|SS-Obersturmführer Walter Gerth|
Battle of Psel bridgehead
In the afternoon of July 12 1943, on the south bank of the Psel, the SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 5 Thule of the Totenkopf Division was hit by two Soviet Corps, 23rd Guards Rifle Corps and 31st Guards Corps. In ferocious combat the SS-Panzergrenadiers managed to halt the Soviet assault, but the fearful encounter left the division battered and bleeding. Next day after the Battle of Prokhorovka the Soviets started to push their infantry forward again in major attacks, backed by heavy artillery fire, to compensate for their enormous tank losses. The SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Totenkopf was the main target. The divisions understrength Panzer kampfgruppe acted as a fire brigade inside the Psel bridgehead, moving to threatened sectors to seen off these human-wave infantry assaults. Soviet tank losses continued to mount along the River Psel, with 38 T-34s alone being destroyed by the divisions antitank battalion during one 20-minute incursion. The Soviet counterattacks against the Totenkopf were repulsed after hand-to-hand fighting in the villages around the Psel bridgehead. By July 15 1943, it was estimated that Totenkopf had lost half its operational Panzers and Sturmgeschütz to enemy action. Image: Knight's Cross holder SS-Obersturmführer Walter Gerth (1914 – 1995) of SS-Panzer-Artillery Regiment 3 (3.SS-Panzergrenadier-Division Totenkopf). Gerth was later promoted SS-Sturmbannführer. Commons: Bundesarchiv.