The 23. Panzer-Division concludes its Invasion of France 1940 campaign!
Leaders of 1. Kompanie discuss approach routes during a short road halt
Photo by Panzerobergrenadier Neumann
After over two months of intense combat, the 23. Panzer-Division has concluded the Invasion of France campaign. We learned many valuable lessons during the campaign, but overall it brought us together as a coheisve, professional and effective combat force.
Kompanie Sanitäter, Unteroffizier Berg documented our last campaign from his perspective through a 7 part youtube series , following each action the 23.PzD was apart of in France 1940:
In the early pre-dawn hours of May the 10th, the armies of the Deutches Reich sprung westwards against and around the much-vaunted Maginot Line with over 3.3 million men at arms. Through a combination of new techniques and technologies (such as the employment of airborne forces against the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emael), violence of action and staggering speed, the Third French Republic was brought to its knees in a scant 46 days. Over 2.4 million casualties would be suffered by all sides, in a titanic clash that would reshape the history of all those involved for many years to come. This, was Fall Gelb.
1./Panzergrenadier-Regiment 128 would find itself in the vanguard of the XXXXI.Korps, of Panzergruppe “Kleist”, as it arrived on the eastern banks of the Meuse near Montherme on May 13th. Leutnant Keppler, of this company's first platoon, would be tasked with conducting a reconnaissance in force up the edges of the sleepy river town. Fierce resistance would be encountered in the narrow, winding cobblestone streets as the western bank was secured. Additional armor support in the form of a Pz.Kpfw. II would be sent up and prove decisive in reducing numerous French hardpoints – the Panzer would be disabled by an enemy anti-tank gun before the end of the day.
Across the river, commanders of the French 102nd Fortress and 61st divisions would order the demolition of the Montherme bridge, necessitating the advancing Germans' procurement of inflatable assault dinghies from a neighboring Pionier section. Striking out towards the opposite bank a half-kilometer upriver of the ruined crossing, Lt. Keppler's men paddled for dear life in an urgent dash through the strong current. One boat wouldn't make it; a French machine gun nest drew a bead on it and riddle the raft and its occupants with murderous fire, sending them beneath the surface of the water. Enraged at the loss, the rest of the zug would storm the eastern half of Montherme like men possessed, eradicating nests of the increasingly-disorganized resistance and capturing scores of defenders en masse.
Carrying the momentum through the late afternoon of that same day, erste zug would strike out eastwards in a bid to seize the towering heights and ridgelines outside of the town. Already commencing a hasty withdrawal from the river bend, the French units in the area would prove easy to run down and bypass. Within two hours, XXXXI.Korps has expanded its bridgehead by nearly four kilometers and soundly defeated a final counter-attack by the crumbling French forces, despite their last-minute reinforcement by several penny packets of light tanks.
Erste zug, under the continued leadership of Leutnant Keppler, would participate in the vast sweep across the French hinterland, encountering little organized resistance until the seizure and brief defence of Neaville. From there, the panzergrenadiere would find themselves rushing ever onwards to the English Channel, in a bid to separate the BEF from the rest of the Frankreich. This manoeuvre would prove successful, and precipitated the further collapse of the enemy's will to resist. Dogging the Tommies all the way to the coast, 1.Zug would prove its mettle time and time again – its members receiving numerous recognitions and commendations from higher headquarters.
Victory, however, came at a price. Many good soldaten of the erste zug were lost in their service to the Fatherland, and an executive decision was made to reorganize the battle-hardened but emaciated platoon into the core cadre around which a new Kompanie would be formed. Freshly-minted Oberleutnant Keppler, with the aid of his veteran soldaten, stands ready to lead the young 1.Kompanie onwards into the looming storm of the East, but the Kompanie needs fresh soldiers. 1.Kompanie... needs YOU!
Campaign notes by Unteroffizier Fuchs, Kompanie Funker u. Tornisterfunktruppführer
Throughout the campaign, many of our Panzergrenadiere distinguished themselves both on and off the battlefield. One soldat in particular was then Panzergrenadier Hans Richter, of 3. Gruppe, who earned the right to wear one of the most prestigious awards a soldat can earn within the 23. Panzer-Division.
Here is his award presentation:
1. Kompanie Hauptquartier
23. Panzer-Division "Eiffelturm"
Von: Panzergrenadier-Regiment.128, Regimentsstab
Zu: 1. Kompanie
While separated from the rest of our Gruppe during an armored counter-attack SE of Neaville, I personally led Panzergrenadier Hans Richter on a flanking action in an attempt to destroy or disable enemy armor that had just knocked out our Panzer and had turned their attention to the rest of my men defending a crossroads. Richter, with total disregard for his own safety, single-handedly thwarted the advance of three enemy tanks using satchel charges. Destroying one, disabling another (which was later destroyed by our PaK) and forcing the last to withdraw. If it were not for his actions, the left flank of 1. Zug would have been turned and my men routed. Having personally witnessed this feat, I would hereby nominate, Panzergrenadier Hans Richter, for the Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse.
Unteroffizier Heinrich Strauß
Gruppenführer, 3. Gruppe, 1. Zug, 1./Pzgren.Rgt.128
The following soldat has been awarded the Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse:
Panzergrenadier Hans Richter
I hope this update from our last campaign gives the community some insight as to what the 23. Panzer-Division is up to!
The unit is currently deployed to our invasion of Greece campaign, and we will post a similar update once it has concluded.
We're always looking for new soldaten to join our ranks. If taking part in these campaigns seems like something you'd be interested in, please drop by our forums and apply!
Oberleutnant u. Kompanieführer,
1. Kompanie, Panzergrenadier-Regiment.128