|IN NORTHERN FINLAND 1941 - 1944
Panzer-Kampfwagen-Zug 217, 218 and 219 (1942)
Operations in Finland 1941 - 1944
Pz.Abt. 211 arrived in Finland in June 1941 and was subordinated to XXXVI Armee-Korps for the attack to Salla - Kantalahti direction. During the summer units of battalion were also directly subordinated to 169. Infanterie-Division and Finnish 6.D. The hope for the fast advance to Kantalaksa [Kantalahti] didn't come true. In the spring and summer 1942 battalion partisipated in counter-attacks but mainly secured supply roads.
This quite unknown independent tank battalion was a rare so called "Beute-Panzer-Abteilung" i.e. tank battalion equipped initially solely with captured tanks, in this case French Somua S-35 (PzKw 35-S) and Hotchkiss H-39 (PzKw 38H) tanks which were equipped with ineffective 47 mm and 37 mm French tank cannons. In March and June 1944 Pz.Abt.211 however received two batches of three PzKw III Ausf. N tanks with short 75 mm L/24 howitzers.
was under equipped and its vehicles were obsolete and
unsuitable for their tasks. During the winter 1941 - 1942
the whole battalion was at Oulu where tanks were
maintained. Between 1942 and 1944 - most of its time in
Finland - battalion was usually held in reserve of XXXVI
Geb.-AK at Alakurtti.
Organization of Pz.Abt. 211 (July 1941)
New organization of Pz.Abt. 211 (April 1943)
Lapland War 1944 - 1945
In Autumn 1944 1. Panzer-Kompanie was still subordinated to XXXVI Gebirgs-AK. On 8 September 1.Pz.Kp. lost 11 tanks to Russian T-34s. The exact number of its working tanks is unclear.
Pz.Abt.211 with 2. Panzer-Kompanie was subordinated to Kampfgruppe West of which task was to secure the back of the withdrawing XVIII Geb.-AK. Between 21 - 28 September battalion belonged to Divisions-Gruppe Kräutler.
When the so called Lapland War between the Finns and Germans began by the end of September 1944 major parts of battalion were near Rovaniemi but after the Finnish landing at Tornio its 2.Pz.Kp. was directed back to Kemi on 1 October and subordinated to Kampfgruppe Tornio for the attack to Tornio direction. Germans' attacks failed after initial success and Finns destroyed at least two PzKw III Ausf. N tanks, a few Somuas and Hotchkisses as well as an unknown model (PzKw I or II?). Ageing tanks suffered additionally from continuous mechanical breakdowns. It is possible that Geb.-AOK 20 had French tanks in reserve and could supplement Pz.Abt.211 after its losses in 1944.
was subordinated to XVIII Gebirgs-AK on 10 October.
In mid October Pz.Abt.211 was with Kampfgruppe
Esch until it was moved to Norway where it arrived on
28 October 1944. Battalion stayed in Narvik during the
rest of the war.
Organization of Pz.Abt. 211
Painting and Markings
In 1941 Pz.Abt.211 used normal neat red or black (?) three digit turret numbers with white outline on the turret sides. Strangely there seems to be also third tank company according to turret numbers (probably the second company). The size of the numbers varied from one third to half of the height of the turret. Unit emblem was not used and it is unknown.
Tanks were typically painted on panzer grey and during winters on plain white leaving paintless "boxes" around turret numbers and national signs. In 1943 or 1944 tanks were probably painted on dark yellow and camouflaged with foliage and mud. Thick layer of mud worked also like Zimmerit mine protection paste.
three Balkenkreutz national signs on hull side
plates and on a rear plate. In 1944 there weren't any
other markings visible.
During the spring or early summer 1942 AOK Lappland (since June 1942 (Geb.-)AOK 20) received three separate tank platoons called Pz.Kw.Zg.217, 218 and 219. Each platoon was equipped with one PzKw 35-S tank, four PzKw 38-H tanks, three ton truck and a motorcycle. Personnel was 1 + 8 + 8 = 17 men (on paper).
Pz.Kw.Zg.217 was subordinated to 6. Gebirgs-Division but between September and November 1942 it was with 210. Küste-Abwehr-Infanterie-Division. Platoon Leader was Leutnant Weckherlin but he fell ill in turn 11./12.1942 and was replaced by an unknown Leutnant.
Pz.Kw.Zg.218 was subordinated to Festungsbereich Kolosjoki defending the highly important Kolosjoki nickel mines. In November 1942 platoon was subordinated to 6. Gebirgs-Division. Platoon Leader was at first Leutnant Brandt but in November he was also replaced by an unknown Leutnant.
A temporary tank company was formed in November from Pz.Kw.Zg.217 and 218.by 6.Geb.Div.
Pz.Kw.Zg.219 was initially subordinated to 6. Gebirgs-Division and after September 1942 to 210. Küste-Abwehr-Infanterie-Division. Platoon Leader was Leutnant von Varchmin and from December 1942 onwards Feldwebel Fünk.
December 1942 all platoons were disbanded. Personnel was
transferred to Pz.Abt.211, Festungs-Bataillon
18 and to Sturmgeschütz-Batterie 741 and 742.
Tanks were dug in for coastal defence. It is not know if
these were later used to supplement Pz.Abt.211.
© 2000 Harri Anttonen