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  ABOVE left: Three of the 76,720 enemy troops captured by the 3rd Armored during 1944-45, and (right) a 128mm Jagdtiger (Hunting Tiger) Tank Destroyer after being knocked out by 3rd Armored artillery during the Paderborn drive. (3AD photos)



From the preface and details cited below, it can be said that the 3rd Armored Division defeated on the field of battle decisively and irrevocably the following German divisions, and that these units may be considered destroyed:

6 separate Panzer Divisions: 2, 9, 11, 2nd SS, 9th SS, 12th SS.
1 Panzer Grenadier Division: 3.
3 separate Parachute Divisions: 3, 5, 6.
4 separate Infantry Divisions: 12, 353, 363, 560.


To a civilian this brings a picture of a silent battlefield on which the enemy is sprawled in death, and of a unit which will never again return to combat. To a soldier in the lines it means nothing at all, for during that particular action he was concerned only with the problem of killing the enemy before they killed him, and many times he was not even sure that the tide of battle was running his way.

Actually, few, if any, divisions are completely destroyed in combat, due to the complex administrative processes of modern armies. The enemy may be hurled from the battlefield in confusion leaving behind vast numbers of prisoners and burning vehicles or he may blunt himself on unexpected and prepared positions. This latter happened at Mons, where the 3rd Armored Division helped to defeat a German army corps. However, in most cases, the division staff and enough of the personnel remained after the fight to become the cadre for the reformation of the unit.

There were cases of "cannibalization," in which a division would be so reduced in personnel and equipment after a battle that another division, usually one which had itself incurred heavy losses in action, would take over the first organization, staff and all. In this case, one division number would disappear from the Order of Battle. The only real instance in which the Germans lost whole divisions was in the Rose Pocket, where units were completely encircled.

Usually a beaten division was able to retire to non-operative status in the rear, there to lick its wounds and refit: then to appear on the lines again. In a broad interpretation of the word, when such a circumstance occurred to an enemy division, it could be called destroyed. It is such destruction that the following list attempts to enumerate.


The following divisions were considered by the Germans to have been destroyed in Normandy. The 3rd Armored Division participated in their destruction.

4 Infantry Divisions: 77, 91, 243, 348.

The following divisions had been almost completely destroyed by the end of the Argentan-Falaise operation. They had been heavily contacted by the 3rd Armored Division during the period.

3 Panzer Divisions: 2, 116, 2nd SS.
1 Panzer Grenadier Division: 17th SS.
2 Parachute Divisions: 3, 5.

The following divisions were so badly cut up at Mons, Belgium, that, although they were later reconstituted, they may be considered destroyed at that time by the 3rd Armored Division. Some indeed were no more than the remnants of divisions destroyed in Normandy which were retreating across France to reform in the Third Reich.

4 Panzer Divisions: 2, 2nd SS, 9, 12th SS.
3 Parachute Divisions: 3, 5, 6.
3 Infantry Divisions: 47, 275, 353.

The following divisions, all of which were heavily engaged by the 3rd Armored Division in the Ardennes, were no more than meager remnants after the operation.

2 Panzer Divisions: 9th SS, 118.
2 Volksgrenadier Divisions: 12, 560.

From this point on it becomes increasingly difficult to determine what constitutes a destroyed division, since the units would lose all their personnel except the division staffs and within two to three weeks, after withdrawing from the line would return to combat, their ranks filled to the tune of 1000 - 3000 former service troops, hospital convalescents, and hastily recruited civilians. Of these following, hardly more than the staffs escaped across the Rhine at the end of the drive to Cologne.

2 Panzer Divisions: 9, 11.
1 Panzer Grenadier Division: 3.
3 Infantry Divisions: 12, 363, 476.

These divisions were destroyed in the Paderborn drive. In addition, the 3rd Armored Division was the major factor in the destruction and capture of the divisions in the Rose Pocket, although not actually participating in their final downfall.

2 Panzer Divisions: 9, 11.
1 Panzer Grenadier Division: 3.
2 Infantry Divisions: 26, 272.

These infantry divisions were decimated at the end of the Dessau operation.

Von Hutton.

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