19 November 2012

The Remain of Prinz von Ratibor's Panzer IV After the Battle

Image size: 1600 x 1004 pixel. 399 KB
Date: Tuesday, 19 September 1939
Place: Pociecha in Puszcza Kampinoska, near Warsaw, Poland
Photographer: Unknown

One of 1. leichte Division's few Panzerkampfwagen Ausf.B tanks - which equipped only one platoon per battalion - burnt out after taking several hits from Polish anti-tank guns near Warsaw. The commander, Prinz von Ratibor, was killed. Leutnant Viktor IV Albrecht Johannes Josef Michael Maria Prinz von Ratibor von Hohenlohe-Schillingsfürst (born 12 February 1916 and was first son of Victor III August and Elizabeth zu Oettingen-Oettingen und Öttingen-Spilberg) was a Zugführer in 2.Kompanie/Panzer-Regiment 11/6.Panzer-Brigade/1.leichte Division/zur Verfügungs.Armeekorps/10.Armee/Heeresgruppe Süd. He was killed in 18 September 1939 (around 20:00) near Warsaw. He was posthumously promoted to Oberleutnant. On that day, during the combat of Pociecha, Polish plutonowy podchorąży (Sergeant) Roman Orlik (2 TK X HP + 1 TKS x 20 mm) was sent with two other tankettes (armed with MG only) to make a recognition of a forest near Puszcza Kampinoska (huge forrests in Poland). Suddenly he heard enemy tanks, so he ordered two other tankettes with MG to hide. He had hidden his tankette and made an ambush for enemy tanks. Three german Panzer 35(t) and few other vehicles appeared. Orlik opened fire and all enemy tanks were destroyed. Germans were fleeing in blind panic and they were shooting in all directions. Orlik managed to escape. Among tanks eliminated by Orlik on 18th of September, there was tank of Leutnant Prinz von Ratibor. The whole of his platoon was eliminated during that combat and this Austrian noble was heavily Wounded and severely burned - and after a few minutes he died. Next day Orlik and his tank did something even greater. He counterattacked (alone!) against German tanks attack and destroyed 7 Panzer 35(t) and took two German POWs! He also tried to rescue the crew of one of those eliminated German tank (by him) - which started to burn - but he, unfortunately, didn't manage to rescue them and all of them died. After that he had ran out of ammo and left battlefield. Roman Orlik (the winner at those two extraordinary days) was Polish university student at architecture departament. In September 1939 he was commander of TKS tankette with 20 mm gun (FK wz. 38 model A) in Wielkopolska Brygada Kawalerii (Wielkopolska Cavalry Brigade). He survived the war and was working as an architect. He died in 1982.

Helmut Ritgen photo collection
Book "The 6th Panzer Division: 1937-45" by Oberst a.D. Helmut Ritgen

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