The 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division was a German motorized infantry unit during the second world war. The soldiers who fought in these units were known as panzergrenadiers for the fact that, unlike their infantry counterparts, they usually traveled via motor vehicles rather than by foot. Considered elite front line units because of their mobility, panzergrenadiers usually found themselves thrust into battle alongside armored panzer divisions. Typically they would advance and fight from armored halftracks or trucks gaining armor protection and mobility until they were close enough to assault enemy positions on foot.

To understand the complete history of the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division it becomes important that one understands its origins. The unit that would ultimately become the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division, was formed in 1934 in Frankfurt/Oder by the expansion of the Reichsheer 8.Infanterie-Division under the cover name Kommandant von Frankfurt. On October 15th 1935 its cover name was dropped and it became known officially as the 3.Infanterie-Division.

The 3.Infanterie-Division was mobilized on August 1st 1939 for operations in Poland. When the attack on Poland was launched on September 1st 1939, the 3.Infanterie-Division was a part of II.Armee-Korps under 4.Armee, Heeresgruppe Nord. The 4.Armee was to attack into the Polish Corridot from the region of Pomerania in Germany in an attempt to link up with the 3.Armee in East Prussia. This would isolate the Polish coastal forces in the region of Danzig from the rest of the battle to the south. The 3.Infanterie-Division crossed into Poland in the front of the 4.Armee attack against the Polish Corridor. The region of its attack was known as the Tuchola Forest, an area defended only lightly by the Polish 9th Infantry Division and Pomorska Cavalry Brigade. It broke through the Polish defenses at Seenkette between Nandsburg and Mrotschen, and fought across the Brda River west of Crone, where it pursued through the Tucheler Heide to the Vistula (Weichsel) River in the region of Topolno-Grabowko. The 3.Infanterie-Division then took part in pursuit combat over the Weichsel River in the direction of Modlin. It then took part in security operations against the Bzura Pocket between Woclawek and Wyscogrod, before fighting near Plock and advancing in the direction of Gostynin, ending its stint in Poland near Lowicz before being transferred to the Eifel region of Germany along the German-Luxembourg border

When the attack on France and the Low Countries was launched in May 1940 the 3.Infanterie-Division was under III.Armee-Korps, 12.Armee, Heeresgruppe A. It advanced through Luxembourg and Belgium to the Maas River at Nouzonville where it fought across. It then secured the area between Ewergnicourt and Balham before advancing over the Aisne to Asfeld, moving further on to the Canal du Centre in the region Digoin-Chalons, soon after ending the campaign in security operations along the demarkation-line. After the Campaign in the West in October 1940, the 3.Infanterie-Division was reformed and redesignated the 3.Infanterie-Division (mot).

As a Motorized Division, the 3rd took part in the Campaign against the Soviet Union in the Northern sector of the Front, advancing against the Russian city of Leningrad. Later, it was moved south to advance against Moscow in 1942. It then fought in defensive battle against the 1st Soviet Winter Counter-Offensive in the ourskirts of Moscow. Later, the 3rd was shifted further south, this time to the Southern Front to take part in the battles across the Ukraine and the Don regions.

Held in reserve during the preparation of the assault on Stalingrad in the spring of 1942, the 3.Infanterie-Division (mot) was refitted with the addition of the 103rd Panzer Abteillung which would henceforth attach a battalion sized armored element to the unit. This reflected a new idea in a type of German battle formation focused on fast moving motorized troops accompanied by a battalion of tanks instead of of the typical tank regiment associated with panzer divisions. As part of the 6th Armee, they advanced into the Stalingrad region in September of 1942 where, after tenacious fighting, the army group was ultimately encircled and destroyed by the Soviets in late 1942 and 1943.

The 3.Infanterie-Division (mot) was reformed in the Spring of 1943 in the Lyon region of France, from the few remaining pieces of the original 3.Infanterie-Division (mot) and from the 386.Infanterie-Division(mot) which also originated from the region of Frankfurt/Oder. Resurrecting their regimental numbers, the newly formed 3.Infanterie-Division (mot) was then renamed as the 3.Panzergrenadier-Division after a decree by Hans Guderian that all motorized infantry divisions be redesignated as panzergrenadier divisions. It was felt that this new description would boost morale of the motorized grenadier, who despite the lack of halftrack vehicles, also fought alongside their tank battalion just like the panzer division counterparts. It also recognized the tankers as being of more significance than simply being an attachment to an infantry division.

After formation and refit, the 3.Panzergrenadier-Division was sent to Italy in June 1943 where it took part in the Battles for Salerno, Cassino, The Bernhard Line and the Anzio beachhead where it fought with particular courage against the American and Commonwealth forces in the areas of Aprilla and Cisterna. Their bravery in the battle helped to stall the Allied advance and breakout until the general retreat to Rome in May and June of 1944.

The remnants of the 3rd were transferred to Florence for refitting in late June 1944 and then were sent to the Western Front near Paris in August 1944 where it engaged the Allies before taking part in the general withdrawal across France in and near Nancy. In September the 3rd Panzergrenadier Division deployed towards Metz to square off against George S. Patton's 3rd Army. Valient fighting here kept the American progress at bay while they attempted to breach the German controlled superforts of the Westwall. For the first time, the steady progress enjoyed by the Allied forces had been stopped cold. Market Garden, Hurtgen and now Metz would form a tough defensive line forward of the Rhine. With the Metz area stable, the 3.Panzergrenadier-Division (3PGD) would shift to the Hurtgenwald to reinforce the defense of Aachen.

The 3rd would see intense action during the defense of the ancient city in November 1944, known as the "Gateway to the Rhine", the 3PGD would fight tooth and nail for the city. It was here that the 3rd Panzer Grenadier Division/8th Regiment really distinguished itself when it held back the American 30th and 1st ID in the Ravelsberg area. Under Leutnant Zillies the 10th Kompanie would hold a line of 3 bunkers for five days. One of these bunkers traded hands sixteen times. Bunker 170 under Leutnant Zillies held like iron and never fell. His circular defense of the area consisting of trip wires, remotely detonated mines, explosives, machine gun trenches, and antitank weapons, were impenetrable. He was awarded the Knights Cross for his efforts. Despite the ultimate withdrawal of the 3PGD and the loss of the city, the fighting provided the Germans the necessary time to plan for the Ardennes Offensive, later to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. The delays and loss of men and material in the Hurtgen Forest campaign was unprecidented on the Allied side. For the first time, the American rate of attrition was higher than the rate of replacement.

Before the "Wacht am Rhein" offensive in December 1944, the 3PGD rested and refitted behind the lines, before being tasked with protecting the Northern Flank around Monschau, as part of the 5th Panzer Armee. They would see heavy fighting in the towns of Rocherath. Upon the halt of the offensive and the collapse of the bulge, the 3PGD took part in delaying actions during the operations for Eifel in January 1945 and was in action defending near KÖLN and Remagen. In April of 1945 the 3rd Panzer Grenadiers were part of 300,000 German troops trapped by the Allies in the Ruhr Pocket. They surrendered in April 1945, one month before the end of the War in Europe.