The 5th Panzer Army (German: 5. Panzerarmee) was a German armoured formation that operated on the Western Front and North Africa. The remnants of the army surrendered in the Ruhr pocket in 1945.

5th Panzer Army
5. Panzerarmee
Active
  • 8 December 1942 – 30 June 1943
  • 24 January 1944 – 17 April 1945
Country Nazi Germany
BranchArmy (Wehrmacht)
TypePanzer
RoleArmoured warfare
SizeArmy
Engagements
Commanders
Notable
commanders

HistoryEdit

North AfricaEdit

The 5th Panzer Army was created on 8 December 1942 as a command formation for armoured units forming to defend Tunisia against Allied attacks which threatened, after the success of the Allied Operation Torch landings in Algeria and Morocco. The army fought alongside the Italian First Army as a part of Army Group Afrika. The army capitulated on 13 May 1943, along with its commander Gustav von Vaerst. The army was disbanded on 30 June 1943.[citation needed]

NormandyEdit

The army was reformed on 24 January 1944 as Panzer Group West, the armoured reserve for OB West. The new army was placed under the command of Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg.[1] The method of employment of Panzer Group West in the event of an allied invasion was the subject of much controversy, with OB West commander Gerd von Rundstedt and Army Group B commander Erwin Rommel favouring different methods.[2] Rundstedt and Geyr von Schweppenburg believed that the panzer group should be held in reserve some distance from the front, to counter-attack Allied penetrations. Rommel was convinced that Allied air power and naval artillery would not allow the Germans the freedom to move large formations and so insisted that the panzers should be deployed much closer to the front line.[3] Adolf Hitler forced an unhappy compromise on the western commanders and refused to allow them to commit the panzer group without his authority. When the Allied Invasion began on 6 June 1944, Panzer Group West remained immobile; by 8 June, Geyr had been able to rush three panzer divisions northward to defend Caen against British and Canadian forces.[4] Geyr planned to launch the divisions in a counter-attack that would drive the British and Canadians back into the sea. On 10 June, Schweppenburg was wounded in an attack on the Panzer Group West headquarters at La Caine. Geyr’s tank units managed to limit the British advance for another month but he was relieved of his command on 2 July, after seconding Rundstedt’s request that Hitler authorize a strategic withdrawal from Caen. On 2 July he was replaced by Heinrich Eberbach. The panzer group fought against the Allied forces in Normandy, suffering heavy losses and eventually finding many of its divisions trapped in the Falaise Pocket. After the shattered remnants of the panzer group escaped from Falaise, it began a retreat towards the German border.

Retreat, ArdennesEdit

In August, the remaining elements of Panzer Group West were reorganized as 5th Panzer Army, with a combat formation remaining in action under the title Panzer Group Eberbach. After a brief period under Sepp Dietrich, command of the army passed to Hasso von Manteuffel. The army saw heavy combat on the German border against Allied forces, the panzer divisions suffering heavily from Allied ground attack aircraft. In November the 5th Panzer Army began forming up in the Ardennes, alongside the newly formed 6th SS Panzer Army under Dietrich. Both formations took part in the Battle of the Bulge, the Fifth Panzer Army was set to be the main central force advancing westwards from the pre-existing front lines, suffering heavy losses in battles around Bastogne and in the armour battles around Celles and Dinant, the westernmost points of advance. After the offensive was cancelled, it continued its fighting withdrawal to the German border. In March, it was involved in efforts to eliminate the American bridgehead over the Rhine at the Ludendorff Bridge in Remagen. The 5th Panzer Army was encircled and trapped in the Ruhr Pocket, and surrendered on 17 April 1945.[5]

CommandersEdit

Fifth Panzer Army (North Africa)Edit

No. Commander Took office Left office Time in office
Ziegler, HeinzGeneralleutnant
Heinz Ziegler
(1894–1972)
Acting
3 December 194220 February 194379 days
1Arnim, HansGeneraloberst
Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
(1889–1962)
20 February 194328 February 19438 days
2Vaerst, GustavGeneral der Panzertruppe
Gustav von Vaerst
(1894–1975)
28 February 19439 May 194370 days

Panzer Group WestEdit

No. Commander Took office Left office Time in office
1Schweppenburg, LeoGeneral der Panzertruppe
Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg
(1886–1974)
19 November 19434 July 1944228 days
2Eberbach, HeinrichGeneral der Panzertruppe
Heinrich Eberbach
(1895–1992)
4 July 19449 August 194436 days

Panzer Group EberbachEdit

No. Commander Took office Left office Time in office
1Eberbach, HeinrichGeneral der Panzertruppe
Heinrich Eberbach
(1895–1992)
10 August 194421 August 194411 days

Fifth Panzer Army (France)Edit

No. Commander Took office Left office Time in office
1Eberbach, HeinrichGeneral der Panzertruppe
Heinrich Eberbach
(1895–1992)
2 July 19449 August 194438 days
2Dietrich, SeppSS-Oberst-Gruppenführer
Sepp Dietrich
(1892–1966)
9 August 19449 September 194431 days
3Manteuffel, HassoGeneral der Panzertruppe
Hasso von Manteuffel
(1897–1978)
9 September 19448 March 1945180 days
4Harpe, JosefGeneraloberst
Josef Harpe
(1887–1968)
8 March 194517 April 194540 days

FootnotesEdit

  1. ^ Harrison 1951, p. 247.
  2. ^ "German Command and Tactics in the West, 1944".
  3. ^ Harrison 1951, pp. 249–251.
  4. ^ Harrison 1951, p. 333.
  5. ^ MacDonald 1973, p. 370.

BibliographyEdit