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Excerpts from Panzerschlacht: Tank Battles in Hungary, Oct. 1944

Updated on February 13, 2011
Situation map around Oct 10-12 1944. The combat area noted is to the far left.
Situation map around Oct 10-12 1944. The combat area noted is to the far left.
A Pz V "Panther" tank
A Pz V "Panther" tank

October 16th,  Monday--Weather:  Fog, mild, 18 C, the roads are dry.

The German long awaited counterattack, Operation Gypsybaron, began from the Sznolok area and continued to struggle with the 4th SS PG Division repulsing counterattacks from the 2nd Rumanian division as they move eastwards from the Törökszent-Miklós area. Joining the attack force was the 2Bn\8th SS Regiment. Russian troops fought with tenacity against the SS troops near Kisujszallas-Torok and succeeded in reaching the railway and German positions near Törökszent-Miklós. The Russians managed to also control Kunhegyest and Kunmadaras. The 24th Panzer Division arrived near Sznolok and German supply lines, which relied on the railway were greatly effected by Russian air attacks. It was the strongest armor division in the whole area but only had no more than 30 operational tanks.

The 3rd Panzer Corps was badly needing fuel resupply after six days of battle. The FFH continued to defend Kaba  from the north, south and southwest against numerous Russian attempts. The Russian 18th Tank Corps with the 1st Guards Airborne Division attacked and were repulsed, however, as the day wore on, the  German line cracked and Russian units penetrated. Russian troops resembled cockroaches as there seemed to be an endless supply of them and only limited German troops available. 

The German 1st Panzer Division fought a series of deadly battles that forced them to retreat from the Sáp-Berettyóújfalu area, as well as, Bihartordát. Kaba and Derecske were to be defended. During the battle, a gap developed between the 1st Panzer and 23rd Panzer Divisions. It could not be closed as both panzer divisions were threadbare in armor. Neither had more than 25 tanks that were operational. At Berettyóújfalu, the German 109th Panzer Brigade battery joined a company of tanks from the 23rd Panzer Division. The group contained six Pz V tanks and 12 StG.

 Entering into the fray were the Russian 9th Guards Cavalry Division, and 30th Cavalry Division, which attacked the German armor groups. The battle scene was very chaotic as enemy troops mingled and smoke blocked vision. Everything that fired was at close range. Panzer leader, Fischer, himself, was nearly killed when his Panther was lit up and wounding him. He bailed out and occupied another nearby tank. The Germans continued to battle but despite their ability to handle the Russians, they did suffer losses. The Fischer Group had only three Pz V and one StG that remained operational. These units were attempting to stop an advance against nine Russian tanks, three of which were JS-2 tanks. German shells would bounce off their armor.

When the Russians broke through south of Konyar, they raced towards the bridge just as did a German panzer company to prevent them.  The Germans came to within two kilometers of the bridge before Russian troops halted the advance.  By now, only four tanks remained of the panzer company. Only four tanks! The four tanks continue to move ahead despite the enemy fire. They refrained from stopping. Russian tanks on the south shore aimed and fired at the moving targets. The German tanks blindly moved through the weak Russian infantry and seized the north end of the bridge. Russian tanks fired from the other side but their fire was, as usual, inaccurate. In all, the Fischergruppe had destroyed 16 Russian tanks. Not bad, but more were coming! Fischer’s success was fleeting as usual, he only had a weak company of Pz V tanks and remnants of one company (25 men) of Panzergrenadiers from the 128th PG Regiment. It was for nothing for the German lines had been busted through elsewhere and Fischer was ordered to withdraw to avoid being trapped. A typical day at this time in the WW2.

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