Kampfgruppe Schwerin

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Abel Ravasz
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Kampfgruppe Schwerin

Post by Abel Ravasz » 19 Apr 2004 15:33

Hi,

I'm looking for info on this group formed by the 5th Light Division 2/41. Any info is welcome.
Best,

Abel
Last edited by Abel Ravasz on 19 Apr 2004 23:59, edited 1 time in total.

Timo
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Post by Timo » 19 Apr 2004 16:51

Do you mean Gruppe Schwerin? This was the designation given to Machinengewehr-Bataillon 8 while it was under command of Oberstleutnant Graf Schwerin.

source: Roger Bender and Richard Law - "Uniforms, organization and history of the Afrika Korps", page 120.

Mark V.
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Re: Kampfgruppe Schwerin

Post by Mark V. » 19 Apr 2004 20:31

Abel Ravasz wrote:...the 5th Light Division 2/42. Any info is welcome.


Hi Abel, I guess you mean 2/41, by 1942 Schwerin was already serving on the Ostfront as a regimental commander in 20.Inf.Div.(mot.).

Abel Ravasz
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Post by Abel Ravasz » 19 Apr 2004 21:02

Hi Abel, I guess you mean 2/41, by 1942 Schwerin was already serving on the Ostfront as a regimental commander in 20.Inf.Div.(mot.).


:oops: Sorry, just a typo. Of course I meant 2/41.

Do you mean Gruppe Schwerin? This was the designation given to Machinengewehr-Bataillon 8 while it was under command of Oberstleutnant Graf Schwerin.


Perhaps you mean MG-Bn 2. The MG Bn 8 was under the command of Colonel Ponath as Gruppe Ponath. Anyways, I have seen this version before, but I'm quite sceptical - in my opinion the Gr. Schwerin consisted of the units of the 5. Light Division, excluding PR 5 (Gr Olbricht), PzAuf Abt 3, PJ Bn 39 (Gr Wechmar), 8. MG Bn (Gr Ponath) and the HQ (Gr Streich) and parts of 1/33. FlaK. That would leave Gr. Schwerin with 2. MG Bn, 1/75. Art, 200. Pi Bn. Unfortunately, I found no source that would reassure me in this theory.
Another thing, there were certain Italian units attached to Schwerin, but I don't know which - maybe sub-units of Ariete?
So it is possible that the Schwerin was just the 2. MG Bn, but then - where were the remaining elements (Pi Bn, Art Abt + parts of FlaK) displaced during the Cyrenaica offensive?
Hope you can elaborate on this,
Best,

Abel

Mark V.
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Post by Mark V. » 19 Apr 2004 21:55

Abel, the problem is there were several Gruppe Schwerins.

1. Gruppe Schwerin was formed in early March 1941 for the “Operation Graf Schwerin”. The Gruppe was composed from a reinforced company (from MG.Btl.8) and from a mixed Italian battalion. Its mission was to reconnoiter towards South (of Tripolis) and to strenghthen the morale of Italian soldiers and local Arabs. In the 2000 km long march the gruppe didn’t have any contact with enemy but gained valuable experiences in the desert warfare.

2. Gruppe Schwerin during Cyrenaica offensive in early April 1941. This time the unit was composed from Rgt.Stab zbV 200, Italian reconnaissance battalion Santa Maria and minor elements of 5.lei.Div. It’s task was to bypass Agedabia and avdance towards Bed Gania (165 km NE of Agedabia). Rommel forgot to sufficiently supply the unit and it wasn’t able to advance until resupplied from air. Together with Gruppe Ponath (Vorausabteilung - a reinforced company MG.Btl.8, which included panzers) it surrounded the British fort El Michili. Ponath continued the advance towards Tobruk, while it seems Schwerin remained behind and participated in the capture of the fort with its 2000 soldiers and 2 generals.

3. For the attack on Tobruk Gruppe Schwerin was again reorganized – MG.Btl.2, 1 battery (I./AR75) and 2 heavy Flak batteries (I./Flak.Rgt.33) - from what I gather this is the one you are looking for.

The info comes from Aberger's 5.(lei.)/21.Pt.Div.

Cheers

Abel Ravasz
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Post by Abel Ravasz » 20 Apr 2004 00:18

Hi Marko,

I should have made myself clearer. Yes, I know of the existance of the other Schwerin Kampfgruppen. I was looking for info on the #2.

What I like the most about this battle is the confusion. All the sources are very much controversial.

Together with Gruppe Ponath (Vorausabteilung - a reinforced company MG.Btl.8, which included panzers) it surrounded the British fort El Michili. Ponath continued the advance towards Tobruk,...


In my view (supported by Rommel's memoires and David Irving's Rommel monography) the Gr. Ponath consisted of the whole MG Bn 8, and never took part in the surrounding of the fort of Mechili. On 4/4/41, the group was ordered to cut through the desert and reach Derna. On the 6th, though, the unit recieved orders to attack Mechili. But still on the same day, Ponath recieved another order that again told him to attack in the direction of Derna. And as to Ponath's advance on Tobruk - this took place two days after the capture of Mechili. 8/4/41, the day Mechili fell, Ponath was still busy in capturing the stragglers of British forces at Derna.

