Panzerwrecks 1, P73 – RSO identification

Predrag Blanusa touched base a couple of months back, with useful nuggets of information about the RSO on page 73 of PW1. Over to Predrag:

I was recently expanding one of my databases with information from several Waffen-SS documents, when I stumbled upon a familiar license plate number – SS-224 784. The source for my original entry was page 73 of Panzerwrecks 1, where a knocked out RSO/01 is displayed at an unknown location in France. Unfortunately I can’t tell the exact location, but I can say that this vehicle belonged to the 4th (anti-tank) platoon of the 4th Company of the 1st battalion from SS-Panzergrenadier-Brigade 51 [4.(Pz.Jg.-)Zug der 4./SS-Panzergrenadier-Brigade 51]. It was one of three such vehicles within the company that was used to tow a PaK.

Thanks Predrag

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Panzerwrecks 1 – Original Introduction

Here is the original introduction we did for Panzerwrecks 1 that contained the passage from a G-2 Periodic Report. The report mentioned the city of Osterode. Ironically, an image of a vehicle in Osterode actually appeared in “Panzerwrecks 1.” Which one was it? (Note: If we had left the original introduction in place, there would have been no room to thank our contributors, etc., however, deleting the passage meant the whole point of the intro was somewhat lost. If you are interested in these Periodic Reports, we have a few more samples we could post. (P.S. That book, “A Ramble Through My War,” is a really good book, and you should try to pick up a copy.)

“Why Panzer Wrecks?
 
Because they are the empirical evidence of engagements with enemy armor often alluded to in reports at the time – and widely imagined by readers and modelers alike ever since!
During World War II, U.S. Armies in the ETO communicated combat intelligence to and from their subordinate units via G2 Periodic Reports. Issued on a daily basis, each report covered conditions and enemy activities for the proceeding twenty-four hour period.
Part Two of the report, “ENEMY OPERATIONS DURING PERIOD,” was the most intriguing, for it contained short summaries of activity along the various fronts, as excerpted here. These clashes ran the gamut from brief skirmishes in towns to sharp actions at roadblocks to major assaults along the front, and took place in daylight, darkness, heat, cold, dust, mud, smoke, snow and terror. When the smoke cleared and the fog lifted what was left behind were the shattered wrecks.
 
It bears noting that, until an enterprising U.S. G-2 Captain in Italy began correlating the markings on German vehicles to their units, there was no appreciation of this method of identifying opposing forces.* We have done our best to put a name and place to a photo, however, where we felt unsure, we left the information out rather than blindly speculate. We gratefully acknowledge those who gave of their time and wisdom, and invite you to visit the numerous on-line discussion groups linked to the Panzerwrecks website to test and share your knowledge. 
 
*See “A Ramble Through My War: Anzio and Other Joys,” by Charles F. Marshall. Baton Rouge. LA, Louisiana State University Press, 1998.

 
HEADQUARTERS FIRST UNITED STATES ARMY G-2 Periodic Report Number 306 dated 12 April 1945 From 110001B April 1945 To 1112400B April 1945.”
 
III Corps: One tank encountered on high ground (B- 283008). One Tiger tank observed vicinity G-292961. One tank, vehicles and personnel fired on by friendly artillery at G- 182845. One halftrack destroyed at NDR SALWEY (G-2794). PW reports: 4 tanks at G-22987I. 103 Pz Reconnaissance Bn has 4 tanks left.
 
VII Corps: Enemy armor was active in the northern and central zones as tanks and SP guns attempted to halt our advancing troops chiefly by covering roadblocks. Several tanks were encountered in the fighting in TETTENBORN (C- 9533), OSTERODE (C-7350) and BARTOLFELDE (C-8836), and heavy tank fire was received 1000 yards west of HERZBERG (C-8042). Several tanks were observed at C- 705475 (SW of UHRDE). It is estimated that ten enemy tanks or SP guns operated singly in the northern part of the zone. Nine tanks were destroyed during the period as well as five SP guns. An American pilot shot down over enemy territory reentered our tines today and reported seeing many well camouflaged tanks between LAUENTHAL (C-7566) and WILDEMANN (C-7561); most of them were stationary, and the moving tanks were going N.
 
V Corps: One enemy tank was engaged at D-1814 at 0635B but withdrew to the southeast at 0750B. Two to four tanks were reported withdrawing from D-3203 at 1140B. One tank was reported in KOLLEDA (J-4593) at 1255B.
 
 

Panzerwrecks 1, 3, 4 & 5 – update on wrecks in the Netherlands

Back in December of 2007, we received a letter from Dr NCHM Heitman regarding various German AFVs identified as being in the Netherlands. Parts of his letter are reproduced here for the benefit of our readers:

“After having greatly enjoyed the 5 Volumes (so far) in the Panzerwrecks series I feel I should react to several photos and their captions regarding armoured and other vehicles in the Netherlands in May 1945. I will first list the pages of the various Panzerwrecks volume, alongside the contents of photo and/or caption. Then I will give some remarks.

Panzerwrecks Volume 1: Pages 42-47, showing vehicles in a dump in Utrecht. Marder III, Sherman (2 types), PzKpfw III N are shown amongst others, captions give as formations the I./PzJagAbt 346, 346 Infantry Division, and for the Shermans the Pz.Kp 224.

Panzerwrecks Volume 3 pages 60-61: shown are Renault R35 tanks near Rotterdam.

Panzerwrecks Volume 4, page 80: Marder III, Bergepanzer III (with transmission as cargo), 1 PzKpfw III N.
Page 82: 1 StuG III (kurzrohr) and 2 StuG III (L/48). In total visible are 5 PzKpfw III N. Page 82 also shows 2 Sfl Flak 2 cm, and a number Kettenkrad.

