German Order of Battle (tunisia)

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by Phaethon, Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Hi everyone,
    Do any of you have any info/good books on the forces Germany Sent to Tunisia in 1942/1943 (divisional level at the highest), preferably with their dates of arrival??? I'm still trying to compare the build up in the race for Tunisia.
  2. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    For 501 Panzer Abt you can find information here
  3. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    Thats a great site,

    however it says

    After its initial formation the Abteilung was prepared for tropical service in North Africa and then transfered via train to Reggio, Italy, minus the 2.Kp. which was diverted to France as a part of the occupying force in Vichy France. On 20 Nov 42, the unit began the sea transport of its heavy equipment and vehicles to Tunisia while its men were flown across in low flying Ju52 transports. The first three Tigers of the unit arrived in North Africa on 23 Nov 42. The last panzers of 2.Kp. would arrive in Tunisia later on 24 Jan 43.

    Following on from my other thread in the NA forum, do you have any idea what their sources for this (or any of the article is)? That's pretty definite dates, exactly the sort of thing I was after, but the trouble with being a researcher is that I cant use sources (primary or secondary) unless they are referenced, and can be validated.
  4. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Was coincidentally just looking at this - Any use? Though I assume you're after a lot more detail.


    From 'The WW2 Databook' - Ellis.

    Attached Files:

  5. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    That is actually some help; although it doesn't descriminate between forces in Tunisia and Lybia/Egypt. I was hoping for some names of units, and dates. I can go through intelligence info from kew and get some idea (such as when the 10th Pz div arrived) but this information is limited to what the allies could get their hands on.

    The quote from the other post is fairly exact; and shows that there is presumably good evidence out there for when units arrived. But the german side of things is alas, still a mystery to me in terms of records... and i'm not even sure all records survived the war.
  6. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    AFAIK the German OOB in Tunisia is confusing at best, 10th Panzer and the tigers are relatively easy but lots of units were flown in piecemeal and then changed controlling HQ a few times.
    Some examples are Pz Abt. 190, originally formed to bring 90th light/Afrika to Panzer Grenadier status but arrived after it's parent divison was destroyed and Witzig's para-engineers.
  7. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Moreover, a number of men from FJR 5 and Fallschirmkorps-Pionier Battalion had already begun assembling in Athens prior to their anticipated move to join the Ramcke Brigade. Uncaring of which parent organization they now belonged to, Kesserling collect them, together with other paras convalescing from sickness or injury, into a composite company that was inserted into Tunis on 8 November even while the Allies were still streaming ashore to their west. Command of the tiny force was entrusted to Hauptmann Sauer, who was tasked with organizing the defence of Tunis's El Aouina and La Marsa airports. This first Fallschirmjager contingent was closely followed over 12-16 November as described earlier by Stab and I/ and III/FJR 5; and on the 15th by Dr Northeim's 1./Fallschirm-Sanitats Battalion plus balance of Witzig's 716-strong Pionier Battalion.
    From Osprey's German Airborne Divisions - Mediterranean Theatre 1942-45.

    The first unit sent as reinforcements was Panzer-Abteilung 190, which was originally intended to join its parent formation the 90. Leichte Division. On 8 November 1942, six Pz.Kpfw.III arrived at Bengasi with part of the 2.Kompanie/Panzer-Abteilung 190 and joined up with Panzerarmee Afrika. Allied forces also landed in French North Africa on 8 November 1942 and were advancing toward Tunisia. In response, the rest of the 2.Kompanie and the balance of Panzer-Abteilung 190 landed in Bizerte, Tunisia in the period between 12 and 22 November 1942. Rommel had also been promised a Tiger-Abteilung. The first elements of this unit, schwere Panzer-Abteilung 501, landed at Bizerte, Tunisia on 23 November 1942. A total of 20 Tigers and 25 Pz.Kpfw.III(75) were shipped to Tunisia for the Schwere Panzer-Abteilung 501. The 10.Panzer-Division was also ordered to Tunisia in response to the Allied landings in French North Africa. The bulk of Panzer-Regiment 7 landed in Tunis in the period from 27 November to 5 December 1942. Ships carrying most of the 5.Kompanie and 8.Kompanie were sunk on 3 December 1942. In total, 2 Pz.Kpfw.II, 16 Pz.Kpfw.III, 12 Pz.Kpfw.IV, and 3 Pz.Bef.Wg. were lost in transit out of the original 21 Pz.Kpfw.II, 105 Pz.Kpfw.III, 20 Pz.Kpfw.IV and 9 Pz.Bef.Wg. shipped with Panzer-Regiment 7.
    From Panzertruppen Vol.2 - Germany's Tank Force 1943-45.

