Meyer, unwilling to retire, continued his bitter defense. Panzergrenadiers on a Panzer IV during training 1943, some idea of how young members of the division were, can be obtained in this picture, The idea of a Waffen-SS division composed of Hitlerjugend (HJ) members was first proposed by SS-Gruppenführer Gottlob Berger in January 1943. [31] Two British soldiers from the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division were also murdered during the killing of Canadian prisoners.[32]. A British Second Army Intelligence summary of the day before noted that the ’12th SS is the only reserve formation not committed and it is but a shell of its former self.’ Divided into two battle groups, Kampfgruppe Krause and Kampfgruppe Waldmüller, with a combined strength of just 50 tanks, it quickly became a key element in the defense of the German position south of Caen. [9][23], Dead German SS soldier; Normandy 19 June 1944, A Panzer IV of the 12th SS Panzer Division, 21 June 1944 at Rouen. Prior to this Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt had ordered over half of the division to deal with a parac… On 6 June 1944, the Western Allies launched Operation Overlord, the invasion of France. SS-Obersturmbannführer, Hubert Meyer was placed in command of the division.[28]. The division was soon thrown back into battle and took part in the fighting withdrawal to the Franco-Belgian border. What did not stop was the constant Allied artillery, naval bombardment and air attacks. William E. Gladstone, British prime minister. [9], The Allies next tried to blast their way through with Operation Tractable, but the 12th SS had captured a copy of the plan on 13 August, and Meyer created a defensive line with what remained of his division. Meyer had removed his SS uniform and was wearing the uniform of a regular German army officer. The winning design, picked from thousands of entries, depicted the Hitlerjugend sigrune crossing a key from the 1st SS Panzer Division LSSAH's insignia. "Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler", SS-Verfügungstruppen-Division "Das Reich" and the SS-Division "Totenkopf" during the early war campaigns in Poland and the West, it was decided to expand the number of Waffen SS divisions. We fight as long as possible but we realize we are in a losing position. European Theater of Operations ... German Order of Battle 12th SS-Armored Division [11] and Canadian Brigadier Harry Foster later noted that: No use was made of the fact that the Reginas' flanks were exposed; instead, 'the enemy flung himself straight against the strongest points and utterly failed to exploit the undoubted weakness of his opponent's position. The peaceful 'holiday atmosphere', as one grenadier described it, was soon shattered. Unaware of exactly what was to his front and unable to make contact with any supporting formations, the battalion commander leading the attack on Cambes decided to go onto the defensive. Mark V Panthers, was stranded and momentarily idled east of the Orne River for want of fuel. ‘The lead enemy tanks began smoking, and I saw how the crews bailed out. [16], Late on 7 June, the 26th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment under command of SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer Wilhelm Mohnke arrived on the battlefield. Although the attacks destroyed many Canadian tanks and overran a company of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders in Authie, they failed to break through the Canadians around Buron. The battle for Normandy took its toll on the division and it came out of the Falaise pocket with a divisional strength of 12,000 men. He also cited von Rundstedt's Intelligence Officer as stating at his trial that he had twice received captured documents containing this order. But it is not necessarily commensurate with military skill and was no substitute for tactics and firepower. Berger approached Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler with the proposition, and Himmler soon became an enthusiastic advocate. Jesionek's testimony was refuted by Meyer[36] and as a result Meyer's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment by Canadian Major General Christopher Vokes, who considered all evidence against him circumstantial. Fighting at Falaise itself was another small detachment of some 60 boys from the 12th SS. A competition was held to design insignia for the new unit. German Order of Battle: Panzer, Panzer Grenadier, and Waffen SS Divisions in WWII (Volume 3) (Stackpole Military History Series (Volume 3)) [Mitcham Jr., Samuel W.] on Amazon.com. The 12th’s headquarters, positioned some 27 kilometers southwest of Caen, came under heavy and sustained naval gunfire on June 16, killing the commander, Brig. With pressure mounting to crush the Allied lodgment, the Germans planned a major offensive for June 10, in which the 12th SS, 21st Panzer and Panzer Lehr divisions were also due to take part. Testimony at Meyer's war crimes trial, later deprecated, suggested that Meyer later made it clear he expected no prisoners to be taken during subsequent fighting. Although seriously wounded, he attacked it three times and eventually destroyed it, losing his life in the process. They recoiled from me on sight, as if they had seen a ghoul.’ The Panzergrenadiers reached Buron but were forced out by a Canadian counterattack. A young grenadier noted in his diary what it was like to face the British: From 0630 to 0800, again heavy machine-gun fire. The 12th SS Panzer Division, of course, was still back at the line of scrimmage, nor would it break into the clear for many hours to come, but all this was unknown to Peiper. [20], The 12th SS was now deployed in detachments north and west of Caen, and like the rest of the German Army, was suffering from shortages of ammunition, fuel and equipment. The ‘enemy forces appeared to be completely surprised,’ wrote Meyer. The Canadians continued to file across the German front. Montgomery now resumed the offensive. Finally, Hitler himself would order the 3d Panzer Grenadier Division moved from the Elsenborn battle to the fight looming between the Salm and the Ourthe. Despite all that had gone before, the next group of boys to be collected under the Hitler Youth banner showed no less idealism than their predecessors. The 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich" (German: 2. As the unit's commander, Meyer – while not guilty of the murders – was held fully responsible for the crimes committed by soldiers under his direct command. Outraged at the order, Dietrich refused to pass it on to his men. [19] A counter-attack launched at 2030 hours by the Canadian Scottish, however, regained Putot-en-Bessin, and the II Battalion withdrew and dug-in south of the village. According to the very thorough research in the records of casualties suffered by the division presented by Meyer, it is clear that the division lost about 8,000 officers and men, killed, wounded and missing ... (and) ... it is clear it had around 12,000 men on 22 August 1944. Over the next two days, the effects of this action and the continuous grind of counterattacks reduced the German division to little more than a reinforced battle group. He was also told that the 21st Panzer Division had been ordered to form up on his right flank. The attack, launched at 0330 hours, 8 June – had little initial success. As soon as his men reached the assembly area, Meyer went to the headquarters of the 716th Infantry Division to get a better picture of what was happening. As this was Meyer's command post, he, along with several subordinates, were charged with this crime after the war. Adolf Hitler, desperate to keep the operation a secret, had ordered that no reconnaissance of the battlefield was allowed before the attack began. It was to be part of the great Ardennes offensive launched less than six months later in a vain attempt to capture Antwerp, where the division had originally been formed 18 months earlier. In all, the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend suffered a total of 8,569 casualties out of a strength of 20,540 men; a casualty rate of 42%. The earth heaved thunderously. [citation needed], Stacey, op. Operation Jupiter began on 10 July, while some elements of the 12th SS still held part of the line between Eterville and the Orne River. The Abbey in September 2006, after extensive restoration. The first was Operation Epsom, beginning on June 26 and directed toward Hill 112, south of Carpiquet. After a night march, it was the first SS formation to go into action on 7 June. The 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitlerjugend" was a German armoured division of the Waffen-SS during World War II. Cobra was followed by Operation Bluecoat, the return of the British Second Army to the offensive. [9] (some sources believe he was the youngest divisional commander on any side during the war). [6] Though the 12 th SS engaged in what was described as ferocious fighting often including hand-to-hand encounters, the unit was not well regarded for its combat efficiency or effectiveness. A high level of casualties certainly suggests bravery. An inferno was unleashed. Meyer was concerned at the slowing of the attack’s momentum. Even though most of its infantry were casualties, the division was far from destroyed. The relentless and punishing attacks in and around the city were sapping the strength of the defenders, and the Allies’ absolute control of the air was making it impossible to relieve or reinforce them. ... 10 SS Panzer-Division Carl the Great (in preparation) LXXX Corps: 158 Reserve Infantry Division: ... 12th SS Panzer Division Hitler Youth. Lack of infantry reinforcements prevented the Germans from launching effective counterattacks, but they had stopped the Canadian advance. That evening, the 26th SS Panzergrenadier Regiment arrived and moved into Putot, but was thrown out after a fierce counterattack by the 7th Canadian Brigade. The 12th SS-Panzer Division Hitlerjugend was committed to the Normandy battles on the 7th June 1944 and remained on the front line until the retreat from France in late August 1944. Brigadeführer Fritz Witt (Killed in action 14 June 1944) Oberführer Kurt Meyer (from 14 June 1944) Sturmbannführer Hubert Meyer (from 6 September 1944) The 6th Panzer Army (6. ‘The fine young grenadiers by contrast glanced smiling at us. [3], Hitlerjugend Panzer IV crews on parade, Belgium ~Jan/Feb 1944, While the Hitlerjugend members, who had grown up under NSDAP propaganda, were committed to the Nazi cause, they had no military experience. By nightfall, barely a third of the division’s strength had reached the assembly area southwest of Caen. HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Historynet LLC, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. On 16 December 1944, the division was committed against the US Army in the Battle of the Bulge. Most of its personnel came from the Hitler Youth leadership schools, and it was not uncommon to have boys of 16 in its ranks. The young soldiers succeeded in destroying 28 Allied tanks during their first co… The 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend fought against the Americans at the Battle of the Bulge, in the Ardennes forest. Normandy did not quite mark the end of the Hitlerjugend‘s involvement in the war. Hitler’s refusal to face reality, however, meant that in the end less than half of those within the pocket succeeded in breaking out. Finally, by means of 2,600 tons of bombs dropped from the air, Montgomery managed to isolate the forward defenses of Caen. The plan for a combat division made up of all Hitlerjugend members born in 1926 was passed on to Adolf Hitler for his approval. [7] Over the next two days, this action and continued series of counterattacks reduced the 12th SS to little more than a large Kampfgruppe. The hierarchy given here is at a moment nearly at the end of the Battle. 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