16th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)
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German 16th Infantry Division
German 16th Panzer Division
116th Panzer Division, 1944–45
|Active||October 1934 – 8 May 1945|
World War II
Gerhard von Schwerin
|16th Panzer Division|
The 16th Infantry Division of the German Army was formed in 1934. On 26 August 1939 the division was mobilized for the invasion of Poland (1939). It participated in the Battle of France in 1940. The division was then split, resulting in two independent units: The 16th Panzer Division and the 16th Motorized Infantry Division. The latter, from 1944 onward, combined with other non 16th elements, was known as the 116th Panzer Division.
- General Gotthard Heinrici
- General Heinrich Krampf, 1 February 1940
- General Hans-Valentin Hube, 1 June 1940
- General Friedrich-Wilhelm von Chappuis, 1 November 1940
- General Sigfrid Henrici
- General Johannes Streich
- General Sigfrid Henrici, November 1941
- General Gerhard von Schwerin, 13 November 1942
- General Wilhelm Crisolli, 20 May 1943
The 16th Panzer Division served as a reserve in Romania during the Balkans campaign in 1941. It then participated in Operation Barbarossa with Army Group South, also in 1941. A kampfgruppe of 16th Panzer Division, led by Count Strachwitz, reached the outskirts of Stalingrad on 23 August 1942, brushing aside the sole Soviet defences, anti-aircraft guns manned by female factory workers (possibly the 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment). The 16th Panzer Division was encircled and ultimately destroyed at Stalingrad during the winter of 1942–43.
It was rebuilt for a campaign in the west, fought in Sicily and southern Italy during the Italian Campaign in 1943 and returned to the Russian Front later in the year. Severely mauled near Kiev, it was withdrawn to Poland for rehabilitation in 1944. The 16th Panzer Division returned to the east in 1945, where it surrendered to the Soviets and Americans in Czechoslovakia.
The 16th Motorized Infantry Division, nicknamed Windhund ("Greyhound"), participated in the Balkans campaign in 1941 along with the 16th Panzer Division (see above). It took part in Operation Barbarossa with Army Group South later in the year. It advanced on the Caucasus with elements coming to within 20 miles of Astrakhan in 1942 — the most easterly point reached by any German unit during the war.
It also participated in the Battle of Stalingrad. The 16th Motorized Infantry Division participated in defensive operations after the Soviets broke up the front of the southern sector. In 1943, it was upgraded to 16th Panzergrenadier Division. This upgraded formation was depleted in the continuous retreats and was transferred to France for rest and refitting. It was reorganized as the 116th Panzer Division (with the number changed since the 16th Panzer Division was already taken by its sibling), absorbing the 179th Reserve Panzer Division in the process in 1944. This new formation fought in the Battle of Normandy and was almost destroyed in the Falaise Gap.
It subsequently defended the Siegfried Line at Aachen in an understrength condition. The 116th Panzer Division was withdrawn for refitting and then recommitted, but was unable to hold the city of Aachen. It later participated in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest then in the Battle of the Bulge, again sustaining heavy casualties. It was caught in the Wesel Pocket, but got across the Rhine, ultimately surrendering within the Ruhr Pocket in April, 1945.
- Mitcham, Samuel W. (2000). The Panzer Legions. Mechanicsburg: Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-3353-3.
- Burkhard Müller-Hillebrand: Das Heer 1933-1945. Entwicklung des organisatorischen Aufbaues. Vol.III: Der Zweifrontenkrieg. Das Heer vom Beginn des Feldzuges gegen die Sowjetunion bis zum Kriegsende. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1969, p. 286.
- Georg Tessin: Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 1939 - 1945. Vol. Iv: Die Landstreitkräfte 15 - 30. Mittler: Frankfurt am Main 1970.