116. Panzer Division

The 116. Pz.Div. was formed by merging the remnants of 16. Pz.Gren.Div., a unit worn after battles on th eastern front, with the 179. Res.Pz.Div.1 The 16. Pz.Gren.Div. did not arrive in France until April 1944. This made it impossible to create a new fully battle worthy division before the allies landed. The organization of the new division was2:

The Panther battalion of the division was forming at Grafenwöhr in Germany. In its place the Panther battalion of the Grossdeutschland division was deployed with the 116. Pz.Div. This battalion was however sent to the eastern front before 116. Pz.Div. was ordered to move to Normandy. Rather the Panther battalion of the 24. Pz.Div., the I./Pz.Rgt. 24, followed the division to Normandy. Unfortunately this battalion received its tanks quite late. Between 5 and 7 June 70 Panthers were sent by rail to the battalion.3 Consequently the battalion delayed in its training programme. Towards the end of June it was reported that the battalion was still conducting platoon exercises.4

Including four Panthers sent to I./Pz.Rgt. 24 in January5, two Panthers (Bef.Wg.) with the 16. Pz.Rgt.6 and the 70 sent at the beginning of June the division had 76 Panthers available when it departed for Normandy. It seems that the division had 86 Panzer IV.7 No further tanks were sent to the division during the summer 1944.8 The Pz.Jäg.Abt. 228 received 21 JagdPz IV in July9, bringing it to its authorized strength.

The division also had a few extra armoured vehicles. According to a report dated 8 June 1944 it had three Pz.Kpf.Wg. IV kz., seven Pz.Kpf.Wg. III lg., three Pz.Kpf.Wg. III kz., six StuG III lg. and six 7,5 cm Pak (Sf).10 These vehicles were not included in the authorized organization for the division, and it was planned that some of them would be handed away.

The manpower strength of the division improved gradually12:

1 April

5452

1 May

12494

15 May

13414

1 June

13621

1 July

14358

Like many other panzer divisions in France the 116. Pz.Div. was short of transport. On 15 May it only had 342 cars, 725 trucks and 25 towing vehicles. Also it had 163 armoured troop carriers.13 This had improved by 1 June, when it had 1 065 trucks, or almost 2/3 of the authorized strength of 1 688.14 A major problem was the age of many of the trucks. This was aggravated by the shortage of spare parts.15 Also the division was insufficiently trained.16

On 1 July the truck situation had only improved slightly.17 This was only temporary though, since it was soon obliged to send some of its trucks to Normandy to alleviate the shortages with the units there.18

The division had 25 operational artillery pieces on 1 July. The number of armoured troop carriers had increased to 243 operational and 9 in short term repair. The division had the thirteen 7,5 cm Pak it was authorized to have.19

Flak-Abt. 281 had no guns and it did not receive any until the division had retreated from France.20

On 18 July the division had 67 % mobility.21 Soon it was ordered to Normandy. On 20 July the division began crossing the Seine by ferries.22 On 24 July the following elements had reached the assembly area23: Pz.Gren.Rgt. 156, Pz.Aufkl.Abt. 16, Pz.Gren.Rgt. 60, II./Pz.Rgt. 16, Pz.Jäg.Abt. 228.

The last combat units to arrive were the I./Pz.Rgt. 24 and Pi.Btl. 675.24 Marching always took its toll on the tanks. The following tank strengths were reported:

Date

Panzer IV
Combat
Ready

Pz IV in
Short Term
Repair

Panthers
Combat
Ready

Panthers in
Short Term
Repair

JagdPz IV and StuG
Combat
Ready

JagdPz IV and StuG in
Short Term
Repair

25 July25

24

?

39

?

25

?

27 July26

64

15

57

17

25

?

30 July27

30

?

32

?

15

?

22 August28

4

?

11

?

3

?

Initially the division was in reserve south-east of Caen, but due to the American breakthrough west of St. Lô the 116. Pz.Div. was ordered to move to the Vire area on 28 July.29 It reached its assembly area on the 29.

Thus far the division had not seen much combat and on 30 July it was assessed to have "Kampfwert I", the highest rating available for combat capabilities. All its battalions were considered strong and the mobility stood at 80 %.

During the German Mortain counter attack the I./Pz.Rgt. 24 was subordinated to 2. Pz.Div. It advanced to Le Mesnil-Adelée.31

On 11 August the division was ordered to move to the Alençon area. It remained in the Alençon - Argentan area until 20 August.32 The division broke out of the Falaise pocket.33

The division received 665 men as replacements during August. Also it received 127 men on 6 September and another 442 six days later.34 According to a report dated 23 September the division suffered 5 186 casualties from the allied invasion until 13 September.35

According to the status report sent to the Inspector General of Panzer Troops at the beginning of October the division had a strength of 11 875 on 1 October. During September 1998 replacements and convalescents had been received by the division. Casualties during September amounted to 677 and simultaneously 121 men had left the division for other reasons. This would indicate a strength of 10 675 on 1 September.36

Compared to the strength on 1 July this would indicate a loss of 3 683 men. But since the division received 665 replacements during August, losses must have amounted to 4 348.

