243th Sturmgeshutz Abtailung (Assault Gun Battalion)


Abteilung Commander - Lieutenant colonel Hesselbarth
Chief of Headquarters - Lieutenant Patzschke
Commander Staff battery - Oberleutnant Keishold
Commander 1st Battery - Oberleutnant Gruber
Commander 2nd Battery - Oberleutnant Hofer
Commander 3rd Battery - Oberleutnant Sekirka

The Abteilung was formed by May 10, 1941.
With the beginning of operation "Barabarossa", the Abteilung is part of 17th Army in Army Group South.
Capture of Lvov, offensive on Ternopol. Heavy fighting near Proskyrov.
In August, 1941, participation in the encirclement and rout of the Kiev Red Army Group.
In September 1941 offensive on Bryansk, further offensive on Moscow.
Winter 1941/42 heavy defensive battles in region Maloarkhangelsk.
In March 1942, Abteilung withdraw from front to receive reinforcements.
In June 28, 1942 participation in offensive on southern flank of the Soviet-German front.

Heavy fighting with Russian tanks in Voronezh region. Abteilung withdraws from the front on July 9 and becomes part of 4th Panzer Army. A Abteilung engaged in battle in Don region and further near Stalingrad. September 1, Abteilung reaches the frontier Stalingrad Defensive Ring. immediately suffering large losses from Russian heavy Air-Defense Guns with female crews. Abteilung was armed Sturmgeschutz III C.

At the end of September, Abteilung withdraws to receive reinforcements near Shutov (Kalmykia). 2nd Battery send in Kotelnikovo for rearming with Sturmgeschutz III E. Others battery from the end of October again operates near Stalingrad.

November 19, 1942, Abteilung takes up position opposite Beketovka. With the beginning of Russian counter-offensive the Abteilung attempts to counter-attack Russian units. On the night of November 20/21 with the support of infantry, Abteilung attacked Russian positions on hills east of Yagadnoy, capturing them. The next day, however, the Abteilung is surrounded. The Abteilung commander assembles all personnel to break-through to Stalingrad. The Abteilung breaks through Russian units and 14 kilometers and unites with the 6th Armee. After its raid there remained 3 Sturmgeschutzen.

2nd Battery which was in Kotelnikovo, participated in the desperate attempt by Manstein to raise the blockade surrounding 6th Army. It was soon be obliged to conduct a fighting withdrawal to Rostov.

On January 10, 1943 began Operation Koltso "Ring". In repulsing the Russian offensive 2 Sturmgeschutz were lost. The Abteilung had 1 Sturmgeschutz  remaining (commander Wachtmeister Brunish). This Sturmgeschutz not be able to move, but was able to fire. Four days later, the Russian attacked the positions of the infantry division to which the remainder of the Abteilung was attached.

When the order to retreat to Stalingrad was received, an18-ton tractor towed the last Sturmgeschutz to the repair base of 245th Sturmgeshutz Abteilung.

When the advancing Russian units came to a distance of two kilometers, last Sturmgeschutz opened fire. The Russian units only had lights -70 tanks which not be able to destroy Sturmgeschutz. During 4 hours the last Sturmgeschutz repelled some attacks, and the Russian units withdrew. During this battle Abteilung commander lieutenant Colonel Hesselbarth and many other soldiers went missing.

At the termination of the battle a tractor towed the Sturmgeschutz to a Repair base (1 km east of Pitomnik airfield ), but even there it proved impossible to repair the Sturmgeschutz. Therefore Wachtmeister Brunish detached the rest of the infantry battalion (14 men), and they took up a defensive position on a repair base itself. From January 16, Sturmgeschutz, the personnel repair base, and 14 infantrymen defended themselves from attacking Russian troops. The repair base defended until the morning of January 21, 1943. During these battles Wachtmeister Brunish was twice wounded, and the Sturmgeschutz was destroyed. From the entire Abteilung 2 men remained: Wachtmeister Brunish, and Stabsgefreiter Otto Ackel.

In the morning of January 21 Otto Ackel transported a badly wounded Brunish to the Gumrak aerodrome . The next day Brunish was transported to Stalingradskiy airfield and evacuated from the pocket.