By Tim Ripley

In June 1944, the Panzer divisions of the Waffen-SS have been top-of-the-line devices in Hitlers military. With modern images and color maps, this booklet tells the tale of the battles they fought from Caen and Villers Bocage to Arnhem and the Ardennes.

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Waffen-SS Panzers The Western Front

In June 1944, the Panzer divisions of the Waffen-SS have been top-of-the-line devices in Hitlers military. With modern images and color maps, this booklet tells the tale of the battles they fought from Caen and Villers Bocage to Arnhem and the Ardennes.

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In his epic 20km (12-mile) march, Peiper lost only 30 men. By force of personality alone he kept his column together and navigated it to safety. Eight days before, he had led 5800 men across the German border. While some wounded had been evacuated early in the battle, the majority fell into American hands. In total, some 5000 Waffen-SS men had been killed or captured during Peiper’s brief sortie against the US Army. For a few days, he had seriously unbalanced the American command in the Ardennes region, but once they brought their overwhelming firepower to bear on his small and poorly supplied Kampfgruppe, Peiper knew its days were numbered.

Its ammunition and fuel was nearly exhausted. The 1000 or so men still capable of fighting had not eaten a proper cooked meal since they had left Germany on 16 December, at the start of the attack. Peiper realized his attack had run out of momentum and started to pull his men back to the hilltop village of La Gleize to make a last stand. American tank columns were pushing against his force from the west, north and east. The Luftwaffe attempted to make a supply drop to the beleaguered Waffen-SS men, but most of the containers of ammunition and petrol ended up behind American lines.

Inland, Rommel wanted strong armoured forces close at hand to defeat any Allied troops that did manage to get ashore. The Waffen-SS provided the bulk of Rommel’s armoured reserve, comprising six of the 11 panzer and panzergrenadier divisions available to the Western Front. Except for a brief period in Italy when he worked with the Leibstandarte Division, Rommel had never commanded Waffen-SS divisions, but he quickly formed a favourable impression of them and their commanders. Touring their training grounds, Rommel could see their superb equipment and rigorous training schedules quickly bearing fruit.

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