Monday 22 February 2016

16th Tank Division Interrogation

"Interrogation record of a German army prisoner, Gefreiter Arthur Fantull from 7th Company, 2nd Battalion, 64th Motorized Regiment 16th Tank Division captured on November 18th, 1941 in Grevtsovo.

1. General data about the prisoner
  1. Prisoner of war Arthur Fantull was born in 1921 in Hessen. Education: 6 grades of public school. Profession: worker, quarrier. His father was a worker at a printing press. Currently his father is retired. His father's age is 67.
  2. The prisoner was drafted into the army in April of 1940. He was sent to Isalon, to 3rd Company, 4th Reserve Battalion. After finishing training in October of 1940, he was transferred to the 64th Motorized Regiment.
  3. The prisoner was captured on November 18th, 1941, under the following circumstances: the regiment moved to a new place, 4 sick men were left in Grevtsovo, but Russians came instead and captured them.
2. The division's objective

Initially, the division was tasked with taking Odessa, but then that objective was cancelled and a new one was given, to capture Vatum. After, a more specific task was given: capture Shakhty, Novocherkassk, go around Rostov from the north, surround it, then move south-east and capture Maikop.

According to the prisoner, the 14th TD and SS regiment "Adolph Hitler" fights on the right flank of the 16th TD, mountain infantry is on the left (the prisoner does not know which unit).

3. Organization of the 16th Tank Division

Two motorized infantry regiments are included in the division (64th and 79th) as well as one tank regiment (2nd).

The 64th Motorized Regiment consists of two battalions and one artillery company. The first battalion includes 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th companies. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 6th, and 7th companies are motorized infantry, 8th company is armoured cars, 4th and 9th are heavy weapons companies, and 5th and 10th are engineers (now disbanded due to heavy casualties).

Infantry companies consist of three infantry platoons. Each platoon has three squads, three infantry and one strike.

Armoured car companies consist of 3 platoons of 5 armoured cars each (currently 3 armoured cars each).

Heavy weapons companies have 3 platoons: heavy machinegun platoon, heavy mortar platoon, and mixed (machineguns and mortars).

The 10th Engineering Company is almost entirely destroyed. It used to have 50% engineers and 50% artillerymen.

The 11th Independent Company has two 150 mm guns and is acting alongside 10th Company under orders from the battalion commander.

4. Armament
  1. The 16th TD has 50 tanks (instead of 250 authorized)
    1. T-1: armed with two machineguns.
    2. T-2: armed with two machineguns and one 37 mm gun.
    3. T-3: armed with two machineguns and one 50 mm gun.
    4. T-4: armed with two machineguns and one 75 mm gun. This tank weighs 32 tons.
  2. Composition of the 2nd battalion: (list given)
Each infantry platoon has three infantry squads and one strike squad. Each infantry squad has two machineguns. The strike squad has no machineguns, but each soldier has more grenades than an infantry squad soldier. Each NCO has a submachinegun. The squad also has 2 heavy 10-round rifles and 3 light 47 mm mortars.

In total, the platoon has 6 machineguns, 5 SMGs, 2 heavy rifles, and 3 light mortars, and each company has 18 machineguns, 17 SMGs, 6 heavy rifles, and 9 light mortars.

8th Company has 15 special armoured cars armed with a total of 28 heavy machineguns and 2 37 mm guns. 

9th Company has 8 heavy machineguns and 8 heavy mortars.

10th Company has AT and infantry cannons, the prisoner does not know how many.

11th Independent Company has 2 150 mm infantry cannons.

The first battalion differs from the second in that it does not have a special armoured car company, but instead three infantry companies.

5. Weapon losses

Losses of small arms are constantly replenished, and the prisoner estimates that it is currently at authorized strength.

6 special armoured cars from the 8th Company have been destroyed. 9th Company lost 50% of its weapons. One AT gun broke in 10th Company. There were 24 cars at the start of the war, now there are only 12.

6. Company of special armoured cars

This is the only experimental company in the division, the so called armoured infantry, designed for cooperation with tanks. The company had 15 armoured cars, with only 9 remaining. The armoured cars are open on top, and only the driver and the sides are protected with armour. The car has four axles. The first two wheels are normal. The other three pairs are on tracks. The tracks are weaker than tank tracks, but do not make as much noise as tank tracks.

