Wargaming in Hertfordshire

Friday, 3 June 2011

PMZ Campaign: Essen

Report from General Schlemm,
commanding First Parachute Army
The battle for Essen, dated March 20th 1945
Having had two months to prepare my defences I deployed my troops behind a riverline in heavy defences.
The key to the position was a line of hills. Here I placed the 422nd Infantry Division supported by a battalion of Panthers from the 101st Pz Brigade and some armoured engineers. On the right was the veteran 422nd Infantry Division supported by a battalion of Panthers, while the left was defended by the newly arrived 18th Luftwaffe division supported by a battalion of PzIV and the King Tigers of Pz-Abteilung 503 and protected by minefields.
The attack began with a massive bombardment on the central hillline. At the same time I received reports of a mass parachute drop on the Elbe bridges. The British attacked with two armoured divisions in the centre while another attacked my left. The fire from the Panthers drove back attack after attack and inflicted huge losses on the British armour. The forward units of the 18th Luftwaffe took heavy losses aand eventually were forced to fall back to the embankment behind them. The British pursued fiercely and overran the rear positions before the Pz IVs and King Tigers could stop them. On the right the British attack was easily repulsed so those Panthers redeployed behind the centre. Many Typhoons were over the battlefield but they had little effect on the outcome.

The view from behind the German positions. The Panthers on the hills hold back the British tide but are soon to be forced back. Tanks from the right flank have moved into the woods behind them and are preparing to counter-attack. The 18th Luftwaffe on the left have withdrawn with the British in pursuit.

The continued assault in the centre eventually told and the last remaining Panthers were forced to withdraw from the hills. On the left the morale of the 18th Luftwaffe was broken and they retreated, taking the tanks with them. The redeployed Panthers now counter attacked the hill but were attacked in flank by mechanised infantry and forced back.
With the hill line lost and the British moving into the rear areas, I ordered a general withdrawal towards Bremen.

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