5th Panzer Army

Last updated
5th Panzer Army
5. Panzerarmee
Active
  • 8 December 1942 – 30 June 1943
  • 24 January 1944 – 17 April 1945
CountryFlag of Germany (1935-1945).svg  Nazi Germany
Branch Army (Wehrmacht)
Type Panzer
Role Armoured warfare
Size Army
Engagements
Commanders
Notable
commanders

The 5th Panzer Army (German : 5. Panzerarmee), formed from the short-lived LXXXX Army Corps (German: LXXXX. Armeekorps), was a German armoured formation that operated on the Western Front and North Africa. The remnants of the army surrendered in the Ruhr pocket in 1945.

Contents

History

Formation in Italy and deployment in North Africa

On 17 November 1942, the Stab Nehring staff, assigned to the German general in Rome, was reformed to become the LXXXX Army Corps. This staff was soon repurposed to become the 5th Panzer Army. [1]

The 5th Panzer Army was created on 8 December 1942 as a command formation for armoured units forming to defend Tunisia against Allied attacks which threatened, after the success of the Allied Operation Torch landings in Algeria and Morocco. The army fought alongside the Italian First Army as a part of Army Group Afrika. The army capitulated on 13 May 1943, along with its commander Gustav von Vaerst. The army was disbanded on 30 June 1943.[ citation needed ]

Normandy

The army was reformed on 24 January 1944 as Panzer Group West, the armoured reserve for OB West. The new army was placed under the command of Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg. [2] The method of employment of Panzer Group West in the event of an allied invasion was the subject of much controversy, with OB West commander Gerd von Rundstedt and Army Group B commander Erwin Rommel favouring different methods. [3] Rundstedt and Geyr von Schweppenburg believed that the panzer group should be held in reserve some distance from the front, to counter-attack Allied penetrations. Rommel was convinced that Allied air power and naval artillery would not allow the Germans the freedom to move large formations and so insisted that the panzers should be deployed much closer to the front line. [4] Adolf Hitler forced an unhappy compromise on the western commanders and refused to allow them to commit the panzer group without his authority. When the Allied Invasion began on 6 June 1944, Panzer Group West remained immobile; by 8 June, Geyr had been able to rush three panzer divisions northward to defend Caen against British and Canadian forces. [5] Geyr planned to launch the divisions in a counter-attack that would drive the British and Canadians back into the sea. On 10 June, Schweppenburg was wounded in an attack on the Panzer Group West headquarters at La Caine. Geyr's tank units managed to limit the British advance for another month but he was relieved of his command on 2 July, after seconding Rundstedt's request that Hitler authorize a strategic withdrawal from Caen. On 2 July he was replaced by Heinrich Eberbach. The panzer group fought against the Allied forces in Normandy, suffering heavy losses and eventually finding many of its divisions trapped in the Falaise Pocket. After the shattered remnants of the panzer group escaped from Falaise, it began a retreat towards the German border.

Retreat, Ardennes

In August, the remaining elements of Panzer Group West were reorganized as 5th Panzer Army, with a combat formation remaining in action under the title Panzer Group Eberbach. After a brief period under Sepp Dietrich, command of the army passed to Hasso von Manteuffel. The army saw heavy combat on the German border against Allied forces, the panzer divisions suffering heavily from Allied ground attack aircraft. In November the 5th Panzer Army began forming up in the Ardennes, alongside the newly formed 6th SS Panzer Army under Dietrich. Both formations took part in the Battle of the Bulge, the Fifth Panzer Army was set to be the main central force advancing westwards from the pre-existing front lines, suffering heavy losses in battles around Bastogne and in the armour battles around Celles and Dinant, the westernmost points of advance. After the offensive was cancelled, it continued its fighting withdrawal to the German border. In March, it was involved in efforts to eliminate the American bridgehead over the Rhine at the Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen. The 5th Panzer Army was encircled and trapped in the Ruhr Pocket, and surrendered on 17 April 1945. [6]

Commanders

Fifth Panzer Army (North Africa)

No.CommanderTook officeLeft officeTime in office
Blank.png
Ziegler, HeinzGeneralleutnant
Heinz Ziegler
(1894–1972)
Acting
3 December 194220 February 194379 days
1
Jurgen von Arnim.jpg
Arnim, HansGeneraloberst
Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
(1889–1962)
20 February 194328 February 19438 days
2
Blank.png
Vaerst, GustavGeneral der Panzertruppe
Gustav von Vaerst
(1894–1975)
28 February 19439 May 194370 days

