War Diary: 15 PANZER GRENADIER DIVISION, 9 April 1945 - 7 May 1945

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    Last edited: May 10, 2020
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    Enemy’s pressure increases constantly.
    4 CANADIAN ARMOURED DIVISION advance from LATHEN (about 27 km South of PAPENBURG) North and North East.
    43 DIVISION supported by one Armd Bde attacks North and North East from area South West of CLOPPENBURG.
    51 (H) DIVISION advance from area LOHNE - VECHTA.
    3 INFANTRY DIVISION captures BASSUM and continues advance North.
    A small battle group seems to be already South of WILDEHAUSEN.

    15 Pz Gr Div (without one reinforced bn (I/115 which was sent in advance on 8 Apr)) moves from area CLOPPENBURG into the area South West of BREMEN to counter-attack and stop the enemy’s advance South West of BREMEN. Axis of this movement is ANKUM - OVACKENBURG [?QUACKENBRUCK] - WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT into area HARPSTEDT - NORDWOHLDE - FARHRENHORST - IPPENER. During the evening all units reach the area as ordered, except Gr Regt 857 which follows on foot, and secures the area South and East. I Bn 115 is in contact with the enemy on the line BASSUM - SYKE.

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    After having been in reserve in the wood North of NORDWOHLDE 115 PGR prepares to attack the enemy’s flank which is advancing Norht from SYKE. The “HOHE BERG” is taken and we advance up to a point 1 km West of SYKE. During the attack we hear from wireless intercept that the enemy is constantly getting reinforcements, mainly tanks and scout cars. The enemy’s artillery activity is not very heavy. The object of our attack is to control road BASSUM - SYKE and to stop the enemy’s advance. The attack succeeds.

    During the afternoon an order comes through from Para Army to build up a new line of defence on the general line WILDESHAUSEN - HORSTEDT - IPPENER - HEILIGENRODE - BRINKUM. The Division withdraws to this line after dark. Gr Regt 857, following on foot, has orders to occupy and hold WILDESHAUSEN, but finds this place already occupied by the enemy and therefore takes up defensive positions North and North East of the town, with strong points on both sides of road junction 1 km North of WILDESHAUSEN.
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    The day passes with only light infantry activity. The enemy does not probe the new line of defence, and contact is made with bridgehead at BREMEN (SS Trg Bn). The picture of the enemy’s positions is gained by (a) own recce and patrols, and (b) wireless intercept. The results are as follows:-

    (a) Enemy strong points are in the area WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT - SYKE. A counter-attack of Gr Regt 857 to regain WILDESHAUSEN does not succeed.

    (b) Strong enemy armour and infantry forces advancing during the afternoon from BRUCHHAUSEN towards NIENBURG.

    4 ARMOURED BRIGADE is reported in BRUCHHAUSEN with Brigade H.Q. probably in the town.

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    The enemy’s dispositions in front of our line of defence are presumed to be as follows:-

    43 DIVISION, with one Armoured Brigade under command, are in area CLOPPENBURG - SOUTH of AHLHORN - SOUTH of WILDESHAUSEN, and then


    The enemy reinforces in area WILDESHAUSEN.

    There is heavy traffic on all roads leading from BASSUM towards the front line. Small enemy attacks Northwards from WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT do not succeed.

    During one of our own attacks towards the road WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT several tanks and vehicles are knocked out and we succeed in interrupting the flow of enemy traffic for a short period.

    Advance Posts from FAHRENHORST are recalled to the main line of defence. By wireless intercept it is learnt that 51 (H) DIVISION is approaching and that they have been ordered to take over the front line South of DELMENHORST. All the enemy’s artillery is concentrated in the area WILDESHAUSEN (according to civilian reports, probably two regiments). Interrogation reports from scattered and returned German soldiers say mainly that strong armoured units supported by artillery and Anti-Aircraft are on the move via NEUBRUCHAUSEN towards NIENBURG. Reliefs and withdrawal of units for other purposes?
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    According to Prisoner of War reports 52 DIVISION is supposed to relieve parts of 7 ARMOURED DIVISION in the area RIEDE between 13 and 14 April. It is said that parts of the armoured troops have already moved South East from RIEDE. We presume 52 DIVISION is in the area between RIEDE - BRUCHHAUSEN - VILSEN.

    Enemy recce patrols increase on our own front from the area WILDESHAUSEN to the North and North East, and also against left flank of 104 PGR. From wireless intercept we learn of the enemy’s intentions in time, and place our troops accordingly.

