CHAPTER 2

Formation of the Tank Battalion and the Tiger Company

SS-Panzer-Regiment 3

On 8 March 1942, the German leadership ordered the establishment of a Panzer-Abteilung (tank battalion) for the Totenkopf Division. The order was back-dated to 5 March 1942 on an order calling for the establishment of a separate Panzer-Abteilung for the Das Reich Division. The Panzer-Abteilung for the Totenkopf was to be organized with a Stab.u.Stabs Kompanie (headquarters company), two leichte Panzer-Kompanien (light tank companies), one mittle Panzer-Kompanie (medium tank company), Panzer WerkStatt Zug, and a leichte Kolonne. The new Abteilung was commanded by SS-Sturmbannführer Leiner (Theodor Eicke’s son-in-law) and was designated SS-Panzer-Abteilung III.

On 1 June 1942, the first recruits reported to the Weimar-Buchenwald Barracks. Other personnel came from the Polizei Division and the SS-Panzer-Jäger-Ersatz-Abteilung, based in Hilversum. Panzer crew training was conducted at the German Army Panzer Truppen Schule at Putlos; Panzer and vehicle mechanics were to be trained at Panzer Truppen Wunsdorf; signals and radio operators were trained in Nuremberg. The first training vehicles were civilian cars and trucks with applied wooden boarding resembling mock Panzers; later, some additional captured Allied tanks were provided, supplied from captured stock from the 1940 campaign in France. On 24 June 1942, at Troop Training Grounds Debica, 156 new recruits arrived. SS-Panzer Abteilung III was formally placed under Insp. 6 (Panzer) of the SS-FHA (ordnance supply office).

The crews undergoing training in Putlos were under the command of SS-Obersturmbannführer Kanth. The first training sessions involved theory in gunnery and target practice. On 30 August 1942, SS-Panzer Abteilung III was transported from Weimar Buchenwald to Suippe via Mailly-le-Camp, near Chalon in France. On 22 September 1942, it was decided that all SS-Panzer-Abteilungen should be expanded to Panzer-Regimenter; this meant that the LeibstandarteDas Reich, and Totenkopf would receive Panzer regiments of two Abteilungen each. The Totenkopf Division’s leadership had already formed cadres for the new second Abteilung as early as July 1942, forming the Stabs Kompanie (headquarters company) and 5. and 6. Kompanie.

SS-Panzer Abteilung III’s first tank delivery occurred on 24 September 1942 when one Befehlswagen Panzer III, eleven Panzer III’s with 5cm gun, three Panzer III’s with 7.5cm short gun (used to equip the 3rd Platoon), and three Panzer IV’s arrived. 1. Kompanie received the Panzer III’s, and the Panzer IV’s were used to equip the II. Zug of 3. Kompanie. At the end of September, the Abteilung was ordered to be ready for a move to Angouleme. On 12 October 1942, SS-Panzer-Abteilung III officially became SS-I/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3, and SS-Sturmbannführer Leiner became the first commander of the newly formed Panzer regiment. SS-Hauptsturmführer Meierdress (Knight’s Cross holder) assumed command of the I/SS-Panzer Regiment 3, formally SS-Panzer-Abteilung III. On 14 October 1942, I/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 had the following leadership posts:

Commander: SS-Hauptsturmführer Meierdress

Adjutant: SS-Obersturmbannführer Altermuller

Pz.Aufklär.Zug (armored reconnaissance platoon): SS-Untersturmführer Quade

1. KompanieSS-Obersturmbannführer Mooslechner

2. KompanieSS-Obersturmbannführer Kanth

3. KompanieSS-Hauptsturmführer Gross

The II/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 was commanded by SS-Hauptsturmführer Kunstmann. The company commanders were as follows:

Adjutant: SS-Untersturmführer Molleken

Pz.Aufklär.ZugSS-Untersturmführer Kohler

5. KompanieSS-Obersturmbannführer Riefkogel

6. KompanieSS-Obersturmbannführer Wenke

7. KompanieSS-Hauptsturmführer Richter

The Panzer WerkStatt Kompanie was commanded by SS-Obersturmbannführer Theile. The pioneer company was commanded by SS-Obersturmbannführer Kinzler, who assumed the post on 25 January 1943.

