Abbey, 8th June Gruppenfiuhrer Fritz Witt, commander of the 12th SS-Panzer Division Hitlerjugend leaves the northern entrance of the headquarters of 25th SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment In a motorcycle combination driven by the regimental commander Kurt Meyer. Both of these men were highly decorated veterans of many campaigns. They were young unconventional officers who liked to keep in close contact with their troops in the line. In this scene Meyer is personally taking his divisional commander forward to consult with his battalion commanders prior to launching his attack against the Canadians at Bretteville l’Orgeilleuse. Witt had joined the SS in 1931, choosing a career aligned to the ruling Nazi Party. In 1933 he was among the first 120 men who volunteered to join the elite Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler (LSSAH) bodyguard formation. Witt commanded a company during the Polish campaign and later fought in France and Holland. In 1941 he campaigned in Yugoslavia, Greece and Russia with the LSSAH Division, rising to command its 1st SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment in 1942. In early 1943, Witt was given the honour of raising the 12th SS-Panzer Division Hitlerjugend. At the age of just 35 years he became the second youngest divisional commander in the German armed forces. Witt was killed by Allied naval shellfire at his headquarters at Venoix on 14 June 1944. Kurt ‘Panzer’ Meyer was also a veteran of the LSSAH Division and like Witt had been awarded both classes of the Iron Cross and the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves. In 1943 he was transferred from LSSAH Division to lead the 25th SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment in Witt’s division. On Witt’s death Meyer took command of the Hitlerjugend Division and fought with it until he was captured during the collapse of the German Seventh Army in August 1944. He was then the youngest divisional commander in the German Army. Meyer’s headquarters were located In Ardenne Abbey, a large walled enclosure housing a medieval church and a range of domestic buildings. The site covered several acres and provided cover for hundreds of troops with their vehicles. Kurt Meyer (CO SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment 25), Fritz Witt (Division commander, KIA June 14, 1944) and Max Wünsche (CO SS-Panzer-Regiment 12) Advance elements of Meyer’s regiment had arrived at the Abbey late on 6 June and were ready to attack the Canadians the next day. Meyer was confident that he could throw the ‘little fish’ back into the sea, but his first contact with the Allies on 7 June, just a few hundred yards from the Abbey grounds, resulted in a very sharp repulse. The counter-attack made by Meyer’s 25th SS-Panzergrenadier Regiment met Canadian 3rd Division’s advance head-on and Meyer watched the encounter from the tower of the abbey church. In the stiff fighting that followed neither side was able to seize the initiative. During June, while his regiment was based in Ardenne Abbey, Meyer tacitly allowed his men to execute a total of 27 Canadian prisoners of war in cold blood in the small garden behind the courtyard. After the war he was prosecuted for this crime and sentenced to death. This was commuted to life imprisonment on appeal. He was released in September 1954 and died in 1961 at the age of 51.