14th Panzer Division (Wehrmacht)
|German 14th Panzer Division|
- Generalleutnant Erick-Oskar Hansen, 15 August 1940
- Generalleutnant Heinrich von Prittwitz und Gaffron, 1 October 1940
- General der Panzertruppen Friedrich Kühn, 22 March 1941
- Generalleutnant Ferdinand Heim, 1 July 1942
- Generalleutnant Hans Freiherr von Falkenstein, 1 November 1942
- Generalleutnant Johannes Baeßler, 16 November 1942
- Generalmajor Martin Lattmann, 26 November 1942
- Generalleutnant Friedrich Sieberg, 1 April 1943
- Generalleutnant Martin Unrein, 29 October 1943
- Generalmajor Oskar Munzel, 5 September 1944
- Generalleutnant Martin Unrein, 1 December 1944
- Oberst Friedrich-Wilhelm Jürgen, 10 February 1945
- Oberst Karl Gräßel, 15 March 1945
14. Panzer Division was unusual in the German Army for not forming in sequential order. 14. Panzer Division was formed in August 1940, 12th Panzer and 13th Panzer were not formed until October 1940. The 14. Panzer Division was established using veteran units from 4. Infantry Division and 4. Panzer Division as a basis for its structure.
4. Infantry Division provided both Divisional Organisation and the infantry components, while 4. Panzer Division provided the tank element by transferring the 36. Panzer Regiment to the new 14. Panzer Division.
In the East - Army Group South
In April 1941, the Division took part in the Invasion of Yugoslavia, reaching Sarajevo on 15 April. Soon after, it returned to Germany in preparation for Operation Barbarossa. In June 1941, now as part of Army Group South, the Division took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union. It was involved almost continuously in offensive and defensive engagements throughout 1941, including the first winter on the Eastern Front. In the spring of 1942, 14. Panzer took part in the German summer offensives as Army Group South raced through the Kharkov and Don regions.
In the East - Stalingrad
The Division was transferred to Friedrich Paulus' VI Army, which was encircled at Stalingrad soon after. By February 1943, the Division was considered utterly obliterated in the fighting at the Battle of Stalingrad.
Division Reforms in France
Not long after the destruction of the Division at Stalingrad, 14. Panzer began reforming in Brittany, France. By November 1943, it was considered combat ready, transferring back to Army Group South on the Eastern Front. It now had an additional battalion of StuG assault guns, the III/36 Panzer Regiment. It had been planned to equip this 3rd Battalion with Tigers, however the order was changed before deployment to the Eastern Front.
In the East
The Division took part in a number of actions with Army Group South up to June 1944. In August, after being refitted, it was transferred to Army Group North to take part in the defence of the Courland area (now Latvia and Lithuania). The refit included I/36 Panzer Regiment taking delivery of Panther tanks.
In January 1945, the Soviets launched a number of major attacks across the Eastern Front. Much of Army Group North - including 14. Panzer Division - was bypassed and became trapped in the Courland Pocket, and remained there until Germany’s surrender in May 1945. The division was technically disbanded during the last weeks of the war, with its personnel being formed into two panzer brigades.
Reference, sources and further reading
- German Wehrmacht Panzer Divisions 1939-1945-Jorge Rosado and Chris Bishop
- Stalingrad-Antony Beevor
- Original war time color photos from the 14th panzer division in France and Russia - http://pixpast.com/index.php?search=14th
- Osterfront-Charles Winchester