Tiger Tanks in Combat in Hungary, 1944
October 22 Sunday
The 4th Panzer Corps attack and Operation Gypsybaron had stalled. A thick fog and mist forced the heavy Tigers of the 503rd Bn to only advance a few kilometers in the Törökszent-Miklós area. The Tiger tanks had also been aware of the Russian presence throughout the area. The Russian 7th Guards Army had counterattacked in part towards the northeast towards Tiszaföldvár and Torokszentmiklos with the 297th Division and 303rd Division near Mezotur. The 1st and 3rd Tiger Companies departed acting as a water break to meet the Russians in the local farms, which dotted the countryside. Each company sent five Tiger II tanks. However, observation was quite limited to 100 meters.
The Tigers of Company Three advanced slowly, each tank spaced 50 meters from the other. One of the tanks received a direct hit from a Rumanian 105mm artillery gun damaging the commander’s tank. Another Tiger gun fired sending the crew of the 105mm and the weapon to heaven. The Tigers continued to maneuver and the fog provided cover, however, some Tigers had been hit 24 times before pulling back into a safer position. Russian troops were amazed. The Tigers continued but now split, some moving towards Törökszent-Miklós. Tiger Company 2 had also finally arrived. The Germans continued to move northwards with the 24th Panzer Division elements as the 4th SS PG also merged some six km from Törökszent-Miklós. By some accounts, the area had 22 AT guns and four artillery guns. During the day, the Russians did infiltrate into the towns of Mezotur and Turkeve.
German units of the 1st Panzer Division were rather scattered about like seeds having been blown around by the wind. Its 37th SP Artillery battalion was near Hajdúnánás, its reconnaissance battalion at Hajdúdorog, its 113th PG Regiment near Újfehértó. Due to the thick armor, the Tigers seemed to be immune to anything Russians tossed at them, although, the intensity did manage to hinder their attack and response. In one case, three Russian AT guns fired at the Tiger with nearly no effect. A small wound from a metal splinter was received by one its occupants. Company Three of the 503rd Tiger battalion became involved in heavy combat in the Turkeve area with numerous tanks from the Russian 18th Tank Corps. T34 tanks fired and tried to fire at the tigers from the side, where weaker armor was located. It also made for an easier target. The Russian tankers would always try this tactic and then fire at the tiger tanks wheel and tracks, which were unprotected. Disabling a tiger made it much easier to achieve a kill.
The Russian Pliyev Group had captured Nyíregyháza, and by doing so, had cutoff 150,000 men of the German 8th Army! The question was, like the Germans who had cut off the same corps’ earlier, could Pliyev actually continue to bag the Germans? It was a dilemma the Germans could not afford to lose. They had already lost the 6th Army and 150,000 men at Stalingrad in 1942. It deja vu once again.