The attack was launched on 4 July 1943, after a massive Soviet artillery barrage fell on the German assembly areas. The SS-Panzerkorps was to attack the southern flank of the salient as the spearhead for Generaloberst Hermann Hoth's 4.Panzer-Armee.
The Totenkopf led the advance on the SS-Panzerkops western flank, Meierdrees' Abt, together with II./SS-Panzer-Regiment 3 under SS-Hauptsturmführer Fritz Biermeier, advanced in a panzerkeil (wedge) across the hot and dusty steppe. Despite encountering stiff Soviet resistance and several pakfronts (groups of anti-tank guns), the Totenkopf's panzers continued to advance, albeit at a slower pace than had been planned. Hausser ordered his SS-Panzerkorps to split in two, with the Totenkopf crossing the Psel river northwards and then continuing on towards the town of Prokhorovka.
By July 10, the Totenkopf was in a position to cross the Psel in force, then all three SS Panzergrenadier Divisions could strike towards Prokhorovka. Elements of the Totenkopf's SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 6 Theodor Eicke had finally forced a crossing of the Psel and established a weak bridgehead.
By July 11, Meierdrees had led his Abt across the Psel on hastily constructed pontoon bridges, reinforcing the tenuous position. The forces in the bridgehead were subjected to several furious Soviet attacks, but with the support of Meierdrees' panzers they held their ground and resumed the division's advance northwards. In the afternoon of 12 July, near the village of Andre'evka on the south bank of the Psel, the Soviets launched a major counterattack against the Totenkopf's SS-Panzergrenadier-Regiment 5 Thule and the division's StuG Battalion.
SS-Brigadeführer Hermann Priess, the Totenkopf's commander, ordered Meierdrees' abteilung to advance and support the beleaguered forces. The PzKpfw IIIs and PzKpfw IVs of Meierdrees' unit were supported by the Totenkopf's Tiger I company, 9(schwere)./SS-Panzer-Regiment 3. In ferocious combat with the lead units of the Soviet 5th Guards Tank Army, Meierdrees managed to halt the Soviet assault, destroying many Soviet T-34s, but at the cost of the majority of his remaining operational panzers.
On 14 July, Hitler called off the operation.
Read more about this topic: Hubert-Erwin Meierdress
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Famous quotes containing the word citadel:
“The citadel of Quebec says, I will live here, and you shant prevent me. To which you return, that you have not the slightest objection; live and let live.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“The self ... might be regarded as a sort of citadel of the mind, fortified without and containing selected treasures within, while love is an undivided share in the rest of the universe. In a healthy mind each contributes to the growth of the other: what we love intensely or for a long time we are likely to bring within the citadel, and to assert as part of ourself. On the other hand, it is only on the basis of a substantial self that a person is capable of progressive sympathy or love.”
—Charles Horton Cooley (18641929)