During the period 26th August – 01st September 1939, the 260th Infantry Division was established as a 4th wave unit in Ludwigsburg. The division counted 491 officers, 99 civilians, 2.165 non commissioned officers and 12.264 soldiers. It had a total strength of 15.019 men. Lieutenant General Hans Schmidt, born in Ulm, became the first commander of the division.
His first formal orders were as follows:
As of today I will take command of the Division. Our troops and units are re-established. War veterans, that bravely have defended their country with their life stand in line with our youth that will follow this example. We will use our full energy to finish our training and skills so we will be ready to take upon any given task. Following the oath to our colors, we will fulfill our duties to the ultimate end.
Schmidt, Lieutenant General
During Germany’s assault on Poland between 1st and 9th of September, the division was deployed to Muensingen training area. On the 8th of September, the commander received the deployment orders for his division at the Army command 7 in Calw.
Between 9th and 10th September, the 260th Infantry Division was ordered to the western front and deployed there. Until 19th of April, it took positions on the upper Rhine River both sides of the towns Müllheim and Neuenburg am Rhein. The Division Command Post was located in Badenweiler. Throughout the time, the men were busy building combat positions and going on reconnaissance. During one of these venturesome missions, a French flag was captured by men of the Infantry Regiment 470. This was honored with the first Iron Crosses 2nd class.
On the 8th of January, French troops opened fire on positions of 2nd battalion, Infantry regiment 470. The civilian worker Eberle, member of a construction unit, suffered a head shot and died. He was the division’s first victim.
Beginning April 20th, 1940 the division started to conduct training in the area of operations of the western front near Villingen. Road marches by night to Tübingen and railroad deployments to Reutlingen, Metzingen and Kirchentellinsfurt were executed. In Reutlingen, part of the Division HQ was posted at Ypernkaserne. On Mai 20th, the structure of the 2nd Army command changed: together with 298th and 162nd Infantry division, the 260th Infantry Division became the XXXXIInd army corps.
After railroad transport to the Eifel area (between 21st and 23rd May, near Erdorf and Bitburg) the assault into Luxemburg commenced. The German forces advance throughout the little country via Dasburg, Clerf and Allerborn (23rd – 25th of may). The Division crossed Belgium passing the cities Graide – Our – Louette St.Pierre – Willerzie. The King of Belgium signed the capitulation papers on 28th of May 1940. After the division was brought to halt near the Maas river crossing close to Monthermé, it became the reserve of the XIIIth Army Corps.
On 30th May 1940, the unit was subordinated under the 12th Army Command. With that change, the direction of assault changed form West to South. The following day, the 31st of may 1940, orders were given to mark of all vehicles in the Division with an own unit symbol. This measure became necessary to divert the different vehicles that used the same assault routes. As unit crest, the “Hoernle” was chosen. It was a modification of the old symbol of the Württemberg kingdom. It showed 4 horns bended to the left. It had a length of 19 cm and was 2,5 cm wide. It had to be put on all vehicles at the front and rear.
On 01st of June 1940, the deployment north of the Aisne River began. The division crossed the Maas River near Monthermé. Its HQ was located at Arnicourt Castle near the city of Lonny. The crossing of the Aisne River was prepared near the city of Rethel. Artillery regiment 260 (without 2nd detachment) and Engineer Battalion 653 were subordinated to 17th Infantry Division to support the attack and to build the bridgehead near Château-Porcien. The soldiers of 2nd detachment / AR 260 were subordinated under the 21st Infantry division which fought also in the nearby area. The men had to fight not only the French but also the heat. They found little water but lost of vine and Champaign. The battle to break through the French Aisne front took place between the 09th and 13th of June 1940. The division had to mourn about heavy losses when it crossed the Aisne River. The reconnaissance squadron 260 fought near the city of Machault and forced the breakthrough in the Suippe area.
Mid-June 1940 the Division took part in chasing French units throughout the Champagne: from Givry to Revigny, over the Rhine-Marne-Canal, on both sides of Côte d’Or over the Langres – Dijon plateau (Nuits St.Georges – Beaune – Chagny). On the 21st of June, a parade was conducted in Dijon with the Division commander. On the 22nd of June, the cease fire was officially announced.
By the end of June the Division occupied the city of Dijon. Its main task was to secure the line of demarcation from Bourbon-Lancy near the Loire River over Paray-le-Monial at the Canal du Centre – Montchanin – Chalons-sur-Saône – Chaussin. The HQ was at Château de la Verrerie in Le Creusot. On June 30th, the division was subordinated under the XXVth Army Corps.
