3rd PanzerGrenDiv in combat near Inden

1.)Introduction:

3rd PanzerGrenDiv was in the Würselen area, northeast of Aachen, prepared for defensive actions, when the American offensive started on 11/16/44. In the course of the enemy's attacks the division fought its way to the rear, eastward. Its defense was based on Altdorf, Inden, and Lamersdorf by 11/27/44. The crucial point was to prevent or at least delay the enemy from advancing to the Roer (Rur) and subsequently the Rhine.

2.)The terrain:

The towns mentioned above are all located in the Inde valley but from there the terrain ascends steeply to the west and soon offers an unobstructed view over Pattern, Lohn , Pützlohn, and even farther. The eastern banks of the Inde are much higher than the western banks, especially in the southern sector of the division. The Lucherberg area offered especially good surveying opportunities for the artillery and later also for the heavy weapons of the infantry.

3.)Our tactical situation:

The defenders lay in positions on the ridge south of Altdorf, Inden, and Lamersdorf. Combat group by combat group, with good cooperation and a good connection to the heavy weapons. Enemy attacks had been repulsed for two days from these positions. The casualties of the battles so far didn't allow anything more than such a loose defense, base by base along the ridge. A consequence of this loose formation was that the defenders survived enemy air raids and artillery fire it also increased the danger of enemy infiltration at dark. A breakthrough was a possibility if one or two bases were to be taken out. Furthermore, it was no longer possible to build up sufficient forces for counterattacks so that the fights in the villages had to be conducted with soldiers who were streaming back from the bases.

4.)The battle on 11/27 and 11/28:

The days between 11/24 and 11/26 were rather quiet from an infantry point of view even though there was strong artillery fire and fighter-bomber activity.

On 11/27/44 the enemy resumed his attack against the Inde bridgehead. With about a battalion each, and tank support, he attacked from Pattern to the east and from Frenz to Lamersdorf. The main-combat line was held in fierce fighting.

On 11/28/44 the enemy formed to attack at about 4 a.m. in the Pattern-Lohn area. Under cover of the night he managed to outflank our widely dispersed bases, just as it had been feared. Some of them fell to the enemy that was coming at them from all directions. Altdorf fell at approximately 7 a.m.

Almost simultaneously, the enemy pushed into the northern part of Inden. The town was defended by parts of PanzerGrenReg 29, which had the Combat Group Nohse as an additional external unit. A counterattack that was immediately started was stopped by the fierce defense after initial gains. The northern part of Inden remained in the hands of the enemy.

Lamersdorf was attacked thrice. The assaults were repelled but the enemy managed to infiltrate the south of the town. A very adeptly conducted counterattack, by only two officers, a few men, and some assault guns, recovered the town. It was completely under our control again.

5.)Assessment of the situation:

The general situation, the broader picture, showed that the battle so far had significantly contributed to slowing down the enemy advance. Every additional day that the Inde bridgehead could be held was a success. But if we wanted to win the battle and especially to hold on to the still intact bridge, we had to recover all of Inden. The uninjured state of the main bridge in Inden, which could still be used by vehicles of all kinds, came as a surprise. The division had expected that all bridges across the Inde would be destroyed in enemy air raids or by long-range artillery. In order to counter the effect we had assembled bridge-building material so that we could have had a chance to cross the river if need be. Even after all available vehicles had left the western banks of the Inde, we still needed armored vehicles and lead vehicles in order to defend the bridgehead. This was another reason why a river crossing had to be kept open. Hence the division ordered a counterattack against the northern part of Inden for early morning of 11/29/44. Naturally, this included defensive activities in the west and south of the town.

6.)The battle on 11/29/44:

The counterattack, led by PanzerGrenReg 29 and the subordinate Combat Group Lohse, gained ground slowly. It was a hard fight, with all the difficulties of in-town combat. The enemy clung to each and every house and despite the gains made in the attack, Inden was not fully recovered. There was still close contact to the enemy on the northern fringes of town. The 84 prisoners that were taken and the enemy casualties, made the attack a success of sorts nevertheless. Enemy pressure on Inden from the north was decreasing. But in the afternoon the enemy attacked Inden from the northwest, supported by tanks. This attack was repulsed and several tanks were disabled. We still held the town.

At dawn of the same day the enemy attacked Lamersdorf, using a battalion and 10 tanks operating out of Frenz. There was tough seesaw combat over there too. In the course of the events the enemy managed to infiltrate Lamersdorf South. The breakthrough was sealed off, however. The successful anti-tank measures and the artillery fire that was directed from the hills near Lucherberg, Had enabled the defenders once again to withstand a force superior in numbers and equipment. But in the early afternoon the enemy attacked again, with stronger forces, we counted 24 tanks. This time the attack came from the northwest, west, and southwest. Assault guns and panzer Jäger disabled five tanks, another one was hit in close-range combat. After all anti-tank guns had been taken out by either enemy fire or defects, the town could no longer be held. The defenders were shifted to the eastern banks after the bridge had been destroyed. Lamersdorf fell to the enemy in the evening hours.

7.)Conclusion:

The division was finally relieved in the night 11/29-30, as far as I remember by 246th VolksGrenDiv in Inden and to the north and by 3rd ParaDiv to the south.

With that the deployment of 3rd PanzerGrenDiv in the Inde area was over. The division had suffered heavy casualties in the fierce defensive battle since 11/16/44. But the division had also contributed to the slowing down of the enemy assault on the Roer, especially with her stand in the Inde bridgehead. This was not without influence on the greater tactical situation.

signed Denkert

Major General