The German documents with the prehistory of the battle. (Click on the documents to enlarge)
Commander of the German 712 I.D. Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Neumann
In the period from 17.10.44 the higher command had formed the impression
that, before the 712. Inf. Division’s cut off east of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the enemy
presumably had shifted its forces. There were two possible shifts: either the
7.engl.Pz.Div. (British 7th panzer division) which was positioned opposite our
Division during late September was pulled back and swapped for a British Inf. Div.
added to the XII.A.K.(Army Corps), ore the XII.A.K. changed position in the area
opposite our Division to, together with the 7.eng. Pz. Div. and a further added Div.
attack further West, take ‘s-Hertogenbosch and threat the 15th Army’s flank if
not cutting it off from its supply lines.
Its therefore necessary that the area is cleared from the enemy by force.
The assumption that the 7.engl. Pz. Div. had completely moved from the frontline
was denied by the 712. Inf.Div. which was daily prominently visible along the front
line’s with several tanks and reconnaissance vehicles. It was even assumed
after multiple shocktroop infiltrations during the nights that the opposite side
strengthened their Division’s right regiment. The enemy was alert and it was
very difficult to bring in prisoners. Finally it was achieved to have confirmation
about the enemy’s situation during the night of 19./20.10.44 trough 2 prisoners:
along the road ‘s-Hertogenbosch-Hees a Lieutenant (severely wounded and
later diseased) and a Sergeant of the 7.engl.Pz.Div were brought in as prisoners.
In the afternoon of 21.10.44 own conspicuous traffic was attacked by own artillery
in area Kaathoven, the facts relayed.
Though the enemy’s artillery activity proved to be minor until 19.10.44
4 enemy batteries that were shelling the area north of the river Waal
during the night of 19./20.10.44 from the area north of Oss were shelled with
the help of the Divisions artillery clearing bombardments. Thus could be
concluded that it was not a weakening of the enemy’s artillery strength but
that they were regrouping their artillery.
The shock and reconnaissance troops deployed in the night of 21./22.10.44
as during the nights before already had encountered strong dug in enemy tank
positions further to the west. As a result they were unable to fulfill their
objective, bringing in prisoners. When in the end the situation regarding the
enemy’s position reached the Division at 03.15 hrs on 22.10.44 a strong thundering
artillery barrage started on the area south of the Zuid-Willemsvaart. The intensity
of this artillery barrage clearly showed it was meant to clear the way for an
oncoming bigger enemy assault.
Therefore on entering the battle the Division should deploy;
a) Infantry of the Div:
Also deployed were:
The Feldersatz-Btl. (Field replacement Battalion) of the Div. was for the greatest
part deployed at the frontline along the Maas river, although also this Btl.
entirely existed of Luftwaffe recruits with only 3 to 4 weeks of military training.
The Division had at their disposal: 6-1st Battr. (battery) with 17 guns and
1-s. Battr. with 2 guns
Calculated according to the number of guns only 65% had
one ammunition supply available!
c) Anti Tank:
The Division possessed 3 x 8.8 cm Pak (Panzerabwehr kanone): Anti-tank gun
3 x 7.5 cm Pak 40
5 medium Pak
Furthermore 12 Panzerschreck (anti tank rocket launchers) and per
about a 100 Panzerfausts. (preloaded launch tube anti-tank weapons)
As Engineers the Div. only had a weak company Pi.Btl.(Pionier, Engineer battalion)
of the 59 I.D. available of which about 35 Uffz. (officers) and soldiers of the
Pi.Btl.712 Nachkommandos (rearguard of the wehrmacht) from the coastal
defense were added to fill in the ranks so the 1./Pi.Kp.159 (Kp, Corps) all together
existed of a force of more than 100 men, though lacking almost every
e) Communication troops were sufficient in relation to the sort of battle, and
because 150 km of 185 km Division network was in use (by ground cable) only
35 of the 70 available length of cable was to be installed. During this it became
more and more eminent that the Division was more equipped as a ‘Bodenständige’
Division (troops without sufficient transportation to move around on the
battlefield). This was not sufficient for easy movement on the future battlefield.
During former performing on the battlefield it became evident that the
communication equipment was not up to the job it was intended to.
f) Supply troops and transport troops had shrunken badly and could hardly
fulfill their tasks. The problem was the lack off sufficient heavy transport for
loads that was only partly solved by collecting most of the troop transports from
The Division was cut off over a wide area of 27 km of which half was very
difficult for tank movement. The positions were further build out and fortified
during the past three weeks. Aside from 400 T- and 1000 S-mines and several
barriers from cut down trees no other obstacles were constructed.
The fear for the enemy armor could be called overcome at Fusilier-Btl.712 and
II./G.R.745 (Grenadier Regiment) while at I./G.R.732 and Felders.Btl.347 the
fear could be called partly overcome, while the other poorly organized, in battle
not hardened Battalions, could be referred to as not ‘armor hard’.
It can not stay unmentioned that the Division has lost 20 Infantry-Regiment and
Btl.-commanders since May 44, with the result that commanders on 22.10. for
the greatest part were not experienced enough and up to the job during
their period of command.
2 medium strong Btl. (Battalion)
In these 4 Btl. were about 350 young, 3 weeks trained Luftwaffe recruits.
1 Avarage-Field.Btl. of 347.I.D. (Infantry Division)
3 medium strong, not for battle suited Btl. of the Luftwaffe that were put together
from several reserve parachute troops, Marine Batteries, Splinter Groups and even
92 foreigners of all nationalities.