On 7 November 1942, 1. Kompanie/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 was attached to Kampfgruppe B (formed around SS-Regiment Thule). The Totenkopf Division had been tasked with forming three Kampfgruppen for Case Anton, the occupation of Vichy France. The Totenkopf had also formed Kampfgruppen A and C1. Kompanie/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 was led by SS-Hauptsturmführer Mooslechner, and SS-Sturmbannführer Leiner used Befehlswagen Kibitz. The Panzer Kompanie moved from Angouleme to Limoges, along with II/SS-Regiment Thule. During the march, three Panzers III’s fell out due to mechanical trouble.

On 10 November 1942, the Panzer company moved through Tulle and Brive. During the march, another Panzer III fell out due to engine trouble. Over the next three days, further road marches were conducted, and Aurilac was reached on 12 November. During the night of 17 November, the Panzer Kompanie was put on alert in readiness for rail transport to Narbonne. The company moved at 2000 hours and arrived on the nineteenth in Narbonne. It conducted a road march of eighty kilometers to Rivesaltes, which lasted about six hours.

On 22 November, the Panzer Kompanie was located in Carcassonne, where the Kompanie spent three days until the twenty-fifth, when a return march to Rivesaltes was conducted. The town was reached on the twenty-sixth. The Panzer Kompanie remained in southern France until 9 December before entraining in Narbonne back to Angouleme.

At the end of November, a new delivery of Panzers arrived in Angouleme, with thirty-nine Panzer III’s and seven Panzer IV’s for 3. Kompanie. The Panzer III’s were used to equip 2.5., and 6. Kompanien6. Kompanie would receive its full issue of Panzer III’s on 1 February 1943. On 12 January, 7. Kompanie collected ten Panzer IV’s at HZA Burg, Magdeburg, and on the same day, the final delivery of twenty-six Panzer III’s completed the equipping of SS-Panzer-Regiment 3. While the Panzer-Regiment was still in Russia, a new 4. Kompanie and 8. Kompanie were created on 15 February in Angouleme for pending organizational changes which occurred in May. The following field post numbers were issued: 8. Kompanie—58505; 4. Kompanie—57182. On 6 April 1943, nine Panzer IV Ausf. F, with a 7.5cm L/24 gun, were issued to SS-Panzer-Regiment 3.

SS-Sturmgeschütze-Abteilung 3 was issued twenty-two StuG III’s on 20 January 1943, and SS-Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 3 was issued nine schwere PaK.Sfl guns (self-propelled antitank guns) on 18 January 1943.

4(s) Panzer Kompanie Tiger

On 13 November 1942, the SS-FHA (SS main operational department) order Tgb.Nr. 7288/42 called for the establishment of a heavy (schwerePanzer company for SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 based on the Kstn 1176d, dated 15 August 1942. The new company was to be formed at Troop Training Grounds Bergen at Fallingbostal. The company was to have establishment strength of nine Tigers and ten Panzer III’s, with support units, a WerkStatt ZugInstand-Staffel, and a Berge-Zug (tank recovery platoon). On 15 November 1942, SS-Obersturmbannführer Kanth was informed that he would assume command of the new company. SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 ordered that the Panzer companies were to release men for the initial cadre. The order was obeyed, but the various companies within the regiment kept their best men behind and released surplus soldiers. The initial training on the Tiger was to be carried out under the supervision of the army’s schwere Panzer-Abteilung 502. The new cadre arrived in Fallingbostal on 26 December 1942 and was designated 4(s) Panzer Kompanie and issued field post number 48786. On 1 January 1943, ten Panzer III’s were delivered for the company at Fallingbostal. The first field exercise began on 2 January 1943.

At the end of December 1942, the tank regiment instructed both battalions that the crews from both of the armored reconnaissance platoons were to be released for the Tiger company as well. SS-Untersturmführer Quade and his crews from I/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 left Angouleme on 8 January 1943 by train and arrived at Fallingbostal on the ninth. The armored reconnaissance platoon of II/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 left Angouleme on 21 January 1943 under the command of SS-Untersturmführer Kohler. Upon arrival the crews from II/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 had to undergo a fourteen-day conversion course on the Tiger alongside crews from Panzer-Regiment Großdeutschland. Previously, they had spent four weeks training on the Panzer III.

SS-Untersturmführer Greisinger assumed command of the WerkStatt Zug. The company’s support units were under the supervision of the company’s Spieß, Bauer. The field kitchen section was led by SS-Unterscharführer Loibold. The tank recovery platoon was under the command of SS-Unterscharführer Biermann, who led it until August 1943, when SS-Oberscharführer Baumann took over; the weapons section was under the command of SS-Hauptscharführer Drabbing. The Instand-Staffel (maintenance) was led by SS-Hauptscharführer Haderer. On hand was SS-Oberscharführer Karl Frank, an engine specialist from Maybach. The Kompanie Trupp Führer was SS-Unterscharführer Holzner.

