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"Street Fighting by Panzer Grenadiers" from Intelligence Bulletin, October 1943

[October 1943 Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   The following report from the October 1943 Intelligence Bulletin contains a Panzer Grenadier lieutenant's account of street fighting against the Red Army in the Ukraine during WWII.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Intelligence Bulletin publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



German Panzer Grenadiers (armored infantry) are given extensive training in street fighting. Cooperating with tank units, the Panzer Grenadiers are often employed for the close-in combat that is required when the Germans wish to put an end to all resistance within a town—generally one which has been, or is being, encircled. The following extracts are from a Panzer Grenadier lieutenant's account of such an action. In spite of its Nazi point of view and its heightened style, it is interesting as an illustration of Panzer Grenadier activity. The action the lieutenant describes takes place on the Eastern Front. A well-deployed tank battalion, followed by a Panzer Grenadier company riding in armored personnel carriers, is advancing across the plains of the Ukraine.

A Russian force has been encircled, and the task for today is to drive through the center of the pocket and divide the Russians into still smaller groups, which can be destroyed separately. As yet, no rounds have been fired, but the tanks ahead of us may come upon the hostile force at any moment. The company commander glances at his platoons; they are following in considerable depth and width. The distance between vehicles is at least 50 feet, the radios are set for reception, and everything is in order. It is very hot, and there is a haze.

The men in the tanks ahead can see a village in the distance. According to the map, this should be Krutojarka. Guns can be seen flashing at the edge of the village. The Russian force is engaged. We hear the fire of Russian antitank guns and our own tank cannon, and, in between, the sound of both sides' machine-gun fire. The Panzer Grenadier company commander gives his command by radio. As soon as the grenadiers see Russian soldiers, they are to fire on them directly from the personnel carriers, or else dismount quickly and fight on the ground, depending on the requirements of the moment.

The first tanks enter Krutojarka, but presently reappear. The company commander gives the radio command. "Krutojarka is being held by the enemy. Clear the town!" The personnel carriers advance past the tanks, which are firing with all their guns, and move toward the edge of the village.

A personnel carrier's tread is hit by a flanking antitank gun. The grenadiers jump out and assault the antitank-gun crew with machine-gun fire, while the driver and the man beside him get out and, under fire, change the broken link of the tread.

The attacking grenadiers have now reached a street at the edge of the village. Startled by the suddenness of the assault, the Russians take cover in houses, bunkers, foxholes, and other hideouts. The grenadiers jump out of the personnel carriers and advance along the street, making good use of grenades, pistols, and bayonets [see cover illustration]. The driver and a second man remain in each carrier.

The personnel carriers skirt around the sides of the village, with the men beside the drivers delivering flanking fire against the buildings. Soon the roofs of the houses are afire. The smoke grows thicker and thicker.

Three tanks push forward along the main street of the village, to support the attack of the grenadiers. We find the smoke an advantage, for it prevents the Russians from discovering that there are relatively few of us. Also, as a result of the poor visibility, the Russians cannot employ their numerous machine guns with full effect. We, for our part, are able to engage in the close-in fighting at which we excel. It is no longer possible to have one command for the company. Officers and noncoms have formed small shock detachments, which advance from street corner to street corner, and from bunker to ditch, eliminating one Russian nest after another.

A lieutenant holds a grenade until it almost explodes in his hands, and then throws it into a bunker. It explodes in the firing hatch, and enemy soldiers stream out.

The company commander discovers a 37-mm Russian antiaircraft machine gun, and sits down on the saddle. Two men who are with him attack the magazines, which are lying about. Although the commander has never fired this type of cannon before, he succeeds in demoralizing the Russians with its high-explosive projectiles. We take many more prisoners.

When about half the village is in our hands, and when we have captured the Russian commander and his political commissar,1 resistance collapses. All prisoners are marched to the rear, and the booty of guns and vehicles is collected. The Panzer Grenadiers advance to the far end of the village, where they climb into the waiting personnel carriers. Most of the tank battalion also has skirted the village, and already has moved further east. Anticipating further action, the Panzer Grenadiers again follow the tanks.

1 Since this account was written, the Russians have discontinued their practice of assigning political commissars to accompany Red Army units.

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