Fighting between Touques and the Seine, 22–29 August 1944

22 August 1944

I./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

War Diary Appendix no. 17

12.SS-Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend”O.U., 19 Sept. 1944

4. [Kompanie]/SS-Panzer Regiment 12

After Action Report from 22. VIII. 1944

The Kompanie was assigned to Kampfgruppe “Jürgensen” and secured at Le Buisson1 with seven Panzerkampfwagen Vs, with the task of holding and containing the enemy, abandoning its positions only when ordered.

It was discovered that the enemy was advancing northwards from the south in the direction of Gaillon. Around 0900 hours an enemy2 armoured reconnaissance unit approached the Kompanie. With well-directed fire we knocked out three enemy tanks here and forced the others to turn away. After an hour six enemy tanks approached again, five of which were set aflame and the last one was rendered immobile. Because of this defeat the enemy brought anti-tank guns to the fringe of the forest and accurately engaged our tanks one by one. Thirty fighter–bomber aircraft have also been attacking our tanks alternately. During this time our position was under heavy artillery fire, due to which one tank was knocked out and another one was rendered immobile.

Around 1400 hours we discovered enemy tanks to the east which later proved to be a strong armoured force. Here the enemy attacked with an outflanking manoeuvre westwards and north-westwards with 70 tanks, 50 armoured personnel carriers and 100 trucks with mounted infantry. In the meantime the Kompanie was placed under ceaseless enemy artillery and fighter-bomber aircraft fire.

At 1430 hours the Kompanie received a further Panzerkampfwagen V as reinforcement.

In spite of the circumstances, in a short time we knocked out eight enemy tanks, five armoured personnel carriers and two trucks. Here the enemy suffered the bloodiest and heaviest losses. The fire of the enemy tanks, the artillery, anti-tank guns and fighter– bombers knocked out three of our own tanks and one was rendered immobile.

Now the Kompanie consisted of only two operational tanks, which were not able to hold the lines because they were fired at from all sides and the situation worsened with their encirclement. The supporting infantry had already retreated, thus further resistance was impossible.

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Martin Groß, the last commander of SS-Panzer Regiment 12, shown in early and late war images (see Appendix II). (Mark C. Yerger)

In the evening the Kompanie established new positions with two newly assigned Panzerkampfwagen Vs southwest of Heudebouville.

Scores: 16 tanks, 5 armoured personnel carriers, 2 trucks, approximately 50 killed

Losses: 1 killed, 8 wounded

Total losses in tanks: 6

Other losses: 1 Panzerkampfwagen V


Leutnant and Kompanieführer

II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

Arrival of the Abteilungsstab in La Barre-en-Ouche. Quarters prepared for the units of the II.Abteilung in Thevray. The command post of the Abteilung is located in the château near Thevray

According to incoming reports the assembly positions of the 12. SS-Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend” can be found in Grancamps. Hauptsturmführer Tirschler personally went to Grancamps, however he did not find the assembly positions there, nor any other command of the 12.SS-Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend”.

According to Obersturmführer Eggers, who has taken over the command of all the tanks of the Abteilung, the enemy has already succeeded in breaking into Orbec. The hills directly east of Orbec are held with weak securing forces.

Upon considering the situation the commander of the II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12 decided that the II.Abteilung is to relocate to its old quarters area in La Saussaye. The reconnaissance platoon is immediately dispatched for reconnaissance and placement of signposts on the road. They are accompanied by the following:

• the Versorgungskompanie and the Kampfstaffel;

• the Abteilungsstab closes the line.

23 August 1944

I./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

War Diary Appendix no. 18

12. SS-Panzer-Division. “Hitlerjugend”O.U., 19 Sept. 1944

4. [Kompanie]/SS-Panzer Regiment 12

After Action Report from 23. VIII. 1944

Last night the Kompanie established securing positions with four operational Panzerkampfwagen Vs southwest of Heudebouville. During the day the Kompanie received a further two Panzerkampfwagen Vs as reinforcements; this way the Kompanie secured the sector of 2 km width with six tanks. A Pionier unit3 established positions approximately 300 metres in front of the Kompanie.

