SS-Volunteer Armour-Grenadier-Battalion "Narwa"
Btl „Narwa" in action, Ukraine 1943.
23.03.1943 - 21.07.1943 - SS-Sturmbannführer G. Eberhardt
21.07.1943 - ... - SS-Obersturmführer Schmidt
... - ...1944 - SS-Hauptsturmführer Wallner
...1944 - ...1944 - SS-Obersturmführer O. Ruut (20. SS-Füsiljerbataillon)
...1944 - 22.09.1944 SS-Obersturmführer H. Ruus (20. SS-Füsiljerbataillon)
At the beginning of 1943 when Finnish volunteers of 5th SS-division "Wiking" were starting to return to homeland, the Command decided to replace them with one of the battalions from Estonian SS-Legion which were currently on additional training. 1st battalion was chosen and unexpectedly subordinated to 5th SS-Volunteer Armour-Division "Wiking" in Ukraine. Battalion was renamed to SS-Freiwilligen-Panzer-Grenadier-Bataillon "Narwa" located under SS-Volunteer Regiment "Westland". The reason of naming battalion "Narwa" remains unknown. Unexpected separation from the Legion brought along an anger in Estonian soldier. On 04.04.1943 the battalion was loaded on the train at Kohhanovka station and taken to Ukraine where it took over all of the armament and combat gear of leaving Finnish battalion.
Through the Battles
Battalion "Narwa" was loaded off the train at stations Lozovaja and
Blinznjuk in Ukraine on 07.04.1943 and they continued with field training as in
Heidelager, Poland. They had some conflicts with partisans who blasted one of
their ammonition truck and killed one non-commissioned officer. Chief of
Division himself was there watching the field trainings and he was very
satisfied. In June 1943 the battalion was relocated to Jasnaja Gorka near
On 14.07.1943 the battalion was given orders to engage the front. At first they were directed towards the arc of Kursk, later due Harkov back to south. They took defensive positions at village Andrejevka where they replaced Wehrmacht's 46th Infantry Division units in the dark. From 19th to 21st of July battalion "Narwa" defended the frontline against the out-numbered Red Army attacks on the main striking direction and lost most of the personnel as dead and wounded, including Chief of Battalion sturmbannführer Eberhardt. About 100 Soviet tanks were destroyed. This first and heroic battle brought big fame to Battalion in the whole frontline and also in the Command.
The commander of division „Wiking" SS-Obergruppenführer Herberd-Otto Gille rewarding the the legendary leader of Btl „Narwa",SS-Obersturmführer Hando Ruus with EK 2 class.
After short vacation they were sent to the front again. From 12th to 19th
of August "Narwa" participated in the battles of Hadnitsa with the rest of the
division covering the retreat of Harkov-Group. The frontline was quite long and
battles were again full of losses; tens of Soviet tanks were destroyed. After a
few days rest the covering battles continued in Sharovka - Valk front sector.
First replacement soldiers came on 31.08.1943. From October to the end of the
year the battalion stayed in quite peaceful sector on the bank of Dnepr.
On the 9th of January 1944 the formation were taken to the outskirts of Buda-Orlovets and put to positions on the forested southern bank of river Irdõn. Battalion was once again in a hard part of the frontline - they fought a tough 4-day defence-battle in the woods. In January the Red Army started next big operation. During the operation they sieged several German divisions (about 56 000 men) in the area of Cherkassy-Korsun-Olshana with two corps. Battalion "Narwa" was among these under-sieged units. When Russians tryed to envade into the "pocket" the battalion and one engineer company were cut off the rest of sieged units and they found themselves from another ring. They managed to break through with critical losses and join other unit on 6th of February. In this breach they lost all vehicles and special machinery. Division continued with desperate actions to break out from the Cherkassy pocket. "Narwa" was the main penetration unit of division "Wiking" moving at the head of breaching formation. Approximately 100 men of the battalion were alive when division managed to breach out. From 500 replacements that came in December only 35 were alive.
Grenadiers in Cherkassy, 1944
Remains of out-broken division "Wiking" were immediately taken to Lubin, Poland to vacation. Bunch of "Narwa" fighters were invited to Adolf Hitler's personal reception for honouring and promoting.
On 16.03.1944 battalion "Narwa" was sent back to homeland, they arrived on 20th of March in Tallinn. After ceremonial events they earned 3 weeks of vacation, then new field trainings in Kehra. In June 1944 new 20th SS-Reconnaisance-Battalion (20. SS-Füsiljerbataillon) in complement of 20th Estonian SS-Volunteer Division was formed. Despite of new formation the battalion kept the name "Narwa" even in semiofficial usage. Battalion fought heroically in battles of Auvere and Sinimäed. Battalion broke apart in North-East Estonia during the withdrawal in autumn of 1944. But they kept fight against communism.. some of them survived.
The name of battalion „Narwa" will stay allways on the minds on patriotic Estonians.
Adolf Hitler , Mein Kampf , Schutzstaffel , Waffen-SS
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