As the tank element of 21st Panzer Division (famous for
its associations with Rommel and the desert war) PanzerRegiment
22 had been in Normandy longer than any other but it was
poorly equipped for the challenge it had to face. The regiment
consisted of two battalions (or Abteilung) each divided
into four companies (Kompanie). The 1st Battalion was reasonably
well off, each company comprising 17 Panzer IV, but the
2nd Battalion could only manage five or six Panzer IV per
company; its remaining armour included 39 old French Somua
tanks and various self-propelled anti-tank guns based on
Hotchkiss and Lorraine chassis captured from the French.
Tank Museum photo No. 2411/F/5
Although the regiment was officially on stand-by over the
night of 5th-6th June its units were spread out in the area
around Caen and Falaise and, since radio silence had to
be observed, all communication was by motorcycle despatch
riders. The first reaction to the invasion was to head for
the coast, where Panzergrenadier Regiment 902 was attempting
to reach Lion-sur-Mer, but after a while the tanks, less
one company, were recalled to defend Caen.
Tank Museum photo No. 2366/D/1
Subsequently sent forward again that evening the Panzers
came up against elements of British 27th Armoured Brigade
near Periers-sur-le-Dan, led by the Staffordshire Yeomanry.
Digging many of their tanks in, in typical desert style,
Panzer Regiment 22 managed to stem the British advance,
but not without losing many of their tanks.