Veteran Accounts - Kurt Gätzschmann

Kurt Gätzschmann: As published in "Mitteilungsblatt"

 

Reminds you! Actions of the 2nd Panzer Division in the area of Army Group Middle from 12.1.43 through 29.1.43

 

12.1.43

Light enemy artillery and mortar fire throughout the section.In the area of Bischoffshausen an enemy plane was shot down. In order to combat punk buried tanks mortar and two anti-aircraft guns (less than 8,8cm) are placed under divisional control.Our artillery attacked enemy tanks at Babichino, supply trucks and carriage traffic on the road and an enemy battery north Prudy with success.

13.1.43

The night passed quietly. An enemy reconnaissance patrol near the 2nd company, Panzer Grenadier Regiment 304 to the east Chlepen was turned back.300 meters north of Pugatschewo our own reconnaissance encounters an enemy outpost.Own heavy infantry weapons fight enemy movements near Ogarkowo.

14.1.43

Across the whole section artillery harassing fire was livelier than on the previous days. Our artillery fought entrenched enemy as well as enemy movements in the areas of Ogarkowo, Bobrowka and Podjablonka and the supply traffic at Ignatowo.

15.1.43

At night, no special events take place. In the early morning hours an enemy raiding party north tries to attack our position Pugatschewo. He is turned away with losses.During the day, enemy artillery and mortar harassing fire.The temperature has sunk to -28 Celsius.

16.1.43

A small amount of harassing fire happens at night.New orders from the XXXIX Panzer Corps direct the Panzer Artillery Regiment 74 to fire against enemy armor that has passed south of Popssnjewo near Cholm.Two enemy tanks are destroyed by a direct mortar hit. Our own artillery destroyed four enemy bunkers by direct hit in the area of Popssnjewo and fights entrenchments at Troikoje and Prudy.From the Army Personnel Office radio message: The commander of Panzer Regiment 3 will be transferred to lead Panzer Regiment 35 (4th Panzer Division). A new commander of Panzer Regiment 3 has not been named.The temperature has sunk to -38 Celsius.

State of the unit:

3 Heavy Battalions:

I./Panzer Grenadier Regiment 2 518 Men 40% mobile

II./Panzer Grenadier Regiment 2 455 Men 60% mobile

I./Panzer Grenadier Regiment 304 410 Men 50% mobile

1 Middle Strength Battalion:

I./Panzer Grenadier Regiment 304 314 Men 80% mobile

1 Light Strength Battalion:

Kradschützen Battalion 2 277 Men 100% mobile

1 Middle Strength Battalion:

Panzer Pionier Battalion 38 319 Men 40% mobile

Unaffiliated with any specific unit: 15 NCOs, 120 Enlisted Men

3 Batteries:

l.FH 10,5cm 7 guns 100% mobile

3 Batteries:

s.FH 15cm 9 guns 100% mobile

1 Battery:

(r) 12,2cm 3 guns non-mobile

Anti-Tank Gun Supply:

3,7cm 8 guns

5cm 7 guns

7,5cm PaK41 1 gun

7,5cm PaK 97/38 12 guns

7,62cm PaK (Sf) 4 guns

7,5cm PaK (Sf) 7 guns

On Loan: II./Panzer Artillery Regiment 74 assigned to the 337 Infantry Division

Fully suitable for defense.

17.1.43

South Popssnjewo a hostile enemy patrol is turned back. Enemy entrenchments at Prudy and Podjablonka are attacked by our artillery.Enemy air activity rages over the main battle line. The railway line 2.4 km north of Bogdanowo is destroyed by enemy bombing.

18.1.43

Near Kampfgruppe von Goerne, in the early morning hours, a hostile patrol west Popssujewo was engaged by Kradschützen Battalion 2 while it was moving backwards. One man fell, one was wounded, and one was taken prisoner.During the day enemy artillery and mortar fire rains down on the main line of resistance. There is also sporadic sniper fire. Our artillery dueled against enemy batteries southwest of Prudy with success. Location of the alarm units of Company Ettelt

  • The alarm company Ettelt on 14.10.42 is odered to report to the divisional Nachschub Truppen 82 as ordered by the commander of the division, immediately. The table of organization is updated accordingly.

  • The company is used as a detachment of combat troops at the front. The people must therefore be suitable. 'Last sons' are not turned away.

  • The 2nd general staff officers (Ib) upgraded the company from only weapons to an independent economic entity complete with field kitchen, food, and ammunition trucks.

  • The preparation is carried out until 22.1.43. Strength and structure of the group is recorded.

  • The company was attached to Kampfgruppe von Goerne.

19.1.43

Quiet during the night. Nothing special takes place.

20.1.43

Little enemy harassing fire activity. The fuel situation is still very tense. As of today there will be furloughs for the entire Army of the East.The temperature has risen to -11 Celsius. There is heavy fog and poor visibility as well.  According to the orders of OKH general headquarters from 15.1.43 According to available High Command Of Army from the date 01/15/43 the XLVI Panzer Corps Ost Battalion 446 is renamed Ost Battalion 82 and is ordered to join the 2nd Panzer Division. The name change goes into effect immediately.

