Friday, March 18, 2011

Enemy Elite Friday: Helmut Zander (Germany)

"On 15.2.1945 the Panzergrenadier-Regiment 60, with the attached Waffenschule Fallschirm A.O.K., stood in defensive positions along the northwest part of Louisendorf (SW of Kleve).  On this day the regiment came under fierce attack from British forces, and after a three hour long artillery barrage they assaulted the German positions.  With telephone lines cut, and the leaders of the regiment fallen out, the regiment was threatened with disintegration.  In the face of all this Oberstleutnant Zander decided to take control of the situation.  His initial observations confirmed that the British had broken through everywhere and faced only scattered opposition.  Moving from company to company, he managed to rally the defenders and succeeded in sealing off the two enemy penetrations on the right flank of the regiment.  However the attacking enemy on the left seemed to be very close to a breakthrough, due to a lack of local reserves on the German side.   Gathering all available messengers, communications troops and stragglers, he launched a counterattack through a hail of mortar and artillery fire.  Joining with the remnants of the Waffenschule, the attack succeeded in retaking the Blacknick and Bröckel farms in fierce house to house fighting.  A British attempt to retake these positions was repulsed, with 6 of the 8 attacking tanks being destroyed in close combat.  Following up on this success Oberstleutnant Zander made contact with additional surviving German forces and formed a new defensive line.  All of the ensuing British attacks on this position, which continued into the evening, were defeated.  Through his actions here Zander played a major role in preventing an enemy breakthrough in the sector of his regiment, a breakthrough that would've resulted in the rolling up of the front to the north and a more widespread collapse of the German defensive lines.  In addition to this, the regiment could report the following enemy losses by the end of the day.

- 14 tanks destroyed in close combat
- 2 tanks destroyed by Panzerjäger
- 2 unconfirmed destroyed tanks
- 2 AT guns that were knocked out during Zander's counterattack" from his Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross citation, awarded on April 5, 1945 as
Oberstleutnant of the Panzergrenadier-Regiment 60.
Another capable enemy elite,

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