The SS-Kampfgruppe “Dirnagel” was formed on 25 March 1945 from members of the SS Flak Training and Replacement Rgt. in Munich.
It was structured as follows:
I. Grenadier Bn. (1st–4th Companies). CO: Hstuf. Schettgen;
II. Grenadier Bn. (5th-8th Companies). CO: Hstuf. Mendrzyk;
SS Flak Detachment “Dirnagel” (mixed) with the following elements:
two batteries (1st, 2nd) of “88” Flak each with six guns:
one battery (3rd) of 3.7 cm Flak with nine solo guns and a twin gu;
one battery (4th) of 2 cm Flak, with some multi-barreled guns;
Flak Det. CO: Hstuf. Martin;
Overall unit commander: Ostubaf. Dirnagel;
Kampfgruppe strength: about 2,500 men.
On 27 March the battlegroup left Munich in a motorized convoy that took it through Augsburg, Donauwoerth, Noerdlingen, Dinkelsbuehl and Crailsheim to the area around Rot-am-See/Blaufelden where it arrived on the next day. On 29 March, SS-KGr. “D” was posted to the XIII. Temporary General Command Staff in Rothenburg under Gen. Weissenberger and was deployed in the vicinity of Oberstleutnant von Hobe’s 212-th Volks grenadier Division.
The front situation was extremely confused at this time. The 1st Battery/Flak Det. “D” was initially posted to Riedbach. Most of the rest of the battle-group went into secondary blocking positions, while combat contingents from the “88” and 2 cm Flak batteries were put directly into the main lines from Stuppach to Neunkiercnen to a point west of Reichs Highway 19, for use in ground action.
In the afternoon of 31 March an American attack towards Althausen developed and an assault on Neunkirchen was broken up. At 16:30 six U.S. tanks renewed the attack on the western outskirts of Neunkirchen and four of them were promptly destroyed by Flak Battle Troop “Hosch” from 1st Battery/SS-KGr. “D,” which was led by Hstuf. Graul. But in a continuing exchange of fire with the remaining tanks both of the “88” guns belonging to Battle Troop “Hosch” were knocked out and Oscha. Hosch and six members of his gun crews were killed. The two surviving tanks were then driven off by Panzerfausten wielded by SS infantrymen.
In the process of smashing another U.S. tank and infantry attack, 2nd Battery/SS-KGr. “D” led by Hstuf. Wundelrich lost four of its “88” heavy Flak guns, thus the battle-group was deprived of one-half of its “88” contingent in one day alone. On 1 April, SS-KGr. “D” was subordinated to XIII. SS Corps and its Flak batteries helped to destroy an enemy tank assembly area in the woods northwest of Koenigshofen, and also supported a German counterattack towards Edelfingen-Koenigshofen.
On the next day the whole battle-group was involved in the battle for these two towns; Edelfingen in particular changed hands many times over. On an important hill known as the Thurmberg, very bitter hand-to-hand fighting raged. But the combat was fierce all over and SS-KGr. “Dirnagel” reported losing 59 men killed in Koenigshofen alone. During the fight for Mergentheim it proved possible to better outfit the deployed SS battalions with more mechanized weapons and entrenching tools. When there were pauses in the action the children of the town helped out by bringing food and drink to the soldiers.
During a reconnaissance-in-force towards Boxberg on 3 April, the CO of 5th Co./SS-KGr. “D,” Hstuf. Martin Krenkel, was killed in action. The previous summer he had commanded 14th Co. (3.7 cm Flak)/49th SS Pz. Gr. Brigade. The CO of I./SS-KGr. “D” was also wounded on this day. On 6 April the battle-group was subordinated to the 9th Flak Division. The fighting had now moved into the southern outskirts of Mergentheim. Kampfgruppe “D” next became entangled in a violent struggle against U.S. tank forces for the town of Stuppach, losing another 63 men killed in the process. Now deployed alongside the SS task force were assorted Volkssturm (home guard) troops, the Landesschuetzen Stamm Kompanie 1./13 and the Army replacement battalion in Mergentheim. In the course of the evening of 6 April, Bad Mergentheim was evacuated, and while serving as a rearguard 5th Co./SS-KGr. “D” was cut off and had to break through enemy forces in the direction of Niederstetten.