The other platoon leaders included SS-Untersturmführer Rathsack, who commanded the 3rd Platoon. SS-Untersturmführer Rathsack had been assigned to 4(s) Kompanie as of 23 November, but didn’t join the company until after 13 December upon completing a course at Panzer Truppen Schule WunsdorfSS-Untersturmführer Rathsack had previously served with SS-Panzer-Abteilung 2 Das Reich in the 3. Kompanie as a platoon leader with the rank of SS-OberscharführerSS-Untersturmführer Rathsack had attended the SS-Junker Schule Braunschweig (officer school) from 1 November 1941 to 30 April 1942; he was commissioned on 21 June 1942.

The 1st Platoon was commanded by SS Obersturmbannführer Rinner. The 2nd Platoon was commanded by SS-Untersturmführer Quade, the 4th by SS-Oberscharführer Berger. The Half (Halb) Platoon was led by SS-Scharführer Otto Baumann, who would later serve in the Tiger company of SS-Panzer-Regiment 2 and in schwere-SS-Panzer-Abteilung 102/502 as leader of the Half Platoon in 1. Kompanie.

On 30 January 1943, the WerkStatt platoons for SS-Panzer-Regiment 1 and SS-Panzer-Regiment 2 left Fallingbostal for Russia. On the same day, the collection commando was sent to collect nine new Tigers, departing from Fallingbostal by rail. The original transportation date for the WerkStatt platoon was ordered for 1 February 1943. Upon arrival, it was found that the new Tigers still had technical problems. The collection commando returned to Fallingbostal on the seventh.

On 18 February 1943, 4(s) Panzer Kompanie was organized as follows:

Kompanie Trupp—one Tiger, two Panzer III’s, one VW, and a single motorcycle

1st Platoon—two Tigers and two Panzer III’s

2nd Platoon—two Tigers and two Panzer III’s

3rd Platoon—two Tigers and two Panzer III’s

4th Platoon—two Tigers and two Panzer III’s

Support units

Nachschub (supply) Platoon—fifteen vehicles, including Opel and Mercedes trucks

Field kitchen Staffel—three vehicles and kitchens, two ration wagons, one motorcycle with side car

Munitions and weapons Staffel—four vehicles and two trailers

Instand-Staffel (maintenance)—seven trucks

WerkStatt Platoon

1. Staffel—six 18t Zgkw* (Berge-Zug)

2. Staffel—one 18t Zgkw with crane, one truck with crane, one Bussing 105, and two trucks

3. Staffel—eleven vehicles

4. Staffel—one VW and one truck (carried out repairs on the company’s vehicles)

The manpower strength was 250 officers, NCOs, and other ranks.

On 10 February 1943, 4(s) Panzer Kompanie was loaded onto four rail transports in Fallingbostal. The transports travelled via Breslau into Kowel, where, on 14 February, the Tigers underwent a track change from transport tracks to combat tracks. The first transport arrived in Poltawa on the sixteenth; two other transports, including one transport carrying the WerkStatt platoon and the company support sections arrived on the seventeenth, but because of congestion in Poltawa, only one transport could be unloaded. The other transport unloaded on the eighteenth, and on the nineteenth, the final elements of 4(s) Panzer Kompanie arrived in Poltawa, along with 3. Panzer-Kompanie of I/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3. The transport commander supervising the unloading in Poltawa was SS-Untersturmführer Kohler.

The Tiger company was quartered in a former Russian army barracks in the town. On 20 February, the company commander, SS-Hauptsturmführer Kanth, was transferred to the Stabs Kompanie of SS-Panzer-Regiment 3. The Tiger company was now taken over by SS-Hauptsturmführer Mooslechner, former commander of 1. Kompanie of I/SS-Panzer-Regiment 31. Kompanie was now commanded by SS-Obersturmbannführer Riefkogel, who came from II/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3. The Tigers of the company underwent a full inspection carried out by SS-Hauptscharführer Haderer and his men. On the same day, orders were issued that the Tigers were to be ready to move into a new assembly area, Krasnograd, a distance of eighty-two kilometers.

