Sunday, March 29, 2015

26.Panzer...Panzer IVH

The commander of the 6.Kompanie/Panzer-Regiment 26, Oberleutnant Schaft, reported on their actions for the period of 14 to 16 December 1943:

On 14 December 1943, the Kompanie was ordered to advance on the road from Orsogna to Ortona to Point 155 together with the 1./9 and seal off the enemy breakthrough. Along with the Kampfgruppe belonging to the Abteilung under Major Brandt, we started out from Point 280 at about 2330 hours and without encountering any enemy resistance to speak of reached the group of houses 500 meters south of Point 155 about 0215 hours. Here the Kampfgruppe was halted by a radio call from Major Brandt because both of the Pionier-Kompanien that had attacked by way of Point 181 to envelop the enemy still lay too far back. Kampfgruppe Schaff sent a reconnaissance patrol forward that reported Point 155 free of the enemy. Then at about 0345 hours, Point 155 was occupied by one Zug 1./9 and four Pz.Kpfw.IV 7.5 cm Kw.K. lang from the 6.Kompanie. The gap on both sides of Point 155 was closed after the Pionier-Kompanien arrived at 0520 hours. About 0720 hours, two enemy tanks attacked the lead Pz.Kpfw.IV from the southeast supported by heavy artillery preparation. One enemy Sherman tank was hit three times, turned back, and remained stationary after moving about 1200 meters. The second enemy tank damaged the Pz.Kpfw.IV 7.5 cm Kw.K. lang by two hits on the gun mantlet and on the commander's cupola, and turned back before a second of our Panzers could be pulled forward for support.

The area on and around Point 155 lay under heavy artillery fire throughout the day. Our own Panzers remained in position while the infantry pulled back about 400 meters because of heavy losses. During the early morning hours of 16 December, the infantry in Kampfgruppe Brandt were pulled out for a new assignment, while the 6.Kompanie remained in the old location. About 0500 hours, after heavy artillery preparation, the opponent again attempted to advance on Point 155. The attack was repulsed and the enemy tanks turned back after they laid down a smoke screen on the area. At 1030 hours, a new artillery barrage suddenly hit Point 155. The renewed attempt by the opponents to advance with infantry and tanks was thwarted. One enemy Churchill tank was destroyed by a direct hit. The enemy infantry were driven back by machine gun fire that caused heavy losses. One of our Pz.Kpfw.IV was destroyed by a direct hit (one dead, two wounded). Because of renewed artillery fire, the Panzers were pulled back 400 meters. At 1600 hours, the Kompanie received an order to pull back past Point 181 in the direction of Tollo. With all of the Panzers that were still operational and without being noticed by the opponent, the 6.Kompanie moved across country and arrived at the new area about 0030 hours.

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