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.