Battle of the Bulge -
December 1944 to January 1945


When the Ardennes Offensive began, Das Reich's panzers (28 Pz.IV's, 59 Panthers, 28 assault guns, and some 20 Jagd-Pz.IV/70) were held in reserve to be used to exploit any significant German breakthroughs in its battle sector. This was slow to occur, so on Dec. 23rd the 7th Pz. company (it and the 8th had Pz.IV's, the 5th and 6th Pz. companies had StuG's) was attached to II "Der Fuehrer" and an assault gun company to III "DF", and given the task of seizing the important crossroads at Baraque de Fraiture. Ostuf. Gresiak in Pz. #701 led eight Pz.IV's north to the crossroads just after 4:20 p.m., battling a platoon of Shermans from the U.S. 3rd Armored Division, knocking out 2 and losing 2 panzers to the Shermans and 2 more to a howitzer. Some of the panzers then approached from the east, finished off the Shermans, and overran the the crossroads by 6:00 p.m. Gesiak's company claimed a total of 17 armor kills for the day. Seriously wounded the next morning, he received the K.C. a month later.

Das Reich Panther used during the BulgeOn December 24th around 10:00 p.m., 7th Armored Division tanks and other vehicles were retreating NW of B. de Fraiture to the moonlit Manhay crossroads. Hscha. Franz Frauscher in Panther #431 and another Panther of his platoon slipped unnoticed into the American column. On the ascending S curve of Highway N15 just south of town, the Panthers swung out of line and shot up the column and some partially dug-in Shermans, scattering the American armor in confusion. Nine Shermans were destroyed. During the takeover of Manhay, the 4th Pz. Company's c/o, Hstuf. Ortwin Pohl, was wounded, and early the next day (the 25th) Ostuf. Reeb in Pz.IV #711 was killed.

The following few days saw Das Reich futiley trying to continue its advance against regrouped and reinforced American units. For Enseling's panzers the rest of December and early January 1945 became a battle of attrition, in which Ostuf. Veith, was killed while commanding Panther #301 and posthmously awarded the K.C.

In the period Dec. 23 to Jan. 15, Das Reich claimed 324 armor kills to its own losses of 68 panzers, including 34 Pz.IV's and 28 Panthers.

Information gathered from "The Story of Das Reich Panzers" by Miles Krogfus, AFV News, January 1987
Photo courtesy of Mr. Dave Depickere


Updated October 26, 2021

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