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End of the Tigers - 503/Feldherrnhalle

Discussion in 'Armor and Armored Fighting Vehicles' started by CrazyD, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    A couple notes...

    First off- should you decide to work on a "quick project"- say, like collating info on the last days of the Tiger tanks- look into it a bit before starting. What was supposed to be a quick, refresher project is turning into quite a bit or work/research! Very interesting stuff, but it's going to take a lot longer and a lot more work than expected to get through all these units!

    Sources so far- the majority of this info so far comes from Schneider's Tigers in Combat I and Klages' Trail of the Tigers. More sources are coming and will be incorporated, but I wanted to post what I've got as a nice start.

    Location, location, location- the locations for this one were a bit tough. We know they were fighting in the south eastern-portion of the front for the last months of the war. However, most of the locations noted below come from Schneider, who apparently uses contemporary (late 40s) place names. Moreover, some of these seem suspect in terms of distances traveled, etc.

    Final note- any extra info? Corrections? Additions? Complaints? Post away!


    Schwere Panzer Abteilung 503 (S.PzrAbteilung Feldherrnhalle Dec. 21 1944)

    Sources:
    Google maps for some locations
    Tiger I Information Center - Unit Histories
    Schneider, Tigers in Combat
    Kleine & Kuhn, Tiger, History of a Legendary Weapon
    (more to come)

    Interesting note- the 503rd was the most successful overall Tiger Battalion- by end of war, claimed 1700+ enemy tanks KOed and 2000+ enemy guns destroyed.

    2nd Interesting note- Feldherrnhalle was one of only two units to receive Tiger IIs with Porsche turrets.

    2/25/45 – Gran Bridgehead (Hungary) wiped out. S.Pz.Abt.Feld in area on German side of Gran river. See:
    http://www.gutenberg-e.org/esk01/maps/LageOst26Feb45a_lg.jpg
    NW of Budapest.

    3/1/54 – 11 Tiger IIs operational (TiC) out of an apparent inventory of 21 (Klages)
    3/7/45 – Battalion broken into two companies. Schneider notes that by 3/7, when split into two companies, 31 Tiger IIs. Inventory discrepancy between the two sources. (21 Klages, 31 Schneider)
    3/10/45 – 15 Tiger IIs of battalion in Verebely as “corps reserve”. One Company?
    3/11/45 – Tic notes 5 new Tigers delivered, confirmed via Klages. 26 Tiger IIs available.
    3/15/45 – 19 Tiger IIs operational. Soviet attacks across Gran River near Tohol

    3/26/45 – further combat in Tohol area
    3/27/45 – withdrawal back to Verebely amidst heavy fighting. Escape route to Kalasz covered by Tigers. During the night, full withdrawal to Kalasz.
    3/28 – 3/30/45 – delaying action in the Neutra (Nitra) area (~60-70 miles NW of Budapest). Extensive damage to Tiger IIs. Noted actions of recovery company, recovering damaged tanks while under Russian fire.
    3/31/45 – defensive actions near Bab Castle. Random find- Wikipedia article on Kurt Knispel (Kurt Knispel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) notes in one action apparently in Bab Castle defence, Knispel recorded 24 enemy hits on his Tiger II. No tanks listed as fully lost, so Tiger II probably survived!

    Klages notes end-of-April/beginning-of-March inventory for Feldherrnhalle- 26x Tiger II

    4/1/45 – fierce fighting in area of Tyrnau (Trnava,~15-20miles NW of Nitra) area. Further retreat in direction of Trnava.
    4/2/45 – with the help of a “confiscated” mechanized infantry company (unit unknown), position around Nadas Bole-Az is held (location not found on modern map)
    4/3/45 – continued heavy fighting in Nadas area.
    4/4/45 – more fighting in Nadas area, later withdrawal to Apfeldorf. 1 bogged down Tiger II blown up by crew, 6 Tiger IIs available.

    *Note here. TiC lists Apfeldorf as area to which the 503rd/Feld retreated to. Apfeldorf is a good distance W/SW of area in which 503rd was previously fighting; at least 300 miles W/SW of Nitra. Given later corroboration of location- how did Battalion manage to make it that far in what looks to be on night/march?

    4/5/45 – Covering position on road west of Apfeldorf. Around noon, ordered to march to Schlossberg. Enemy attack on Marvaor repelled by 4 Tiger IIs.
    13 Tiger IIs operational.

    *Further note- Schlossberg in same-ish area as Apfeldorf, further corroborating location of unit. However, given later-noted locations of unit and general condition and area of front at this time, locations during this period as noted by Schneider seem suspect. See next note.