Panzer Group West

No.CommanderTook officeLeft officeTime in office
1
Blank.png
Schweppenburg, LeoGeneral der Panzertruppe
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
(1886–1974)
19 November 19434 July 1944228 days
2
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-096-08, Heinrich Eberbach.jpg
Eberbach, HeinrichGeneral der Panzertruppe
Heinrich Eberbach
(1895–1992)
4 July 19449 August 194436 days

Panzer Group Eberbach

No.CommanderTook officeLeft officeTime in office
1
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-096-08, Heinrich Eberbach.jpg
Eberbach, HeinrichGeneral der Panzertruppe
Heinrich Eberbach
(1895–1992)
10 August 194421 August 194411 days

Fifth Panzer Army (France)

No.CommanderTook officeLeft officeTime in office
1
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-096-08, Heinrich Eberbach.jpg
Eberbach, HeinrichGeneral der Panzertruppe
Heinrich Eberbach
(1895–1992)
2 July 19449 August 194438 days
2
Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J27366, Sepp Dietrich.jpg
Dietrich, SeppSS-Oberst-Gruppenführer
Sepp Dietrich
(1892–1966)
9 August 19449 September 194431 days
3
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1976-143-21, Hasso von Manteuffel.jpg
Manteuffel, HassoGeneral der Panzertruppe
Hasso von Manteuffel
(1897–1978)
9 September 19448 March 1945180 days
4
Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1981-104-30, Josef Harpe.jpg
Harpe, JosefGeneraloberst
Josef Harpe
(1887–1968)
8 March 194517 April 194540 days

Footnotes

  1. Tessin, Georg (1977). "Generalkommando LXXXX. Armeekorps (röm. 90. AK)". Die Landstreitkräfte 71-130. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 (in German). 6. Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag. p. 110. ISBN   3764810971.
  2. Harrison 1951, p. 247.
  3. "German Command and Tactics in the West, 1944".
  4. Harrison 1951, pp. 249–251.
  5. Harrison 1951, p. 333.
  6. MacDonald 1973, p. 370.

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

Invasion of Normandy Invasion and establishment of Western Allied forces in Normandy during WWII

The Western Allies of World War II launched the largest amphibious invasion in history when they attacked German positions at Normandy, located on the northern coast of France, on 6 June 1944. The invaders were able to establish a beachhead as part of Operation Overlord after a successful "D-Day", the first day of the invasion.

Gerd von Rundstedt German Field Marshal during World War II

Karl Rudolf Gerd von Rundstedt was a German field marshal in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Operation Epsom Allies military operation in France in 1944

Operation Epsom, also known as the First Battle of the Odon, was a British offensive in the Second World War between 26 and 30 June 1944, during the Battle of Normandy. The offensive was intended to outflank and seize the German-occupied city of Caen, an important Allied objective, in the early stages of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of north-west Europe.

Battle of Kasserine Pass Battle of the Tunisia Campaign of World War II

The Battle of Kasserine Pass was a battle of the Tunisia Campaign of World War II that took place in February 1943. Kasserine Pass is a 2-mile-wide (3.2 km) gap in the Grand Dorsal chain of the Atlas Mountains in west central Tunisia.

Falaise Pocket engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War

The Falaise Pocket or Battle of the Falaise Pocket was the decisive engagement of the Battle of Normandy in the Second World War. A pocket was formed around Falaise, Calvados, in which the German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army were encircled by the Western Allies. The battle is also referred to as the Battle of the Falaise Gap, the Chambois Pocket, the Falaise-Chambois Pocket, the Argentan–Falaise Pocket or the Trun–Chambois Gap. The battle resulted in the destruction of most of Army Group B west of the Seine, which opened the way to Paris and the Franco-German border for the Allied armies on the Western Front.

Battle of Chambois

The Battle of Chambois was an August 1944 battle during the Battle of Normandy in World War II. Prior to the battle, a pocket had formed around Falaise, Calvados, where the German Army Group B, with the 7th Army and the Fifth Panzer Army were encircled by the Western Allies. The seizure of Chambois by American, Canadian and Polish forces saw the final closure of the Falaise Pocket on August 21, 1944 and the destruction of most of Army Group B.

