117th Jäger Division (Wehrmacht)

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117th Jäger Division
717 Infantry Division Logo.svg
Divisional insignia of the 717. Infanterie-Division
Active 1941–1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Allegiance Adolf Hitler
Branch Infantry
Role Occupation duties
Size Division
Engagements

World War II

117th Jäger Division was a German infantry division of World War II. The division was formed in April 1943 by the reorganization and redesignation of the 717th Infantry Division. The 717th Division had been formed in April 1941. It was transferred to Yugoslavia in May 1941, to conduct anti partisan and Internal security operations.

It was the posted to Greece to guard the Peloponnesus until summer 1944, when it took part in the general withdrawal through the Balkans and suffered heavy losses during fighting with the partisans in September. The division ended the war fighting on the Eastern front and surrendered to the US Army in Austria in May 1945.

Background[edit]

The main purpose of the German jäger divisions was to fight in adverse terrain where smaller, coordinated formations were more facilely combat capable than the brute force offered by the standard infantry divisions. The jäger divisions were more heavily equipped than mountain division, but not as well armed as a larger infantry formation. In the early stages of the war, they were the interface divisions fighting in rough terrain and foothills as well as urban areas, between the mountains and the plains. The jägers (it means hunters in German), relied on a high degree of training and slightly superior communications, as well as their not inconsiderable artillery support. In the middle stages of the war, as the standard infantry divisions were down-sized, the Jäger model, with two infantry regiments, came to dominate the standard tables of organization.[1]

Known war crimes[edit]

Men from the division took part in a war crime known as Massacre of Kalavryta in a revenge operation in the Kalavryta area in Greece following the capture and murder of 81 soldiers from the division by Greek ELAS partisans in October 1943. During following operations several villages were burned down and 677 civilians killed according to the most recent estimates.[2]

Area of operations[edit]

Commanders[edit]

Organisational history[edit]

The division was formed as the 717th Infantry Division on 11 April 1941 as an occupation division. The principal units of the division were as follows:[3]

  • 749th Infantry Regiment (I, II, III battalions)
  • 749th Infantry Regiment (I, II, III battalions)
  • 670th Artillery Battalion (1, 2, 3 batteries)
  • 717th Pioneer Company
  • 717th Signals Company
  • 717th Divisional Service Units

On 1 April 1943, the 117th Jäger Division was formed by re-organising the 717th Infantry Division. The older men were replaced by younger men, and the principal units of the division were formed from those of its predecessor division, as follows:[3][4]

  • 737th Jäger Regiment (I, II, III battalions) - from the 737th Grenadier Regiment
  • 749th Jäger Regiment (I, II, III battalions) - from the 749th Grenadier Regiment
  • 670th Artillery Regiment (I, II, III battalions) - from the 670th Artillery Battalion
  • 117th Pioneer Battalion
  • 117th Signals Battalion
  • 117th Divisional Service Units

In March 1945, II/737 was rebuilt using the 1010th Fortress Battalion, and the artillery regimental staff was restored using the 944th Army Coast Defence Artillery Regiment.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Mcoy, Breaker (2009). German Army 101st Light Division, 101st Jager Division 1941 – 42. 
  2. ^ O'Donnell, Conal. "SOE, the Irish Agent and the Greek Massacre". BBC: WW2 the peoples war. Retrieved 2009-03-04. 
  3. ^ a b Nafziger 1993b, p. 60.
  4. ^ a b Nafziger 1993a, p. 65.

References[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Shepherd, Ben (2012). Terror in the Balkans: German Armies and Partisan Warfare. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-04891-1. 

Web[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hermann Frank Meyer - Von Wien nach Kalavryta: Die blutige Spur der 117. Jäger-Division durch Serbien und Griechenland
  • Franzeska Nika - Kalavrita 1943: Augenzeugenbericht