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In the summer of 1944 weak Soviet forces had advanced towards Mitau. They took Mitau and Tuckum and threatened the Kurland. To save contact with Riga, the SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und-Esatz-Regiment from Truppenübungsplatz Seelager in Windau are mobilized and manage to push back the Russians to Mitau.
Meanwhile Truppenübungsplatz Seelager has to be cleared and the SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und-Esatz-Regiment and the SS-Panzer- Aufklärungs-Ausbildungs-Abteilungen 1 and 2 are used to form SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross, under command of the commander of the SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und-Esatz-Regiment, Sturmbannführer and Ritterkreuz-träger Martin Groß (Frankfurt/Mainz, 15.04.1911 - Luer, 01.03.1984 / SS-No. 6 684).
Formation of SS-Panzer-Brigade "Gross" starts on 08.08.1944 and takes three days. Sturmbannführer Fritz Herzig (Wiener Neustadt, 18.07.1915 - 23.01.1954 / SS-No. 49 371) becomes Gross' adjutant. He already served with Groß as commander of III./SS-Pz.AuE.Rgt. The Brigade Stab (feldpostnummer 34 951 A) consists of a Feldgend.Trupp (34 951 B), a Versorgungskompanie (34 951 C) and a Werkstattkompanie 34 951 D). TKF is Obersturmführer Ernst Berghofer (SS-No.139 508).
SS-Infanterie-Battalion 1 is formed under Sturmbannführer Alfred Arnold (SS-No. 263 781). The OO is Obersturmführer Günther Lahr (SS-No. 346 147)
Stab (feldpostnummer 25 581 A)
- 1.Kompanie (25 581 B) - Obersturmführer Wilhelm Hüsing
- 2.Kompanie (25 581 C) -
- 3.Kompanie (25 581 D) - Obersturmführer Hans Bader (01.07.1917)
- 4.Kompanie (25 581 E) - Hauptsturmführer Ludwig Schäffler
SS-Infanterie-Battalion 2 is formed under command of Hauptsturmführer Walter Runge (SS-No. 45 582). His adjutant was Untersturmführer Max Dreher (SS-No. 18 787), the doctor was Hauptsturmführer Alexander Rees (Dr.Med.) (SS-No. 146 317)
Stab (46 794 A)
- 1.Kompanie (46 794 B) -
- 2.Kompanie (46 794 C) -
- 3.Kompanie (46 794 D) - Obersturmführer Stephan Stenglin
- 4.Kompanie (46 794 E) - Obersturmführer Hans Thoma (23.07.1914)
SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung "Gross" is formed with a Kradschutzen-Kompanie, a Pz.Späh.-Kompanie and a Rad/Kettenrad-Kompanie, under command of Hauptsturmführer Hans-Henning Heuer (Schlagenthin, 11.04.1916 - 06.08.1986 / SS-No. 309 439). His adjutant was Untersturmführer Wolfgang Eldh-Albietz
- 1.Kompanie (44 989 B) -
- 2.Kompanie (44 989 C) -
- 3.Kompanie (44 989 D) -
(note: a line was drawn through the 3.Kompanie)
Gem. SS-Panzer-Abteilung "Gross" is formed with two companies (10-15 Pz.III and Pz.IV, an other source says 23), commanded by Sturmbannführer Ernst Söhrens (SS-No. 61 709)
- Stab (feldpostnummer 26 871 A)
- 1.Kompanie (26 871 B) -
- 2.Kompanie (26 871 C) -
- 3.Kompanie (26 871 D) -
- 4.Kompanie (26 871 E) -
Other units in the Brigade were:
- 1. SS-Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung (12 StuG III)
- A provisional Pionier-Kompanie with a Pionierzug (mot.) and a Werferzug.
