5th Panzer Army
: 5. Panzerarmee
) was the name of two different German armoured
formations during World War II. The first of these was formed in 1942, during the North African campaign
and surrendered to the Allies at Tunis in 1943. The army was re-formed in France in 1944, fought in Western Europe
and surrendered in the Ruhr pocket
Formation in Italy and deployment in North Africa
On 17 November 1942, the Stab Nehring
staff, assigned to the German general in Rome
, was reformed to become the LXXXX Army Corps
. This staff was soon repurposed to become the 5th Panzer Army.
The army was reformed on 24 January 1944 as Panzer Group West
, the armoured reserve for OB West
. The new army was placed under the command of Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
The method of employment of Panzer Group West in the event of an allied invasion was the subject of much controversy, with OB West commander Gerd von Rundstedt
and Army Group B
commander Erwin Rommel
favouring different methods.
Rundstedt and Geyr von Schweppenburg believed that the panzer group should be held in reserve some distance from the front, to counter-attack Allied penetrations. Rommel was convinced that Allied air power and naval artillery would not allow the Germans the freedom to move large formations and so insisted that the panzers
should be deployed much closer to the front line. Adolf Hitler
forced an unhappy compromise on the western commanders and refused to allow them to commit the panzer group without his authority. When the Allied Invasion
began on 6 June 1944, Panzer Group West remained immobile; by 8 June, Geyr had been able to rush three panzer divisions northward to defend Caen
against British and Canadian forces.
Geyr planned to launch the divisions in a counter-attack that would drive the British and Canadians back into the sea. On 10 June, Schweppenburg was wounded in an attack on the Panzer Group West headquarters at La Caine
. Geyr's tank units managed to limit the British advance for another month but he was relieved of his command on 2 July, after seconding Rundstedt's request that Hitler authorize a strategic withdrawal from Caen. On 2 July he was replaced by Heinrich Eberbach
. The panzer group fought against the Allied forces in Normandy
, suffering heavy losses and eventually finding many of its divisions trapped in the Falaise Pocket
. After the shattered remnants of the panzer group escaped from Falaise
, it began a retreat towards the German border.
In August, the remaining elements of Panzer Group West were reorganized as 5th Panzer Army, with a combat formation remaining in action under the title Panzer Group Eberbach. After a brief period under Sepp Dietrich
, command of the army passed to Hasso von Manteuffel
. The army saw heavy combat on the German border against Allied forces, the panzer divisions suffering heavily from Allied ground attack aircraft
. In November the 5th Panzer Army began forming up in the Ardennes, alongside the newly formed 6th SS Panzer Army
under Dietrich. Both formations took part in the Battle of the Bulge
, the Fifth Panzer Army became the main central force advancing westwards from the pre-existing front lines
after the planned schwerpunkt assigned to the Sixth Panzer Army was stopped at the Elsenborn Ridge and the Ambleve Valley. The Fifth Panzer Army suffered heavy losses in battles around Bastogne
and in the armor battles around Celles
, the westernmost points of advance. After the offensive was cancelled, it continued its fighting withdrawal to the German border. In March, it was involved in efforts to eliminate the American bridgehead over the Rhine
at the Ludendorff Bridge
. The 5th Panzer Army was encircled and trapped in the Ruhr Pocket
, and surrendered on 17 April 1945.
Fifth Panzer Army (North Africa)
Panzer Group West
Panzer Group Eberbach
Fifth Panzer Army (France) Order of battle (North Africa)
- ^ Tessin, Georg (1977). "Generalkommando LXXXX. Armeekorps (röm. 90. AK)". Die Landstreitkräfte 71-130. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 (in German). 6. Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag. p. 110. ISBN 3764810971.
- ^ "German Command and Tactics in the West, 1944".
- ^ Harrison 1951, pp. 249–251.
- ^ The Army at War:Tunisia HMSO 1944 p.43
Last edited on 1 May 2021, at 15:19
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