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On the 19th September 1944, the Germans at the Arnhem Road Bridge received further reinforcements in the form of elements of Schwere Panzer Kompanie 'Hummel'. They had been alerted at 0030 on Monday 18th Sept 1944 to entrain immediately which began at 0800 the same day. The kompanie was part of the Panzer-Einsatz-Abteilung 500 stationed in Paderborn, Germany. The kompanie was equipped with 14 fully functional Tigers under the command of Hauptmann Hans Hummel and arrived in Bocholt on the morning of Tuesday 19th September 1944. Due to rail-line being blocked, the unit had to detrain in Bocholt and completed the 30 mile journey to Arnhem by road. Out of the 14 Tiger Is to leave Bocholt, only two arrived in Arnhem without any mechanical problems and were immediately committed on the evening of the 19th. These two Tigers belonged to Leutnant Knaack and Feldwebel Barneki and were assigned to Kampfgruppe 'Brinkmann'.

Pz.Kpfw. VI Tiger I  Ausf. E, Schwere Panzer Kompanie Hummel

© German Armour in Arnhem - Marcel Zwarts

At 2000h on the 19th September 1944, the pair of Tigers drove up Nijmeegseweg and onto the ramp leading to the bridge and started to systematically shell houses occupied by the British Paratroopers. Moving along the Eusebius Buitensingel (the street between the Van Limburg Stirum school and nearby houses) the Tigers caused a number of casualties including men of the RAOC and Royal Signals. One of the German Tigers was hit by one of the remaining 6-pounder Anti Tank guns housed at the British Brigade HQ building scoring a direct hit on the turret and gun barrel of Knaack's Tiger wounding 2 crew. Both Tigers withdrew considering themselves lucky with Knaack's Tiger moving to the Tank workshops in Doetinchem. The remaining Tiger worked closely with the Panzer-Grenadiers of Kampfgruppe 'Brinkmann' eliminating the last pockets of resistance around 0500 on Thursday 20th Sept 1944 at the Bridge.

One of the two Tiger I at the Arnhem Bridge with a half track from Kampfgruppe 'Brinkmann'

Barneki's and the other 12 Tiger's that had now reached Arnhem were attached to Kampfgruppe 'Knaust' and moved across the Arnhem Bridge on the 20th Sept to take up positions in a blocking line to stop the XXX Corps advance into Arnhem.

Thursday the 21st the Heavy Tiger Kompanie moved with Knaust's Panzer Grenadiers into Elst. It was here that they planned to stop the advancing British XXX corps. On Friday the 22nd September 1944, the British 43 Wessex Infantry Division laid an ambush at 630pm which caught the tigers by surprise. A number of anti tank guns and Piats (British Anti Tank weapons) hit the tigers causing confusing. Some of the tigers tried to reverse but slid of the high embankments and were bogged and deemed inoperable. The kompanie lost 5 tanks in this action alone.

Tiger I #124 was one of the 5 tigers hit in an ambush on the night of the 22nd Sept 1944 in Elst.

© German Armour in Arnhem - Marcel Zwarts

Hummel's unit went onto to loose a further two tanks in the battle around Elst before the unit withdrew and the vehicles serviced in Utrecht, Holland (west of Arnhem). The unit was later attached to Heavy Tank Battalion 506 before becomming its 4th Company in Nov/Dec 1944.

Last edited: 03 Sept. 14

 


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