The enemy wanted to occupy the hill and the crossroad secured by the Kompanie. Position of the enemy was unknown.

Apart from short fire strikes by the enemy artillery the day was quiet. Around 2030 hours a messenger arrived running from the Pioniers and reported that the enemy was attacking with tanks. Shortly after this the enemy overran the Pioniers and approximately ten of their tanks were stood on the hill. Despite the darkness and the rain the Kompanie succeeded in knocking out four enemy tanks and repulsing the attack. The enemy did not renew the assault on this spot. Around midnight a courier delivered the orders of the Abteilung to retreat and to establish positions southwest of Vironvay, both of which were carried out during the night.

Scores: 4 tanks

Losses: none

Total losses in tanks: 1

Other losses: none


Leutnant and Kompanieführer

II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

Arrival of the II.Abteilung in La Saussaye in the early morning hours and in the morning.

Location: command post of the Abteilung at the quarters of the commander in La Saussaye, Versorgungskompanie and Stabskompanie in the old quarters of the former Stabskompanie, the combat units in Iville, between Amfreville and Le Neubourg.

At 1300 hours the following tank force was reported:

• 6 tanks reached Iville, of which 4 are only operational in a limited way;

• 3 tanks are being towed on the road to Iville.

It was arranged immediately that all nine tanks were to be prepared to be fully operational within the shortest time possible.

Hauptsturmführer Siegel, who is commanding the base at La Saussaye, reported to the commander that the base had relocated to Le Thil [-Riberpré], east of the Seine and the intention was to relocate the base even further eastwards. The village of Rethel, northwest of Reims, is assigned for this. Obersturmführer Höfler was sent to reconnoitre the new base.

The IIb-Abteilung gathered data of the personnel of the II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12. According to this, officers, NCOs and enlisted men in the II.Abteilung as in the attached list4.

1500 hours: Hauptsturmführer Tirschler went to the regimental command post in Louviers to bring further orders for the Abteilung.

At 1700 hours a report from Hauptsturmführer Walter Bormuth: according to two officers of the LSSAH the enemy tanks are already in Neubourg and Vernon, the enemy is advancing along the Le Neubourg–Iville road and is already firing at Iville.

A courier brought orders for Obersturmführer Eggers that he was to send the tanks in Iville into blocking positions and prevent the enemy from advancing further. Dispatch of a reconnaissance unit into the area of Iville–Vernon under command of Untersturmführer Gunnar Johnsson in order to determine the distance the enemy has taken forward.

At 1800 hours Obersturmführer Eggers reported that he had established securing positions even before the arrival of the report from the command post of the Abteilung. Four of the six tanks are operational, the guns of two tanks are damaged so they cannot be used. These latter two tanks were immediately withdrawn. During the engagement the enemy succeeded in knocking out three of our tanks. One tank took over the securing of the Le Neubourg–Elbeuf road.

1730 hours: order for the Versorgungskompanie and for all remaining parts of the Abteilung to immediately depart across the Seine to the base in Le Thil-en-Vexin.

At 1800 hours the first vehicles drove out of La Saussaye.

1900 hours: Hauptsturmführer Tirschler, who was escorted by Untersturmführer Walther, did not return until 1900 hours. Instead of him, shortly after 1900 hours, an Obersturmführer of the LSSAH reported and stated that Hauptsturmführer Tirschler and Untersturmführer Walther were engaged by the enemy in the area of La Vallee, between Elbeuf and Louviers and both were wounded. Hauptsturmführer Tirschler asked for a vehicle immediately. Untersturmführer Bock was dispatched at once to retrieve the wounded officers.

