2nd Light Division (Wehrmacht)
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The 2nd Light Division (sometimes described as a Light Mechanized division) was a motorized division created in 1938 during the German rearmament. It participated in the invasion of Poland. After the end of the Polish campaign the division was converted into a panzer division, forming the 7th Panzer Division.
The 2nd Light Division created in November 1938 from the region of Thuringia. The light divisions were created under the instigation of the cavalry arm of the Heer, who feared their scouting and screening roles were being taken over by the Panzerwaffe. The division was designed to provide mobility and some armoured protection to its forces, and was composed of the 6th and 7th Mechanized Cavalry Regiments, the 7th Reconnaissance Regiment, and the 66th Panzer Battalion. These were supported by the 78th Artillery Regiment, the 58th Engineer Battalion and the 42nd Anti-tank Battalion. Its single panzer battalion was equipped with the Panzer I training tank and the Panzer II interim production tank. Both these vehicles were small, lightly armed and lightly armoured. In 1939 the division was part of the German 10th Army during the Invasion of Poland.
At the outset of the invasion of Poland 1 September 1939, the 2nd Light Division fought its way through the frontier defenses and overran the Warta district, pushing on to reach the outskirts of Warsaw. It was then wheeled back to help deal with the Polish counteroffensive and helped form the encirclement of the Polish forces at Radom 8 September through the 12 September. Here the bulk of the Polish army was destroyed. The division then drove north to reach the Bzura river before turning east and making a drive for Warsaw and the Vistula. Warsaw surrendered on 27 September. The division remained in Poland until 1 October, when it returned to Germany.
Conversion to panzer division
Following the campaign in Poland the limited effectiveness of the light divisions caused the German command to order the reorganization of the four light divisions to full panzer divisions. In October 1939 the 2nd Light Division became the 7th Panzer Division.
- Mitcham, Samuel The Panzer Legions: A Guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of World War II and their Commanders Westport, Conn. Greenwood Press, 2001.
- Stolfi, Russell A bias for action: the German 7th Panzer Division in France & Russia 1940-1941 Marine Corps University, Quantico, VA, 1991.
- Szymon Datner (1974). Zbrodnie Wehrmachtu (Crimes of the Wehrmacht)