3. Kompanie Reichsgrenadier Regiment 'Hoch- und Deutschmeister'
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Italian armour used by 46. Panzerjäger Abteilung (Reichsgrenadier Division 'Hoch -und Deutschmeister) - Part 1
 

The Semovente da 75/18 was an Italian self-propelled gun of the Second World War. It was built by mounting the 75 mm Obice da 75/18 modello 34 mountain gun on the chassis of a M13/40, M14/41 or M15/42 tank. The first 60 were built using the M13/40 chassis and a subsequent 162 were built on the M14/41 chassis from 1941 to 1943, when the M15/43 chassis were introduced. The Semovente da 75/18 was intended to be an interim vehicle until the heavier P40 tank could be made available.

Although these machines were not widely known, the vehicle performed well in its role. Though it was technically similar to the StuG III, it had a totally different role, serving as divisional artillery instead of a pure assault gun.


After the Italian surrender in 1943, some 131 Semovente da 75/18 were seized by the Germans and the production of another 55 was authorized. They were, in combination with other Semovente models, issued to 12 divisions (9 infantry, one mountain, one Jäger and one Grenadier) and 3 assault-gun brigades as well as to the 12th SS Polizei Panzer Company. All units were intended for service in Italy or the Balkans. They were designated StuG M42 mit 7,5 KwK L 18(850).

Semovente da 75/18 M41 specifications:
Dimensions (L-W-H) - 4.92 x 2.20 x 1.85 m (16ft 2in x 7ft 3in x 6ft 1in)
Total weight, battle ready - 14.4 tons
Crew - 3 (commander/gunner, driver, loader/radioman)
Propulsion - Fiat SPA 8T V8 diesel, 125 hp, 8.92 hp/ton
Suspension - Leaf spring bogies
Maximum speed (road) - 32 km/h (20 mph)
Operational range - 230 km (143 mi)
Armament - 75 mm (2.95 in) Obice da 75/18 modello 34, 44 rounds
Armour - from 25 to 50 mm (0.98-1.97 in)
Total production - 262
 

 

Italian armour used by 46. Panzerjäger Abteilung (Reichsgrenadier Division 'Hoch -und Deutschmeister) - Part 2

The Semovente da 75/34 was an Italian self-propelled gun developed and used during World War II. It was a 75 mm L/34 gun mounted on a M15/42 tank chassis. It saw action during the defence of Rome in 1943 and later served with the Germans in Northern Italy and the Balkans. 141 were produced during the war (60 before the Armistice of Cassibile in September 1943, 81 later under German control).

After the success of the Semovente da 75/18, it was decided to build a self-propelled gun with a better gun, to improve its anti-tank capability (which on the former was given by the use of HEAT shells); some prototypes were built which replaced the Obice da 75/18 with a 75 mm L/32 field gun on the M14/41 tank chassis. Production began in spring 1943, with the 75 mm L/34 gun (the same as on the Carro Armato P 40) on the chassis of the M15/42 tank. Some sixty were built before the Italian armistice in September 1943.
Because of delayed production, lack of manpower and training time, only a few were used by Italian troops in Italy before the 8th September Armistice. In November, about 36 tanks were confiscated by the Germans. They also ordered a second production run, which lasted until 1944, with 80 more SPGs being turned over. In German service these were called Sturmgeschütz M42 mit 75/34 851(i). These took part in the defense of the central/northern Italy and the Balkans.

Semovente M42 da 75/34 specifications:
Dimensions (L-W-H) .04 x 2.23 x 1.8 m (16ft 6in x 7ft 4in x 5ft 11in)
Total weight, battle ready 15 tons
Crew 3 (commander/gunner, driver, loader/radioman)
Propulsion SPA M15 (15TB) V8 diesel, 192 hp (143.17 kW), 12.7 hp/ton
Suspension Vertical volute springs
Maximum speed (road) 40 km/h (25 mph)
Operational range 230 km (143 mi)
Armament 75 mm (2.95 in) L34 modello 34, 42 rounds
8 mm (0.31 in) Breda 38 machine gun, 1104 rounds
Armor From 25 to 50 mm (1-2 in)
Total production 190

 

Veterans of the Hoch- und Deutschmeister Division/44 Infanterie Division.

Oberleutnant Paul Broschk - 44. Infanterie-Division

As the fighting raged in Stalingrad throughout September and October, there were significant engagements to the northwest of the city as 6. Armee fought to protect its left flank from Soviet pressure. Among the units fighting in the area during that fateful autumn was 44. Infanterie-Division of XI. Armeekorps. Originally formed in Vienna in 1938, the division comprised three main regiments, including Infanterie-Regiment 134 which was a direct descendant of the original Hapsburg Hoch-und Deutchmeister Regiment of 1696. From as far back as the Eighteenth Century, the Regiment was a substantial part of Viennese culture. Its membership was desired for the sake of improving one's stature in Austrian society. The regiment fought with distinction through many of the European wars; it fought during the Austro-Hungarian wars against the Turks during the 1700s and later fought during the Napoleonic wars of Liberation. By World War I, the regiment was heavily engaged on the Eastern Front and ultimately suffered significant losses as a result of a major Russian offensive in July 1915. The regiment was rebuilt and transferred to the Italian front where it served for the remainder of the war. Following World War I, however, it lost much of its stature with the demise of the Hapsburgs.

