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The 5. Panzer-Division was formed in November 1938 in Oppeln. It fought in Poland and France before supplying Panzer Regiment 15 to the forming 11. Panzer-Division.
It took part in the campaign in the Balkans before transferring to the Eastern front where it fought on the central sector. It took part in the drive against Moscow and later fought at Kursk before being pushed back into Latvia, Kurland and finally East Prussia where it surrendered to the Red Army in April 1945 near Danzig.

Following the Balkan campaign the 5. Kompanie of Panzer-Regiment 31 with 5 Panzer II and 17 Panzer III was detached from the division to be used in the invasion of Crete where it was used to form Panzer-Abteilung Kreta. Two Panzer II from this kompanie were transfered to Crete by a small harbor tug under the command of Oberleutnant-zur-See Albert Oesterlin following urgent requests from the airborne troops fighting on the island.

Kradschützen-Bataillon 55 were also sent to Crete to take part in the invasion. 2./ KSB 55 and 5./ KSB 55 to be transferred by boat but convoy was attacked and largely destroyed by the Royal Navy. 3./KSB 55 were transferred by Ju 52 aircraft on 26 May and was soon followed by the other elements of the battalion. Under the command of Oberstleutnant Schacke they fought to help break the encirclement around the fallschirmjäger, engage the retreating Allied forces and establish the liaison with the Italian forces landing in the east of the island.
In the following days it advanced east in pursuit of the Allies, at Rethimnon some 400 Greek soldiers were taken prisoner on 29 May and on the 30th it took part in the attack on the Australian forces near Rethimnon capturing some 1.500 Australian soldiers and freeing 300 German POWs.

Commanders

Generalleutnant Heinrich von Viettinghoff genannt Scheel (24 Nov 1938 - 22 Oct 1939)
Generalleutnant Max Hartlieb genannt von Walsporn (23 Oct 1939 - 22 May 1940)
General der Artillerie Joachim Lemelsen (22 May 1940 - 24 Nov 1940)
Generalmajort Gustav Fehn (25 Nov 1940 - 30 Apr 1942)
Oberst Kurt Haseloff (01 May 1942 - ?? Jun 1942) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Gustav Fehn (?? Jun 1942 - 25 Sep 1942)
Generalmajor Eduard Metz (25 Sep 1942 - 1 Feb 1943)
Oberst Johannes Nedtwig (1 Feb 1943 - 07 May 1943) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Ernst Felix Fäckenstedt (07 May 1943 - 31 Aug 1943)
Oberst Eduard Crasemann (31 Aug 1943 - 7 Sep 1943) m.d.F.b.
Oberst Karl Decker (7 Sep 1943 - 30 Nov 1943) m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Karl Decker (1 Dec 1943 - 29 Dec 1943)
Oberst Heinrich-Walter Bronsart von Schellendorf (30 Dec 1943 - 29 Jan 1944) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalleutnant Karl Decker (30 Jan 1944 - 15 Oct 1944)
Oberst Rolf Lippert (16 Oct 1944 - 31 Dec 1944)m.d.F.b.
Generalmajor Rolf Lippert (1 Jan 1945 - 10 Feb 1945) (1)
Generalmajor Günther Hoffmann-Schönborn (18 Feb 1945 - 8 Apr 1945)
Oberstleutnant der Reserve Hans Herzog (9 Apr 1945 - 18 Apr 1945) m.d.st.F.b.
Generalmajor Karl Koetz (18 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Area of operations

Poland (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
France (May 1940 - Apr 1941)
Balkans & Greece (Apr 1941 - June 1941)
Eastern front, central sector (June 1941 - July 1944)
Eastern front, northern sector (July 1944 - Mar 1945)
Danzig (Mar 1945 - May 1945)