...capture of the fort with its 2000 soldiers and 2 generals.


Again, my data is different. 1,700 prisoners, including 70 officers and 1 general (Gambier-Parry) were captured in the fort, according to General Streich's memoires. (a tidbit: the Bersaglieris boasted that 3 generals, 2 colonels, 60 officers and 2,700 soldiers were captured, but this amount seems inpossibly high).

3. For the attack on Tobruk Gruppe Schwerin was again reorganized – MG.Btl.2, 1 battery (I./AR75) and 2 heavy Flak batteries (I./Flak.Rgt.33) - from what I gather this is the one you are looking for.


This info is very interesting. Two days after the capture of Tobruk, Gr. Schwerin was reorganized into the form I suspected it to be during the offensive on Mechili. It is possible that the Gr. Schwerin got these units just after the battle, but anyways - how did they get to the area in such a short time if they were not parts of either Gr. Schwerin or Olbricht (Pz Reg 5 - it is sure that there were no FlaK or Art in col. Olbricht's column). So it still seems more probable me that Schwerin had control of these assets during the Mechili battle. Still no proof of my theory, so I'm looking for any more info available.

1. Gruppe Schwerin was formed in early March 1941 for the “Operation Graf Schwerin"


Just a little addition. Gr. Schwerin #1 was formed 14/3/41. Its objectives were to capture the oasis of Murzuk, deep into the south, where de Gaulle's free french were making problems to the local italian police. The unit departed one day later, and reached its objective a few days later without any fighting.

Thanks for your help so far and still looking for info,
Best,

Abel

Mark V.
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Post by Mark V. » 20 Apr 2004 12:36

Hi Abel!

In my view (supported by Rommel's memoires and David Irving's Rommel monography) the Gr. Ponath consisted of the whole MG Bn 8, and never took part in the surrounding of the fort of Mechili. On 4/4/41, the group was ordered to cut through the desert and reach Derna. On the 6th, though, the unit recieved orders to attack Mechili. But still on the same day, Ponath recieved another order that again told him to attack in the direction of Derna. And as to Ponath's advance on Tobruk - this took place two days after the capture of Mechili. 8/4/41, the day Mechili fell, Ponath was still busy in capturing the stragglers of British forces at Derna.



Yes, on 4 April Gruppe Ponath (structure - according to the unit’s KTB – 1 company equipped with 24 MGs, paks, pioneers, light flak, a few panzers, 2 light art. guns and from a small supply column, also see the Gruppe’s strength for the attack on Derna) was ordered to advance along the southern route through Ben Gania and El Michili towards Derna to cut the British retreat route. Gruppe Schwerin, ordered on the previous day to advance on the same route and then reconnoiter towards El Michili and Aghiret el Beter, received new orders on 4 April to advance to Tmimi and Tobruk. Due to lack of fuel the advance stalled in front of Ben Gania for two days when both units were resupplied by Ju-52. Another problem were Italian mines left there from earlier campaigns which caused further personnel and equipment losses. On 5 April both units were ordered to El Michili, but in the morning (04.30) of 6 April Gruppe Ponath was to move, without hesitation (the whole unit was spread along the march route with numerous broken down vehicles), towards Derna. At this point the Gruppe possessed only 10 vehicles, 4 MGs and one Pak.


This info is very interesting. Two days after the capture of Tobruk, Gr. Schwerin was reorganized into the form I suspected it to be during the offensive on Mechili. It is possible that the Gr. Schwerin got these units just after the battle, but anyways - how did they get to the area in such a short time if they were not parts of either Gr. Schwerin or Olbricht (Pz Reg 5 - it is sure that there were no FlaK or Art in col. Olbricht's column). So it still seems more probable me that Schwerin had control of these assets during the Mechili battle. Still no proof of my theory, so I'm looking for any more info available.



You’re forgetting that Grupe Wechmar, Olbricht, Schwerin, Ponath were basically vorausabteilungen and that the mass of division travelled just behind. This (along with some Italian units) caught up the vorasuabteilungen at El Michili.

This info is very interesting. Two days after the capture of Tobruk, Gr. Schwerin was reorganized into the form I suspected it to be during the offensive on Mechili. It is possible that the Gr. Schwerin got these units just after the battle, but anyways - how did they get to the area in such a short time if they were not parts of either Gr. Schwerin or Olbricht (Pz Reg 5 - it is sure that there were no FlaK or Art in col. Olbricht's column). So it still seems more probable me that Schwerin had control of these assets during the Mechili battle. Still no proof of my theory, so I'm looking for any more info available.


For the attack on Tobruk (9 April) Rommel created Gruppe Prittwitz (AA3, Pz.Jg.Abt.39, MG.Btl.8, I./Art.Rgt.75, 5./MG.Btl.2 and Rgt.Stab zbV 200, Pz.Rgt.5 was to follow after a short rest). Frontal attack and AA3’s attack to cut off Tobruk on the East proved to be unsuccessful, so Rommel ordered on 10 April the formation of Gruppe Schwerin. Gruppe Schwerin encircled Tobruk on 12th.

cheers

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