With the incorporation of Austria into the Reich, 44. Infanterie-Division was formed as part of a reorganization of the Austrian military. The division’s first role with the new Wehrmacht was to participate in the march on Czechoslovakia in October 1939. It fought in the Polish campaign and with Army Group B in France before serving with Army Group South in the summer of 1941 in the Soviet Union. As part of the summer offensive of 1942 and the push to Stalingrad, 44. Infanterie-Division fought on the northern flank of 6. Armee. By September, the division was heavily engaged with the Soviet 65th Army, first in the area of the River Chir and later along the River Don northwest of the city. During this fighting, on October 4, 1942, Oberleutnant Paul Broschk, was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class as a commanding officer within II. Batallion, Infanterie-Regiment 134. 

Following receipt of his Iron Cross, Oberleutnant Broschk continued to serve as commander of 7th Company, IR134. During the Soviet counteroffensive of November 19, 1942, 44. Infanterie-Division retreated to a temporary position in the Kalach area in order to hold back Red Army attacks. As Soviet pressure grew and the Germans were ultimately surrounded, the division was ordered to retreat closer to the city where it was to combat and contain Soviet penetrations from the west. As casualty and supply issues grew, the division suffered heavily as it now occupied unprepared positions on the frozen Russian steppe outside the city.

On December 2, the first major attack on the surrounded Kessel took place. XI. Armeekorps suffered heavy losses with heaviest casualties among the units of the 44. Infanterie-Division. Among the casualties was Oberleutnant Broschk, wounded on the 2nd and flown out shortly after. Throughout the next two months, the Germans in and around Stalingrad suffered continuously from Soviet pressure, dwindling supplies and the effects of winter. The Kessel collapsed at the end of January and was officially overrun by February 2, 1943. 44. Infanterie-Division, along with various other divisions, independent and headquarters units, was completely destroyed. Broschk’s wound of early December ultimately saved his life. 

Following the catastrophe in Stalingrad the division was reformed in February 1943. In June, the newly formed Grenadier-Regiment 134 was added and the division became known as (44.) Reichsgrenadier-Division Hoch- und Deutschmeister. It was among the first of the destroyed divisions from Stalingrad to be reinstated and it was this unit that authorized the commemorative “Stalingrad” cross to be worn on the epaulettes of certain members of the division. Broschk was promoted to Hauptmann and was awarded the Black Wound Badge on July 22, 1943 by a Reserve Hospital in Vienna.

Note that the Black Wound Badge citation lists the incorrect regimental number. It was not uncommon for hospital personnel to get unit data wrong on award documents during the war.

 

Wilhelm "Willy" Nagel - Oberst and commander of Grenadier Regiment 131

(June 12, 1898, Tübingen, April 23, 1980, Zell im Wiesental)

Military History:
1916 as an entry into the German army Fahnenjunker
1919 after the war in Vorläufige Reichswehr
February 1, 1922 entry into Schutzpolizist Stuttgart
April 1, 1932 the commander of Mg-Hundertschaft Panzerwagen und Stuttgart
15.05.1933 until 20.05.1933 Führerlehrgang Stuttgart
1934 commander of the 1st MG-Hundertschaft, Württembergischen Landespolizei, MG-Inspekteur
March 15, 1936 entry into the Wehrmacht
April 1, 1936 the commander of the 8th Kompanie, 109 Infantry Regiment, Karlsruhe
1937 assistant teacher at Lehrgang für MG-Offizier, Infanterieschule Doberitz
1938 Ersatz-Bataillon commander, Infantry Regiment 34, Heilbronn
March 1, 1939 Ersatz-Bataillon commander, Infantry Regiment 56, Ulm
September 1, 1939 Commander II. Bataillon, 460 Infantry Regiment, Biberach
April 1942 Commander of Infantry Regiment 353
October 15, 1942 commander Grenadier Regiment 353
February 24, 1944 to September 14, 1944 the commander of Grenadier Regiment 131, 44. Reichsgrenadier-Division "Hoch- und Deutschmeister" fighting against partisans in Italy and the battle for Monte Cassino
October 19, 1944 until November 15, 1944 15th Divisionsführer-Lehrgang in Hirschberg
January 25, 1945 the commander of the 78th Volks-Sturm-Division
May 1, 1945 to April 15, 1946 in American custody

Ranks achieved & when:
December 23, 1916 Lieutenant
February 1, 1922 Polizeileutnant
April 1, 1923 Polizeioberleutnant
April 1, 1930 Polizeihauptmann
March 15, 1936 Hauptmann
Major October 1, 1936
1939 Oberstleutnant
1942 Oberst
April 1, 1945 Generalmajor

Awards:
Eisernes Kreuz (1914) II. und I. Klasse
Königliche Württembergische Goldene Militärverdienstmedaille
Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer
Deutsches Reichssportabzeichen
Wehrmacht-Dienstauszeichnungen
Wiederholungsspange (1939) zum Kreuz Eisernen II. und I. Klasse (1914)
Infanterie-Sturmabzeichen in Silber
Deutsches Kreuz in Gold January 29, 1943 as Oberst and commander Grenadier Regiment 353
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes June 12, 1944 as Oberst and commander of the Grenadier Regiment 131

 

More to follow:

 


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