    As 51 (H) DIVISION has been brought into the area WILDESHAUSEN - HARPSTEDT we expect the main thrust of the enemy’s attack from this area. 115 PGR is being withdraw from the Division left flank and is being put in reserve on the right flank for a counter-attack against WILDESHAUSEN.
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    115 PGR’s counter-attack against WILDESHAUSEN penetrates to the railway line on the West edge of the town and to the road junction North of it, but cannot penetrate farther owing to strong concentrated artillery and Anti-Tank fire. 51 (H) DIVISION is identified in this area by Prisoners of War, with one battalion in the woods east of WILDESHAUSEN and another battalion to the South East. Prisoner of War reports that one company position is at the East entrance to WILDESHAUSEN, with a third company in the town itself, and a fourth company on the Southern edge.

    On the rest of the Division front, only strong recce patrols without success.
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    Strong recce patrols in company strength, supported by a few tanks, are pushing North East from WILDESHAUSEN and North from HARPSTEDT. These have been repulsed. Our own wireless intercept works very well again today. We know enemy intentions, times of coming attacks and artillery targets.

    During the afternoon, the enemy succeeds in capturing a road junction North of WILDESHAUSEN by outflanking it and using well planned and intense artillery fire. Enemy pressure in this area is extremely heavy.

    During the night, 15 Pz Gr Div withdraw according to orders leaving behind small rearguards on the line DOTLINGEN - UHLHORN - HENGSTERHOLZ - AMNEN - GROSS-MACKENSTEDT.
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    The withdrawal of the Division is going according to plan. The enemy is following reluctantly with light recce elements. We know by wireless intercept and Prisoner of War reports that two brigades of 51 (H) DIVISION are in the line, and presume that the third brigade is in reserve. We succeed, by well carried out rearguards manoeuvres, in making the enemy believe the whole line of defence is occupied, and we repulse light infantry recce patrols. Although these rearguards are completely on their own, their fighting morale still proves to be excellent.
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    New enemy reinforcements arrive in area WILDESHAUSEN. We shell enemy reserves in area IPPENER - HEILIGENRODE.

    Today again, all enemy attacks on the whole of the Division front area made in battalion strength with armoured support, but are known beforehand form wireless intercept which enables us to counter-measure them by manoeuvring with our reserves. The enemy succeeds therefore only in penetrating locally.

    During the day we get numerous reports from our wireless intercept about the enemy order of battle, mainly recce units but also about the results of aerial recce on our own and neighbouring fronts.

    We succeed in holding the front line by manoeuvring constantly with our reserves, Anti-Tank weapons and units.

    From documents belonging to a dead Prisoner of War we learn that B Company of 52 DIVISION Recce is in WERDER.
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    Today we expect very early attacks as enemy wireless activity increases. Pressure in the area of WILDESHAUSEN continues during the morning, and the enemy succeeds, after a heavy battle, in penetrating into DOTLINGEN and THRAHE and to occupy the crossroads near the railway stations at DOTLINGEN.

    The enemy attack from the area of IPPENER towards ADELHEIDE starts at 1030 and they succeed, after heavy artillery preparation, in penetrating into GROSS-MACKENSTEDT. We presume the enemy strength to be one Battalion supported by tanks (flamethrowing tanks?).

    Our own troops are exhausted as they have been fighting continuously for several weeks and they lack weapons, mainly light and heavy MGs, and reinforcements are badly trained. Due to these reasons, and to the fact that our front line is over 30 kms long, stubborn defence is not possible to give the impression of greater strength, and to stop the enemy’s advance by continuous manoeuvring, extremely efficient wireless interception, rushing about of the few available tanks and anti-tank weapons, but mainly due to the supreme fighting quality of all ranks.

    At 1330 hours our own recce finds STUHR North East of BRINKUM free of enemy. According to wireless intercept TOSTEDT East of the River WESER has been occupied by the enemy since 1320 hours. VISSELHOVEDE is still in our hands.

    Only light infantry actions South West of BREMEN. The enemy penetrated into OBERHEIDE and there is fighting in MORDEICH North West of BRINKUM (25 tanks seen).

    The enemy’s main thrust has been switched during the last few days towards the area of VERDEN and to the East. One can recognise the enemy’s intention of advancing via ROTENBURG towards HAMBURG and to continue their advance North West and East of the WESER in force. The main objective is BREMEN.

