Of the five fresh pionier battalions sent to Stalingrad for the offensive known as Operation "Hubertusâ€, Panzerpionier-Bataillon 50 (22. Panzer Division) was the only Panzerpioner Battalion. The battalion differed from the others in that it was much more heavily armed and its 3. Kompanie were equipped with half-tracks. To the relief of the commanders of 22.Panzer Division, The Battalion would leave behind all of it's armoured vehicles including 3. Kompanieâ€™s half-track platoon, but the officers and men were less fortunate.
The Battalion arrived in Stalingrad late on the 4th November 1942 at full strength with 10 officers, 3 administrative officials, 51 NCOâ€™s and 475 enlisted men, a total of 539 men. Itâ€™s full combat strength was 10 officers, 44 NCOâ€™s and 405 enlisted men.
Formed from one of the Wehrmachtâ€™s oldest pioneer units. The attitude of the men of Pionier-Bataillon 50 altered in March of 1942 when they were converted to a fully motorised unit. As older officers and commanders became casualties or were transferred, the command roles were filled by confident young officers who instilled a more aggressive spirit to the unit. Belonging to a panzer division carried some prestige and the pioneers of the battalion considered themselves elite.
Embodying the new character of the battalion was its newly appointed commander, Hauptmann Erwin Gast. He was by far the youngest battalion commander heading to Stalingrad and like any other ambitious young officer, he wanted to demonstrate his prowess to his elders on the field of battle. There could be no more daunting arena than Stalingrad.
The Battaillon's emblem:
Command Structure of the Battalion that arrived at Stalingrad:
Commander: Hauptmann Erwin Gast
Adjutant: Leutnant Klaus Kunze
Ordonanzoffizier: Leutnant Egon Hillmann
Paymeister: Stabszahlmeister Artur Hassler
Werkmeister: Werkmeister Walter Hinsch
Techn. Inspektor: Oberinspektor Ernst Schneider
1 Kompaine: Oberleutnant Wolfgang Ziegenhagen
ZugfÃ¼hrer: Leutnant Rudolf Gottwald
ZugfÃ¼hrer: Oberfeldwebel Friedrich Hellberg
2 Kompaine: Oberleutnant Walter Hardekopf
ZugfÃ¼hrer: Leutnant Gerhard Thiele
ZugfÃ¼hrer: Oberfeldwebel Wilhelm MÃ¼ller
3 Kompaine: Oberleutnant Rindermann
ZugfÃ¼hrer: Leutnant Ernst Bunte
ZugfÃ¼hrer: Leutnant Herbert Palmowski
ZugfÃ¼hrer: Feldwebel Josef LÃ¶ffler
â€œI wanted to come to the Volga at a specific location at a specific city. By chance it carries the name of Stalin himself. So donâ€™t think I marched there for this reason â€“ it could carry another name â€“ but because there is a very important goal... this goal I wanted to take â€“ and you know â€“ we are very modest, we have it already."
Adolf Hitler, November 1942
"Comrades, Red Army men, commanders and political workers, men and women guerrillas! It is on your perseverance, staunchness, fighting skill and readiness to discharge your duty to the country that the defeat of the German-fascist army and the liberation of the Soviet land from the Hitlerite invaders depend! We can and must clear the Soviet land of Hitlerite vermin."
Joseph Stalin, November 1942