Thursday, February 19, 2015

Festungs Schneidemühl redux

Festung Schneidemühl was formally constituted on 12 Oct 1944 with the appointment of a Festungs-Kommandant, but not much was done to prepare the defenses of the small city until the Soviet winter offensive began on 12 January. By 8 Feb 1945 the fortress garrison consisted of four static regiments made up of mostly Volkssturm, Alarm and "Gneisenau" formations, two fortress machine gun battalions, 8 battalions of school and miscellaneous troops, a recon battalion, a naval infantry battalion, an artillery battalion and an assault gun battalion. These are all identified in Tessin, volume XIV, p.226.

The battle for Schneidemühl began on 10 February when 1st Belorussian Front launched a powerful drive through eastern Pomerania toward the Baltic. Schneidemühl was astride the east-west and north-south lines of communication and had to be quickly taken. By 14 February the majority of the garrison had been overrun and destroyed, although a few small pockets held out until 17 February. “Festung” Schneidemühl fell after only a few days of fighting because the garrison consisted of overage and poorly equipped emergency units and school troops who were expected to hold out against an assault by a vastly superior force of combat-hardened Soviet tank units and accompanying infantry. German losses were high but I have never seen a listing of the numbers.

I do not believe there are any detailed English language accounts of the defense of Schneidemühl, but there are several in German and Russian

Festung Schneidemühl (per Tessin)
The Festungs-Kommandant was established on 12.10.1944. By 25.1.1945, the existing 4 Gneisenau-, 2 Alarm-, and 2 Volkssturm-Battalions were organized; and were then used to create the following units as part of the 11th Army on 8.2.1945:
Regiment Mentz I-II.
Regiment Bonin I-IV.
Regiment Möring I-II.,
Compare with the units mentioned by author Murawski in "Die Eroberung Pommerns":
4 Stellungs-Regiments: Bonin, Obermeier, Schwarzmeier and Sann.
Engaged according to the FpU:
Festungs-MG-Abteilung Schneidemühl I
Festungs-MG-Abteilung Schneidemühl II.
Also engaged (according to Murawski):
Bataillon (Heeresunteroffizierschulen) Kolberg, Eutin, Treptow
Bataillon Belgard, Anklam, Schneidemühl, Hannover, Feldherrnhalle
Aufklärungs-Abteilung Stolp
Marine-Bataillon (23. Schiffs-Stamm Abteilung) Deutsch - Krone
I./Artillerie-Lehr-Regiment 5 (Groß-Born)
Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung Graf Dohna (Wespe, Hummel).

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