Hauptsturmführer Hans Siegel took over the command of the Abteilung in the afternoon, the commander of a Panzer V reported to the command post and said that his engine was not running perfectly and the tank was only partially mobile. By order of Hauptsturmführer Siegel this tank was dispatched to secure the Elbeuf–Louviers road at the northern exit of Louviers.

The last tank from Iville, and the 12 assault guns of Einheit “Rettlinge5 were withdrawn around 2300 hours to the southern outskirts of Elbeuf, to the railway crossing, in order to secure the Elbeuf–Le Neubourg road here. The Abteilung provided fuel for the assault guns of Einheit “Rettlinger”.

24 August 1944

I./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

War Diary Appendix no. 19

12. SS-Panzer-Division. “Hitlerjugend”O.U., 19 Sept. 1944

4. [Kompanie]/SS-Panzer Regiment 12

After Action Report from 24. VIII. 1944

With four operational tanks the Kompanie established positions southwest of Vironvay as ordered. Two Panzerkampfwagen Vs and two Panzerkampfwagen IVs of the Wehrmacht were assigned to the Kompanie; these tanks also took up positions.

During the day the enemy occupied the village of Heudebouville previously abandoned by us, and slowly moved forward.

The day was spent quietly and without enemy attacks. One of our tanks ran over our own mine and following this, was knocked out by an enemy anti-tank gun.

Around 2200 hours an order was received to retreat and to cross the Seine, which was accomplished without any extraordinary events.

Scores: none6

Losses: 1 wounded

Total losses Panzerkampfwagen V: 1

[Other] losses: none

Leutnant and Kompanieführer

II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

At 0200 hours Hauptsturmführer Hans Siegel assigned a Panzer IV and a Panzer V to the combat commander7 to be used for deployment and supply.

During the day of 24. 08. 1944 the units of II.Abteilung crossed the Seine at Rouen and Poses, and assembled in Le Thil-en-Vexin. Hauptsturmführer Tirschler also arrived here. Despite the wound on his leg, he fought through the enemy lines until reaching the bridges on the Seine. Still no news of Untersturmführer Walther. According to Hauptsturmführer Tirschler, Untersturmführer Walther was presumably seriously wounded and captured by the British. Hauptsturmführer Tirschler knew nothing of Untersturmführer Bock and his Volkswagen.

In the afternoon, order for the II.Abteilung to regroup in the area of Conty during the day of 25. 08. 1944. The relocation began with the Stabskompanie on the night of 25. 08. 1944.

25 August 1944

I./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

[No entry.]

II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

Arrival of the Abteilung into the area of Conty. Quarters:

• command post of the Abteilung in Louilley

Stabs- and Versorgungskompanie in Louilley

• the 7.Kompanie in Wailly

• the Ausbildungskompanie with the remains of the 5., 6. and 8.Kompanien in Forsemanant8

29 August 1944

I./SS-Panzer Regiment 12:

12.SS-Panzer Division “Hitlerjugend”O.U., 10. 09. ’44

I./SS-Panzer Regiment 12

After Action Report of Panzergruppe “Berlin”within Kampfgruppe “Milius”of SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 25

The seven Panzer Vs that were newly arrived to the regiment on 29. 08. ’44 were assigned to me with incomplete crews in the quarters of the regiment in Vervins; they were to be immediately deployed. In order to restore their operational condition I had to obtain seven gunners, five loaders and three radio operators from the 1.Kompanie.

On 29. 08. ’44 around 1900 hours I reported to Obersturmbannführer Milius9 for briefing. The tanks were distributed so that three tanks were assigned to the III./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26, the remaining four tanks were deployed in the zone of the I./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 25 in Montcornet and in its surroundings for securing the crossroads. On the other hand, the tanks within the III./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26 were to secure the roads around Rozoy. On 29. 08. there was no sign of the enemy in this area.

Enemy presence in the Rozoy sector was discovered first in the hours around noon on 30. 08. The enemy was coming from the south in the direction of the securing units with tanks and armoured personnel carriers. Later enemy presence also in the sector on the right, at Montcornet, where tank Keils (wedges) arrived from the direction of Laon, advancing towards Montcornet to reach Hirson.

