After reading von Mellinthin's Panzer Battles and Panzertruppen 2 by Jentz, I've always had an interest in the 11th Panzer division. It was a natural for me then to choose this unit to build my first FOW army. My force represents the 11th Panzer division during the difficult battles of the winter of 42/43 while serving with the 48th Panzer Corps.
11. Panzer Division - History
After the conclusion of the War in the West and in preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the attack on
The 11th Panzer Division was organized in August 1940 from the 11th Independent Schutzen (Rifle) Brigade and 15th Panzer Regiment taken from the 5th Panzer Division. Other parts of the division were built from 4th, 311st, 209th and 231st Infantry Divisions.
Its baptism of fire first came in the Balkans. The 11th Panzer Division was attached to Army Group South's 14th Panzer Corps driving into
In 1942, the division would gain its fame and achieve its greatest successes with the promotion and arrival of Generalmajor Hermann Balck. F.W. von Mellenthin, author of the highly regarded book, Panzer Battles, served under Balck during this time and said of
Balck’s mantra and axiom of “night marches save blood” was put to the test during the Winter of 42/43. By December 1942, the German 6th Army was encircled at
In a series of night marches and day battles from 8-15 December, sometimes marching and fighting eight straight days without respite, the 11th Panzer division cut-off penetrations along the Chir, destroyed bridgeheads and became the fire-brigade of Army Group Don. As always, Generalmajor Balck “lead from the front” and established the divisional headquarters close to the battlefield and near other frontline German units to enhance communication and coordinate their efforts. This was contrary to German tactical doctrine, which saw commanders establish their headquarters 20, 40 and sometimes 100 miles from the battle area.
On 15 December, the 11th Panzer Division, as part of the 48th Panzer Korps, was ordered to cross the
The order to cross the
By the end of December 1942 and early January 1943, the division was down to 8 operational tanks, but in return was instrumental in the destruction of the Soviet 5th Tank Army. The deft counterattacks by 11th Panzer Division during the battles of the
By spilling its blood and combat power, the 11th Panzer Division helped prevent the destruction of Army Group "A" and bought precious time for the arrival of the I SS Tank Corps, which von Mainstein used in his famous "back-hand blow" to retake Kharkov.