The 5th Panzer Army, also known as Panzer Group West and Panzer Group Eberbach (German: 5.Panzer-Armee, Panzergruppe West,
Panzergruppe Eberbach) was a panzer army which saw action in the Western and North Africa. The remnants of the army surrendered in the
Ruhr pocket in 1945.
The 5th Panzer Army was created on 8 December 1942 as a command formation for armoured units forming to defend Tunisia against Allied
attacks which threatened after the success of the Allied Operation Torch landings in Algeria and Morocco. The army fought alongside the
Italian First Army as a part of Army Group Afrika. The army capitulated on 13 May 1943, along with its commander Hans-Jürgen von Arnim.
The army was officially disbanded on 30 June 1943.
The army was reformed on 24 January 1944 as Panzer Group West, the armoured reserve for OB West. The new army was placed under the
command of Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg. The method of employment of Panzer Group West in the event of an allied invasion was the
subject of much controversy, with OB West commander Gerd von Rundstedt and Army Group B commander Erwin Rommel favouring different
methods. Rundstedt believed that the panzer group should be held in reserve some distance from the front, to counterattack Allied
penetrations. However, Rommel was convinced that Allied airpower and artillery would not allow the Germans the freedom to move large
formations, and so insisted that the panzers should be deployed much closer to the frontline. In the event, Hitler refused to allow his
commanders to commit the panzer group without his explicit authorisation, and so when the Allied Invasion began on 6 June 1944, Panzer
Group West remained immobile. Two days after the invasion, Schweppenburg was wounded in an air raid on his field headquarters and was
replaced by Heinrich Eberbach.
The panzer group fought against the Allied forces in Normandy, suffering heavy losses and eventually finding many of its divisions trapped in
the Falaise Pocket. After the shattered remnants of the panzer group escaped from Falaise, it began a retreat towards the German border.
Retreat - Ardennes
In August, the remaining elements of Panzer Group West were reorganized as Fifth Panzer Army, with a combat formation remaining in action
under the title Panzer Group Eberbach. After a brief period under Sepp Dietrich, command of the army passed to Hasso von Manteuffel. The
army saw heavy combat on the German border against Allied forces, the panzer divisions suffering heavily from Allied ground attack aircraft.
In November, the 5th Panzer Army began forming up in the Ardennes, alongside the newly-formed 6th SS Panzer Army under Dietrich. Both
formations took part in the Battle of the Bulge, the Fifth Panzer Army suffering heavy losses in battles around Bastogne and in the armour
battles around Celles and Dinant. After the offensive was cancelled, it continued its fighting withdrawal to the German border. In March, it was
involved in efforts to eliminate the American bridgehead over the Rhine at Remagen.
The 5th Panzer Army was encircled and trapped in the Ruhr Pocket, and surrendered on 17 April 1945.
Fifth Panzer Army (North Africa)
General of Artillery (General der Artillerie) Heinz Ziegler (3 Dec 1942 - 20 Feb 1943)
Colonel-General (Generaloberst) Hans-Jürgen von Arnim (20 Feb 1943 - 28 Feb 1943)
General of Panzer Troops (General der Panzertruppen) Gustav von Värst (28 Feb 1943 - 9 May 1943)
Panzer Group West
General of Panzer Troops Leo Geyr von Schweppenburg (? Feb 1944 - 8 June 1944)
General of Panzer Troops Heinrich Eberbach (8 June 1944 - 9 Aug 1944)
Panzer Group Eberbach
Heinrich Eberbach (10 Aug 1944 - 21 Aug 1944)
Fifth Panzer Army (France)
Heinrich Eberbach (2 July 1944 - 9 Aug 1944)
SS-Oberstgruppenführer Sepp Dietrich (9 Aug 1944 - 9 Sept 1944)
General of Panzer Troops Hasso von Manteuffel (9 Sept 1944 - 8 Mar 1945)
Colonel-General Josef Harpe (8 Mar 1945 - 17 Apr 1945)