The enemy drew artillery and reinforcements forward during the night in Montcornet. As ordered by the Kampfgruppe commander, we established new securing positions during the night on the advantageous terrain, on the hills north of Montcornet. The tanks were located behind these positions in the centre as interventional reserves. During the morning of 30. 08., following artillery preparation, the breakthrough was launched towards Magny [-la Campagne], east of Montcornet. The tanks located here immediately stopped the advance on the undulating terrain intersected by water-courses and covered the retreat of the Grenadiers. We knocked out a Sherman here and an armoured personnel carrier. We did not have any losses, despite the fighter–bomber attacks. The running gear of a tank was damaged by the bomb from an aircraft.

By order of the division the Kampfgruppe retreated in the face of constantly strengthening pressure into the newly prepared blocking position at Plomion, on the sector of the [La] Brune river. The tanks were again deployed in securing the partly blown up, partly closed crossings on the Brune. The tanks succeeded in preventing the enemy from making a swift approach to the Brune and the crossing of the river. However, during the night, we received orders from the division to retreat to the line Buire–Hirson south, because the enemy had outflanked the Kampfgruppe on the right frontline sector, via the uncovered flank near Vervins.

During the morning hours of 01. 09. ’44 each unit of the Panzergruppe reached the newly assigned sector. We immediately established securing positions, because the enemy was advancing in our rear even during the retreat at night. One tank secured the Vervins–Hirson main road. Two other tanks secured the open field southeast of Buire, one tank stood in front of the bridge in La Hérie to seal the crossing which was impossible to blow up because of a shortage of explosives.

During this time, at Gruppe “Olboeter10 one Panzerkampfwagen IV, which was assigned to me on 30. 08., and one Panzerkampfwagen V were knocked out. The Panzerkampfwagen IV was knocked out from an advantageous position, from a distance of 25 metres, because this tank allowed three Shermans to approach it to within 50 metres, and at that moment the loading of its gun was impeded. The Panzerkampfwagen V was knocked out in a battle against superior forces (tanks and armoured personnel carriers), after having knocked out two Shermans itself. Both tank crews were saved, leaving behind one soldier that was killed (the radio operator of the Panzerkampfwagen IV). The enemy, who pushed into Origny [en-Thiérache] during the afternoon, was repulsed with a counterstroke. Because the left-hand sector was threatened with the possibility of being flanked, two Panzerkampfwagen Vs under command of Untersturmführer Walter Blank had to take over the securing of the open left flank at the eastern exit of Hirson.

In order to prevent another outflanking and encirclement an order was issued to establish new positions in the area of Trélon. However these were replaced on the same night to move further backwards, to the southern sector of Beaumont. With this order the Panzergruppe was assigned to Kampfgruppe “Siebken”11, which was already preparing passage lines at Liessies, at the river Helpe. After having reported, during the night I was escorted into the positions to the commander of the II./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26 and I was able to escort the tanks into their positions at dawn. Now two tanks were securing the roads leading to Liessies from the south and west, and the three remaining tanks, those that provided the combat ready reserve of the Kampfgruppe, were securing westwards from the direction of Avesnelles, remaining near the command post at Felléries.

We were not able to contain the enemy on the open right flank, so another outflanking movement occurred as the 5./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26, with a Tiger tank assigned to me, was encircled by the enemy. The pressure of the enemy towards Felléries became stronger and stronger, and the situation was threatened by the encirclement of the 6. and 8./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26, so I deployed the reserve tanks to cover the retreat of the Kompanien. During the night two Panzerkampfwagen Vs were sent to the Kompanie from the maintenance unit. During the fighting we knocked out four Shermans while two of our Panzerkampfwagen Vs were damaged due to hits.

