Tank Destroyer Battalion 251
Hauptmann Heinrich Köhl was member of the Staff of XIII. Panzerkampfgruppe (Oberst von Massenbach). He was ordered to take over substitution command over the heavy Panzerjägerabteilung 251. This outfit belonged to the former 251. Infanterie Division which was scattered at the Warka-Bridgehead in Poland. Heavy Panzerjägerabteilung consisted of 14 HETZERs and 12 Anti-Tank guns 7,5 cm. In March 1945 the outfit received 10 new HETZERs from a depot, the vehicles didn't have the camouflage painting yet.
In the morning of 27 March 1945, Hauptmann Köhl and his Panzerjägerabteilung (9 or 10 HETZERs and a HETZER recovery tank) were ordered by Wehrkreiskommando (military district command) XIII to move from the Schweinfurt area via Bad Kissingen to Hammelburg by rail. He arrived in Hammelburg at about 09:00 h.
According to the observations of Mr. Georg Schlereth, the tank destroyers had already running engines while still on flat cars, when the troop train arrived at Hammelburg station.
After the unloading, the tank destroyers moved on the Fuldaerstraße towards the north west. At the loam pit the tank destroyers assembled. In the sky an observation aircraft emerged and circled over the tank destroyer company of Hauptmann Köhl (may be a message about the position of Task Force Baum was dropped). The HETZERs left their assembly area and moved from Hammelburg - Saalebridge - Reichsstraße 27 - Untereschenbach - towards Diebach, where the tank destroyers took positions at the road from Diebach to Waizenbach, to intercept Task Force Baum. Hauptmann Köhl assumed, that the enemy would come from the west, because the small bridge at Michelau was to weak to carry heavy vehicles - a fatal error.
The Anti-Tank guns were deployed around Hammelburg. One gun was in a garden near the rail-road station looking towards the Reichsstraße 27 direction of Bad Brückenau.
(Click on the vehicles to see details)
We still research if there were 9 or 10 HETZERs in this outfit. The supply half-tracks carried the ammunition and the fuel for the HETZERs. If these half-tracks came also by railroad transport or marched to Hammelburg, has still to be researched.
2002 © Copyright Peter Domes - Date of last change: 2016-08-07