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Mensaje por Otto el 12.12.14 21:28

.........................The last Steel Panther of Peiper.........................

December 19th, 1944. Stoumont 10.30 a.m, the battle of Stoumont Town was over.

Kampfgruppe Peiper had fought and won a bitter 3 hour fight against Us forces.
The surviving Americans had withdrawn down along tehe long winding N33 road towards Stoumont railway satation.

Peiper sent five of his tank to pursue the Americans. In the meantime U.S reinforcements
were being flung into the path of the advancing Germans and setting up positions around
Stoumont Station.
A 90mm M1 AA gun was set up behind the station covering a bend in the road some 300m away.
The first tank to round the bend was Panther 222 comanded by SS Oberscharfhurer Walter Ropeter.
The tank was hit up to 9 times, setting it on fire. 3 of the 5 tank crew managed to bail out including Ropeter,
who although burned, was saved due to him wearing a U boat leather uniform.
Panther 221 conmanded by Hauptscharfhurer Heinz Knappich was next in line and
tried to get past the burning 222.
Knappich´s Panther was hit 8 or 9 times but unlike the previous Panther, this only resulted
in damage to the frontal drive system. 221´s part in the ill fated battle for Stoumont station
was over. Knappich managed to withdraw and take the surviving crew members of Panther 222
back to La Gleize where the Kampfgruppe´s field dressing station and repair facilities were positioned.
Panther 221 and the surviving crew being watched by Kampfgruppe comander,
SS Obersturmbanfhurer Jochen Peiper as they make their way back to La Gleize.
By the end of the day, the Germans had lost the battle for Stoumont Station and that path
of advance had been well and truly shut to them. Heavily outnumberedand running out
fuel and ammunition Kampfgruppe Peiper over the next few days would retreat back to
La Gleize, being hammered by the now overwhwlmin Us forces. Panther 221 made it back
to La Gleize with the wounded crew. It took no further part in the battle and was abandoned
on the 24th December when the survivors of Kampfgruppe Peiper left La Gleize under the
cover of darkness leaving all of their vehicules behind, many out of fuel an ammunition.

.Hscha. Heinz Knappich´s Panther 221 was found abandoned on the main road near the Marechal´s Forge with a broken track.
This photograph was taken shortly after American forces entered the town and we can see that the turret of Panther 221 is still intact.
This leads us to question how many vehicules the Germans destroyed themselves and how many were subsequently destroyed by
American Forces to ensure that they could not be used again.

.Panther 221 was equipped with the steel rimmed road wheels fitted to a small batch of vehicules assembled by M.A.N. in september 1944
for troop trials. The vehicle has been pushed to the side of the road from its original location and still has its muzzle brake.
The turrent roof has not yet been blown out by the U.S demolition teams. The vehicle has been thoroughly ransacked for souvenirs
and the ground is scattered with MG ammuniton as well as several Jerry cans.

.Panther 221 has now been pushed clear of the road and a demolition charge has been set of in the turrent that has blown the roof off.
The muzzle brake has been removed as well as the MG mounted in the Kugelblende on the glacis. Several shell strikes that have caused
deep gouges are visible on the gun mantlet, some of these have ricocheted up tearing the sheet metal debris guard to shreds.

. Panther 221 sat in the centre of La Gleize for some time and was frequently photographed. This shot was taken in the summer ans shows the factory
applied camouflage scheme to good effect. The vehicles tactical number can seen repeated in the upper corner of the turrets rear armour plate in
black with a white outline.

.On Dec.19th 1944 rhe leading Panther of Oscha. Walter Ropeter was Knocked out at Stoumont by men of Battery C,143 AAA Gun Bn.
Ropeter managed to bail out suffering from serious burns....

................Peiper´s Last Strike of Phil Stutcinkas........

Panther 221

.........Inspiration - Stimulation of the mind or feelings to activity or creativity


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