    Other confusing units sent to Tunis were German Tunis Field Battalions.

    Pheathon way you don't try on axishistory forum. Maybe somebody there will have more info for you.
    Phaethon likes this.
  8. idler

    idler GeneralList

    The attached is from the index to McGuirk's Rommel's Army in Africa. It includes some of the units mentioned above so you could at least look up the histories of the remainder and eliminate the non-Tunisian units.

    Attached Files:

    Phaethon likes this.
  9. Phaethon

    Phaethon Historian

    All of those posts weere excellent guys; thanks a lot. It really cleared up a lot for me. Forgive my ignorance however, but do any of you know from your books how many men/tanks were in a...
    • Panzer-Abteilung (i think its roughly brigade sized?),
    • panzer regiment
    • and a panzer division like 10 panzer?
    Also, Tiredoldsoldier, you say tiger tabks are the easy bit? I don't suppose you know the first to arrive for the Tunisian front? From Sols post I see that Rommel ordered the tigers, but I know that a few were used in the attack of Tebourba... so they were re-routed?
  10. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    The first Tigers of the 1.Kompanie/schwere Panzer Abteilung 501 were loaded onboard a ship in Reggio on 21 November. The Abteilung commander, Major Lueder, flew in advance to Tunis on 22 November and upon arrival was assigned command of a Kampfgruppe until his Abteilung arrived. On 4 December, he again took over command of the elements of his Abteilung that had arrived, which up to then had been led by Hauptmann Baron von Nolde until he was wounded and then by Leutnant Vermehren.

    Up to 1 December, four Tigers and four Pz.Kpfw.III had arrived in Tunisia. On 1 December, three Tigers and four Pz.Kpfw.III were operational. One Tiger was out of action due to problems with the engine.
    From Panzertruppen Vol.2 - Germany's Tank Force 1943-45.

    Strength of 10. Panzer Division November-December 1942: 21 Pz.II, 105 Pz.III(lg), 4 Pz.IV(kz), 16 Pz.IV(lg), 9 PzBef
  11. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Beliefs as follows:

    Abteilung is usually translated as 'detachment', so no fixed size. However, Tiger Abt were battalion strength, around 45 Tigers off the top of my head.

    Panzer regiments usually had two battalions of three companies of around 20 tanks each (so ~120 per regiment).

    At the beginning of the war, Panzer Divs had two Panzer regiments, reduced to one mid-war. As well as the armour in the Panzer units, there would also have been armoured recce and panzerjager.

    Have a poke round BayonetStrength.
  12. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Abteilung is usually translated as 'detachment', so no fixed size. However, Tiger Abt were battalion strength, around 45 Tigers off the top of my head.

    From Wiki

    Early formation units experimented to find the correct combination of heavy Tiger tanks supported by either medium Panzer III tanks or scout elements. In 1942 this consisted of 20 Tigers and 16 Panzer IIIs, composed of two companies, each with four platoons of two Tigers and two Panzer IIIs. Each company commander would have an additional Tiger, and battalion command would have another two.

    Later formations had a standard organization of 45 Tiger Tanks, composed of 3 companies of 14 Tigers each, plus 3 command vehicles.

