|History of the 116.Panzerdivision "Windhund"|
|The 116th Panzer Div. "Windhund" was formed by merging the remnants of the 16. Panzer Grenadier Div., a unit worn down after battles on the Russian Front, with the 179. Reserve Panzer Division. The 116. Pz.Div. was formed in Rheine, Wehrkreis VI on 28 March, 1944. Upon formation, the
116th Pz. Div. was immediately sent to the Pas-de-Calais for an expected Allied amphibious invasion and it was on the north bank of the Seine on June 6, 1944 (D-Day).
It was not sent to the front until later in July.
Assigned to the 7.Armee, XLVII Panzerkorps, part of GFM Rommel's Armeegruppe B, the division participated in Operation LUTTICH, the German counteroffensive at Mortain, which resulted in the largest tank battle of the Normandy campaign. Commencing on August 6th, 1944 it was unable to halt the US Third Army in Brittany and was consequently encircled at Falaise, breaking out with tremendous losses when Hitler finally gave the order for a general withdrawal on August 16th.
|By August 21, 1944, the "Windhund Division" was down to 600 men, 12 tanks, and no artillery. It was the only German unit garrisoning Aachen on Sept. 13 when the U.S. 3rd Armoured Division began it's assault on the West wall, and by September 22nd, the U.S. First Army's initial attempt to breach the German defences had been thwarted. Shortly before the fighting began, the divisional commander of 116.Panzer (VonSchwerin) had been relieved of his command by Hitler for ordering an unauthorised withdrawal from the city.
From late September through October, the 116th Pz.Div. was in Dusseldorf reforming and was refitted to a total strength of 11,500 men and 41 tanks. Returning
to the Aachen area from reserve, assigned to the I.SS Panzerkorps, the division made an unsuccessful attempt to stop the US XIX Corps on October 10, and subsequently withdrew before the city fell to the Allies on 21 October, 1944. In late October, the US 28th Infantry Division was holding Schmidt when GFM Walter Model committed the "Windhund Division" to re- capturing the city. From November 4th to November 8th, the division sustained a loss of only 15 tanks while successfully seizing Schmidt in what became known as the battle of the Hurtegen Forest. The 116. Panzer was then sent to Cologne later in the month.
|Assigned to 5.Panzer-Armee, LVIII.Panzer-Korps, the 116.Panzer began preparations for Operation WACHT AM RHEIN, subsequently renamed AUTUMN MIST and known to the Allies as the "Battle of the Bulge." The division was sent to the Ardennes area on December 16th. En-route, the division participated in fighting that resulted in the St. Vith salient. Sweeping past the city to the south, St. Vith fell to the 5.Panzer-Armee on December 23rd, 1944, creating the "Bulge." 116th Panzer then spearheaded the southern prong of the Ardennes offensive, again suffering heavy casualties, and was withdrawn to Kleve, which sat along the border with Holland / Netherlands, in January 1945.
The First Canadian Army and British XXX Corps commenced Operation VERITABLE on February 8th. Facing the division as it defended the damaged Roer River Dams was the U.S. Ninth Army which had linked up with the British and Canadians, trapping the 116th Panzerdivision inside the Wessel pocket. On march 5th, the division withdrew across the Rhine and destroyed the bridge behind it. Now part of the XLVII.Panzer-Korps under General Blaskowitz's Armeegruppe H the division was ordered to halt the advance of the U.S .30th Infantry Division south of the Lippe River on 24 March, 1945.
|Positioned near the Dutch-German border, Windhund's Panzergrenadier Regiment 60 commenced it's assault the next day and by nightfall of the 26th, the division had thwarted the U.S, 30th Infantry Division's breakout attempts.
By March 28th, the division held Dorsten, but was outflanked when the British 6th Guards Armoured Brigade bypassed the city.
By April 4th, the division had been ordered to hold a new defence line facing north behind the Rhine-Herne Canal, in order to reinforce the north face of the Ruhr Valley.
By April 18th, 1945 all resistance in the Ruhr Pocket ceased, and the remnants of the 116th Panzer Division, along with their commanding officer, surrendered to the U.S. Ninth Army.