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (4)
- Aust, Friedrich, 07.10.1943 (2224), Unteroffizier, Pz.Jäg.Fhr. i. d. 2./Pz.Jäg.Abt. 53
- Cetto, Walter, 16.10.1942 (1326), Oberstleutnant, Kdr. III./Pz.Art.Rgt. 116
- Gudelius, Alfred, 08.02.1942 (659), Major, Kdr. II./Schtz.Rgt. 14
- Henrici, Friedrich-Karl, 17.12.1943 (2630), Major, Kdr. II./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 13
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (1)
- Meißner, [first name not listed], 01.05.1944 (485), Leutnant, Stab/Pz.Gren.Rgt. 14
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (24)
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (128)
Holders of the German Cross in Silver (2)
- Hartmann, Martin, 27.09.1944, Heeres-Hauptwerkmeister, Versorgungs-Kp II./Pz.Gren.Rgt. 13
- Moolen van der, Heinrich, 30.11.1944, Heeres-Werkmeister d.R., Werkstatt.Kp. 2./85
Holders of the Knight's Cross (57)
Holders of the Knight's Cross to the War Merit Cross (1)
- Benoit, Wilhelm 13.09.1943 Heeres-Hauptwerkmeister Pz.Inst.Kp/Pz.Rgt.31

Order of battle (September 1939)

HQ
- 85. Motorcycle Messenger Platoon
- 85. Mapping Detachment (mot)
5. Schützen Brigade
- 2 x Regiment
- Light Infantry Column (mot)
8. Panzer Brigade
- 2 x Regiment
8. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 2 x Armored Car Platoon
- Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
116. Artillery Regiment
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- Weather Detachment (mot)
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
53. Panzerabwehr Battalion
- Signals Platoon (mot)
- 3 x Battery (mot)
77. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Signals Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Panzer Signals Supply Column
89. Pioneer Battalion
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko H (mot)
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
Support & Supply Units

Order of battle (1943)

HQ
- Divisional Staff
- 85. Mapping Detachment (mot)
31. Panzer Regiment
- Battalion
14. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- Battalion (half-track)
- Battalion (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
13. Panzergrenadier Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- Regimental Staff Company (mot)
- 2 x Battalion (mot)
- Infantry Gun Company (self-propelled)
53. Panzerjäger Battalion
- Panzerjäger Company (mot)
- Panzerjäger Company (self-propleed)
2. Reconnaissance Battalion
- Armored Car Company
- 3 x Motorcycle Company
- Heavy Reconnaissance Company (mot)
- Light Reconnaissance Supply Column (mot)
116. Panzer Artillery Regiment
- Regimental Staff
- 2 x Battalion
- Battalion (self-propelled)
- Battalion (mot)
- Observation Battery (mot)
288. Army Flak Battalion
- Staff & Staff Battery
- 2 x Heavy Flak Battery
- Light Flak Battery
- Flak Battery (self-propelled)
- Light Flak Supply Column (mot)
39. Panzer Pioneer Battalion
- Staff
- Pioneer Company (half-track)
- 2 x Pioneer Company (mot)
- Brüko K Bridging Column
- Light Pioneer Supply Column (mot)
77. Panzer Signals Battalion
- Panzer Telephone Company
- Panzer Radio Company
- Light Signals Supply Column (mot)
85. Feldersatz Battalion
- 4 x Company
Supply & Support Units

Notable members

Rolf Lippert (Gold medal winner in the Team eventing in the 1936 Olympics)

Panzer IV Ausf D of 5. Panzer-Division in France 1940
panzer4-d-5panzer-france1940
(Courtesy of Magnus)

15 cm sIG 33 auf Panzer I in Greece 1941
pzdiv-5-sig33-greece
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Panther of 5. Panzer-Division in the east during the summer of 1944
pzdiv-5-panther-east-1944
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Vehicles of the reconnaissance battalion enter Athens 27 April 1941
pzdiv-5-recon-athens
(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Footnotes

1. Generalmajor Lippert became ill on 10 February, was evacuated to Germany and died on 1 April, 1945.

Sources used

Microfilm Publication A-3356, German Officer Personnel files, NARA
RKT & DKiGT karteikarten, BA/MA
Walter Ansel - Hitler and the Middle Sea
Dermot Bradley, Karl-Friedrich Hildebrand, Markus Rövekamp - Die Generale des Heeres 1921-1945
Wolf Keilig - Die Generale des Heeres
Andris Kursietis - Die Wehrmacht at War 1939-1945
François de Lannoy & Josef Charita - Panzertruppen: German armored troops 1935-1945
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 Schenk - Kampf um die Ägäis
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

Reference material on this unit

Anton D von Plato - 5. Panzer-Division 1938-1945

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