German Armed Forces Research 1918-1945
This Silesian 7th Wave division was mobilized on December 1st, 1940, mainly from conscripts and existing Ersatz und Ausbildungs (replacement & training) elements from within the Wehrkreis VIII area. These included Kommandeur der Ersatztruppen 2 in Goerlitz and Ersatzbataillon 327 in Tarnowitz, Arzweiler, and Neutitschein*.
In May 1940 the divison was still forming in OKH reserve at Goerlitz. By this time only the Infanterie-Regiment 442 was fully formed to strength. After the successful Western campaigns of Spring and early Summer 1940, and the vast amounts of military materiel captured by the Wehrmacht, this relatively new division was partially outfitted with artillery, vehicles, and small arms from French and Low-Country stocks to bolster its existing strength.
In June of 1941, the 168.Infanterie-Divison was attached (in reserve at Army level) to the 6.Armee as part of Heeresgruppe Sud for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Progressing east during the great encirclement battles of Summer 1941, the division moved along with the advancing 6.Armee, fighting notably at Kiev, and at the 1st battle of Kharkov, wintering in defensive positions in the Donets region. In June 1942, the division was attached to 24.Armeekorps (of 6.Armee) for "Unternehmen Blau" - the investment of the Donets Basin, the crossing of the Don river, and the exploitation south into the Caucasus. In the summer of 1943, the 168.Infanterie-division fought in the decisive Belgorod sector of the Kursk salient commanded by Generalleutnant Chales de Beaulieu. As part of "Army Detachment Kempf", Gen.d.Pz.truppe Breith's 3.Panzerkorps - the division fell back west of Kiev in the bitter autumn battles west of the Dneiper, fighting with 4.Panzerarmee in the Zhitomir battles of December 1943. In February 1944 the division was fighting heavy defensive battles (abwehrschlacht) in Akhtyrka against unrelenting Russian attacks, where upon pulling back to safer positions, it found itself encircled on the west bank of the Dneiper near Tcherkassy. Here the division was badly shot up, and for all intents and purposes, ceased to exist as a cohesive fighting force. The stragglers of the burnt-out formation were reorganized in Poland.
After a brief re-fitting period in the spring of 1944, divisional elements of the 168th served with General Nehring's 24.Panzerkorps in the defensive summer battles of 1944, fighting overwhelming Soviet forces notably at Tarnopol; thereafter falling back into Galicia, and southern Poland, taking up lines along the Vistula in late 1944. By this period, the divison had assimilated disparate remnants of the 223.Infanterie-Divison, renamed Divisionsgruppe 223**. These elements, along with the burned-out remnants of the Grenadier-Regiment 429 (which was later disbanded) were renamed Grenadier-Regiment 385. In January 1945, a weakly constituted 168.Infanterie-Division, as part of General von Edelsheim's XLVIII.Panzerkorps, was dug-in opposite the overwhelming forces of Soviet Marshal Koniev's 1st Ukranian Front, secured in their bridgehead at Baranow on the Weichsel (Vistula). On Jan. 12, 1945, while holding the main line of resistance before the bridghead, the division was virtually annihilated in the Soviet winter offensive in the space of 24 hours, with it's routed elements refoming in Silesia. In March 1945, the I./Artillerie-Regiment 248 was disbanded with the II./248 replacing it. The II./248 was replaced by the II./Artillerie-Regiment 304. Never fully reformed, the division surrendered to the Soviet Army near Glatz at the cease of hostilities on May 9, 1945.
Some of the organizational changes within the division included: Oct. 15, 1940 - Stab/442, I./417, I./429 were all detached to form the Infanterie-Regiment 678 of the 332.Infanterie-Division (14 wave). On Nov. 26, 1940, the Stab/Infanterie-Regiment 429 was detached to the 101.Infanterie-Division, and Stab/2.batterie/Artillerie-Regiment 248 was detached to Artillerie-Regiment 332. The detached units were reformed, and on Dec. 30, 1940, a fourth battalion was formed using detached elements of the former s.Artillerie-Bataillon 759 (a fifth Art.Bttln. would be added 8.25.42 using nebelwerfer rocket-projectors).
Knights Cross Holders
* spread over XXIX (6. Armee) and XXXXVIII and LV (2. Armee)
English Bibliography (Available on Amazon)
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