It seems not very likely that the division would have suffered 838 casualties between 1 and 13 September, especially since the division only suffered 677 casualties during the entire month of September. There are three probable explanations for this. The figure of 5 186 casualties may include men that had absorbed by other units during the retreat or else stragglers may later have shown up with the division. Another explanation is that it may include losses suffered by units temporarily attached to the 116. Pz.Div.37

Since the division must have suffered losses during the retreat from 22 August to 1 September not all of the 4 348 casualties indicated above may have occurred in Normandy. Probably slightly less than 4 000 were sustained during the battles in Normandy.

 

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Notes:

1

G. Tessin, Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS (Mittler & Sohn, Frankfurt am Main and Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück 1966-1975).

2

Status Report to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 1.7.44, BA-MA RH 10/163.

3

Lieferungen der Pz.Fahrzeuge, Bd. ab Mai 1943, BA-MA RH 10/349.

4

H. G. Guderian, Das letzte Kriegsjahr im Westen, Die Geschichte der 116. Pz.Div. - Windhund-Division (St. Augustin 1994) p. 52.

5

Lieferungen der Pz.Fahrzeuge, Bd. ab Mai 1943, BA-MA RH 10/349.

6

Anlagen zum KTB LXXXI. A.K., 116. Pz.Div. Ia Nr. 304/44 geh. 8.6.44, T314, R1590, F000351.

7

According to a document labelled "Im Westen vorhandene gepanzerte Kraftfahrzeuge, Stand 10.6.44", file BA-MA RH 10/90, the division had 86 Pz IV. This document has been proved erroneous in some cases, but given its strengh later in the campaign this figure seems accurate.

8

Lieferungen der Pz.Fahrzeuge, Bd. ab Mai 1943, BA-MA RH 10/349.

9

Ibid.

10

See Anlagen zum KTB LXXXI. A.K., 116. Pz.Div. Ia Nr. 304/44 geh. 8.6.44, T314, R1590, F000351. and also Guderian, op. cit. p. 15.

11

Guderian, op. cit. p. 15.

12

Status Reports to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 1.7.44, BA-MA RH 10/163 and also BA-MA RH 10/112.

13

BA-MA RH 10/112.

14

Status Report to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 1.6.44, BA-MA RH 10/163.

15

Ibid.

16

Ibid.

17

Status Report to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 1.6.44, BA-MA RH 10/163.

18

Guderian, op. cit. p. 55.

19

Status Report to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 1.7.44, BA-MA RH 10/163.

20

Guderian, op.cit. p. 16.

21

HGr B Ia Nr. 4943/44 g.Kdos, 18.7.44, T311, R4, F7003813.

22

OB West Ia Nr. 5911/44 g.Kdos vom 22.7.44, T311, R28, F7034716.

23

OB West Ia Nr. 5970/44 g.Kdos, T311, R28, F7034778f.

24

OB West Ia Nr. 5972/44 g.Kdos, 24.7.44, T311, R28, F7034777, OB West Ia Nr. 5996/44 g.Kdos 25.7.44, T311, R28, F7034798 and OB West Ia Nr. 6068/44 g.Kdos, 26.7.44, T311, R28, F7034824.

25

Pz.Gr. West Ia, Nr. 572/44 geh. von 26.7.1944., Nachtrag zur Tagesmeldung 25.7., BA-MA RH 21-5/50.

26

Pz.Gr. West Ia, Nr. 605/44 geh. von 28.7.1944., Nachtrag zur Tagesmeldung 27.7., BA-MA RH 21-5/50.

27

AOK 7 Ia Nr. 4174/44 g.Kdos. den 2.8.44, T312, R1569, F000359.

28

Anlagen zum KTB LXXXI. A.K. Ia, Meldungen der Divisionen, Gliederung der 116. Panzer-Division, Stand 22.8.1944, T314, R1593, F000199.

29

Guderian, op. cit. p. 62.

30

AOK 7 Ia Nr. 4174/44 g.Kdos. den 2.8.44, T312, R1569, F000359.

31

Guderian, op. cit. p. 81.

32

See Guderian, op. cit. p. 87 - 103.

33

Ibid, p 103ff.

34

LXXXI. A.K. IIb, 19.9.44, T314, R1594, F000272.

35

LXXXI. A.K. IIa/b, 23.9.44, T314, R1594, F000267.

36

Status Report to the Inspector-General of Panzer Troops, 1.10.44, BA-MA RH 10/163.

37

The document that has provided the figure 5 186 also gives suspiciously high casualties for 9. Pz.Div. and 275. Inf.Div. It could of course be argued that the higher loss figure include lösses suffered y air attack befor its actions in Normandy. This seems not very likely. During June it lost only 79 men due to all causes (BA-MA RH 10/163).