Order of Battle – Army & Panzer Groups / Schlachtordnung – Armee & Panzergruppen

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Army Group A – Heeresgruppe A

Army Group A (Heeresgruppe A) was the name of several German Army Groups during World War II. During the Battle of France, the army group named Army Group A was composed of 45½ divisions, including 7 armored panzer divisions. It was responsible for breaking through the heavily-forested Ardennes region. The operation, which was part of Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), was resoundingly successful for the Germans, as the army group outflanked the best troops of France and its allies, eventually leading to France’s surrender.

In 1942, Army Group South on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Union was split into Army Group A and Army Group B, and Army Group A was responsible for the invasion into the Caucasus. In 1945, months before the fall of Nazi Germany, Army Group A was renamed Army Group Centre.

Army Group Africa – Heeresgruppe Afrika*

As the number of German troops committed to the North African Campaign of World War II grew from the initial commitment of a small corps the Germans developed a more elaborate command structure and placed the enlarged Afrika Korps, with Italian units under this new German command and a succession of commands were created to manage Axis forces in Africa.  This was the second command structure during the Afrika campaign being Panzer Group Africa from February 1943 to 13 May 1943.

In February 1943, the headquarters was expanded and called Army Group Africa (German: Heeresgruppe Afrika) to manage the defense of Tunisia during the final stages of the North African Campaign. Army Group Africa included the German Fifth Panzer Army (5. Panzerarmee) and the Italian 1st Army. Command of the Army Group was turned over from Rommel to Hans-Jürgen von Arnim in March. He surrendered the Army Group on 13 May 1943, ending the Axis presence in Africa.

Army Group B – Heeresgruppe B

Army Group B (German: Heeresgruppe B) was the title of three German Army Groups that saw action during World War II.
Army Group B first took part in the Battle for France in 1940 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

The second formation of Army Group B was established when Army Group South was divided for the Summer Offensive of 1942 on the Eastern Front. Army Group B was given the task of protecting the northern flank of Army Group A and included the 6th Army during the Battle of Stalingrad. In February 1943, Army Group B and Army Group Don were combined to create a new Army Group South.

A new Army Group B was formed in northern Italy under Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in July 1943. Its task was to secure Northern Italy after the Overthrow of Mussolini and to disarm the Italian Army there as part of Operation Achse.

After the stabilization of the front on the Winter Line south of Rome by Kesselring’s Army Group C and the creation of the Salo Republic in Northern Italy, Army Group B was moved to Northern France on 26 November 1943. Army Group B participated in the Battle of Normandy. On 19 July 1944, Field Marshal Günther von Kluge took command from the injured Rommel and on 17 August, Field Marshal Walter Model replaced Kluge.

Moving to the Low Countries, Model with his HQ located at Osterbeek close to Arnhem was surprised on the 17 September by the start of Operation Market Garden. The army group also participated in the Battle of the Bulge. The army group was isolated in the Ruhr Pocket in northern Germany, and after being divided up into smaller and smaller sections, the final section surrendered to the Allies on 21 April 1945.

Army Group C – Heeresgruppe C*

Army Group C (German: Heeresgruppe C) was an army group of the German Wehrmacht, that was formed twice during the Second World War.

Army Group C was formed from Army Group 2 in Frankfurt on 26 August 1939. It initially commanded all troops on Germany’s western front but after the Polish campaign, it was reduced to commanding the southern half of the western front, overseeing the frontal breakthrough through the Maginot Line during June 1940. At the end of the Battle of France, it moved back to Germany than under the cover name “Section Staff East Prussia” moved to East Prussia on 20 April 1941. On 21 June 1941, it was renamed Army Group North.

It was re-formed on 26 November 1943, by being separated from the staff of Supreme Commander South (OB Süd Luftwaffe) and put in command of the Southwestern Front and the Italian Campaign. As such, the commander of Heeresgruppe C served also as the Oberbefehlshaber (OB) Südwest.

On 2 May 1945 Army Group C surrendered.

Army Group Centre Rear Area – Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Mitte

Army Group Centre Rear Area (German: Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Mitte) was one of the three Army Group Rear Area Commands, established during the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. Initially commanded by General Max von Schenckendorff, it was an area of military jurisdiction behind Wehrmacht’s Army Group Centre. The Group Centre Rear Area’s outward function was to provide security behind the fighting troops.