    Civilians report more than 100 enemy tanks in area VERDEN - ROTENBURG.
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    On our Division front it is clear the enemy’s intention is to attack DELMENHORST from both flanks. Their main thrust will be along the roads WILDESHAUSEN - DELMENHORST and GROSS-MACKENSTEDT - DELMENHORST. The Division regroups during the night 18/19th according to the expected attack and patrols and rearguards only occupy the former main defence line. Our new defence line runs OSTRITTRUM - NEERSTEDT - KRATTENHOFF - IMMER - HOLZKAMP - DAHLHOF - AMNENRIEDE - HUCHTING.

    During the day the enemy succeeds only in pushing back our forward patrols and rearguards and our main defence line is held firmly.

    The enemy’s armoured thrusts from GROSS-MACKENSTEDT towards road junction South East of STICKGRAS and against HOLZKAMP South West of DELMENHORST are repulsed.

    The enemy’s main thrust today is again East of the WESER. Strong enemy attacks on BREMEN via ROTENBURG and on WESERMUNDE via ZEVEN show clearly enemy’s plan of encircling the whole of Corps EMS.

    At 1700 hours wireless intercept shows strong enemy movement East of the WESER. There can be no doubt that the massed enemy formations East of the River WESER are prepared to deliver a deadly blow at Corps EMS. The enemy’s main supply route is the road NIENBURG - RETHEM - WALSRODE - SOLTAU.

    During the night 15 Pz Gr Div is withdrawn into the ZEVEN area, without being properly relieved in the old sector. This is done as part of the counter measures planned by higher Command. The only units remaining in the old sector are Gr Regt 857, which is under our command, and a Heavy Anti-Tank Battery. As no new units can be brought up to the sector it can only be held weakly (one battalion).

    The Division succeeds in disengaging and arrives in the new area according to plan without losses or without being shelled heavily on the way.

    We learn, by wireless intercept, that 51 HIGHLAND DIVISION is preparing, in area South of DELMENHORST, to attack and advance via DELMENHORST to the WESER.

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    New Division H.Q. - DIPSHORN (South West of ZEVEN).

    52 Division Engineers identified by Prisoner of War near DANELSEN.

    Captured enemy map taken from medical Prisoner of War from GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION shows the following enemy Order of Battle and intentions:-

    51 HIGHLAND DIVISION in area South of DELMENHORST - axis of advance is DELMENHORST towards WESER.


    53 DIVISION in area North and North West of VERDEN


    7 ARMOURED DIVISION Axis of advance towards BUXTEHUDE.

    32 ARMOURED BRIGADE to take ROTENBURG from North East and South East.
    5 ARMOURED BRIGADE to advance in strength from TOSTEDT via ZEVEN to North West and make contact near BREMERVORDE with the rest of Brigade (only recce units?), which advance from TOSTEDT via AHLERSTEDT.

    According to the captured documents, SECOND ARMY H.Q., 8 CORPS H.Q. and 11 ARMOURED DIVISION H.Q., are all, on the same day in HOLDENSTEDT (8 km South of UELZEN) and South West of LUNEBURG.

    Parts of one Brigade of 52 DIVISION are in area DANELSEN. Other units of 52 DIVISION are in position in area ETELSEN (Recce Regiment)

    According to wireless intercept GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION have formed Battle Groups each consisting of one armoured and one infantry battalion. One of these Battalion Groups is to advance from East of ZEVEN to the South East.

    All units of our Division are by now in new concentration area South West of ZEVEN. 115 PGR and one battery of 22 Artillery Regiment were sent in advance one day earlier.

    The intention of Corps EMS is to get 15 Pz Gr Div ready to attack in South-Easterly direction (ROTENBURG - SOLTAU) to relieve a surrounded Battle Group in SOLTAU - MUNSTER area, and to cut the supply routes of rear formations fighting in the area North East of ROTENBURG.
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    A Troop Leader of our Recce Regiment who escaped out of enemy’s Prisoner of War Camp reports heavy traffic on the road SCHEESEL - SITTENSEN towards the North. This confirms our assumption that part of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION were switched North. The quick advance of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION up to the line TOSTEDT - SITTENSEN and the encircling movement by strong armoured formations near ZEVEN show that Corps EMS will be encircled East of BREMEN. If the enemy succeeds in his attack from the East via ZEVEN and reaches OSTRHOLZ - SCHARMBEK he will over-run Corps H.Q. (HEPSTEDT) and the fate of the rest of Corps EMS South of the HAMME - OSTE line would be sealed.