From 7 to 9 April the battle-group saw very hard fighting for Apfelbach, Riedbach, Hollenbach and Wildentierbach. A great number of men were killed during and after (!) the battles. In Hollenbach 53 SS men died while in Wildentierbach seven more were killed - all shot in the head. In the postwar era it was discovered that of the 22 members of SS-KGr. “D” that had been killed over Easter weekend 1945, 16 had been shot in the head. The implications were obvious; most SS men to die in such a manner at this stage of the war were victims of postbattle executions! The evidence now clearly demonstrates that American troops did not hesitate to murder Waffen-SS POWs whenever the mood struck them, and no one of course, was ever brought to account for such activities.
Most of the American tanks knocked out in the fighting of 7-9 April were destroyed by hand-held weapons in close combat. Due to vehicle losses caused by the overwhelming enemy firepower, severe shortages in Flak supplies and equipment had begun to develop, greatly restricting the use of these weapons on the field of battle.
On 8 April SS-KGr. “D” was engaged in extremely bitter street fighting with troops from the 10th U.S. Armored Division. The Americans took many wounded members of the battle-group prisoner, and a number of them were indiscriminately executed on the spot. The 2nd Battery/ Flak Det./SS-KGr. “D” was also completely committed to the fight for Adelshofen.
By 10 April. Kampfgruppe “Dirnagel” was in a steady retreat, but with larger combat responsibilities and far less troops to handle them with. Two days later it was again in the area around Rothenburg on the Tauber River. Part of the battle-group was sent to the vicinity of Crailsheim where it succeeded in destroying a number of enemy tanks. However, heavy losses were sustained again during the continuing pullback around Schillingsfuerst on 14 April.
On 15 April the battle-group underwent a brief “refreshing” near Fuerth. It was then attached to the 350th Special Use Volksgrenadier Div. under Gen.Maj. Schmidt. For the first time there was a severe shortage of fuel and ammunition. Battlefield actions took place around Vach and Gruendlach and all of the remaining light and heavy Flak guns were pressed into use as ground artillery. Kampfgruppe “D” had now begun to get some of its gaps refilled by non-SS personnel from assorted Army anti-tank units, and Paratroop and Labor Service elements. April 16th saw further fighting against enemy forces who were well supported by artillery, around Gruendlach.
From 17 to 19 April, SS-KGr. “Dirnagel” saw action around Burgfarnbach, Fuerth and Schwabach and began marching south towards Wassermungenau on 20 April. On 20 April it worked in close collaboration with 350th VG Div. around Wassermungenau and Rittershausen. From 21 to 22 April it served as divisional reserve in the vicinity of Pleinfeld and later around Ramsberg.
On 23 April the Americans took Weissenburg without a fight at 07:00 and continued advancing towards Pappenheim. The next day saw Kampfgruppe “Dirnagel” manning a new defensive line which quickly came under a forceful attack by enemy tanks causing the SS troops to withdraw to new positions about 3 km to the south at about midday. During the night a further pullback was made to the Altmuehl sector.
In the morning hours of 25 April the enemy crossed the Altmuehl River near Dollenstein and further advanced towards Neuburg on the Danube and Ingolstadt. The SS battle-group was required to provide flank security along a line running from Ochsenfeld to Siesenhard to Nassenfels. Under cover of darkness a further withdrawal was carried out to the Danube sector. On 26 April, Ingolstadt fell to the enemy without a fight.
From 1 to 3 May 1945, SS-KGr. “D” saw continuous but insubstantial fighting in the vicinity of Pfaffenhofen-Wasserburg. There was a tough battle at Eberstetten and at its conclusion 15 German POWs, including a medic from SS Flak Det. 17/"GvB,” were shot out-of-hand by the Americans. Around Erding, KGr. “Dirnagel” fought in conjunction with the 17th SS Div. “Goetz von Berlichengen."
On 4 May, the battle-group, now subordinated to LX XXII. Corps, fought its last battle to the south of Bad Reichenhall. Capitulation came four days later on 8 May 1945. The soldiers from Kampfgruppe “Dirnagel” were held first in a POW camp at Bischofswiesen for three weeks. They were then sent on to Egelsee by Ebersberg before finally being incarcerated at Langwasser near Nuremberg.
Despite being composed primarily of trainees, SS-KGr. “Dirnagel” had acquitted itself with great success on the battlefield in near continuous action. Its soldiers were credited with destroying around 40 enemy tanks, half of them in close combat with Panzerfausten. In addition, the Flak batteries brought down ten enemy aircraft. But a high price was exacted in return. Some 200 men from the formation were killed (a good many in captivity) and probably 4-5 times as many were wounded.