The 18. Artillerie-Division was formed on 1 October 1943 in the command area of HGr. Mitte from Stab and parts of the dissolved 18. Panzer-Division. This first purely artillery division which was intended to be an independent [it had 7 supply trains] and movable powerful force was to be created with "Aufstellungsbefehls" from 7 September 1943 by OKH GenStdH/Org.Abt. in executing a Weisung by Hitler himself. This was based upon the estimated necessity for its use as a strongpoint weapon both in attack and in defense. An ideal structure which was planned first wasn’t realized.
An infantry assault gun company and an armoured observation detachment [four medium tanks in fact] were assigned. The object of this addition was to make it possible for forward observers to move about the battlefield in tanks.
Another very special element of this division was, that in addition to all normal artillery units the organization had its own infantry rifle battalion. This unit had the mission of infantry defense in all dangerous situations. In the course of the ensuing battles this battalion saved the division from total destruction no less than three times and from partial destruction numerous times. It was thoroughly trained in rear guard action so that it could plug any breakthrough for a short time [per General Thoholte].
In the latter half of March 1944 the division ended up encircled with 1. Panzer-Armee in the pocket of Kamenez-Podolsk (so-called “Hube-Kessel”). Though it took part in the successful outbreak on 6 April 1944 at Buczaz, this was at the cost of the loss of all heavy weapons. Like during the moving operations the weeks before it was engaged more and more in infantry combat until 11 April 1944 at Kotin. As the fully equipped artillery division it was during the short time period of a few month it practically ended to exist at that time. The unit was listed as an integral part of the official Kriegsgliederung in April 1944 for the last time [Kampfgruppe 18. Art.Div. per 15 April 1944]. It was disbanded formally on 27 July 1944. The divisional staff was used to form Generalkommando Pz.Korps “Großdeutschland” and the artillery regiments were to become independent Heeres-Artillerie-Brigaden.

Commanders

Generalmajor Karl Thoholte (20 Oct 1943 - 28 Feb 1944)
Generalmajor Gerhard Müller (28 Feb 1944 - ? April 1944)
Generalleutnant Karl Thoholte (? April 1944 - ? July 1944)

Area of operations

Eastern Front (Mitte) (Dec 1943) [at disposal]
Eastern Front (Süd , Winniza) (Jan 1944)
Eastern Front (Süd , Kamenez-Podolsk) (Feb 1944 - April 1944)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the German Cross in Gold (8)
- Dörr, Konrad, 08.06.1944 Hauptmann, Artillerie-Kampf-Batallion
- Dreyer, Henry, 21.07.1944, Oberwachtmeister, 4./Heeres-Flak.Art.Abt. 280
- Forsting, Wilhelm, 02.07.1944, Hauptmann, 7./Art.Rgt.(mot.) 88
- Gärtner, Walter, 12.03.1944, Hauptmann, I./Art.Rgt.(mot.) 88
- Reinecke, Heinz, 02.03.1944, Oberst, Art.Rgt.(mot.) 388
- Reinthaller, Herbert, 20.06.1944, Hauptmann, 8./Art.Rgt.(mot.) 88
- Voshage, Werner, 29.03.1944, Hauptmann, Heeres-Flak.Art.Abt. 280
- Zimmermann, Otto, 01.06.1944, Hauptmann, I./Art.Rgt.(mot.) 288

Order of Battle

Stab
- Feuerleitbatterie 18 [under direct command of the Div.Kdr or his executive]
- Panzer-Abt/Zug [4 Pz.]
Artillerie-Regiment 88 (mot)
- I. Abteilung , 1. – 3.
-- 1., 2. lei. Bttr. (Wespe, je 6)
-- 3. schw. Bttr. (Hummel, 6)
- II. Abteilung , 4. – 6.
-- lei. FH (mot) (je 4)
- III. Abteilung , 7. – 9.
-- 7., 8. Bttr. schw. FH (je 4)
-- 9. Bttr. 10cm Kanonen (4)
Artillerie-Regiment 288 (mot)
- I. Abteilung , 1. – 3.
-- lei. FH (mot) (je 4)
- II. Abteilung , 4. – 6.
-- 4., 5. Bttr. schw. FH (je 4)
-- 7. Bttr. 10cm Kanonen (4)
- III. Abteilung , 7. – 9.
-- Bttrn. 17cm Kanonen (motZ) (je 3)
Artillerie-Regiment 388 (mot)
- I. Abteilung , 1. – 3.
-- lei. FH (mot) (je 4)
- II. Abteilung , 4. – 6.
-- 4., 5. Bttr. schw. FH (je 4)
-- 6. Bttr. 10cm Kanonen (4)
- III. Abteilung , 7. – 9.
-- Bttrn. 21cm Mörser (je 3)
Sturmgeschütz-Batterie 741
- 10 StuG
Heeres-Flakartillerie-Abteilung 280
- 1., 2. lei. Bttr.
- 3., 4. schw. Bttr.
Beobachtungs-Abteilung 4
- Stabs.Bttr.
- Schallmeß-Bttr.
- Lichtmeß-Bttr.
- Ballonzug [from Ballon-Bttr. 103]
- Feuerleitbatterie 18 [organic part since march 44]
Divisions-Nachrichten-Abteilung 88
- 1. – 3. Kp
Artillerie-Feldersatz-Abteilung 88
- lei. Bttr.
- schw. Bttr.
Schützen-Abteilung (tmot) 88
- [personnel of ex Pz.AA 18 / 18. PD]
- until dec 1943 (Alarm.Btl) :
- 1., 2. Gren.Kp
- 3. schw. Kp
- since Jan 1944 (etatisiert) – unclear if still in 3 Kp or in 4 Kp [per Tessin] structure :
- 1., 2. Schtz.Kp
- 3. Pz.Zerst.Kp
- 4. schw. Kp
- possibly renamed Artillerie-Kampf-Btl 18 / 88 in april 1944, but not to rule out that the crews without vehicles were used to built another ad-hoc so-called “Artillerie-Kampf-Bataillon” for infantry combat during the end of and the time after the “Hube-Kessel”.
Kommandeur der Div.Nachschubtruppen 88
Verwaltungseinheiten 88
Sanitätseinheiten 88

Sources used

Research by Bernd R
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

Wolfgang Paul - Geschichte der 18. Panzer Division 1940-1943 mit Geschichte der 18. Art. Division

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