I/SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 left Poltawa with the following inventory:

Stab.u.Stabs Kompanie—eight Panzer III’s (three Befehlswagen)

1. Kompanie—fourteen Panzer III’s (five with 7.5cm L/24 gun)

2. Kompanie—fourteen Panzer III’s

3. Kompanie—ten Panzer IV’s

4 (s) Kompanie—nine Tigers and ten Panzer III’s

4(s) Kompanie reported on its activities from December 1942 to February 1943:

Fallingbostal, the birthplace of our unit (for those who don’t know)—think of an urbanized heath land. It’s the place of Herman Lons, who wrote about it in his natural fables. Here we are surrounded by hills and clean air, but something is going on. It’s the first day of January 1943. The train station is busy with field-grey-clad soldiers wearing the Totenkopf symbol on their collars. There are lines of rail transports carrying more soldiers. The civilians look on with bemusement; the local barracks are filling up. The soldiers think they are forming up for a new medium company, but they are here to train on a new cat, the Panzer VI Tiger.

On the following Wednesday, 6 January 1943, the men continue their work regardless of the winter. They work on their vehicles day and night. Also formed is the WerkStatt platoon. The commander of the company is SS-Hauptsturmführer Kanth. At the same time, the Leibstandarte and Das Reich Panzer regiments also have Tiger companies forming. The guard commander looks at his watch—soon it will be time to wake up the men of the WerkStatt platoon and sign over to the next guard shift. Security is a priority. The shrill cries of “wake up” stir the men from the WerkStatt platoon from their sleep. Curses can be heard as they make their way to the cold water wash rooms. Later, after some exercise and hot coffee, they feel better.

Already waiting for them at the WerkStatt is the senior mechanic, SS-Hauptscharführer Haderer, who is lord of this world and his men. He is always on hand to lend his experience; he is also a modest man. Today along with his foreman, he is checking the current work on the Tiger. The men are practicing track repairs and relinking tracks as well. Haderer has a Volkswagen and a three-ton Mercedes diesel truck. At the moment he is sharing a driver with the Spieß. The man is driving back and forth. Haderer resides in his office, where he keeps a camp bed; his desk is covered with paperwork. Clouds emanate from his cigar. Haderer wants to see the WerkStatt perform correctly as the commander, SS-Untersturmführer Greisinger, is due to inspect the place. Greisinger wants his men ready for the pitfalls of Russia, with their tanks as combat-ready as possible, because the rumor is that we are heading back to Russia. The men work day and night. On the first of February, the work rate increases. It’s now been ordered that the Tiger companies of the Leibstandarte and Das Reich leave and entrain for Russia. Our date of departure is set for 10 February.

The first early sun of spring is starting to shine. Today the Schirrmeister has his hands full. The transportation must be loaded. The men wrap themselves up after refuelling and drive toward the station. We have a hastily prepared meal. We shake hands with some comrades as they will leave in a couple days. At 1600 hours, the heavy vehicles’ engines howl as they begin readying themselves for loading. Soon we will be leaving Germany and will be facing a very formidable foe. A shrill whistle as the train enters the station—we begin loading, which proceeds through the night. The vehicles are loaded onto rail flat cars, and ammunition is packed into freight cars. Many comrades are looking bleary eyed; others are lost in their own thoughts.

The transport commander is SS-Untersturmführer Kohler, who orders that all vehicles be wedged tightly on the transports so they are secure. The company commander arrives around midnight and gives instructions to the men; he wants to know if the vehicles have been protected against the frost. A rail trip to Russia is not a luxury affair—some of the men are packed into cattle cars with basic coal stoves in the middle with wooden benches which fold down. These benches also have parasites hidden in them. The Berge-Staffel, with six heavy 18t Zgkw, has already prepared its vehicles for the long journey ahead.

The train glides through Germany. Some of the men point out their home towns or villages. The next stop is Breslau. Soon the train is on the move again. Picking up speed, we cross into Poland and arrive in Kowel on Sunday, 14 February 1943. After four days on the move, we change tracks on the Tiger, from transport to combat tracks. The huge tracks leave little space on the flat car when the Tigers are reloaded back onto the transport. This happened during the afternoon when a snow storm blew up in our faces, causing limited vision, but the storm quickly passes, leaving a new layer of snow on the ground. A German rail official passes our train and tells of the news from the front. We notice his nice clean uniform. The news is not good: Stalingrad is in crisis and the south flank is trembling, so the best divisions of the Waffen-SS are heading to southeast Russia.