21.1.43

At night, harassing fire from both us and the enemy. A hostile patrol north Pugatschewa is turned back. The artillery fires counter battery fire south of Ogarkowo. Due to poor visibility, no enemy observations are possible. The divisional headquarters is now located in Bogadanowo.

22.1.43

Also that night a hostile patrol north was turned back near Pugatschewo. The enemy then blasts loudspeaker propaganda.During the day there is mutual light harassing fire.In the afternoon a hostile patrol of 18 men west of Pugatschewo is turned back.At -21 Celsius the visibility is hazy with drifting snow.

23.1.43

The enemy tried three times at night to break through the HKL near Pugatschewo with their patrols.Our artillery fought reinforcing enemy entrenchments at Chrenowaza and Klimowo.Additional supplies of gasoline arrived.From a convalescent company 26 NCOs and 120 men joined the unit.The music corps of Panzer Artillery Regiment 74 set out from Ssytschewka to France as of 1.25.43.According to an Army order, all armored reconnaissance vehicles in running condition in the Division should move on 01.25.43 to Kostenki. Leader of the march is; Lieutenant Pickenhan.With high winds and drifting snow, our snowplows cannot be used due to a lack of fuel.

24.1.43

Quiet during the night with nothing of note happening.Throughout the day enemy artillery and mortar fire.The commander of the 9th Army (Model) visits the artillery positions.

25.1.43

The night passed as the day before. Towards morning a enemy patrol in Wasusa Valley is turned back by Kradschützen infantry Battalion 2.Throughout the day, lively enemy artillery harassing fire. Our own artillery fought entrenchments in front of the entire front including bunkers and MG nets with success.Two ski units of Ost Battalion 82 and an alarm unit were provided for anti-partisan activities.Location of the alarm unit of the divisional headquarters and Panzer Signals Battalion 38:According to the orders from 14.10.42 the alarm unit of the divisional headquarters as well as Panzer Signals Battalion 38 are to move into their new positions immediately.Captain Monschau takes the lead of the alarm unit. He is responsible for all preparations. Location: Bogdanowo.Part of the Panzer Signals Battalion 38 stationed in the rear is to be used only when approved by the commander.The arrival, strength, structure, and location of the alarm unit “Monschau” is to be reported on 26.1.43.The alarm unit “Monschau” is placed under immediate control of the division. It is to be reorganized as a rifle company and training is to begin right away.Mobilization for winter: Runners, Medics, and Reconnaissance. The alarm unit is expected to be used for anti-partisan operations. 2 hour march readiness is to be maintained.The Ib upgraded the company from a moderate amount of weapons to completely independent with a field kitchen, food, and ammunition wagons. In addition, Ib requisitions cars for movement of supplies. Total head count: 130 men

26.1.43

Lively enemy harassing fire at night and during the day. Our own reconnaissance patrols are carried out near Chlepen and Pugatschewo. Our artillery fought three enemy batteries and shot down a reconnaissance ballon.In the evening the assault troop ‘Hagen’ destroyed two bunkers, but did not capture any prisoners.

27.1.43

The day and night passes with the normal harassing fire.At the first light of the day, our light field artillery attacks enemy bunkers and positions. Three bunkers and two positions are destroyed.A patrol from Kampfgruppe von Goerne had good results and found important documents in lassajewskoe .Behind the lines enemy bombs drop on our positions.Situation report of the Ost Battalion 82 of the XXXIX Panzer Corps:

  • The Ost Battalion was raised between May and July 1942. Used to fight partisans, it has been under the energetic leadership of Captain Schmid and has always proved well and also performed in smaller unit sized special tasks like detecting enemy agents and destroying enemy compounds with success. When tasks of this nature are not available, the battalion was used to construction of various kinds, and was even temporarily assigned as part of a defensive force manning the front line. In every situation, they have proved to be a valuable aid. However, experience has shown that it is best for the Battalion to work under the usual uniform guidance if possible. As it will fight moderately when used only against partisans in the rear area. For the time they Battalion searches the entire rear area of the division for timber and here they show amazing job performance. In addition, training is ongoing. Because of the difficult and unsuitable character of the Russians, selecting a good leader of such a unit is difficult.

  • Suitability and use of the German framework for the unit staff:The leader of the Ost Battalion 82, Captain Schmid has done outstanding work both in the preparation and in the leadership of the partisan war. He not only enjoys the full confidence of his men, but his leadership personality is also so recognized. The framework used by the rest of the staff can be used in case of failure by the Russian company commander to guide the unit.

  • The Russian Personnel:The Russian company and platoon leaders speak in their native languages. The lieutenants are suitable only partly as a group leader. For headquarters locations, the Russian staff is not useful. Filling this staff with a lack of staff due to the overall situation is critical.