Army Group Courland – Heeresgruppe Kurland*

Army Group Courland (German: Heeresgruppe Kurland) was a German Army Group on the Eastern Front which was created from remnants of the Army Group North, isolated in the Courland Peninsula by the advancing Soviet Army forces during the 1944 Baltic Offensive of the Second World War. The army group remained isolated until the end of World War II in Europe. All units of the Army Group were ordered to surrender by the capitulated Wehrmacht command on 8 May 1945.

At the time agreed for all German armed forces to end hostilities, the Sixteenth and Eighteenth armies of Army Group Courland, commanded by General of Infantry Carl Hilpert, ended hostilities at 23:00, on 8 May 1945, surrendering to Leonid Govorov, commander of the Leningrad Front. By the evening of 9 May 1945 189,000 German troops, including 42 officers in the rank of general, in the Courland Pocket had surrendered.

Army Group D – Heeresgruppe D

Army Group D (German: Heeresgruppe D) was a German Army Group that saw action during World War II.

Army Group D was formed on 26 October 1940 in France, its initial cadre coming from the disbanded Army Group C. On 15 April 1941, the status of Army Group D was upgraded. From that date on, the commander of Army Group D was also to be considered Oberbefehlshaber West (or OB WEST – the Commander in Chief for the Western Theatre). As a result of this, Army Group D is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Army Group West.

Army Group Don – Heeresgruppe Don

Army Group Don (German: Heeresgruppe Don) was a short-lived army group of the German Army during World War II.

On 20 November, Hitler ordered again to reorganize the southern front in the Soviet Union. The order was the following: “Between the Army Group A and B at the turn of the river Don has to be sent another Army Group.” Army Group Don was created as an attempt to hold the line between Army Group A and Army Group B.

Army Group Don was created from the headquarters of the Eleventh Army in the southern sector of the Eastern Front on 22 November 1942. Army Group Don only lasted until February 1943 when it was combined with Army Group B and was made into the new Army Group South.

The only commander of Army Group Don during its short history was Field Marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) Erich von Manstein. It consisted of the Sixth Army in the Stalingrad pocket, which included the encircled elements of the 4th Panzer Army, together with the Romanian Third Army.

Zhukov stated, “We now know that Manstein’s plan to rescue the encircled forces at Stalingrad was to organize two shock forces – at Kotelnikovo and Tormosin.” The attempt “was a total failure.”

Army Group E – Heeresgruppe E*

Army Group E (German: Heeresgruppe E) was a German Army Group during World War II.

Army Group E was created on 1 January 1943 from the 12th Army. Units from this Army Group were distributed throughout the Eastern Mediterranean area, including Albania, Greece, the Territory of the Military Commander in Serbia, and the Independent State of Croatia.

Army Group F – Heeresgruppe F

Army Group F (German: Heeresgruppe F) was a strategic command formation of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War. The commander of Army Group F served also as the Oberbefehlshaber Südost (OB South East).

Created 12 August 1943, at Bayreuth (WK XIII), it was primarily stationed in the Balkans. Its commander from August 1943 was Maximilian von Weichs promoted to Generalfeldmarschall on 1 February 1943, with Lieutenant General Hermann Foertsch serving as the Chief of Staff. Its primary participation in combat was in defending against possible Allied invasion in what was seen as Germany’s weak underbelly and fighting off local partisan groups that were gaining strength. In late 1944, it oversaw the German retreat from Greece and most of Yugoslavia in the wake of the Budapest Offensive.

The Army Group included for much of the war the 2nd Panzer Army in Yugoslavia and Albania, and the Army Group E in Greece.

Army Group G – Heeresgruppe G

The German Army Group G (German: Heeresgruppe G) fought on the Western Front of World War II and was a component of OB West.

When the Allied Invasion of Southern France took place, Army Group G had eleven divisions with which to hold France south of the Loire. Between August 17 and 18, the German Armed Forces High Command ordered Army Group G with the exception of the troops holding the fortress ports to abandon southern France. The German LXIV Corps, which had been in charge of troops in the southwest since the First Army had been withdrawn a few weeks earlier to hold the line on the River Seine southeast of Paris, formed three march groups and withdrew eastward toward Dijon. At the same time, the German Nineteenth Army retreated northward through the Rhône valley toward the Plateau de Langres where it was joined by the German Fifth Panzer Army which was assigned to Army Group G so that a counter-attack could be delivered against the United States Third Army. The retreat did not go according to plan, as the Nineteenth Army retreated many personnel of Army Group G were taken prisoner by the Sixth United States Army Group. By the time the retreat was over, General Johannes Blaskowitz had lost about half his force and was relieved on 21 September by General Hermann Balck. By mid-September, the Fifth were in position on the left-wing of the German line north of the Swiss border. From there the Fifth Panzer with elements of the First attacked the United States Third Army, while the much reduced German 19th Army opposed the French First Army and the U.S. Seventh Army under General Alexander M. Patch.

