10th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)
|German 10th Panzer Division|
10th Panzer Division insignia (1941–1943)
|Active||March 1939 – May 12, 1943|
|Garrison/HQ||Wehrkreis V: Stuttgart|
|Engagements||World War II|
It was formed in Prague in March 1939, and served in the Army Group North reserve during the invasion of Poland of the same year. The division participated in the Battle of France in 1940, where it captured Calais, and in Operation Barbarossa with Army Group Center in 1941. After taking heavy casualties on the Eastern Front it was sent back to France for rehabilitation and to serve as a strategic reserve against potential Allied invasion. The division was rushed to Tunisia after Operation Torch (1942) and spent six months in that theatre, where it engaged both British and American forces. It caused severe losses to the “green” US Army in some of their first encounters with the Germans under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel at the Battle of Kasserine Pass (1943). It was later lost in the general Axis surrender in North Africa in May 1943 and officially disbanded in June 1943. Unlike many other divisions destroyed at this point in the war the 10th Panzer Division was never rebuilt, and thus permanently disappeared from the German order of battle.
In honour of notable members of the 10th Panzer Division being part of the German Resistance and the failed July 20 Plot to kill Adolf Hitler in 1944, a new armoured division was named 10. Panzerdivision in 1959 upon the reinstallation of the West German Army as a part of the Bundeswehr.
For most of its history, the division was organized into three regiments. The tanks were organised into the 7th Panzer Regiment, and the panzergrenadiers (mechanized infantry) into the 69th Panzer Grenadier Regiment and the 86th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. The 90th Panzer Artillery Regiment, the 10th Motorcycle Battalion, the 90th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion, the 90th Tank Destroyer Battalion, the 49th Panzer Engineer Battalion, the 90th Signal Battalion, and the 90th Panzer Divisional Supply Troops were also assigned to the division.
The 10th Panzer Division was first formed on 1 April 1939 in Prague, as a composite unit made up of previously established units throughout Germany. Many of these units were transferred from the 20th Motorized Division, the 29th Motorized Division, and the 3rd Light Division. By fall of 1939, the division was still forming, but was nonetheless committed to the 1939 Invasion of Poland before the process was complete. For that reason, the 10th Panzer Division remained in reserve for most of that campaign. It was moved from Pomerania in August into Poland, where it was hastily given control of the 7th Panzer Regiment, the 4th Panzer Brigade and several SS units.
The division completed its formation by the start of 1940. It consisted of the 10th Rifle Brigade with the 69th and 86th Rifle Regiments, the 4th Panzer Brigade with the 7th and 8th Panzer Regiments, and the 90th Artillery Regiment.
Once complete, the division was sent to France to participate in the Battle of France. Committed to the XIX Motorized Corps, the 10th Panzer Division was committed to the southern axis of the fight, with the 1st and 2nd Panzer Divisions as well as Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland. It advanced through Luxembourg broke through the French lines at the Meuse River near Sedan, all the way to the English Channel in its first engagement. At Sedan, the division remained briefly in reserve to protect the German bridgehead across the river from French counterattack. From there, the division pushed allied forces from the ports in the Flanders region, before engaged in mopping-up operations in western areas of France after the French surrender. Following this, the division engaged in occupation duty and training in France.
In March 1941, the division was recalled to Germany, and moved to the border with the Soviet Union in June of that year in preparation for Operation Barbarosa. Once the operation was launched, the division fought in engagements at Minsk, Smolensk, Vyasma, and the Battle of Moscow. It remained in the region during the Russian winter offensive of 1941-1942, holding Juchnow, near Rzhev, against repeated Russian counterattacks from January to April 1942. By 1942, the division had suffered massive casualties and losses, forcing it to be withdrawn to rebuild.
The division was sent to Amiens, France for rehabilitation. Here, it was reorganized, eliminating the brigade headquarters because the division had been so badly mauled it no longer needed them. In 1942, the division was rushed to Dieppe, where it played a minor role in countering the Dieppe Raid by Allied forces. Once the Allies landed in North Africa, the 10th Panzer Division was placed in occupation duty in Vichy France, and rushed to the African Theater in late 1942 as soon as transport became available. It landed in Tunisia and participating in the Battle of Kasserine Pass and several of the other early battles with units of the United States Army, newly committed to the war. In December 1942, the division, now a part of Fifth Panzer Army, consolidated defenses around Tunis, and the battle-weary troops were able to form a line against the advancing allied forces.
The division remained fighting during the early months of 1943. At that time, when the Axis line collapsed in May 1943, the division was trapped. It surrendered on May 12 and was never rebuilt.
|Generalmajor Georg Gawantka||1 May 1939 – 14 July 1939|
|Generalleutnant Ferdinand Schaal||1 September 1939 – 2 August 1941|
|Generalleutnant Wolfgang Fischer||2 August 1941 – 1 February 1943|
|Oberst Günther Angern (Acting)||8 August 1941 – 27 August 1941|
|Oberst Nikolaus von Cormann (Acting)||19 November 1942 – December 1942|
|Generalleutnant Friedrich Freiherr von Broich||1 February 1943 – 12 May 1943|
Several Wehrmacht officers who had served in the 10th Panzer Division were active in the German resistance against Adolf Hitler and were imprisoned or executed after their unsuccessful attempt to assassinate him in the July 20 Plot of 1944:
- General der Panzertruppen Ferdinand Schaal, active in the resistance and imprisoned until the end of the war.
- Syndikus Albrecht von Hagen, active in the resistance and executed after the failure of the July 20 Plot.
- Oberst Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, who placed the bomb that was intended to kill Hitler at Wolfsschanze. He was executed and later became a symbolic figure of the German resistance in post-war Germany. The Graf-Stauffenberg-Kaserne in Sigmaringen is the HQ garrison of the newly formed post-war 10th Panzer Division of the Bundeswehr. Both were named in remembrance.
Also serving with the division was Unteroffizier Erich Peter, who served from 1939 to 1943, later became Generaloberst and Deputy Minister for National Defense and Chief of the Border Police Troops of the German Democratic Republic.
- Mitcham 2007, p. 28
- Mitcham (2006), p. 101
- Ripley, p. 84
- Ripley, p. 94
- Mitcham 2007, p. 29
- Mitcham 2006, p. 102
- Ripley, p. 133.
- Mitcham 2006, p. 103.
- Mitcham, Samuel W. (2006). The Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and Their Commanders. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0811733533.
- Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). German Order of Battle Volume Three: Panzer, Panzer Grenadier, and Waffen SS Divisions in WWII. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0811734387.
- Ripley, Tim (2003). The Wehrmacht: The German Army in World War II, 1939-1945. Routledge. ISBN 978-1579583125.