After having carried out the retreat, the Kampfgruppe was withdrawn to the positions prepared by SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 25, south of Phillippeville. One Panzerkampfwagen V (that of Untersturmführer Blank) had to be sent to the repair station because of a defect of its gearbox, so only one tank remained operational. The last tank that remained with Kampfgruppe “Olboeter” had to be blown up on the Mons– Beaumont road while making an attempt to tow it away as, due to enemy fire damaging its running gear and engine, it was rendered immobile; otherwise it would have been captured by the enemy advancing after us.

On 04. 09. ’44 around 1400 hours new orders arrived with the task of retreating towards Philippeville. Whilst driving into the third firing position, when the enemy was closing in on three sides of the village, the lateral countershaft and the gearbox of the tank of Unterscharführer Voigt broke down and it was rendered immobile. Due to the immediate advance of the enemy the tank had to be blown up on the orders of Obersturmbannführer Karl-Heinz Milius. After this the order for a retreat at once through the Maas arrived, because parts of the II./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26 and the I./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26 were already encircled.

During these combats we knocked out ten Shermans and one armoured personnel carrier altogether while suffering seven total losses.



1 There is no village with such name in the area of Gaillon.

2 Parts of a Combat Command from the American 5th Armored Division.

3 Presumably parts of SS-Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 12.

4 The list contains the names of 288 persons. The list of names is not published here.

5 Sturmbannführer Karl Rettlinger was the commander of SS-Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 1 of the “Leibstandarte”. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross as Kompanie Chef of the 3./SS-Sturmgeschütz Abteilung 1 on 20 December 1943 and the German Cross in Gold with the same unit on 28 March 1943. He died in Gunzenhausen on 14 June 1990.

6 According to the KTB of Panzerarmee 5, Kampfgruppe “Mohnke” destroyed a total of 46 Shermans and one Churchill, 10 Universal Carrier armoured carrier vehicles, and three anti-tank guns between 20 and 24 August 1944. The Panthers of the 4./SS-Panzer Regiment 12 assigned to the Kampfgruppe knocked out 36 Allied armoured vehicles between 20 and 23 August 1944.

7 Presumably Obersturmführer Fritz Eggers.

8 The last appendix to the KTB of the II./SS-Panzer Regiment 12, numbered 19, which details the relocation to the area appointed for refitting, is reproduced as Appendix XVII in this book.

9 Obersturmbannführer Karl-Heinz Milius was commander of the III./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 25, around this time also led the Kampfgruppe based on SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 25. He later commanded SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 25 and ended the war as a Standartenführer. Milius died on 31 March 1990.

10 The Kampfgruppe based on the III./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26.

11 Sturmbannführer Bernhard Siebken was commander of the II./SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 26.

1. The Invasion of Normandy 1944

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2. The First Battle for Caen, 6–10 June 1944

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3. The Second Battle for Caen, 11–18 June 1944

4. The Third Battle for Caen, 25–30 June 1944

5. The Fourth Battle for Caen, 3–10 July 1944

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6. Operation Totalize. Defensive battles 8-11 August 1944

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7. Operation Tractable. Defensive battles 14-16 August 1944

8. Fighting in the Falaise Cauldron 17-19 August 1944, and the breakout from the Cauldron 19-20 August 1944

A rare colour photo showing officers from 12.SS-Panzer Division, Ardenne Abbey, Caen, early June 1944. The men are, left to right: Obersturmbannführer Heinz Milius (commander of SS-Panzer-Grenadier-Regiment 25); Sturm ban nführer Hubert Meyer (1. Generalstabsoffizier (la) of the division); war correspondent Herbert Reinecker; Obersturmführer Bernhard Meitzel (at the time Ordonnanz Offizier (Ol) on the divisional staff, later assigned to II./SS-Panzer-Regiment 12). Meitzel wears the Demyansk Shield on his upper left sleeve. (Bundesarchiv, Bild 164-14-136, photo: Wilfried Woscidlo).

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