Flag of Wehrmacht

Flag of the Wehrmacht

The 12th Panzergrenadier Division, nicknamed the "Dutch Grenadiers" because of the large force of Dutch replacements sent to refill the manpower of the unit in 1944, was an infantry division that was created in 1939 during the remobilization of the Wehrmacht. It fought on the Western Front, in the Belgium Front and Holland Front, and was destroyed in the Battle of the Bulge.

History Edit

The 12th Panzergrenadier Division was created on August 30, 1939, in preparation for the invasion of Poland a day later. However, it was not used in combat until June 22, 1941, when they were dispatched to the Eastern Front. They fought with some merit at the Battle of Tula in December, and in October 1942, they were transferred to France to defend the Atlantic Wall. They were one of the units who held Sword Beach, and the Canadians pushed them back, retreating northwards rather than deeper into France. They fought along the shoreline with the Czechs and British, and by September 1, they were defending Holland from Axis advances. They fought in the Battle of Kalmthout on September 12, where over 500 of their troops were killed and 900 were wounded. Their nickname, the "Dutch Grenadiers", came from how much of the soldiers fighting for the division were Dutch conscripts. In early 1945, they fought in the Battle of Bure in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge, and they lost 3,000 killed or wounded by the end of the month of January. Major-General Leopold Strauss-Mecklenburger, in command of the division, surrendered it to the Western Allies at Westerbork in April 1945, with some 3,000 of the original 5,000 falling into Allied captivity. Many of the grenadiers were released from parole because they were Dutch, and rounded up to join the force, or else they would be shot by the SS.

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