Pionier- Abteilung 200
Feldersatz- Battalion 200
Various support troops
The division’s first documented action took place during the British launched Operation Crusader, however Panzer-Regiment 5, along with other units now a part of the division, did see limited action much earlier. On September 14th, 1941, units of the 21.Panzer-Division took part in Operation Sommernachtstraum, which was a major reconnaissance of British lines on the border of Eygpt, however did not result in any significant engagements.
Despite fighting well in Operation Crusader, the 21. Panzer had to pull back due to depleted armor, eventually leading to El Agheila. The retreat was successful, however allowed the British garrison to lift the siege of Tobruk and reunite once again with the 8th Army. In early 42, after being resupplied and refitted, the DAK (including the 21st) went on the offensive against the British again, retaking Benghazi until stalling at Gazala. Once again, Rommel launched another attack, successfully taking Tobruk, into Eygpt, and finally stopping at Alma Halfa.
By now, the British pulled together all measures to stop the German advance, eventually overwhelming them with numbers. The 21.Panzer-Division was in the middle of this “cauldron,” which saw action in the Battles for El Alamein. Against heavy loses and a growing number of British AFVs, the division was pushed back, but fought in some rear guard operations that partially allowed the Germans to retreat back across the border, across the Libyan Desert, all the way to Tunisia.
When the 21.Panzer-Division arrived in Tunisia, it was split into several Kampfgruppen (small fighting groups) and fought a series of small engagements against the Allies. This occurred from January to February of 1943. Rommel personally took control over the division, in hopes of stopping the American forces that now entered the war. They finally met their American foes at the battle of Kasserine Pass, but was halted before being able to reach the actual pass itself. The majority of the 21. Panzer surrendered on May 13th, which marked the end of the North African campaign.
In June of 1943, the division was reformed in France in the Rennes area. It was one of the “new” divisions that were to be termed Schnell Division West (Fast Division West) and composed of mainly occupation units that were located there at the time. It was to be a fully mobilized unit, consisting of tanks, half-tracks, trucks, and with a great emphasis self-