    Schwere Panzer Abteilung 501 had 20 Tiger Tanks and about 25 Pz.Kpfw.III.
  13. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Here you have a organization of Panzer Battalion in 1942

    Panzer Battalion (1942-early 1943)
    • Battalion HQ

      Tank Platoon
    • Light Recon Platoon (cars and motorcycles)
    • Engineer Platoon
    • Anti Aircraft Platoon (3 2 cm guns)
    [*] Maintenance Company
    [*] Supply Company
    [*] Medium Panzer Company

    • Company HQ

      2 Panzer IV Tanks
    [*] 3 Medium Platoons

    • 4 Panzer IV tanks
    [*] 1 Light Platoon

    • 5 Panzer I or II tanks
    [*] 3 Light Panzer Companies

    • Company HQ

      2 Panzer III Tanks
    [*] 3 Platoons, each containing:

    • 5 Panzer III tanks
    [*] 1 Platoon containing:

    • 5 Panzer I or II tanks

    As Idler previously mentioned Panzer regiment had two Panzer battalions
  14. idler

    idler GeneralList

    Glad I got something right! Was going to have a look to see what Sledgehammers has on 501.
  15. m kenny

    m kenny Senior Member

    A Tiger Abteilung had 45 tanks.
    A Panzer Division in 1943 had a Panzer Regiment that was divided into 2 Abteilung each of around 90 tanks.
    An Abteilung was not a fixed size!
  16. idler

    idler GeneralList

    According to Wilbeck's Sledgehammers, 501 formed with 27 Tigers (3 coy x 3 pl x 3 Tigers).

    A new establishment in August 1942 called for 3 coys x 3 pl each of 2 Tigers plus 2 Pz III. Coy HQs fielded 1x Tiger plus 2x Pz III. In addition, the Abt had 2 more HQ Tigers plus 5 Pz III in a light pl.

    All in, the 1942 Abt had 23 Tigers and 29 Pz III, though there is a suggestion that 501 had an extra 5 Pz III in the light pl. All figures are 'in theory'.
  17. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    Just found this, list of German Kampfgruppe in North Africa 1941-43, maybe will be of some help to you. These are some of them created during November-December 1942

    Witzig Group: (Formed around 16 November 1942.)
    4th Co/, 190th Panzer Battalion
    11th Parachute Pioneer Battalion (3 cos)
    5th Btry/190th Artillery Regiment
    1 Company, 47mm PAK-Sfl
    1 20mm Flak Battery

    Lüder Group: (Formed before 30 November 1942, it was to attack Tebourba from the west.)
    501th Panzer Battalion (1 company)
    2/69th Panzer Grenadier Regiment
    1 Pioneer Platoon
    1 Flak Platoon

    Hudel Kampfgruppe: (Formed on 30 November 1942. Operated with the Lüder Group in an attack on Tebourba and was to block the Tebourba gap if the allies pulled back.)
    2 Armored Companies
    2 Panzerjäger Companies
    10th Motorcycle Battalion (1 motorcycle company)

    Djedeida Group: (Formed after 1 December 1942 to pursue the allies if they pulled back from the battles north of Tebourba. It attacked the allies near Djedeida.)
    3 Pz III Tanks
    2 PZ VI Tiger Tanks
    1 Panzerjäger Company
    1 Parachute Company
    1 Infantry Company
    1 Flak Battery
    18 20mm guns
    Motorcycle Company (1 platoon)

    Koch Kampfgruppe: (Formed on 1 December 1942, to counter attack near the Tunisian bridgehead. It was to attack El Bathan.)
    5th (Koch) Parachute Regiment
    2nd Btry, 90th Panzerjäger Battalion
    A24 Infantry Battalion
    3rd Co., T1 Infantry Battalion
    11th Btry, 90th Panzer Artillery Regiment
    1 20mm Flak Battery
  18. sol