  • Level of Training:Schooling has been complied with the previous requirements in place and must be regarded as sufficient. However, leaders and teams need to be trained continually.

  • Mood and the Boldness of Personality:The mood of the troops is good. The battalion has performed well during anti-partisan activities.

  • Suggestions for Armaments and Equipment:Equipping the soldiers with 3 light and 1 heavy mortar per company is suggested.In addition, the installation of a machine platoon for the Battalion to help with forest fights and raid-like attack company attacks is considered appropriate. Equipment such as; backpack, helmet, and tarpaulin is urgently needed.

  • State of Current Equipment:As with the rest of the division, there are not enough horses available to fill the current requirements.State of Winter Readiness:One company is fully ready with their skis. However it lacks sleds and camouflaged clothing. They also require felt boots.

28.1.43

In the early morning hours in the area of von Goerne north of Pugatschewo a enemy patrol was spotted.Commander von Goerne reported that one hour later enemy artillery and mortar fire fell on the left flank of his lines and again fell later on Pugatschewo und Issajewskoje.At midday the enemy attacked north of Pugatschewo. Our artillery responded to the attack. At 12:00pm the II./PGR 304 was also

attacked.Kampfgruppe von Bischoffshausen reported that 8 salvos of fire opened fire on their position and about 200 Russians in camouflage clothing attacked Troizkoje, Pechora, and Wasusa valley. Furthermore, the attack seems to be west of the breakthrough in Pugatschewo. Later, the Russians attack is continued using weak artillery and mortar fire.The main line of resistance is firmly in our control. Breakthroughs are eliminated. Our own artillery fought enemy batteries south Babichino and fired beats on the enemy positions. Even the enemy movements north Pugatschewo are taken under fire.At noon, the enemy moves in company strength in the Wasusa valley towards Chlepen.Near Kampfgruppe von Goerne sits the enemy with approximately 150 men at the main line of resistance. The enemy tries to roll up our lines using the breach in the main line of resistance west of Pugatschewo. The panzer company Oehme and the motorized infantry company Merkel as well as Kampfgruppe von Goerne counterattacked. At midnight the breakthrough is stopped. Divisional Orders:Tank are to fill up on gasoline and ammunition immediately. The blocking force consists the self-propelled guns that are pulling immediately out of Bogdanowo. Company Oehme (8./Pz.Rgt.3) is assigned to Kampfgruppe von Goerne.Alarm for Pz.Jäg.Abt 38. It is also to fill up.Battle readiness sounds

for Pi.Btl.38, Ski Company, and the division reserve company Müller.

29.1.43

Near Kampfgruppe von Goerne (PGR 304) the situation has been completely restored. However, enemy counter-attacks are expected.In the early morning hours, the enemy attacks again at the old positions with tanks. With one to two companies he has broken through west of Pugatschewo. The tank company (8./Pz.Rgt.3) is again used and moved via a train in the direction Karassi. The cleanup will take place at nightfall, however, the enemy no longer attacks, but withdraws.Pz.Pi.Btl 38 is ordered to re-wire the positions with barbed wire, and lay new anti-tank and personnel mines.In the morning hours an enemy attack in company strength just west Pugatschewo was turned back. Our artillery salvos destroyed three guns and two tanks.At noon 200 meters northwest of Pugatschewo, the enemy moves into position in a depression inside the woods.An attack occurs in the late afternoon near Pugatschewo to counter-attack and clean up the previous enemy break through. In the evening, the enemy has, however, occupied a portion of town again.Panzer company Oehme drives to address and restore the situation 200m southwest of Chlepen and fights with enemy infantry. In the evening, the main line of resistance is completely in our own hands.

2.2.1916       Born in Berlin

1.10.1936 -   Headquarters 1/PzRgt 3, Signals Unteroffizer

31.10.1938

1.11.1938     1/PzRgt3, Clothing and Equipment Unteroffizer

26.8.1939 -   PzErsAbt 4, Signals Training

5.8.1940

6.8.1940 -     1/PzRgt3 Armored Signals Operator

24.12.1941 

25.12.1941 - PzErsAbt 4 Training and Platoon Leader, Clothing and Equipmetnt 

13.2.1943      Unteroffizer

14.2.1943 -   4/PzAbt51 Panther Commander

6.1.1944

7.1.1944 -     8/PzRgt39 (9.PD) Hauptfeldwebel (Speiss) 

1.10.1944

2.10.1944 -   Stabskompanie II/PzRgt 33 Hauptfeldwebel (Spiess)

Kriegsende 

 

Promotions:

1.10.1936     Gefreiter

1.11.1937     Unteroffizer

1.3.1941       Feldwebel

1.2.1944       Oberfeldwebel

1.3.1944       Hauptfeldwebel (Speiss)

 

Awards:

4 Year Long Service Medal

The Commemorative Medal of 1ST October 1938

Panzer Assault Badge in Silver

Iron Cross 2nd Class

Russian Front Medal

Wound Badge in Black

War Merit Cross 2nd Class With Swords