Panzerarmee Intelligence Reports

The table below gives easy access to the daily reports. The background to these reports is as set out below.

The reports were made daily to the High Command of the Army’s Foreign Armies West office (OKH – Fremde Heere West) in Berlin. They were normally a page long and followed a fairly standard format. The reports presented here, unlike e.g. war diaries or combat reports which could often be written up long after the events, were not written with the benefit of hindsight, they are the real view of the intelligence department on the day, or the evening at the end of the day. The time stamps and notifications on them make this clear. They are therefore fairly unique documents that give the reader a direct insight into what the Panzergruppe command was thinking about who and where the enemy were, and what they did and intended to do in the CRUSADER battle.

The reports originated from the Ic (intelligence) department in the Panzergruppe staff, headed by Major von Mellenthin. The assessment was based on the analysis of reports from combat units, POW interrogations, radio interception and aerial reconnaissance from both German and Italian sources. Given the complexity and rapidity of events it was often wrong of course, and it reflects the German view of the battle as it evolved, rather than sober historical analysis, and as such is a prime first-hand source on the battle.

An editorial note, I have tried to preserve the reports as much as possible in translating and transcribing them. The result is sometimes stilted English, and that there are strikethroughs in the reports. My guess for their production is as follows: the initial report was handwritten, then typed up. While this happened further thought would be given to the situation, and when the handwritten version was handed to von Mellenthin for sign-off, he introduced further changes by striking out elements and/or adding handwritten notes. This would then be passed on to the radio room for transmission. Since this somewhat illuminates the thought process underlying the analysis, I am trying to preserve it as much as I can. Furthermore, I am trying to use the Dominion Army designations unless there is a good reason to use the German designations. But that will remain a judgement call, and I hope it makes sense.

A word of warning – these reports are very raw. They will only make sense if you have some background knowledge of Operation CRUSADER. Whatever you do, do NOT try to get this knowledge from these reports. There are far too many errors in them.

Example of an air reconnaissance report

Example of a Bildskizze visual air reconnaissance report

Example of a radio reconnaissance report

The table below is complete and this project is finished.

November 41 December 41 December 41 January 41
18 November 1 December 16 December 1 January
19 November 2 December 17 December 2 January
20 November 3 December 18 December 3 January
21 November 4 December 19 December 4 January
22 November 5 December 20 December 5 January
23 November 6 December 21 December 6 January
24 November 7 December 22 December 7 January
25 November 8 December 23 December 8 January
26 November 9 December 24 December 9 January
27 November 10 December 25 December 10 January
28 November 11 December 26 December 11 January
29 November 12 December 27 December 12 January
30 November 13 December 28 December 13 January
14 December 29 December 14 January
15 December 30 December 15 January
31 December
January 41 (continued) February 41
16 January 1 February
17 January 2 February
18 January 3 February
19 January 4 February
20 January (not issued) 5 February
21 January 6 February
22 January (not issued)
23 January
24 January
25 January
26 January
27 January
28 January
29 January
30 January
31 January