12. Panzer-Division

pz-12-logo

The 12. Panzer-Division was formed at Stettin in October 1940 from 2. Infanterie-Division (mot). It took part in the invasion of the USSR fighting first on the central sector and later in the northern sector. It was transferred to Estonia in January 1942 for refitting but soon returned briefly to the northern sector of the front before being transferred to the central sector. It returned to the northern sector in February 1944 and took part in the withdrawal into Kurland where it surrendered to the Red Army.

Commanders

Generalmajor Josef Harpe (05 Oct 1940 - 14 Jan 1942)
Generalleutnant Walter Wessel (15 Jan 1942 - 01 Mar 1943)
Oberst Erpo Freiherr von Bodenhausen (01 Mar 1943 - 01 May 1943) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Erpo Freiherr von Bodenhausen (01 May 1943 - 02 Jun 1944)
Oberst Hans-Joachim Kahler (03 Jun 1944 - 25 Jun 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Gerhard Müller (26 Jun 1944 - 16 July 1944) m.d.F.b.
Generalleutnant Erpo Freiherr von Bodenhausen (16 July 1944 - 12 Apr 1945)
Oberst von Usedom (13 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945) m.d.st.F.b.

Area of operations

Germany (Oct 1940 - July 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (July 1941 - Sep 1941)
Eastern front, northern sector (Sep 1941 - Nov 1942)
Eastern front, central sector (Nov 1942 - Feb 1944)
Eastern front, northern sector (Feb 1944 - Aug 1944)
Kurland pocket (Aug 1944 - May 1945)

Nicknames

Pommerische Division (Pommeranian Division)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Close Combat Clasp in Gold (1)
- Wilke, Rudolf, 20.04.1945, Obergefreiter, MG-Schütze i. d. Div.Begl.Kp./12. Pz.Div.
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (12)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (3)
- Bruss, [first name not listed], 07.11.1941 (22), Unteroffizier, 6./Schtz.Rgt. 25
- Schwarz, Peter, 20.08.1944 [Date of Action] (529), Feldwebel, 3./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 25
- Wiek, Marcellus, 13.10.1944 [Date of Action] (o.Nr.), Gefreiter, 1.(gp)/Pz.Gren.Rgt. 25
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (131)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (2)
- Brosien-Bueschler, Alexander, 22.04.1945, Hauptmann d.R., Stab 12. Pz.Div.
- Friedrichsdorf, Gerhard, 21.02.1945, Leutnant, Vers.Kp. I.(gp.)/Pz.Gren.Rgt. 25
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (42)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (54)
Holders of the Romanian Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd Class (Orden “Michael der Tapfere” III. Klasse) (1)
- Roekner, Martin, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 907 / 31.03.1943, Hauptmann, Art.Rgt. 2 (mot)
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (2)
- 8./Artillerie-Regiment (mot) 2
-- Date/Place of Downing: 26.09.1941 bei Possjolek
-- Award Date: 29.11.1941 (31)
- 1./Panzer-Artillerie-Regiment 2
-- Date/Place of Downing: 08.07.1943 bei Gnilez
-- Award Date: 01.11.1943 (410)

Order of battle (Summer 1943)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- Mapping Detachment (mot)
29. Panzer Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Signal Platoon
- Regimental Band
- Battalion
5. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Band
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- 2 x Battalion
- Infantry Gun Company (mot)
25. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Band
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- 2 x Battalion
- Infantry Gun Company (mot)
12. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Armored Car Company
- Armored Car Company (half-track)
- Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
2. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Panzerjäger Company (mot)
- Panzerjäger Company (self-propelled)
303. Army Flak Battalion
- Staff & Staff Battery (mot)
- 2 x Heavy Flak Battery (mot)
- Light Flak Battery (mot)
- Flak Battery (self-propelled)
- Light Flak Supply Column (mot)
2. Panzer Artillery Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Staff Battery
- 2 x Battalion
- Battalion (mot)
- Battalion (self-propelled)
- Observation Battery (mot)
2. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Telephone Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Light Signals Supply Column
32. Panzer Pioneer Battalion
- Staff
- Pioner Company (half-track)
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko K Bridging Column
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
Supply & Support Units

Notable members

Werner Thofern (son of Generalmajor Wilhelm Thofern and winner of the Knight's Cross on 25 August 1941 with Schützen-Regiment 5)
Herbert Vahl (Served in Panzer-Regiment 29, later division-commander in the Waffen-SS)

Panzer IV of Panzer-Regiment 29 on the Eastern front 1944
panzer4-pzreg29-east1944
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Panzer II on the Eastern front 1941
panzer2-12pzdiv-1941
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Vehicles from 12. Panzer-Division on the Eastern Front in June 1941
pzdiv-12-car-motorcycles
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Sources used

Microfilm Publication A-3356, German Officer Personnel files, NARA
RKT & DKiGT karteikarten, BA/MA
Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp - Die Generale des Heeres 1921-1945
François de Lannoy & Josef Charita - Panzertruppen: German armored troops 1935-1945
Wolf Keilig - Die Generale des Heeres
Andris Kursietis - Die Wehrmacht at War 1939-1945
Kurt Mehner - Die Deutsche Wehrmacht 1939-1945: Führung und Truppe
Samuel W. Mitcham Jr - The Panzer Legions: A guide to the German Army Tank Divisions of WWII and Their Commanders
Peter Schmitz, Klaus-Jürgen Thies, Günter Wegmann & Christian Zweng - Die deutschen Divisionen 1939-1945 (4 Vol)
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Günther Wegmann - Die Ritterkreuzträger der Deutschen Wehrmacht, Teil VIII a: Panzertruppe, Band 1
Günter Wegmann & Christian Zweng - Formationsgeschichte u. Stellenbesetzung der deutschen Streitkräfte, 1815-1990, Teile IV, Abt. 1:  Die Dienststellen, Kommandobehörden u. Truppenteile des Heeres, Oct.35-May.45
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Gerd Niepold - 12.Panzer Division (2.Inf.Div.) 1921-1945

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