Army Group G fought in the Vosges Mountains during November 1944 and retreated through Lorraine and north Alsace during December. In late November 1944, Army Group G temporarily lost responsibility for the German troops in the Colmar Pocket and on the Rhine River south of the Bienwald to the short-lived Army Group Oberrhein. In January 1945, the Army Group attacked in Operation Nordwind, the last big German counter-attack on the Western Front. With the failure of Nordwind and the ejection of the Germans from the Colmar Pocket, Army Group Oberrhein was dissolved and Army Group G reassumed responsibility for the defense of southwestern Germany.

Unable to halt the offensive by Allied troops that cleared the Rhineland-Palatinate and subsequently assaulted over the Rhine River, Army Group G’s troops nevertheless fought to defend the cities of Heilbronn, Crailsheim, Nuremberg and Munich during April 1945.

Army Group G surrendered to U.S. forces at Haar, in Bavaria, in Germany on May 5, 1945.

Army Group H – Heeresgruppe H

Army Group H (Heeresgruppe H) was a German army group in the Netherlands and in Nordrhein-Westfalen during World War II.

Army Group H which stood for Holland was activated on 11 November 1944 in the Netherlands. It contained the 1st Parachute Army and the 15th Army and in January 1945 replaced by the 25th Army. It garrisoned the Netherlands with twelve divisions. In March 1945, the army group became Heeresgruppe Nordwest under Ernst Busch the Oberbefehlshaber Nordwest (OB Nordwest, the Northwest High Command). After being pushed from the Rhine by Operation Varsity on 4 May 1945, OB Nordwest capitulated on the Lüneburger Heide to Field Marshal Montgomery.

Army Group North – Heeresgruppe Nord

Army Group North (German: Heeresgruppe Nord) was a German strategic echelon formation, commanding a grouping of field armies during World War II. The army group was subordinated to the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH), the German army high command, and coordinated the operations of attached separate army corps, reserve formations, rear services, logistics, and the Army Group North Rear Area.

Army Group North Rear Area – Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Nord

Army Group North Rear Area (Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Nord) was one of the three Army Group Rear Area Commands, established during the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. Initially commanded by General Franz von Roques, it was an area of military jurisdiction behind Wehrmacht’s Army Group North. The Group North Rear Area’s outward function was to provide security behind the fighting troops.

Army Group North Ukraine – Heeresgruppe Nordukraine

The Army Group North Ukraine (German: Heeresgruppe Nordukraine) was a major formation of the German army in World War II.

It was created on 5 April 1944 by renaming Army Group South under Generalfeldmarschall Walter Model. In April 1944, it consisted of the 1st Panzer Army and 4th Panzer Army. In the Summer of 1944, it opposed the Red Army’s 1st Ukrainian Front during the Lviv-Sandomir Strategic Offensive Operation from 13 July – 29 August 1944. In August 1944, the 4th Panzer Army and the 17th Army defended between the Carpathian mountains and the Pripyat swamps in Galicia. In September 1944, it was renamed to Army Group A.

Army Group Oberrhein – Upper Rhine High Command – Oberkommando Oberrhein

The Upper Rhine High Command (German: Oberkommando Oberrhein), also incorrectly referred to as Army Group Upper Rhine was a short-lived headquarters unit of the Wehrmacht created on the Western Front during World War II. The Upper Rhine High Command was formed on 26 November 1944 and deactivated on 25 January 1945. The sole commander of this headquarters unit was Heinrich Himmler.

Although English language sources refer to this command as an army group, the German term Oberkommando actually means high command. As such, the Oberrhein command was not an army group subordinated to theater command, but a command of importance equal to that of theater command and one which reported directly to Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) and Adolf Hitler. The German term Oberrhein refers to the upper reaches of the Rhine River, the geographical area for which this command had defense responsibility.

Army Group Ostmark – Heeresgruppe Ostmark

Army Group Ostmark (German: Heeresgruppe Ostmark) was a German army group formed very late in World War II.

