Hubert-Erwin Meierdress - Retreat To Romania

Retreat To Romania

After his recovery, Meierdrees was posted to the SS-Panzer-Ausbildungs-und-Ersatz-Regiment, helping train new panzertroops who would be dispersed as replacements to the SS panzer divisions. In January 1944, he was deemed ready for active service and was sent back to his old command with the Totenkopf, arriving on 20 January. On 30 January, he received a promotion to SS-Sturmbannführer (Major).

The Totenkopf was engaged in heavy defensive fighting east of the Dnieper near Krivoy Rog. The Soviets had been attempting to capture Krivoi-Rog, which formed a linchpin in the German lines, since November 1943. Meierdrees assumed control of his old abteilung, and immediately led them into battle against Soviet probing attempts towards the city. In February 1944, 56,000 German troops were trapped in the Korsun Pocket. The Totenkopf was sent towards Cherkassy to assist in the relief attempts. Meierdrees led his panzer troops in attacks towards the city of Korsun, attempting to secure a crossing across the Gniloy-Tilkich river. The 1.Panzer-Division, fighting alongside the Totenkopf, achieved a linkup with the encircled forces.

After a fierce fight near Kirovograd the Totenkopf fell back behind the Southern Bug River, in the second week of March, taking up new defensive positions. During this period, Meierdrees performed his usual task of fire-brigade commander, dealing with threats as they arose. After two weeks of heavy fighting alongside the Heer's Panzergrenadier-Division Großdeutschland west of Ivanovka, the German lines again fell back, withdrawing to the Dniestr on the Romanian border near Iaşi.

In the first week of April, Totenkopf gained a moments respite as it rested in the area near Târgul-Frumos in Romania. The division received replacements and new equipment, Meierdrees' abt receiving a component of Panthers to replace some of the outdated PzKpfw IVs. In the second week of April, heavy soviet attacks towards Targul Frumos meant that Totenkopf was back in action, playing a role in the decisive defensive victory. Meierdrees' Panzers were the main force employed by the Totenkopf in efforts to halt the soviet spearheads. By 7 May, the front had quieted and the Totenkopf went back to the business of reorganising. Meierdrees' abt was again brought up to strength. In early July, the division was ordered to the area near Grodno in Poland, where it would form a part of SS-Obergruppenführer Gille's IV.SS-Panzerkorps, covering the approaches to Warsaw near Modlin.

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