, Doss, and others. Wittmann was again an easy find for me coupled with again what i thought might be someone different. These men, all fascinate me, heck i was even trying to find the house where MW and his wife were staying after getting married.

anyway, i hope you know this for me has been a real education and appreciated.
You are not rubbing me up the wrong way. Once this discussion is over, it matter nothing to me what you believe, want to believe, or how you go about building your belief. I am merely trying to point out that if your objective is to get to X, then you need to ask the questions and use an approach to your learning that gets you to X. If you want historical accuracy, you need to do the hard graft of researching the evidence yourself. If you want to be entertained by ripping yarns of daring-do, then immerse yourself in the copious volumes of post-war literature channelled from wartime Nazi propaganda sustaining the myths, legends and the cult of the SS etc. It's your choice. Just try not to delude yourself where you're going.

Also, it seems a bit daft "monday morning quarterbacking" a game if all you've studied is the movement of a single player in a single play and not bothered to look at any other players, any other plays or even attempted to consider the game plan or even the rules of the game.

User avatar
Cult Icon
Member
Posts: 1399
Joined: 08 Apr 2014 19:00

Re: Michael Wittmann starting Point Aug8 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 25 Apr 2019 19:34

MarkN wrote:
25 Apr 2019 11:14
Why? Perhaps because it wasn't the SS, it wasn't a Tiger and it wasn't loudly promoted by wartime Nazi propaganda.
How was Wittmann "loudly" promoted during WW2? There were around 250 plus RK awarded to the WSS by the summer of 44' and thousands awarded to the Army as a whole..

The Wittmann obsession was largely developed post-war by enthusiasts

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”