Panzer Reconnaissance Unit Etched Bayonet
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 4 Mot.
4th Motorized Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Panzer Division
Short model dress bayonet in excellent condition. Unmarked E. Pack & Sohn made with their distinctive grip screws and etch pattern. Refer to German Etched Dress Bayonets by Techet, he identifies this pattern as Pack #11. There is even panzer pink felt in the slot! Aufklärungsabteilung 4 was a motorized Panzer Reconnaissance assigned to the 1st Panzer Division with service in Poland and France.
The 1st Panzer Division was formed on October 15th, 1935 from the 3rd Cavalry Division and was headquartered in Weimar and consisted of two Panzer regiments, a motorized infantry brigade, the Reconnaissance battalion and an artillery regiment. An Aufklärungsabteilung (reconnaissance detachment) was an Abteilung sized reconnaissance unit attached to a German division and was the eyes and ears of the division. Initially they included horse-mounted and bicycle troops and were equipped with motorcycle combinations, VW Kübelwagens, and light armored cars. To offer the troops better all-terrain movement capability the Aufklärungsabteilungen were later issued with the amphibious Schwimmwagens and light halftracks. Later in the war companies were equipped with light armor in the form of SdKfz Heavy and Light Armored Cars, Sd.Kfz. halftracks, Panzer II Ausf. L "Luchs" and Sd.Kfz 140/1 light tanks. These rarely operated as whole companies, and instead worked in mixed teams gathered from various companies that included the motorcycles and the Schwimmwagens. As with all German combat formations, the composition of the Aufklärungsabteilung varied from division to division, and from one period of the war to another. Panzer Aufklärungsabteilungen were attached to Panzer divisions, and were generally equipped with armored vehicles, with all troops transported by halftrack, and an anti-tank gun (PaK) component was included. light tanks were also included in the detachment as the theory of reconnaissance in force was practiced.
The Abteilung had to be able to move quickly, and its mission was reconnaissance, it was not equipped to deal with enemy armor, although these engagements did happen frequently. The addition of an anti-tank company later in the war was to deal with these engagements; still, the Abteilung's armored vehicles were no match for T-34s or M4 Shermans.
In the Polish Campaign of September 1939, the 1st Panzer Division deployed with the XVI Corps, Tenth Army, Army Group South in the Upper Silesia region. On the fourth day during the opening stages to the Polish campaign Reconnaissance unit Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung suffered its first casualties.
The following account describes the action: “September 4th was a black day in the history of our Aufklärungs Abteilung. The reconnaissance troop leader Leutnant Metzger was conducting a reconnaissance patrol in the woods outside of Lubien. In the early hours that day he launched several attacks from the south and southwest during the morning and found that strong enemy forces had occupied the woods. Suddenly whilst navigating the southern edge of the woods he received strong enemy anti-tank fire. His 8-wheeled armored car was hit, and crewmembers Panzerschütze Beyer and Saynisch were killed instantly. Despite his own wounds and best efforts, it was impossible to move the vehicle out of harm’s way using the rearward steering controls because Saynisch lay there and the damage was to great. Under the cover of the burning vehicle the heavily wounded troop leader and Panzerschütze Völker were able to bail out and find cover. A light armored car from the patrol was able to recover the troop leader despite heavy fire from the tree line, however Panzerschütze Völker sadly died in the process. A second light armored car, only 100m away during the recovery attempted to drive back to help, but became stuck in a swampy field. The crew, Gefreiter Schmidt, Panzerschütze Bruner, Funker Süß did not give up, and with the help of some Volksdeutschen civilians, the vehicle was freed. They returned to the Aufklärungs Abteilung where reconnaissance battalion leader Wachtmeister Dölling provided further support for the heavily exhausted Leutnant Metzger. The three killed comrades and a heavily wounded officer will forever remain in the history of the Panzer-Aufklärungs-4”