    4/6/45 – At night, withdrawal to farm in area of Novy Dvor.
    4/7/45 – Axes of retreat for German forces in area covered by 2 Tiger IIs, 2 Flakpanzers, and multiple APCs against strong Russian pressure. Assumed that Flakpanzers and APCs came from “confiscated” mechanized infantry company.
    Retreat at night to Hulicz area. (Hulicz- not found in area on modern map.)

    *Note- according to map:
    http://www.gutenberg-e.org/esk01/maps/LageOst18Mar45a_lg.jpg
    Seems a good bit of discrepancy in locations. Said map shows much tigher area of German operation around Budapest area, as opposed to locations noted above. Obviously, locations of battalion need some work for confirmation

    4/8/45 – further limited action in Hulicz area
    4/9/45 – Defence of Hulicz bridgehead. At night, redeployment across river, withdrawal to Lanstorf area.
    4/10/45 – Assembly at Lanstorf area. 13 Tiger IIs operational.
    4/11/45 – Combat-ready Tiger IIs in action near Lanzot. Enemy attack pushed back. 10 enemy tanks knocked out. 1 Tiger II total loss near Lanzot due to Russian action.
    4/12/45 – Battalion relocated to oil fields near Zistersdorf (~20miles N/NW of Bratislava). 2 Tiger IIs remain near Lundenburg. All other tanks experience mechanical problems/breakdowns on road march. Klages notes 4 Tiger IIs near Lundenburg, Slovakia bogged down and abandoned by crews.
    4/13/45 – 2 Tiger IIs @ Lundenburg area repel enemy attacks, knock out 16 enemy tanks.

    4/15/45 – Relocated to Wilfersdorf. Attempt to link up with 357th Infantry Division; contact failed. No Tiger IIs in combat-ready condition. 2 Flakpanzers still in action. During the evening, 4 Tiger IIs made operational by maintenance company.

    4/16/45 - Klages notes last issue of new Tigers to Feldherrnhalle- 5 Tiger IIs delivered in Verebely, Hungary

    4/16/45 – 6 Tiger IIs operational. Night march to Althoflein, then back to Wilfersdorf.
    4/17/45 – Nonstop defensive action at Wilfersdorf and Hobersdorf.
    4/18/45 – Relocation to Erdberg (~40miles W of Bratislava). Enemy presence already to West of Battalion. Several Tiger IIs support 25th Infantry Division in clearing Mistel Bath of Russians.
    4/19/45 – Counterattack via Erdberg to north, 13 enemy tanks knocked out.
    4/20/45 – Retreat to Altruppersdorf area. 2 tanks destroyed (enemy or Tiger IIs?).
    Attachment to Panzer Division Feldherrnhalle 2
    4/21/45 – Russian tanks penetrate German lines, attack german (Division, Corps?) command post behind lines in Meierhof area. 8 Feldherrnhalle Tiger IIs with support from several Wespe SPGs knock out 18 enemy tanks, seal penetration.
    4/22 – 4/26/45 – To Socherl. Tanks in action near Wutzeshofen and Wostitz. 1 tank (Tiger II or enemy?) knocked out.
    4/27 – 4/30/45 – Defensive action near Wostitz. 6 enemy tanks destroyed. Battalion commander awarded Knight’s Cross.

    4/29/45 – Kurt Knispel killed in action. Knispel was highest-scoring Tank Ace of German Army with 162 kills, but was never awarded Knights Cross.
    Note- Wikipedia lists 4/28 as date of death, Schneider lists 4/29.

    4/30/45 – Klages notes 8 Tiger IIs lost near Wostitz, Slovakia. Cause unknown.

    Schneider- during April ’45 retreat, 14 Tiger IIs lost. Schneider and Klages list end-of-April/start-of-May inventory as 12 Tiger IIs.

    5/2 – 5/6/45 – 12 Tiger IIs covering various road positions (in Wostitz area?). Orders come down to Battalion to not recover tanks any more during retreat.
    5/7/45 – Major Russian offensive along whole front. 16+ enemy tanks knocked out. Battalion retreat via Wittingau.
    5/8/45 – Battalion reaches Schidravitz. No further orders. Battalion withdrawal with German refugees towards Budweis, attempting to reach US forces to surrender.
    5/10/45 – Corps command tries surrender negociation with US forces. Fails, Corps commander arrested.
    In Budweis area: 400-450 soldiers from Feldherrnhalle remain with unit. Sodiers assemble, remaining medals are awarded, last 2 Tiger IIs destroyed by crews. Soldiers split into small groups and attempt to head home. ~120 make it home, 400 captured by US forces and turned over to Russians.
     

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