24 February 2013

Panther Ausf G Abandoned in the Ardennes

Image size: 1600 x 1200 pixel. 507 KB
Date: Wednesday, 27 December 1944
Place: Grandmenil, Manhay, Belgium
Photographer: Unknown

Panzerkampfwagen V Panther ausf G abandoned during the Ardennes Offensive. This Panther, Fahrgestellnummer (Hull Number) 121163, was built at Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg Aktiengesellschaft (MAN AG, a public company) in Kassel in October 1944. Shipped to the Western Front, it joined the planned panzers strength for "Wacht Am Rein." Panthers made up the bulk of the tank strength; seven panzer divisions were assigned to the attack. Decription from Robert H. Mabes Company M, 289th: The next morning there was a shooting from the basements. We asked for support of a tank who started shooting at it. The Germans weren’t gone, they sat in the basements. After the shelling, the Germans gave up and surrendered. I do not know how I was able to grab my camera, but I took pictures while they were surrendering. Later, the developed film was stolen and I have only a few photos. The next day we caught chickens and scheduled them. On December 27 the mess sergeant rode through the village, screaming from his jeep that Christmas dinner was to be prepared. He ran into a mine and there goes our dinner. 10.00: There were about 180 prisoners and there were about 100 Germans slain. The Germans lost many vehicles in the immediate vicinity of Grandmenil: three tanks near the roadblocks north of the village, a Mark III tank, two half-tracks and fifteen Mark IV tanks. The prisoners were reinforcements from the 2nd SS Panzer Das Reich, which had defended the village. On American side were 137 deaths, including 7 officers. In the morning of December 27 the Americans had to hold Grandmenil at all cost. A period of defensive organization followed, which lasted until the battalion was transferred. This was on January 4, 1945 Company I just put a defense on the edge of the village in an arc connected to the Grandmenil-Manhay Highway, (on the left of it.) to the Y-junction (Route de Bomal) 500 meters further away. The platoon discovered that they had dug in on an American anti-tank minefield that was nowhere mentioned. They moved to the front to the edge of Grandmenil. Compagnie I dug in at an arc connected on the right highway to a point north of the cemetery. Company K groove is on a slope, where they had sight of the north west positions. They were affiliated with Company I and L on the flanks. There was made a complete minefield around the village. The mines weren’t buried and were later recovered when the Allied counter-offensive began in January 1945. Daisy Chains (interlinked anti-tank mines, which can be laid rapidly on the road) were placed on all roads and country lanes entering the village. In the minefield, double rolls of barbed wire (concertina) were placed. Also much time was spent to detect American buried mines, which were distributed over the fields and the caused injuries. Cattle and horses caused continuously explosions because they walked through the village. The animals were kept in the cemetery and they were cared for daily. Needless to say that the battalion enjoyed the milk and as an occasional steak. The Germans had defended Grandmenil at all cost. After their departure, they did not mak any attempt to recapture the village again. Occasionally there was artillery or mortars shot at. But the enemy had other plans to capture the important road to Erezée. The above suggests that the Germans had no more interest in Grandmenil. But: the Germans wanted a detour and recapture Erezée and Grandmenil. What followed was the, so called, “Sad Sack affair”.


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