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:
-Panzer-Aufklaerungszug (arm. Recce platoon)
-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 …

Panzerwrecks 3 P18-19

Today we heard from Stefano Di Giusto, who helped to identify the units on the above pages. He  says: “In the previous edition, I identified the Pz III N as belonging to PzAbt 212, on the ground that Jeff’s photo was captioned as taken in the area of Udine.

I have now gathered sure proof that the Pz III N belonged to Panzer-Einsatz-Kompanie “Ligurien” (previously they had belonged to 1. Kp./Panzer-Abteilung 208, which left them behind when it was transferred to the Reich to be re-equipped in early December 1944) and the StuG IV to 34. Infanterie-Division. These units surrendered to the Americans in the area of Ivrea, north of Turin.

I have seen other photos of the same groups of tanks in the dump, and I have been able to clearly identify the old tanks from 1. Kp./Panzer-Abteilung 208 among them. I do not know why Jeff’s photo is caption as taken in Udine, but that is definitely wrong.”

Thanks for the update Stefano.