Our train rolls forward, and we leave Kowel. Soon enough we arrive at another station. We are parked just outside as it seems the station is already stuffed with transports. The station is called Poltawa. Nearby there is a huge detonation from an aerial bomb; the shock waves hurt our ears. This was our greeting from the Russians. Also waiting outside the station are two other transports carrying the company and the WerkStatt platoon. We rolled into the station in the morning and began unloading. We drove through the town in a long column and took up quarters in an old Russian army barracks. SS-Untersturmführer Kohler served as tem p orary commander. On 16 February, a third transport arrives in Poltawa. On the twentieth, the company’s official history begins. On the same day, SS-Hauptsturmführer Kanth is transferred to the Panzer regiment as the new adjutant. SS-Hauptsturmführer Mooslechner takes command of the company.

SS-Hauptscharführer Haderer and his men check the Tigers and determine that they do not need any repairs. The other trucks and vehicles are checked to make sure they have the right amount of oil and lubricant for the Russian winter. On the twenty-fourth, we receive notice that we will be on the move soon to a new assembly area. Before the move, all vehicles are given a full parade—i.e., a full check—before departure. Early the next morning, nine Tigers roll forward. The Panzer III’s remain with the vehicle column, but soon the WerkStatt has its first job. A vehicle overturns and is soon recovered and towed back through Poltawa. Otherwise, the company rolls forward toward Krasnograd, eighty kilomters away.

Hans Georg van Kerkhom reported:

On 1 October 1942, as part of the year 1924 class, I was sent to the Deutschland-Freimann Artillery Barracks to join the recruits for six weeks of basic training at the field replacement battalion. I joined 3. Kompanie and trained as a radio operator. Between 16 and 20 November 1942, we were transported by rail to Angouleme via Strasbourg and Paris. Upon disembarkation we were loaded into trucks and driven to a Panzer barracks. This was a big surprise to us all. We found that many of the Panzer troops were volunteers. We spent about one week at the barracks.

Since we were the new guys, we were split into different companies. As a radio operator, I was posted to the armored reconnaissance platoon commanded by SS-Untersturmführer Quade. Under his commanded, we received continuation training on the Panzer III for approximately four weeks. We underwent chemical warfare training as well; SS-Untersturmführer Quade was a qualified instructor in this type of warfare.

Then came Christmas. We had a great time, with wine and song, chanting out slogans. We also wanted to know if we were going to Africa since parts of the division had already been selected and loaded. The first week of the New Year, we were all examined for suitability for the tropical climate. Our blood types were also taken, but things would turn out differently.

In the East, Stalingrad had been recaptured; the southern front was engulfed and faltering. The division was now going not to Africa but back to Russia. On 8 January 1943, division issued an order that Quade’s armored reconnaissance platoon was to be ready to march on the ninth. We boarded the train and headed toward Paris, then Köln, and changed at Bremen for Hamburg. We spent one night there. I went to the Reeperbahn [an area notorious for numerous brothels].

The next and final stop was the Troop Training Grounds at Fallingbostal, where we found out we were to be integrated into the new schwere Kompanie Tiger for the Panzer regiment. Other units of the division had already been loaded and sent to Russia, but we still had to undergo conversion training on the Tiger, which lasted fourteen days. I was to be a radio operator in the new tank. The crews were distributed amongst the vehicles, and we had ten Panzer III’s and ten Tigers (actually nine Tigers issued). Before long, we were issued with winter clothing. We had a quiet day. The next day, we were loaded onto rail transports and departed for Russia. We arrived in Poltawa and came under the command of the division.

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The first recruits in Weimar, June 1942. WAGNER

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Another group photograph of the first recruits in Weimar, June 1942. WAGNER

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SS-Hauptsturmführer Gross introduces himself to the new recruits, June 1942. Gross has been awarded the Iron Cross, First and Second Classes; the Infantry Assault Badge; and Wound Badge in Silver (three or four wounds). WERDEHAUSEN

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SS-Obersturmführer Bahr, in the black Panzer uniform, confers with two other officers. WERDEHAUSEN

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SS-Hauptsturmführer Gross sizing up the new recruits. WERDEHAUSEN

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Block 17, the new home for 1. Kompanie, SS-Panzer-Abteilung III. WERDEHAUSEN

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SS-Untersturmführer Schulz on parade in Weimar. Schulz is standing as the righthand marker.

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SS-Untersturmführer Wagner poses next to a Panzer II Ausf. C used for training purposes in Weimar. Wagner was later posted to 5. Kompanie, II/SS.Pz.Rgt 3.

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A Panzer III Ausf. F used for training purposes, taken in Weimar, summer 1942. WERDEHAUSEN

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Recruits on parade come under the eye of SS-Untersturmführer Wagner. WAGNER

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Group photo taken in Weimar, summer 1942.

