SS Panzer Brigade Gross
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|SS Panzer Brigade Gross|
|Engagements||World War II|
SS Panzer Brigade Gross was a unit of the Waffen SS during World War II. It was formed in 1944, from the SS Training and Reserve Regiments based in Latvia, to keep the road to Riga open and to counter the Red Armys summer offensive, which had captured Mitau and Tukums and putting the whole of Courland in danger. The Brigade was disbanded in November 1944, and the survivors assigned to the SS Panzer Division's.
The SS Panzer Brigade Gross was formed from the SS Panzer Training and Replacement Regiment based in Dundaga, Latvia and the SS Panzer Troop Training Regiment Seelager based at the training grounds at Ventspils together with the SS Reconnaissance Training Battalion formed the Brigade.
The Brigade began forming on 8 August 1944, under the command of Sturmbannführer Martin Gross. The eventual Brigade consisted of two infantry battalions, a panzer battalion of two companies with Panzer III and Panzer IV, a reconnaissance battalion, a StuG battalion, a pioneer company and a Flak company.
The Brigade was immediately sent into action, launching a counterattack towards Libau in Latvia and was involved in some heavy fighting with a Red Army Cavalry Corps in the failed attempt to recapture Tukums.
The Brigade was reinforced on the 15 August, when a Tiger tank company was attached from the 103 SS Heavy Panzer Battalion and two batteries of artillery from the 19th Waffen Grenadier Division of SS (2nd Latvian). By the 19 August the Brigade strength stood at 2,500 men.
The Brigade was also assigned to the Panzer Division Strachwitz and on the 20 August attacked the Soviet 51st Army and recaptured Mitau and Reval. Now that the Baltic coast was cleared of the Red Army the evacuation of the German forces continued across the Baltic sea.
On 28 August the Brigade was moved to Estonia and remained in the area of Lake Peipus until early September By 12 September the Brigade's panzer battalion now counted eight Panzer III, one Panzer IV, one Panzer IV, three Panther tanks, one StuG and 17 Sd.Kfz. 251. It no longer had the SS Infantry Battalion 2 and its Reconnaissance Battalion had only eight Panzerspähwagen.
They were dispatched back to Durbe in Latvia in mid-September and were in constant contact with the Soviet forces.
The Brigade had reported strength on the 20 September of only 300 men, two StuG, one T-34, three Panzer III, two Panzer IV and four Sd.Kfz. 251.
The survivors were sent to the training area at Windau in Prussia and then onto Sennelager. The Brigade was dismantled and its men sent as replacements to the 1 SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler, 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, 9th SS Panzer Division Hohenstaufen and the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, which were all part of the 6th SS Panzer Army.
The disbanding of the Brigade was disguised as the forming of a new panzer regiment, SS Panzer Regiment 26 Reichsmarschall.
Order of battle August 1944
- Brigade Staff
- SS Infantry Battalion 2
- 4 x Companies
- SS Panzer Battalion Gross
- 3 x Companies
- 1 x Heavy Company
- SS Sturmgeschütz Battalion 1
- 2 x Batteries
- SS Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion Gross'
- Motorcycle Company
- Panzer Reconnaissnce Company
- Kettenrad Company
- SS Flak Company
- 4 x platoons
- SS Pionier Company
- Pionier platoon (motorised)
- Nebelwerfer platoon
- Feldgendarmerie Troop
- Repair Company
- German Order of Battle, Volume 3 By Samuel W. Mitcham, p182
- The German Defeat in the East, 1944-45, By Samuel W. Mitcham,p150
- Mitchum Samuel, German Order of Battle, Volume 3,Stackpole Books, 2007, ISBN 0-8117-3438-2
- Mitchum Samuel, The German Defeat in the East, 1944-45, Stackpole Books, 2007, ISBN 0-8117-3371-8