Panzer Army Africa
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As the number of German troops committed to the North African Campaign of World War II grew from the initial commitment of a small corps the Germans developed a more elaborate command structure and placed the enlarged Afrika Korps, with Italian units under this new German command and a succession of commands were created to manage Axis forces in Africa:
- Panzer Group Africa, (Panzergruppe Afrika, Gruppo Corazzato Africa) August 1941 – January 1942; German-Italian force
- Panzer Army Africa, (Panzerarmee Afrika, Armata Corazzata Africa) January–October 1942
- German-Italian Panzer Army, (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee, Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca) October 1942 – February 1943
- Army Group Africa, (Heeresgruppe Afrika, Gruppo d'Armate Africa) February–May 1943
Panzer Group AfricaEdit
When the Afrika Korps was formed on 11 January 1941 it was officially subordinated to the Italian chain of command in Africa. In the middle of 1941 the German Armed Forces High Command (German acronym OKW) created a larger command structure in Africa, forming a new headquarters called Panzer Group Africa (Panzergruppe Afrika, Gruppo Corazzato Africa). On 15 August 1941, Panzer Group Africa was activated with newly promoted General der Panzertruppe Erwin Rommel in command. The Panzer Group controlled the Afrika Korps plus some additional units that were sent to Africa (notably the 90th Light Infantry Division), as well as two Italian corps, X and XX.
Panzer Army AfricaEdit
Panzer Group Africa was redesignated as Panzer Army Africa (Panzerarmee Afrika, Armata Corazzata Africa) on 30 January 1942.
German-Italian Panzer ArmyEdit
Panzer Army Africa was redesignated as German-Italian Panzer Army (Deutsch-Italienische Panzerarmee, Armata Corazzata Italo-Tedesca) in October 1942 during the long retreat after the defeat at the Second Battle of El Alamein during the Western Desert Campaign.
Army Group AfricaEdit
In February 1943, the headquarters was upgraded to Army Group Africa (Heeresgruppe Afrika, Gruppo d'Armate Africa) to manage the defense of Tunisia during the final stages of the North African Campaign. Army Group Africa included the German Fifth Panzer Army (5. Panzerarmee) and the Italian 1st Army.
Order of battleEdit
Throughout its existence, this headquarters controlled the well-known Afrika Korps, and for most of its life it controlled a number of other German and Italian units as well. The following overview of its assets is taken from lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de, with dates corrected (see references).
Order of battle of Panzer Group AfricaEdit
Panzer Group Africa (Rommel)
- As of September 1941: (during Rommel's first push into the Western Desert)
- German Afrika Korps
- Italian X Corps
- Italian XX Corps
- Italian Savona Infantry Division
Order of battle of Panzer Army AfricaEdit
Panzer Army Africa (Rommel)
- As of January 1942: (during Rommel's second push into the Western Desert)
- As of April 1942: (before and during the Gazala battles and the Siege of Tobruk)
- Afrika Korps
- Italian X Corps
- Italian XX Motorised Corps
- Italian XXI Corps
- German 90th Light Afrika Division
- As of August 1942: (in the lead up to the Battle of Alam el Halfa)
Order of battle of the German-Italian Panzer ArmyEdit
German-Italian Panzer Army (Rommel)
- As of November 1942: (during the withdrawal from the Western Desert)
- As of February 1943: (defending southern Tunisia)
Order of battle of Army Group AfricaEdit
From February 1943:
|№||Commander||Took office||Left office||Time in office|
|1 September 1941||9 March 1942||189 days|
|2||General der Panzertruppe|
|9 March 1942||19 March 1942||10 days|
|19 March 1942||22 September 1942||187 days|
|3||General der Panzertruppe|
|22 September 1942||24 October 1942 †||32 days|
Wilhelm Ritter von Thoma
|24 October 1942||25 October 1942||1 day|
|25 October 1942||26 November 1942||32 days|
|4||General der Panzertruppe|
|26 November 1942||2 December 1942||6 days|
|2 December 1942||22 February 1943||82 days|
Hans-Jürgen von Arnim
|10 March 1943||13 May 1943||64 days|
- A German Panzer group was an army-level headquarters. As the war progressed all of the Panzer groups were redesignated as Panzer armies.
- Notice that at no time were all the German units in Africa subordinate to the Afrika Korps; some were reserves for the Panzer Army, and some were occasionally subordinated to Italian armies or corps.