Until September 11th 1940, the 260th ID was deployed as occupying force in France. The area of operations was Belfort (HQ at the old fortress) – Montbeliard – Delle (close to the Swiss border) – Morvillars. During this period the soldiers had to keep up their skills by continuous training. On August 24th, the new higher HQ was the XVIIIth Army Corps.
Subordination changed two more times: on 14th September under XXXXVth Army Corps and on 15th October under XXVIIth Army Corps.
Beginning May 4th, a leave ban was ordered, on June 22nd a radio message from 1st Army command arrived: “the 260th Infantry Division will be deployed to the eastern front!” On this fateful day, operation Barbarossa began – the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Between June 30th and 3rd July 1941, the division was removed from the area of Le Creusot. The 215th Infantry Division took over the sector. Via railroad transport, the units were transferred from France throughout Germany to Poland. The unloading happened at Mordy, close to the city of Siedlce. Afterwards a march towards the Russian border north of Brest-Litowsk was carried out.
Subordination under the XXXVth Army Corps followed. The assault towards the Beresina River began. Fast marches of 50 – 70 kilometers daily via Baranowitschi to an area west of Bobruisk were the result. The Division was used south of Bobruisk. The division (IIIrd / Infantry Regiment 470) was partly deployed on trucks to fight guerrillas near Lubany. On July 13th, the Division was subordinated under the XXXIIIrd Army Corps. It was now the connecting unit between the Army Groups South and Center.
Throughout the period July 19th and August 08th 1941 the division was involved in heavy fighting south of Bobruisk. During the tough and bloody battle near the cities of Romanischtsche and Ugly on July 24th 1941, 51 attacking Soviet tanks were destroyed. The Division lost 92 men, 510 were wounded.
Beginning August 9th, 1941 the Division crossed the Beresina River south of Bobruisk on pontoon bridges built by engineers and headed towards Slobin. The left neighbor was the 267th Infantry division; the 134th Infantry division followed the 260th. South of Slobin, a bridgehead over the Dnjepr River was established after fierce fighting. On August 18th 1941, the Division was subordinated under the 13th Army Corps.
Until the end of August, the 260th followed Soviet Forces passing Gomel. They conducted raids through the cities of Gorodnya – Dubrovnoye – Tschernisch and finally Kisselewka. The city of Gomel – mostly wooden houses – was completely destroyed during the battle. The division entered the town on 22nd of August. On August 28th, the Ukrainian border was passed.
On 24th August, the attack southwards of the 13th Army Corps with 3 divisions began. Lieutenant General Schmidt ordered on September 01st to cross the Desna River on both sides of Kisselewka (east of Tschernigow). Infantry Regiment 470, later reinforced with units of Infantry Regiment 480 established a bridgehead on both sides of Wibli at 17:00 Hrs. During the intense fighting at this bridgehead, Kiew was encircled. On this day, the battle for Tschernigow began as well. Infantry Regiment 470 formed another first bridgehead over the Desna here.
Chasing fights via Gomel to the Desna River.
Attack via Gorodnja – Dubrownoje – Tschernisch to Kisselewka near the Desna River.
September 01st, 1941 – September 06th, 1941
Lieutenant General Schmidt orders on September 01st to force a crossing of the Desna River on both sides of Kisselewka (east of Tschernigow). Infantry Regiment 470, later reinforced by Infantry Regiment 480 create a bridgehead on both sides of Wibli around 17:00 hours
Fighting for the Desna-bridgehead Wibli,
Closing of the encirclement at Kiev.
Lieutenant General Schmidt receives the Knights Cross.
On September 02nd lies heavy Russian artillery fire on Wibli. Fierce fighting with heavy losses. The situation stabilizes on September 03rd. Soviet forces attack the bridgehead 15 times and have to withdrawal 15 times. On September 05th, the forces of the 05th Soviet Army pull back.
September 07th, 1941 – September 12th, 1941
Battle for Kiev
September 13th, 1941 – September 27th, 1941
Regrouping and march via Tschernigow and Starodub in the area southeast of Roslawl
September 28th, 1941 – October 03rd, 1941
Preparation for breakthrough of Stalin-Line.
In the northern area of operations, defensive battle near Jelnja. Breakthrough on the upper Desna and creation of a bridgehead near Star Chotmirowka.
