101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion

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101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion
Active 19 July 1943 – May 1945
Country Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Allegiance Adolf Hitler
Branch Waffen SS
Size Battalion
Part of 1st SS Panzer Division "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler"
I SS Panzer Corps
Equipment Tiger I, Tiger II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
SS-Obersturmbannführer Heinz von Westernhagen
Insignia
Identification
symbol
S SS-Pz Abt 101.jpg

101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion (in German Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 101, commonly abbreviated as s.SS-Pz. Abt. 101) was one of the Waffen-SS's elite armored units, acting as a 'fire brigade' and a crack assault unit on all fronts. With the introduction of new Tiger II - "King Tiger" tanks in late 1944, it was redesignated the Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 501.

It was created on July 19, 1943 as a part of the I Panzer Corps, by forming two new heavy tank companies consisting of Tiger I tanks and incorporating the "13th (Heavy) Company" of 1st SS Panzer Regiment. It was attached to 1st SS-Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and sent to Italy on August 23, 1943 where it stayed until mid-October. The 1st and 2nd company were then sent to the Eastern Front while the rest of the unit stayed in the West. On 22 September 1944 the 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion was Redesignated 501st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion (abbreviated s.SS-Pz. Abt. 501).

Normandy[edit]

SS-Sturmbannführer von Westernhagen at a practice in May 1944 near Beauvais

With the anticipated Allied invasion of Western Europe approaching, elements of the battalion in the East were ordered to the West in April 1944. On June 1, 1944, the battalion was located near Beauvais, north-west of Paris. Of its 45 Tigers, 37 were operational and eight more were under repair. With the D-Day landings on June 6, it was ordered to Normandy where it arrived despite heavy aerial bombardment on June 12. After weeks of severe fighting, most famously at the Battle of Villers-Bocage, the battalion had lost 15 of its 45 Tigers by July 5.

At this time the units' surplus crews were pulled back from the front and began outfitting with the new Tiger II tanks. By August 7 the remainder of the division left in Normandy numbered 25 Tigers of which 21 were still operational.

On August 8 1944, three of their seven Tigers committed to a counter-attack near Saint-Aignan-de-Cramesnil were knocked out by British Fireflies and Michael Wittman was killed.

The battalion lost virtually all its remaining Tigers during the heavy fighting in the Falaise pocket and the subsequent German retreat from France.

On September 9, the remains of the unit were ordered to rest and completely refit with the new Tiger IIs. With this change on September 22, 1944, it was redesignated the Schwere SS-Panzer-Abteilung 501.

On March 15, 1945 it reported a strength of 32 tanks, of which eight were operational.[1]

The (101st/501st) SS Heavy Panzer Battalion over its history lost 107 tanks for 500 enemy tanks destroyed - a kill ratio of 4.67.[2]

Notable members[edit]

Knight's Cross recipients[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jentz 1996, p. 247.
  2. ^ "armorsite". 
  3. ^ "PanzerAce". 
  4. ^ "ss.501.panzer". 

References[edit]

  • Agte, Patrick (2000). Michael Wittmann erfolgreichster Panzerkommandant im Zweiten Weltkrieg und die Tiger der Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (in German). Rosenheim: Deutsche Verlagsgesellschaft Preußisch Oldendorf. ISBN 3-920722-18-3. 
  • Jentz, Thomas (1996). Panzertruppen 2: The Complete Guide to the Creation & Combat Employment of Germany's Tank Force 1943-1945. Schiffer. ISBN 978-0-7643-0080-6. 

External links[edit]