    sol Very Senior Member

    I guess that you already know for this but for every case


    When the Allied forces landed in Algeria, there were no Axis troops in French North Africa; in Tripolitania there was one Italian division (Spezia) and a substantial number of L of C troops. The German and Italian Armistice Commissions, however, were spread throughout French North Africa, and maintained a considerable measure of control over economic affairs and were very ready to interfere in other matters. The immediate reaction to our landing was the formation of a mainly German force to secure Tunis and Bizerta. This force was formed of units most readily available at that moment, and its impromptu formation is clearly shown in its composition. It began to arrive on the 10th November, personnel and light equipment being brought by air and heavy equipment by sea. The landing of this force was not opposed by the French, who were subsequently disarmed and their coastal and A.A. batteries taken over. Having seized the ports, and the important aerodromes of El Aouina (Tunis) and Sidi Ahmed (Bizerta), this force moved out with the intention of securing the high and mountainous country on the Tunisian-Algerian frontier and preventing the Allies debouching into the Tunisian plains. It made contact with Allied forces to whom a proportion of the French troops in Tunisia had rallied, on the general line Djebel Abiod-Beja-Medjez on the 26th Novemer, 1942. By this date the Axis forces in Tunisia consisted
    of the following units: —

    Storm Regiment Koch (Air Force troops).
    Barenthin Regiment (Air Force troops).
    Marsch Battalions 17, 18, 20 and 21.
    Parachute Engineer Battalion Witzig.
    190 Tank Battalion (69 tanks).
    Advance elements of 10 Armoured Division.
    Miscellaneous Artillery and Anti-tank units.

    10 Bersaglieri Regiment.
    Elements of Superga Division, including four
    infantry battalions.

    Some of these units had been intended for Rommel's army; 190 Tank Battalion, for example, had been formed for 90 Light Division; one company, of Witzig's Battalion had already joined the Ramcke Brigade, and the Marsch Battalions had been destined to be reinforcement drafts but were in fact sent to Tunisia and put into the line, where they fought as infantry battalions. Regiment Koch of the German Air Force was brought from France by air for which move it was readily available and trained, having been formed originally as 5 Parachute Regiment.

    Barenthin Regiment was also formed of Air Force personnel, bein'g chiefly composed of the staff and pupils of the Parachute School at Witstock and the Glider School at Posen.

    Thus by the end of November, 1942, the Axis forces which had arrived in Tunisia, exclusive of Services, amounted to approximately 15,500 fighting troops, 130 tanks, 60 field guns and 30 anti-tank guns.

    During the first half of December, the remainder of 10 Armoured Division and the Italian Superga Division were brought over, but in transit each division lost a substantial proportion of its heavy equipment transported by sea. As a result, 10 Armoured Division never could muster its full establishment of tanks, and both divisions were short of artillery. In addition to these two formations, further German Marsch battalions were brought over at regular intervals, some of which continued to be employed as independent infantry battalions, and were not broken' up as reinforcements. These independent battalions were used either to bring up the original impromptu force to the strength of a division, which was originally called Division Broich and latterly Division Manteuffel after its commanders, or were used to reinforce the Italian Superga Division which had been stationed on the enemy's left flank in mountainous country south of Zaghouan. In addition, the Bafile and Grado Battalions of the Italian San Marco Marine Regiment and a Bersaglieri Battalion were also brought over. The most significant arrival at this time was 501 Heavy Tank Battalion with 43 tanks, of which 20 were the new Mark VI, which first went into action against the French 19 Corps on the 8th January, 1943.

    In the second half of December, 1942, the German 334 Infantry Division began to make its appearance. This was a newly created formation of rather low quality. The division remained in northern Tunisia, and was completed by the arrival of its artillery in the second week in January.
    From here.
  19. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    When I said Tigers were easy I meant there's a lot of info about 501 around, info about less "glamorous" units , like 334 Infantry is less easy to find. I saw a pic of a Tiger disembarking from what looked like a siebel ferry, does anyone know how they were brought across? cranes capable of handling a 56 tonn vehicle are not that common.

    I believe the 47mm listed as pat of Witzig to be Italian 47mm on L6 chassis that were in the pipeline as reinforcements for Rommel.

    IIRC there was a fairly large number of 88 flak guns available, but don't know if they were committed to the early battles, many came from the Tripoli defences and were not motorized.
  20. Byrden

    Byrden Junior Member

    There were only 4 Tigers in Africa when s.Pz.Abt.501 joined the Tebourba battle. Three fought to the east of the town, starting on 1st December, and one attacked from the north with Gruppe Lueder on the 2nd December. See


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