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Early portrait of Wolfgang Barth, July 1942.

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Wolfgang Barth posing with his new black Panzer uniform, August 1942.

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Group photo taken in Angouleme, autumn 1942. The reed-green drill uniform is being worn (common for recruits).

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Wolfgang Barth and a comrade in good humor, Angouleme.

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Another view of the barracks in Angouleme.

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The barracks in Angouleme housing I/SS.Pz.Rgt. 3.

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Photo 1 of 2: At the end of November 1942, I/SS.Pz.Rgt. 3 took delivery of fourteen Panzer III’s and seven Panzer IV’s in Angouleme. The delivery of new tanks at the end of November also included Panzers for the Pz.Aufklär.Zug, Stabs.Kp., SS-Pz.Rgt., and 5. Kompanie, II/SS-Pz.Rgt. 3. These Panzer III’s look to be Ausf. J or L, with the 5.0cm L/60 main gun.

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Photo 2 of 2: At the end of November 1942, I/SS.Pz.Rgt. 3 took delivery of fourteen Panzer III’s and seven Panzer IV’s in Angouleme. The delivery of new tanks at the end of November also included Panzers for the Pz.Aufklär.Zug, Stabs.Kp., SS-Pz.Rgt., and 5. Kompanie, II/SS-Pz.Rgt. 3. These Panzer III’s look to be Ausf. J or L, with the 5.0cm L/60 main gun.

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From this new delivery, five Panzer III’s Ausf. L are issued to the Panzer-Aufklärungs-Zug, Stabs.Kp., I/SS.Pz.Rgt. 3.

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One of the new Panzer IV Ausf. G’s issued to 3. Kompanie, I/SS.Pz.Rgt. 3.

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Wolfgang Barth and a comrade try out the new winter fashion, one-piece protective overalls, usually worn over the black tanker uniform.

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A parade of 1. Kompanie is conducted in temporary barracks located in the south of France during Case Anton, the occupation of Vichy France.

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Personnel of I/SS.Pz.Rgt. 3 on the beach by the Mediterranean Sea, November 1942. SCHILLING

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Group photograph taken on the beach by the Mediterranean Sea, French-Spanish border, November 1942. SCHILLING

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1. Kompanie forms up for inspection to be conducted by a Spanish officer in Rivesaltes, with their Panzer III Ausf. L and a Panzer III Ausf. N (right) mounting the 7.5 cm L/24 main gun. WERDEHAUSEN

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SS-Hauptsturmführer Meierdress giving a speech to the assembled staff of the Stabs.Kp., I/SS.Pz.Rgt. 3 during the Christmas celebrations of December 1942 in Angouleme.

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A Panzer III Ausf. J of 1. Kompanie during Case Anton. WERDEHAUSEN

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Wolfgang Barth poses with the crew of Panzer 133, a short-barrelled 7.5cm L/24 Panzer III Ausf. N, southern France, November 1942.

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Portrait photograph of SS-Unterscharführer Hackl taken in 1942. Hackl was killed in action on 10 March 1943.

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Soldiers from the SS-Polizei-Division in Holland, May 1942. Standing in the front row on the left is Ludwig Lachner. This group was transferred from the Polizei-Division to the newly formed SS-Pz.Abt. III in Weimar-Buchenwald.

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Ludwig Lachner posing in his new black Panzer uniform.

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Lachner and other soldiers of SS-Pz.Abt. III undergoing training at Troop Training Ground Putlos under the supervision of the German Army. The training tanks are early-model Panzer IV’s, probably Ausf. C.

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Two soldiers touring Angouleme during October 1942. SS-Pz.Abt. III had been transferred from La Braconne to Angouleme during October 1942, arriving on the twelfth.

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Lachner sitting on top of a Panzer IV at Putlos Troop Training Grounds.

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Lachner and two other soldiers in Lubeck, November 1942.

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Lachner on the training field at Putlos, covered with MG link ammunition belts.

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Lachner and Hempfinger (in the commander’s cupola) pose on a Panzer IV Ausf. D at Putlos. Hempfinger was listed as missing in action on 30 July 1943 on the Mius Front.

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SS-Rottenführer Kern posing in front of the Guard Block, Angouleme, autumn 1942. Kern had been transferred from the SS-Polizei-Division along with Lachner in May 1942.

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*The Sd.Kfz. 9 half-track, commonly known as the FAMO. To tow the heavy Tiger, three units were coupled together.

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