Category: battle

“High Water Mark of the Wehrmacht”…

“High Water Mark of the Wehrmacht”-German units penetrate to within 19 kilometers of the Kremlin during the Battle of Moscow, December 2, 1941. Painting by Howard Gerrard

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No actual fighting going on in this painting, but an important historical moment nonetheless. This image comes from Osprey Publishing’s Campaign 167-Moscow 1941. The painting was done by Howard Gerrard.

More info from the book:

“After the fall of Istra on 27 November 1941, the remnants of the Soviet 16th Army fell back in some disarray towards Moscow. Although Rokossovsky was able to quickly re-establish a new defensive line closer to the capital, the retreat left some temporary gaps. Fourth Panzer Army dispatched a number of patrols to try and infiltrate the threadbare Soviet lines and find a suitable crossing over the Moskva-Volga Canal – the last major water obstacle between the Germans and the Soviet capital.

Around 1900hrs on 1 December 1941, a motorized patrol from the German 62nd Panzer Pioneer Battalion managed to slip unobserved through a gap in Rokossovsky’s line. During the night, temperatures rose due to a thaw, creating patches of thick ground fog that aided the German infiltration and not a shot was fired at the patrol as it moved steadily closer to Moscow. Around dawn, the German patrol reached the train station in the village of Khimki, still without being fired upon. The distance from the Khimki train station to the Kremlin was 19km. Russian civilians in Khimki panicked when they saw Germans riding into the town and either hid or fled, although a few local militia members fired at the Germans from a distance. The patrol leader realized that they had discovered an unprotected route to the capital and realized that he must report this vital information quickly to Fourth Panzer Army. After a brief stay in Khimki, the German troops drove back the way they had come and reached the German lines. However, the Fourth Panzer Army no longer had the combat strength left to take advantage of this coup.

The German patrol was probably built around a Motorized Light Combat Engineer Company and supposedly had about eight motorcycles plus a few light vehicles. This scene depicts the reconnaissance patrol as having several BMW motorcycles with and without sidecars, two Type 82 Kubelwagens and one SdKfz 15 medium personnel carrier, along with about 20 troops. Operation Barbarossa was the first campaign for the nimble Type 82 and its good performance on poor-quality Russian roads made it an instant favourite. However, the SdKfz 15, which was often used as a scout car in engineer units, suffered during Typhoon from poor off-road capability and a weak transmission. The German lieutenant leading the patrol looks at the poster on the wall of the train station and realizes just how close they are to the Soviet capital.”

I can only imagine what was going through the thoughts of these cold German soldiers. Gazing at the distant lights of Moscow that appear tantalizingly close after such a long campaign.

Battle of Chios by Ivan Aivazovsky via reddit …

Battle of Chios by Ivan Aivazovsky

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Battle of Tollense

Battle of Tollense

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Irish Clansmen battle Norman knights via reddi…

Irish Clansmen battle Norman knights

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As a question inspired by this painting, were there any regions or cultures in medieval Europe that didn’t utilize knights in any sort of manner?

Wounded Canadian and German soldier share a ci…

Wounded Canadian and German soldier share a cigarette during Battle of Passchendaele 1917

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Japanese Special Naval Forces at the Battle of…

Japanese Special Naval Forces at the Battle of Shanghai in 1937.

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U.S. destroyer escort USS Raymond in action a…

U.S. destroyer escort USS Raymond in action against Japanese forces during the Battle off Samar, Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 25, 1944. Painting by Mal Wright.

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Two soldiers greeting each other. WW2,Battle o…

Two soldiers greeting each other. WW2,Battle of the Bulge, Jan 1945.

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World War 1 Battlefield photo taken by Capt. F…

World War 1 Battlefield photo taken by Capt. F. Hurley “An episode after the Battle of Zonnebeke. Australian Infantry moving forward to resist a counter attack.”

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A French Soldier from the Waffen-SS “Cha…

A French Soldier from the Waffen-SS “Charlemagne” division during the Battle of Berlin, – April 23rd, 1945.

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*EDIT: I have come to believe that this is actually a reenactor, not a historical photo. If I can confirm it is a reenactor, I am going to delete it.*

The SS Charlemagne Division was formed in 1944 from a collection of troops serving in other French Units of the German Armed Forces as well as from paramilitary groups such as the “Franc-Garde” of the Milice or French Police Units serving with the German Forces overseeing the occupation of France

The original French Unit serving with the German Wehrmacht was the LVF which was the Legion of French Volunteers against Bolshevism, its official title was the 638th Infantry Regiment and consisted mainly of anit-communist Frenchmen or French POW’s who preferred fighting rather than forced labor in Germany. These POW’s were the remainder of the French Armed forces who were ordered to surrender in 1940 after the occupation of France by the German Armed forces. Other French troops were also recruited some as elements from the Vichy Phalanx and members from the French Foreign Legion who some cases still had allegiance to Vichy France.

The Charlemagne Division was sent to fight the Red Army in Poland, but on 25 February 1945, it was attacked at Hammerstein (present-day Czarne) in Pomerania, by troops of the Soviet 1st Belorussian Front. The Soviet forces split the French force into three pockets. One group commanded by Krukenberg survived. It was evacuated from the coast by the German Navy to Denmark and later sent to Neustrelitz for refitting; the second group with Oberführer Puaud was destroyed by Soviet artillery and the third group tried fighting its way back westward, but by 17 March 1945 all had been captured or killed in action.

In early April 1945, SS-Brigadefuhrer Krukenberg now commanded the remains of the SS Charlemagne Division now down to 700 men and organized into a single Infantry Regiment, officially designated Battalion 57 and 58 and were ordered to Berlin to conduct a delaying action against the approaching Red Army. Eventually, Berlin fell, the SS Charlemagne were the last defenders of Hitler’s bunker holding out until May 2nd, 1945 to prevent the Soviets capturing it on Mayday. Reduced to approximately thirty able men, most members surrendered near the Potsdamer rail station to Red Army soldiers.

Most Charlemagne survivors were shot on sight, the ones that did escape Berlin (approx 30 men) and made it back to France were imprisoned by the Allies. General Leclerc when presented with 12 SS Charlemagne survivors ordered them to be executed imeadiately without any form of trial. When confronted with the 12 captured Charlemagne prisoners Gen Leclerc was reputed to say “Why do you wear German Uniform?” one grizzled French SS veteran replied “Why do you wear an American one?”