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22nd Panzer Division
22nd Panzer Division logo.svg
Insignia of the 22nd Panzer Division
Active 1940–1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Branch Heer (1935-1945)
Type Panzer division
Engagements World War II
Hellmut von der Chevallerie

The 22nd Panzer Division was a German Panzer Division in World War II. It was formed September 1941 in France. It was transferred to the southern sector of the Eastern Front in March 1942. The 22nd was the last Panzer Division to be issued with the Czech-built Panzer 38(t), which was considered under-gunned, under-armoured and obsolete by 1942.

After an initial disastrous attack on 20 March, in which the division's units lost 30-40% of their personnel, the division remained in the Crimea and took part in Manstein's Unternehmen Trappenjagd (Operation Bustard Hunt). In May 1942, the division was sent north to the Kharkov area and then took part in the 1942 summer offensive against Soviet forces in the Don River bend leading to the Battle of Stalingrad. The 22nd fought in the Battle of Rostov on 23 July 1942.

Together with the 1st Romanian Armoured Division (equipped with the also obsolete R2, similar to Panzer 35(t)), the 22nd Panzer Division comprised the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps and was next tasked with defending the northern flank of the ill-fated German 6th Army at Stalingrad. Lieutenant General Ferdinand Heim was the corps commander.

On November 19, 1942, Operation Uranus began. The great Soviet counter-offensive encircled the German 6th Army and much of the 4th Panzer Army and smashed the XXXXVIII Panzer Corps, including the 22nd Panzer Division. Many of the division's tanks had been parked in dugouts for an extended period of time and protected from the frost by straw. When the tanks were called on to respond to the Soviet offensive, many could not be started because mice had sought refuge in the straw and then in the tanks where they chewed up the insulation of electric system wires. The ability of the division to put up effective resistance was also compromised by the prior piecemeal deployment of division assets to shore up the Romanian line.

According to Beevor, the division had as few as 30 serviceable Panzer 38t's with which to meet the onslaught of the T-34s of the Soviet 1st Tank Corps. Contradictory orders directing the panzers in two different directions only aggravated an already hopeless situation.

After desperate fighting around the Russian town of Petshany 19–22 November 1942, the 22nd was virtually destroyed with survivors making their way southwest to and across the river Chir to join various ad hoc Kampfgruppen. For its part, the Romanian 1st Armored Division lost 60% of its combat strength and crossed the Chir River with only nineteen of its original eighty four serviceable R-2s. The 22nd Panzer Division was subsequently disbanded in April 1943.

General Heim was relieved of command and retired in disgrace only to be recalled to active duty in 1944 to command the hopeless defense of Boulogne, France.


Further reading

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