The Brabant village Oisterwijk and Operation Market-Garden

The Battle for ‘s-Hertogenbosch from the German perspective

The German prehistory

712 I.D.
712 I.D.
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

A. Prehistory:

 

    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 had

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.

 

b) Artillery:

 

  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 Btl.

                  about a 100 Panzerfausts. (preloaded launch tube anti-tank weapons)

 

d) Engineers:

 

  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 old

   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

   engineering equipment.

 

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 heavy

   loads that was only partly solved by collecting most of the troop transports from

   the area.

 

   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)  

2 Average-Btl.

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.

3 Luftwaffen-ground personnel-Komp (company)

TRANSLATION OF THE GERMAN DOCUMENTS