The armoured car is armed with two machineguns, one in the front and one in the rear, or a 37 mm gun in the front and a machinegun in the rear. Additionally, 4 mortars are installed on the sides. These mortars can only fire once per mission. The weight of one round is 100 kg. The range of the shockwave is 200 meters. The weapon is fired directly at the target. The armoured car stops to fire. A flying shell emits a whistling noise and you can see a trail (it's possible that this is a rocket). At 2000 meters, the trajectory is 200 meters high.

These weapons are only fired at large concentrations of personnel at the orders of superior commanders. These mortars were used at Nikolayev, where 9 vehicles (36 launchers) made 36 shots.

Each vehicle is serviced by 7-8 soldiers. The machineguns can fire on the move.

Word in the regiment is that every company will receive these armoured cars. The difference is that the new cars will have regular light mortars.

7. Personnel strength and losses

A company's authorized strength is 180 men. In actuality, 6th Company has 120 men, 7th Company only has 80 men. 8th Company has heavy losses. 9th Company is taking heavy losses, as almost all reinforcements are sent to this company. 10th Company lost almost all engineers.

8. Reinforcements

Over the war, the 2nd Battalion received reinforcements 4 times. The first time, 80 men were sent as reinforcements at Uman from the reserve battalion (young men, many of them volunteers). The second time was 30 men from destroyed units. The third time, reinforcements came from Konstant (80 men). These were also young men, but all of them were drafted, there were no volunteers. The fourth time the battalion received 20 men from destroyed units. In total, the battalion received 210 men. Currently, no reinforcements are expected.

9. Preparations for winter

Preparation of vehicles includes preparing straw mats to cover the engines and issuing Glizantin for antifreeze, which prevents freezing until -12 degrees.

Cars are in poor condition, Captured cars are used, but there are currently few.

There is no non-freezing grease for either weapons or vehicles.

10. Supplies
  1. Lately, fuel comes very irregularly. Infantry is often unable to use cars due to a lack of fuel. The explanation for the lack of fuel is that it's being sent to the Moscow front.
  2. There is no winter equipment. The excuse for southern forces is that it is warm. The prisoner heard that there will be no winter equipment from the regimental intendant.
  3. No food has come in over the last 14 days. The company is feeding itself at the cost of the local population. Soldiers receive about 400 grams of bread per day, sometimes it is possible to "obtain" a pig, and then his squad gets raw meat. The soldiers must prepare their own food. The food issued by the company is insufficient, and soldiers are "forced to display personal initiative". "Personal initiative" is forbidden, but the prisoner does not know a single case where anyone was punished for it.
11. Preparations for chemical warfare

The prisoner did not hear anything about chemical warfare. Every soldier has a gas mask, but they were only carried for the first two weeks of the war, after that they were left in trucks.

12. Moral and political condition

The officers told soldiers that Germany needs the Ukraine, needs wheat and oil. The Russians must go away to Siberia. They are told that the Russian army no longer exists. Soldiers laugh at these claims and ask each other: if the Russian army no longer exists, why do we not advance, why is there no gas or winter equipment?

Soldiers receive bad news from home. The news say that the people are tired and waits for a quick end to the war.

13. Miscellaneous

The prisoner says that they are not going to receive winter equipment and reinforcements as Kleist's group is heavily beaten and will be replaced by elements of List's group, which allegedly arrived from Bulgaria. It will still be called Kleist's group.

16th TD was supposed to be transferred to Guderian's group to the Moscow front, but since it was so weak, the 9th TD was sent instead.

The prisoner heard that 15-25 new tank divisions were formed in Alsace.

Interrogation by:
Intendant 3rd grade Schlosser
Junior Lieutenant Isadchenko

Information department of the South Front HQ, Major Trusov
December 4th, 1941"

Two items of interest. One is the confusion of the PzII for some tank with two machineguns and a 37 mm gun, likely a Pz38(t) or Pz35(t). The other, a lot more interesting, is this "special armoured car". Clearly, it is a halftrack with "Stuka zu Fuss" rockets on the sides, but the word "halftrack" was not common in those days, so presumably the translator had to explain it as best he could.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this one, gives an interesting insight into intelligence and the evereyday situation off the war