For the first time ever, the operations of panzer formations at Stalingrad are examined in detail, from formation until demise.
Stalingrad is perceived as a fierce man-versus-man struggle in the ruins of a major metropolis and the surrounding steppe; yet, 6. Armee possessed formidable armoured assets that helped it reach the Volga, defended its flanks and even supported assault groups within the claustrophobic confines of the city.
In this first volume of a series dedicated to studying German armoured operations at Stalingrad, the combat histories of Panzer-Abteilungen 103, 129 and 160 will be examined in detail. These panzer battalions – drawn from panzer regiments on the quieter central sector of the Eastern Front – were incorporated into motorised divisions for the 1942 summer campaign, and though most of their men thought they were headed to the Caucasus, all roads ultimately led to Stalingrad. As manpower levels dropped in their parent formations, the panzer battalions assumed a greater role in holding lengthy flanks while the main body of 6. Armee laid siege to Stalingrad. After encirclement in November 1942, the panzers assembled for a break-out operation, and when that failed to eventuate, they supported their struggling infantry brethren with plucky counterattacks and steadfast defence until fuel, ammunition and morale were depleted.
Unprecedented access to Deutsche Dienststelle (WASt), a government agency that maintains records of former Wehrmacht personnel, has permitted the life and death of each battalion to be analysed in incredible detail. The narrative is enhanced by hundreds of rare photos drawn from official archives, private collections and the albums of veterans themselves.