    Corps Commander therefore orders, at our Div Commander’s suggestion, preparations for our intended attack to stop, and to prepare instead the defence of the line ROTENBURG - ZEVEN as 115 PGR is anyway in contact with the enemy South and South East of ZEVEN, but as higher Command still persists in the plan that 15 Pz Gr Div should attack, we prepare small local and limited attacks.

    A Battalion of 104 PGR receives orders to occupy ELSDORF and hold it at all costs but when it arrives there they find the village held by the enemy. An attempt to capture ELSDORF does not succeed.

    52 DIVISION Recce Regiment is identified by a KO’d Armoured Recce Car near GRASDORF (8 km East North East of ACHIM). According to wireless intercept the enemy is reinforcing his artillery in the ELSDORF area.
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    The enemy penetrates into ROTENBURG with a concentrated attack from the North East.

    Our Division received orders to prepare defences on the line Road Junction North West ROTENBURG - ALBENDORF - GYHUM - ZEVEN and to prepare Battle Groups for attacks in the area South West of GYHUM and West of BRUTTENDORF. Ordered objectives of these attacks are:-

    Road Triangle SITTENSEN.

    Two pincer attacks from GYHUM - BRUTTENDORF succeed and we recapture WISTEDT. ELSDORF is stubbornly defended and remains in enemy hands. 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS, 5 ARMOURED BRIGADE, is identified by Prisoners of War near WIERSDORF (3 kms East of ZEVEN).
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    The enemy continues attacking with armour from HETZWEGE towards APPENDORF. Our own troops are pushed back and we have to give up the road HETZWEGE - ELSDORF. The enemy attack against WIERSDORF results also in the withdrawal of our advanced posts from there. HEESLINGEN is taken by the enemy but an attack against OFFENSEN is repulsed.
    From known enemy dispositions (the relief of Advance units of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION near HEESLINGEN) we have to count on more strong attacks from MEINSTEDT in direction of SASSENHOLZ.

    As enemy’s recce activities in the area ZEVEN - BREMERVORDE - STADE - BUXTEHUDE increase tremendously we have to presum that the GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION’s main axis of advance will be between ZEVEN and the River ELBE to the North West. Constant enemy movement from TOSTEDT to the North and North West confirm this. Pz Gr Training and Reinforcement Brigade GROSSDEUTSCHLAND are put under command of the Division and arrive by battalions. The first arriving battalion relieves 115 PGR near ZEVEN during the night 23rd/24th.
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    The enemy has brought 9 ARMOURED DIVISION and 43 DIVISION from the area West of the WESER. 9 ARMOURED DIVISION will probably advance in an Easterly or North-Easterly direction. No. 4 Battalion DORSETSHIRE REGIMENT, 130 BRIGADE, is identified by Prisoner of War. 53 DIVISION are near HELLWEGE (13 kms South West of ROTENBURG). ‘C’ Company of 43 DIVISION Recce Regiment is near EGYPTEN.

    We know that there are strong enemy infantry reserves in area South West of ROTENBURG. It is also known that there are strong enemy armoured reserves in WIERSDORF (4 kms East of ZEVEN) and in HEESLINGEN (5 kms Eas of ZEVEN). Enemy pressure in the area of ZEVEN increases hourly.

    After strong artillery fire and typhooning of the town, ZEVEN is attacked and entered by the enemy. Tough fighting continues till nightfall. We have to give up the town and withdraw to a line of defence on the edge of the wood 2 kms West of ZEVEN. WISTEDT is also given up. We succeed in stopping the enemy advance on the general line BRITTENDORF - OLDENDORF - BRAUEL with I Bn 115 PGR which was put in during the night.
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    The main attack on BREMEN is expected after strong artillery preparation. The enemy penetrate into the outskirts of the town.

    On our own front the enemy attacks from ABBENDORF towards HESELDORF and penetrates into the village after heavy fighting, supported by strong artillery fire and ground staffing. Our own troops make a fighting withdrawal to the railway line West of the village and prepare their new line of defence.

    Wireless intercept tells us that GYHUM and BOCKEL will be attacked during the afternoon with heavy artillery concentrations and Typhoons. This attack starts at 1400 hours.

    GYHUM is attacked with infantry supported by six tanks and is captured by the enemy. They also occupy WINDMHULEN HILL. We repulse an attack from GYHUM to the North towards WEHLDORF.