Panzerwrecks Volume 5 pages 18-19: shows 3 Shermans (two types) in German service.
Page 20 shows Zgkw, Marder III M and Mun Pz II amongst others.

Armoured vehicles are somewhat of a rarity in the Netherlands in May 1945, and most were concentrated in the 346. Infanterie Division.

The “Ist-Kriegsgliederung” of May 8, 1945, 1200 hour, shows that PzJagAbt 346 had the following composition:
-Staff
-StabsKompanie,
-Panzer-Aufklaerungszug (arm. Recce platoon)
-1.Kompanie
-2.(Sturmgeschutz) Kompanie
-3.(Panzer) Kompanie

The Armoured Recce Platoon has 5 wheeled armoured recce vehicles equipped with 2 cm guns (type not given). In the 1./PzJagAbt 346 are 4 drawn Pak-guns, alongside 6 self-propelled 2 cm Flak vehicles. The 2.(StuG)/PzJgAbt 346 holds 3 Sturmgeschuetze and 1 x 7.5cm PAK(sf). The 3.(Panzer)PzJagAbt 346 holds 5 PzKpfw III and 3 Sherman tanks.

The weapons overview (9.5.45) give the following within PzJagAbt 346:
-6 x 2cm Flak
-5 x Pak 40
-2 x 7.5cm StuKa L/48
-6 x 7.5cm StuKa L/24
-1 x 7.62cm Sherman
-2 x 7.5cm Sherman

The overview of general equipment (9.5.45) gives for the PzJgAbt 346 (Vehicles only)
-13 x Panjewagen und Landesublich (Horsedrawn vehicles)
-1 x gr. Feldkuchen (large fieldkitchen)
-1 x kl. Feldkuchen (small fieldkitchen)

The overview for the vehicles and equipment and fuels/oils (9.5.45) gives for the various subunits of the PzJgAbt 346 the following:
-Stab: 14 Kraeder (14 mc’s), 1 Kettenkrad, 23 Pkw, 1 KrKw (medical
vehicle/ambulance), 15 Lkw (trucks) and 6.PzSp.Wg
(Panzerspaehwagen=arm.recce vehicle)

-1(MotZ)Mp: 6 Kraeder, 1 Kettenkrd, 7 Pkw, 7 MTW
(Mannschaftstransportwagen, troop carrier), 13 Lkw, 1 Maultier, 1
Zgkw.sf. 2 cm, 3 Anhaenger 1-achs (single axle trailer), 1 Pkw.Gen
(Generator Pkw). 3 Lkw Gen (Generator Truck)
-2.Komp: 4 Kraeder, 8 Pkw, 14 Lkw, 1 Maultier, 2 x Kettenkrad, 3
Panzer(sturmgeschuetz), 1 Bergepanzer, 1 SF 7.5 cm PAK (also listed
Getriebe (transmission) fuer Pz III, 1 Motor for Pz III.

-3.Komp: 4 Kraeder, 6 Pkw, 3 MTW, 10 Lkw, 1 ZgKw (Zugkrftwgen), 5
PzKpfw III, 3 PzKpfw Sherman.

If one carefully looks at the data contained in these lists the following picture emerges:
The Marder III shown in the various pictures is indeed in the 1./PzJag Bat 346. The 2 StuKa 1/48 are the 2 longbarrelled StuG’s shown in PzWrecks 4. The 6 StuKa L/24 are in 1 StuG Kurzrohr (PW Vol 4) and the 5 PzKpfw III.
Perhaps you noted the inclusion of both the transmissions and engine in the overview of the 2.Kp. The picture of the Bergepanzer III shows clearly the Transmission (the same?????)
The Flak Sf in the picture are probably from the 1.Kp and so on.
The 3 Shermans are definitely from the 3.Kp as no other Shermans are reported in the various list for the other formations, in fact only a very few (mainly ex-French AFV’s) are listed.
So one strange vehicle remains, the Mun Pz II in the various pictures. As this is not listed within the 346 Inf Div, or within the various formations attached to it, it is probably from another formation.
The only formation which lists an armoured vehicle, not identified as a tank, is the Stab der Kuestenverteidigungsabschnitt Sued (20.Fallschirmjaegerdivision), which lists a Panzerfahrgestell in its inventory. Whether or not this is the Mun Pz II is unknown to me.

The Renault R-35 shown in PzWrecks 3 are also very interesting. As I had stated before, information on the vehicles in the Netherlands in May 45 is fairly well known to me. A logical candidate for the ownership of these Renault R-35 tanks is the Kampfkommandant Rotterdam (battle commander Rotterdam) which listed 6 Panzer mit je 1 3.7 cm Kanone und 1 MG (6 tanks with each a 3.7 cm gun and 1 machine gun) on 8.5.45.
This is a logical candidate as the troops of the Kampfkommandant Rotterdam were to assemble/concentrate in an area southeast of Rotterdam (Formations include III.Batillon/Sicherungsregiment 26, 7th and 8th Company of Festungsstamm truppen LXXXVIII).

The other candidate, which I feel is illogical, is the Kampfkommandant Amsterdam, which lists 8 French Tanks (1 x 4.7 cm gun, 7 x 3.7 cm gun, 1 Tank of 18 Ton, 4 tanks of 12 tons, and 3 of 10 tons, alongside 2 Pzspaehwagen und 2 armoured Raupenschlepper). These troops were to concentrate Ijmuiden and therefore should not be near Rotterdam.

So much for now.”

Many thanks to Mr Heitman for sharing this information with us. On page 80 of Panzerwrecks 4, we managed to incorrectly give the location as Armsfoot, it should read Amersfoort. That taught us not to copy the locations from the photo caption …