- A Flak-Kompanie with four platoons (from Luftwaffe-units and from SS-Flak-Battalion 54)
- An Instandsetzungskompanie under Obersturmführer Otto Tübcke (Berlin, 22.05.1903 / SS-No. 72 481)
The Brigade is immediately sent into combat on 08.08.1944 to counterattack Soviet advance and gets involved in heavy combat against an entire Soviet Calvary Corps, Libau (Latvia). Their attempt to take back Tuckum with an improvised armored train fails.
A schwere SS-Panzer-Kompanie (seven Tigers) from s.SS-Pz.Abt.103 is assigned to the Brigade on 15.08.1944. On this same date two Artillery Batteries from the 19.Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (lett. Nr.2) are assigned to the Brigade
By 19.08.1944, the Brigade has attained a personnel strength of 2,500 and is attached to a new and temporary Divisional Command: Panzer-Division Strachwitz, reinforced with five additional Pz.Kpfw.IV. One day later the entire formation went into action against the Soviet 51st Army units in and around Tuckum. They manage to clear Mitau and to secure the coastline to Reval, which means the evacuations from the Ostsee to the west can proceed.
Two days later, on 21.08.1944, AOK 18 reports a strength for SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross of 20 Panzer (all types), two SPW-Kompanien (30-40 SPW) and a schwere Kompanie on SPW.
For 22.08.1944, Panzer-Division Strachwitz reports the following strength for SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross: a personnel strength of 720, a mixed Panzer-Abteilung with three Panther, five Pz.III and Pz.IV, three T34 Beutepanzer and twenty SPW. The Brigades supply and repair facilities are mostly in the area east of Windau as is their 60-ton transport column.
On 28.08.1944 SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross is transferred to Joesuu. After the fighting in Latvia, the Division was transported from Bulduri (Riga) to Estonia, were they stayed at Lake Peipus until the first week of September.
In September, Brigade Gross was detached from Panzer-Division v. Strachwitz and dispatched from the Dorpat area back to Latvia, to counter another Soviet offensive.
The Gliederung of Panzer-Division Lauchert, dated 12.09.1944, details SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross
- A Brigade Stab with a Nachrichtenzug (signals platoon) and a MG-Zug.
- A mixed Panzer-Abteilung with two Panzer-Kompanien, including one Pz.III (L42), seven Pz.III (L60), one Pz.IV (L24), one Pz.IV (L43), three Panther, one StuG (L48) and one SPW-Kompanie with seventeen SPW),
- A Grenadier-Battalion
- An Aufklärungs-Abteilung with eight Panzerspähwagen
Panzer-Division von Lauchert reports the strength of SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross on 20.09.1944 as 300 personnel, two Sturmgeschütze, one T34 Beutepanzer, three Pz.III, two Pz.IV and four SPW. Constantly engaged with Russian forces in the Baltic area, the Brigade was pushed back to Lituania and finally retreated to Memel, were it arrived in early October. Due to heavy combat only fragments of the Brigade are left by this time, and for that reason it is pulled back to Truppenübungsplatz Sennelager in the Steinhagen-area (Westphalia).
An OKH teletype, dated 16.11.1944, tells us:
"SS-Führerhauptamt reports, Pz.AOK 3 has retained a Kampfgruppe from SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross with a strength of six officers, 165 NCOs and enlisted. The SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross was the alarm unit for the SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und-Esatz-Regiment in the Riga area. The Brigade was released, retention of the Kampfgruppe is illegal. The personnel are urgently needed by the SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und-Esatz-Regiment for the training of front replacements. Immediate pull-out and transport to Sennelager is requested." Heeresgruppe Mitte orders the immediate transport of the Kampfgruppe to Sennelager."
Other survivors of SS-Panzer-Brigade Gross gather at Truppenübungsplatz Windau (Prussia) and are transported to Danzig, to be moved on to Sennelager. There the Brigade is broken up and its sub-units were used as replacements for the 6.Panzer-Armee. Disbanding of the Brigade is disguised as the forming of the imaginary "SS-Panzer-Regiment 26 "Reichsmarschall"
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Thanks for the help