Operation Lüttich conflict

Operation Lüttich was a codename given to a German counter-attack during the Battle of Normandy, which took place around the American positions near Mortain in northwestern France from 7 August to 13 August 1944. The offensive is also referred to in American and British histories of the Battle of Normandy as the Mortain counterattack .

Günther von Kluge German general

Günther Adolf Ferdinand von Kluge, also known as Hans Günther von Kluge, was a German field marshal during World War II who held commands on both the Eastern and Western Fronts. He commanded the 4th Army of the Wehrmacht during the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the Battle of France in 1940, earning a promotion to Generalfeldmarschall. Kluge went on to command the 4th Army in Operation Barbarossa and the Battle for Moscow in 1941.

Heinrich Eberbach German general

Heinrich Eberbach was a German general during World War II who commanded the 5th Panzer Army during the Allied invasion of Normandy. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves of Nazi Germany.

The 7th Army was a World War II field army of the German land forces.

The 21st Panzer Division was a German armoured division best known for its role in the battles of the North African Campaign from 1941–1943 during World War II when it was one of the two armoured divisions making up the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK).

XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, was a corps-level formation of the German Army which saw extensive action on both the eastern and western fronts during World War II.

Operation Charnwood Second World War Anglo-Canadian offensive

Operation Charnwood was an Anglo-Canadian offensive that took place from 8 to 9 July 1944, during the Battle for Caen, part of the larger Operation Overlord in the Second World War. The operation was intended to capture the German-occupied city of Caen, which was an important objective for the Allies during the opening stages of Overlord. It was also hoped that the attack would forestall the transfer of German armoured units from the Anglo-Canadian sector to the American sector to the west, where an offensive was being prepared. The British and Canadians advanced on a broad front and by the evening of the second day had taken Caen up to the Orne and Odon rivers.

Operation Tractable battle of World War II

Operation Tractable was the final attack conducted by Canadian and Polish troops, supported by a British tank brigade, during the Battle of Normandy during World War II. The operation was to capture the tactically important French town of Falaise and then the smaller towns of Trun and Chambois. This operation was undertaken by the First Canadian Army with the 1st Polish Armoured Division and a British armoured brigade against Army Group B of the Westheer in what became the largest encirclement on the Western Front during the Second World War. Despite a slow start and limited gains north of Falaise, novel tactics by the 1st Polish Armoured Division during the drive for Chambois enabled the Falaise Gap to be partially closed by 19 August 1944, trapping about 150,000 German soldiers in the Falaise Pocket.

Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg German general

Leo Dietrich Franz Reichsfreiherr Geyr von Schweppenburg was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany during World War II, noted for his pioneering stance and expertise in the field of armoured warfare. He commanded the 5th Panzer Army during the Invasion of Normandy, and later served as Inspector General of Armoured Troops. After the war he was involved in the development of the newly built German Army (Bundeswehr).

RAF raid on La Caine (1944)

The RAF raid on La Caine (1944) was an attack in Normandy by the Second Tactical Air Force of the Royal Air Force (RAF) on 10 June 1944. The attack was made on the château at La Caine, about 12 mi (19 km) to the south-west of the city of Caen, north of Thury-Harcourt. The château had recently been occupied by Panzergruppe West, the command organisation for the German Panzer divisions in France and Belgium. Eighteen staff officers were killed in the attack and the commander, General der Panzertruppen Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg was wounded. A counter-offensive being prepared against the Allied beachhead by the Panzergruppe was postponed and then cancelled; command was transferred to the headquarters of the I SS Panzer Corps. Panzergruppe West was withdrawn to Paris and remained out of action until 28 June.

XXXX Panzer Corps was a tank corps in the German Army during World War II.

Operation Perch British offensive of the Second World War

Operation Perch was a British offensive of the Second World War which took place from 7 to 14 June 1944, during the early stages of the Battle of Normandy. The operation was intended to encircle and seize the German occupied city of Caen, which was a D-Day objective for the British 3rd Infantry Division in the early phases of Operation Overlord. Operation Perch was to begin immediately after the British beach landings with an advance to the south-east of Caen by XXX Corps. Three days after the invasion the city was still in German hands and the operation was amended. The operation was expanded to include I Corps for a pincer attack on Caen.

The Westheer is the name given to the German Army fighting on the Western Front after 1941. The Oberbefehlshaber West was the largest command structure for the Westheer.

XIV Panzer Corps was a corps-level formation of the German Army which fought on both the Eastern Front and in the Italian Campaign.