commanding Fifth Panzer Army
The battle for Amiens, dated August 8th 1944
I am writing this report from Berlin where I have been summoned after the battle for Rouen. I assumed it was to account for my withdrawl to Amiens but it transpired that I was there to be questioned by the Gestapo about my superior, General von Kluge, who has committed suicide after being implicated in a plot against the Fuhrer – not a pleasant experience. He has been replaced by General Model.
Unfortunately Panzer-Abteilung 503 was assigned to the Eastern front, however the Army has recieved replacements for the Tiger Is lost at Rouen.
My subordinate deployed along a ridgeline overlooking open ground, this was occupied by the 9th SS Panzer Division. The left was light woodland and a small village, occupied by the veteran 422nd Infantry Division resting its left flank on marshy ground. The right was light woodland occupied by the veteran 716th Infantry Division (which had replaced the 243rd) and an attached battalion of JgPz IVs.
The British attack was slow to develop. On the left, the only noise to be heard was the buzzing of recconaissance aircraft and the sound of 5.5" shells landing on the forward positions of 422nd. On the right an infantry division supported by a battalion of Shermans advanced rapidly but were stopped by an infantry battalion and the Jg PvIVs. These raw troops stood their ground for a time before retreating back to their start position.
The main attack then developed on the left with the 27th Armoured Division in the lead. They were faced by a battalion of Panthers detached from 9th SS as well as the infantry of 422nd around the village. Despite the pounding from the artillery, the 422nd managed to stop the attacking infantry, while the Panthers stopped the Shermans, destroying many in the process. At this point infantry mounted in Buffalo amphibious vehicles entered the marsh from hiding in the forested area on the extreme left, causing much concern for the 422nd commander, particularly as the Panthers were now under air attack for the first time and also under the fire of 17pdrs from the forest. Fortunately at this moment the 27th Armoured gave way, having lost half of its tanks, retreating back to its start line. 422nd commited its reserve, a battalion of Armoured Engineers, to counter the buffalos.
Captured officers reported that the British command was near to despair, as they felt the position to be impregnable. However they persevered, and attacked with their remaining infantry division. Simultaneously, typhoons made a devastating attack on the Panthers; the artillery accurately hit the infantry around the village, followed up by an attack by the British infantry supported by 25 pdrs; and the buffalo mounted infantry laid down accurate fire on the Engineers. Under this overwhelming pressure the morale of the 422nd gave way and it retreated from the battlefield, taking the few remaining Panthers with it.
Fortunately the 9th SS Panzer commander reacted rapidly, sending battalions of Panthers and Armoured infantry into the wooded area just vacated by 422nd. Seeing this, the British commanders decided to halt the attack and withdraw, which they did on 6th August.
The view just prior to the counter attack of the 9th SS.
Foreground: the 422nd retreats.
Left: the Buffalos are advancing.
Background: the remains of 27th Armoured.
Centre: the British infantry advancing.