NORTHAG 1200-1700 (Northern Sector of the Weser Defenses)
The afternoon arrived with Soviet tank and motor-rifle formations engaged in heavy fighting against the West Germans southeast of Hameln. 47th Guards Tank Division’s first push had dislodged the West German mechanized infantry from around Dielmissen. The movement of the 193rd Panzergrenadier Battalion away from the village was disrupted and almost became a rout when it suffered two near-catastrophes within the space of ten minutes. The first event was the death of the battalion’s commanding officer and many of his subordinates during a well-timed Soviet fire strike on the command post. His death came right when he was preparing to issue orders for the 193rd’s combat elements to pull back. Consequently, a vacuum developed at the most inopportune time.
The follow-on Soviet tank regiment had been committed earlier than expected and was creating heavy pressure on the West German battalion’s flanks, bringing on the second near-catastrophe. With no orders coming across the battalion net, the 193rd’s companies held in place for longer than was wise. The amount of fresh combat strength being heaped upon them by the enemy was taking a toll. It was only a matter of time before the defending troops were overrun or died in place. Then it happened. The company guarding the left flank broke and retreated when the threat of envelopment became imminent. This created a gap in the West German line that led to the 19th Panzergrenadier Brigade’s commander to commit his brigade reserve earlier than expected to fill the gap and cover the withdrawal of the mechanized infantry battalion.
Over the next two hours, the 191st Panzergrenadier Battalion, supported by two battalions of mobile guns and heavy air support, covered the withdrawal of its sister battalion with a swift counterattack that stunned the forward elements of the Soviet tank battalions breaking through the West German positions. There was a window of time when it appeared likely to both West German and Soviet commanders that Dielmissen would change hands once more. The possibility compelled the 153rd Tank Regiment’s commander to bring the remainder of his unit to bear and keep the West Germans from regaining the village.
Thus began a series of moves and counter-moves around Dielmissen that would ultimately become the catalyst for this action developing into a multi-division battle over the next twelve hours.
On the left of the West Germans, the British 6th Armored Brigade had been largely replaced and augmented by the 33rd Armored Brigade and a handful of smaller West German Territorial units. The first part of the afternoon passed by in relative quiet compared to the growing battle in the West German sector. The British monitored activity there closely, ready to provide assistance if the need arose. As a lull in the fighting around Dielmissen developed after 1600, Soviet attention turned to the British. The 58th Guards MRD launched an attack towards Weezen that gave the appearance of an attempt to divert attention. The British commander sensed this and suspected a second larger effort could be developing on his left from the direction of the Leine bridgeheads. Reports of Soviet tanks crossing the river through the early morning had been confirmed. This meant there was an enemy force somewhere in the direction of Hoyershausen. It would appear and make its presence felt at a time and place of the 3rd Shock Army commander’s choosing.