    The Division takes up a new defence line BOTERSEN - MULMSHORN - BOCKEL - WEHLSDORF - BRUTTENDORF - OLDENDORF - Wood ZEVEN - GODENSTEDT. This is the beginning of a general withdrawal of the whole of Corps EMS to HAMME - OSTE line which has been proposed to Corps EMS by our Division for the last two days. It was stressed by the Division that this was the only possibility we had of closing the gap to the ELBE and to hold the ever-increasing enemy pressure.

    33 Engr Bn and 115 Recce Bn are switched into the area between ZEVEN and the ELBE to secure contact with the AUE sector. These two Battle Groups occupy these areas to stop enemy recce patrols to the North and in the case of any enemy advance in this direction to delay him by making a fighting withdrawal to the River OSTE. For this task they are supported by two special tank hunting detachments.

    The Division proposes to Corps EMS to build immediately a strong bridgehead at BREMERVORDE as the enemy’s main thrust is expected either in this direction or on the road BUXTEHUDE - STADE.
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    After strong preparation the enemy attacks from ZEVEN with the main thrust to the South West. As our fighting strength has decreased considerably we have to give up wood near ZEVEN after only a few days fighting. A new defence line is built between BADENSTEDT and BADENMUHLEN, but BADENSTEDT falls into enemy hands after little resistance. Some of our tanks succeed in holding out East of OSTERTIMKE.

    We learn constantly from wireless intercept about position of enemy’s spearheads, successes of our own artillery, and planning and preparations for coming attacks. (for instance “that one lorry was hit on the bridge across BADE” “the enemy will have new bridge ready at 1730 hours).

    Today brings a crisis for the Division.

    It is only due to superb work of our own wireless intercept that we are able to prevent a breakthrough at several points, and to build up again and again new centres of resistance wherever the enemy tries to break through our lines.

    The Division sends envoys to arrange for the hand-over of the WESTERTIMKE Prisoner of War Camp. We follow, by wireless intercept, their way, as all enemy units report on the arrival of these officers. We get to know by this means that the G.O.C. of GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION decided to retain these two officers as Prisoners of War and that he ordered an attack by all available tanks for 1800 hours to break through to WESTERTIMKE. As the Bailey bridge North of BADENSTEDT was finished by 1700 hours the order to attack was already given at 1730 hours. Immediately after we knew about this attack all available units, especially Anti-Tank units, were regrouped accordingly.

    The Division considers it a matter of honour that this attack on WESTERTIMKE should not be allowed to succeed and the Camp should not be reached today by the enemy, as we wanted to hand over the Camp through our envoys.

    The GUARDS ARMOURED DIVISION could have considered the sending of the two officers to parley the handing over of the camp as a sign of our weakness.

    Divisional H.Q. moves into the area West of KIRCHTIMKE to be able to prepare everything necessary for the defence on the spot.

    After concentrated artillery fire the enemy attacks with tanks and armoured cars and infantry towards OSTERTIMKE but this attack is broken up by our well-directed artillery fire and the enemy suffers heavy losses. The enemy withdraws to BADENSTEDT. This was a decisive success of the day. Our Tank troops and artillery deserve the highest praise. They knew what was at stake.

    Enemy Order of Battle -

    CANADIAN Divisions West of DELMENHORST
    9 ARMOURED DIVISION East of River WESTER, South East of BREMEN
    52 DIVISION ACHIM area
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    Enemy enters BREMEN and penetrates into the Northern outskirts of the town. 15 Pz Gr Div regroups during the night and forms new line of defence in depth FORWERK - BULSTEDT - KIRCHTIMKE - OSTEREISTEDT - ROCKSTEDT.

    We leave only rearguards behind in OSTERTIMKE. Divisional H.Q. is in BREILLIT. The Division task is to slow down the enemy’s advance and to make a slow fighting withdrawal to the HAMME - OSTE sector and also to preserve our own strength. The enemy starts a new attack and penetrates through OSTERTIMKE into KIRCHTIMKE which he reaches at 1100 hours. From KIRCHTIMKE he advances to he North and North West. WENTELL has to be given up by us. At 1800 hours a new enemy concentration is reported at KIRCHTIMKE and we direct all our artillery onto it. At 1830 hours the enemy attacks from KIRCHTIMKE to the West. In the evening he succeeds in penetrating into the Northern part of WESTERTIMKE after a stubborn battle.

    All enemy’s attempts to attack in the direction of OSTEREISTEDT from East and South East fail.

    Escaped Prisoner of War reports 4 ARMOURED BRIGADE in LEHESTER - DIECH (11 km North East of BREMEN) recognised by Brigade Sign.

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