Army Group Ostmark was formed on 2 April 1945 from the remnants of Army Group South (Heeresgruppe Süd). Army Group Ostmark was operational in Austria and Czechoslovakia. Army Group Ostmark was one of the last major German military formations to surrender to the Allies. The only commander during the 36-day existence of this army group, Dr. Lothar Rendulic, surrendered it in Saint Martin, Upper Austria, on 7 May 1945.

Army Group South – Heeresgruppe Süd

Army Group South (German: Heeresgruppe Süd) was the name of a number of German Army Groups during World War II.

Germany used two army groups to invade Poland in 1939: Army Group North and Army Group South. In this campaign, Army Group South was led by Gerd von Rundstedt and his chief of staff Erich von Manstein.

Army Group South was one of three army groups into which the Germans organized their forces for Operation Barbarossa. Army Group South’s principal objective was to capture Ukraine and its capital Kyiv. Ukraine was a major center of the Soviet industry and mining and had the good farmland required for Hitler’s plans for Lebensraum (‘living space’).

Army Group South was then to advance up to the Volga River, subsequently draining a portion of the Red Army and thus clearing the way for the Army Group North and the Army Group Center on their approach to Leningrad and Moscow respectively.

To carry out these initial tasks its battle order included the First Panzer Group(Gen. Kliest) and the German Sixth ( Gen. Reichenau), Seventeenth (Gen. Stulpagel) and Eleventh (Gen. Shobert) Armies, Luftlotte 1(Keller) and the Romanian Third and Fourth Armies.

The German Sixth Army, which fought in the destructive Battle of Stalingrad, was re-constituted and later made part of Army Group South.

In preparation for Operation Blue, the 1942 campaign in southern Russia and the Caucasus, Army Group South was split into two armies: Army Group A and Army Group B.

In February 1943, Army Group Don and the existing Army Group B were combined and re-designated Army Group South. A new Army Group B became a major formation elsewhere.

On 4 April 1944, Army Group South was re-designated Army Group North Ukraine. Army Group North Ukraine existed from 4 April to 28 September.

In September 1944, Army Group South Ukraine was again re-designated Army Group South.

At the end of World War II in Europe, Army Group South was again renamed. As Army Group Ostmark, the remnants of Army Group South ended the warfighting in and around Austria and Czechoslovakia. Army Group Ostmark was one of the last major German military formations to surrender to the Allies.

Army Group South Rear Area – Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Süd

Army Group South Rear Area (Rückwärtiges Heeresgebiet Süd) was one of the three Army Group Rear Area Commands, established during the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union. Commanded by General Karl von Roques, it was an area of military jurisdiction behind Wehrmacht’s Army Group South. The Group South Rear Area’s outward function was to provide security behind the fighting troops.

Army Group South Ukraine / Heeresgruppe Südukraine

Army Group South Ukraine (German: Heeresgruppe Südukraine) was a German army group on the Eastern Front during World War II.

Army Group South Ukraine was created on 5 April 1944 by renaming Army Group A. This army group saw action during the Jassy-Kishinev Operation and after taking heavy casualties was redesignated Army Group South (Heeresgruppe Süd) on 23 September 1944.

Army Group Vistula – Heeresgruppe Weichsel

Army Group Vistula (German: Heeresgruppe Weichsel) was an Army Group of the Wehrmacht, formed on 24 January 1945. It lasted for 105 days, having been put together from elements of Army Group A which were shattered in the Soviet Vistula-Oder Offensive, Army Group Centre similarly largely destroyed in the East Prussian Offensive, and a variety of new or ad hoc formations. It was formed to protect Berlin from the Soviet armies advancing from the Vistula River.

Panzer Group Africa – Panzergruppe Afrika*

As the number of German troops committed to the North African Campaign of World War II grew from the initial commitment of a small corps the Germans developed a more elaborate command structure and placed the enlarged Afrika Korps, with Italian units under this new German command and a succession of commands were created to manage Axis forces in Africa.  This was the second command structure during the Afrika campaign being Panzer Group Africa from 15 August 1941 to 30 January 1942.

When the Afrika Korps was formed on 11 January 1941, it was subordinated to the Italian chain of command in Africa. In the middle of 1941, Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW, Armed Forces High Command) created a larger command structure in Africa, forming a new headquarters, Panzer Group Africa (German: Panzergruppe Afrika). On 15 August 1941, Panzer Group Africa was activated with newly promoted General der Panzertruppe Erwin Rommel in command. The Panzer Group controlled the Afrika Korps and other units that were sent to Africa, notably the 90th Light Infantry Division, and the Italian X Corps and XX Corps.

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