October 02nd, 1941
Start of „Operation Typhoon“, the German attack on Moscow
October 03rd, 1941 – October 11th, 1941
Advance over Bolwa and Ugra, Airfield Worotynsk is reached.
October 11th, 1941 – October 12th, 1941
Capturing of Kaluga near the Oka River. 17th Infantry Division enters the city after several days of fighting from the West. Infantry Regiment 470 enters (after crossing the Oka River twice within 24 hours) from the south. On the OKA-bridge on southern edge of Kaluga, 7th / Infantry Regiment 21 und Infantry Regiment 470 meet
October 13th, 1941 – October 25th, 1941
Advance towards Moscow via Anaschuja (Division Command Post Oct.17th) – Ssaschkino (night assault on Infantry Regiment 470) – Petrischtschewa. Turn to southeastern direction. Pushback of Soviet forces across the OKA-River on both sides of Aleksin. Fighting along Oka-River between Aleksin and Tarussa.
Relief by 52nd Infantry Division, march to assembly area near Gosteschewo (relief of 17th Infantry Division) in order to attack over Protwa River.
Right neighbor is 52nd Infantry Division, left neighbor is 137th Infantry Division.
Building a bridgehead on both sides of Kremenki
October 26th, 1941 – November 13th, 1941
Fighting along Protwa River. Destruction of trenches at the Bridgehead Kremenki. Fighting for Browna-Section. Attack and capture of Browna (Nov 03rd)
A 5-minute artillery assault falls short, own losses in the assembly area. Nevertheless advance to Pawlowka – Baritschi (15 km west of Sserpuchow).
The advance ends 90 kilometers southwest of Moscow
November 14th, 1941 – December 15th, 1941
Defending battles near Moscow as part of the XIII. corps.
Assignment along Protwa River (left neighbor 268th Infantry Division, right neighbor 52nd Infantry Division).
Defensive engagements at Kremenki bridgehead.
December 16th, 1941 – December 20th, 1941
Defensive combat south of the Protwa River (Troitzkoje – Gosteschewo), Evading in Western direction. Shifting to the south (divisional width) on 16th and 17th December. Every Regiment receives 150 new soldiers (partially without weapons).
On December 18th 12 T34-tanks and 2 heavy tanks „Stalin“ break through the main front. They are all destroyed.
December 21st, 1941 – January 21st, 1942
Defensive combat between Protwa and Ugra. Withdrawal fighting near Aulowo – Walkowo.
3rd / Infantry Regiment 470 is surrounded, relief by 2nd / Infantry Regiment 470 and 1st SS-Regiment 4.
Russian forces break through near Tschausoso und Altuchowo The Division is surrounded
268th Infantry Division frees a way south towards Nedelnoje. On December 31st, 1941 Lieutenant General Schmidt becomes commanding general IX. Corps, Colonel Hahm takes command. Evasion through a constriction near Nedelnoje. Further evasion battles from Frolowo, Kondrowo to Ostroshnoje.
January 22nd, 1941 – January 27th, 1942
Combat on both sides of Ostroshnoje. Tank Hunter Squad 559 with 100 soldiers becomes subordinated to Infantry Regiment 470. Soviet forces attack the division on a daily basis. Major Baur, Commander Infantry Regiment 470, receives a shot in the stomach, Major Schütz takes command.
On January 26th, 1942 Soviet forces (30 soldiers) penetrate Grebnewo. These troops are destroyed by the last divisional reserve (one NCO, 9 Soldiers, 1 machine gun and a few soldiers from Infantry Regiment 470). Evacuation of the positions on order on January 27th, 1942. The actual strength of Infantry Regiment 470 constitutes of 105 soldiers!
January 28th, 1942 – March 06th, 1942
Winter battle near Juchnow. Defense along Ugra River near Kolychmanowo.
Preparation of Ressa-Ugra-position on both sides of Raljaki along the taxiway to Juchnow. Evasion into new position.
May 11th, 1942
Promotion of Major General Hahm.
March 07th, 1942 – March 07th, 1943
Defensive combat within the Winter positions west of Juchnow, the Division is based in fixed Winter positions along Ressa and Ugra. Reconnaissance patrols are conducted on both sides, combat recon is supposed to capture prisoners. Large partisan units, 100 kilometers west threaten the divisional support, the division support units have losses as a result of battles with partisan units.
January 30th, 1943
Promotion of Lieutenant General Hahm.
February 02nd, 1943
Capitulation of the German 06th army in Stalingrad. This is the turning point of world war II
March 07th, 1943 – March 18th, 1943
Abandonment of a one year held front, the forces delay from successive positions to the West in direction of Jelnja. Opposing forces apply aggressive direct pressure, heavy losses on both sides.
The so called „Buffalo movement“ ends after 125 kilometers on March, 18th, 1943 in the „Buffalo position“ between Buda and Djuki.
March 19th, 1943 – August 07th, 1943
After heavy fighting in the first few days, the Buffalo position is further strengthened. The front runs from Kamenka -Wesselucha – Sslusna – Chotilowka – Taschtschilowo – Lasinki.
Opposing forces conduct less operations and fortify their positions as well. Both sides conduct combat reconnaissance. The front units are moved back and forward, the Division Command Post is located in Uspech.
The normal course of life along the front is mostly filled with training.
On June 30th, 1943 the divisions war diary closes with the words:
„Quiet night, all combat patrols return without enemy contact. During the day, enemy movement and harassing fire are more heavy on the right regimental section the rest of the divisional front.
After one week of interruption, the enemy continues harassing fire on the railway near Radki.“
After this entry, the divisions war diary ends!
The following information derive from survivors memories.
August 07th, 1943 – September 21st, 1943
Start of large Soviet offensive operation. The division must give up the buffalo position and delay from successive positions under heavy losses. The new positions are called as follows:
September 22nd, 1943 – End October 1943
After giving up the Easter-Position the division tries in the western rear battle area to carry along the complete material carrying out extreme movements. Vehicles and horses, using shuttle traffic, are stressed to the outermost.
Final destination of this movement is the Pronja-Position along the Pronja River between Tschaussy and Asaritschi (23 km south). Attempts to break through by Russian troops are stopped with grimly close combat and changing success.
Lieutenant General Hahm is sick on leave (he will not return), he is represented by Colonel Dr. Bracher.
End October1943 – 28. February 28th, 1944
On November 09th, 1943 Major General Schlüter takes command of the division. After the situation calmed down a little, the battle positions are fortified. The Division Command Post is initially located in Ussuscheck, later in Dubrowka. The rear area includes the cities Stary, Bishow and Mogilew. Christmas and New Years Eve are spend without major disruption. January and February are calm as well, the Division can reorder and train the troops. Both sides continue to scan each other in defensive positions. The previously destroyed Regiment 470 is set up again.
March 01st 1944 – May 20th, 1944
The Division exchanges its section with 31st Infantry Division it becomes the right wing of 4th Army and with that joint unit to 9th Army. The Division Command Post is located in Judino. The main front is further fortified and combat patrols are engaging Soviet forces. Thaw begins, this denies any large size movement. The Division Commander, Major General Schlüter, is heavily wounded on his way home on April 21st. He looses one arm.
His successor is Major General Klammt. He arrives on May 10th, 1944.
Mai 21st, 1944 – June 24th, 1944
The Division is moved by rail transport to the area Orscha – Gorki – Mogilew in exchange for 56th Infantry Division.
It’s staff is now located south of Schischewo, later in Krassulino-Jurowka.
Assigned along the main front now are:
110th Infantry Division – 260th Infantry Division – 25th Mechanized Infantry Division – 78th Assault Division (the last 3 Divisions are part of XXVII army corps)
June 25th, 1944 – June 30th, 1944
Retrieve over multiple positions rearward of the Dnjepr River as a result of heaviest fighting. Opposing forces breakthroughs near Orscha, the majority of the Division crosses the Dnjepr River near Kopys and Kopistza on June 26th.
Drut River is crossed on June 30th near Teterin.
July 01st, 1944 – July 06th, 1944
Crossing of the Beresina River. In the night of June 02nd, the Division gathers for the last time behind the Beresina River, it’s combat power is 2.000 Men!
Withdrawal in a moving encirclement (together with rest of 78th Assault Division, 267th Infantry Division, 25th Mechanized Infantry Division and the Infantry Regiment 199 „Regiment List“).
Soviet forces attack from different sides and by air. The Division Commander conduct a last meeting near Tscherwan. Orders to escape to the West are given after all heavy weapons are destroyed and desperate attempts to outbreak had no success.
July 07th, 1944 – July 09th, 1944
The encirclement is cleared 35 km east of Minsk by Soviet forces.
The remaining soldiers of the Division march into captivity.
Human tragedies happen during the march. Hundreds of soldiers die in consequence of injury, dysentery and weakness.
The 260th Infantry Division does not exist anymore!