2nd Parachute Division (Germany)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
German 2nd Parachute Division
2nd Fallschirmjäger Division Logo.svg
Unit insignia
Active 1943–45
Country  Nazi Germany
Allegiance Balkenkreuz.svg Wehrmacht
Branch Luftwaffe
Type Fallschirmjäger
Role Airborne forces
Size Division
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke

The German 2nd Parachute Division was an elite military parachute-landing Division that fought during World War II. In German, a division of paratroopers was termed a Fallschirmjäger Division.

History[edit]

The beginning[edit]

In January 1943 the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW), or Supreme Command of the Armed Forces, decided to raise a second élite parachute division. The formation would include the veteran 2nd Parachute Regiment, recently detached from the 1st Parachute division. The division would also incorporate troops from the remnants of several other airborne units that had suffered heavy losses in recent battles.

By May the division was still being raised when it was dispatched to Avignon in France. There it became part of the XI Flieger Corps along with the 1st Parachute Division. This Corps was to serve as the reserve for the German Tenth Army in Italy.

Italy - cemetery of the 2. Fallschirmjäger-Division

When the Italian government started to crumble in September, the 2nd Parachute Division was dispatched to Italy. It carried out coastal defense duties near the Tiber estuary. The men moved to Rome in the evening of September 8 and participated in a subsequent operation to disarm the surrendering Italian army. Within two days the city was under control and the Division quickly quelled the burgeoning resistance.

The 1st Battalion of the 2nd Parachute Regiment participated in the recapture of Leros Island in the Dodecanese. The island was then still occupied by Italian forces supplemented by British units following the surrender of Italy. By November 16 the battle was won and the island retaken by German forces.

The Soviet Union[edit]

Meanwhile, in October, the 2nd Parachute Division was deployed to the eastern front in Russia. By November 27 the division came under the command of the German 42nd Corps, west of Kiev, and joined the effort to stem the tide of the Soviet advance. The division fought a succession of intense battles before the advance was finally halted. On December 15 the division was airlifted south toward Kirovograd to contain another Russian breakout. A German counter-attack then commenced against heavy opposition. By December 23 the attack had been stymied and the Division returned to the defensive.

In January 1944, the 2nd Parachute Division remained on the eastern front, fighting defensive actions against the Soviet offensive around Kirovograd. The Russian advance resumed in March and the Division was forced to withdraw by an armored flanking attack. By the end of the month the Division had withdrawn behind the Bug River.

The Division fought its last actions on the eastern front in May during a counterattack against a Russian bridgehead across the Dniestr river. At the end of May the weakened division was pulled from the line and returned to Germany for some much-needed recuperation.

A destroyed convoy from the 6th Regiment being examined by American troops in Normandy, July 1944

France[edit]

During the allied D-Day landing on June 6, 1944, the 6th Regiment was stationed in the Carentan area of the Cotentin Peninsula, near the US 101st Airborne Division's drop zones. The regiment was heavily engaged in the subsequent battles, including defending Saint-Lô.

Italy - Monument of the 2. Fallschirmjäger-Division, Inscription: "You fell so that Germany lives"

On June 13 the remainder of the Division departed from the Cologne area for Brest in western France. It had not fully recovered its strength from the battles in the east, but the situation could not wait. They began to arrive in Brittany on June 19, but did not complete their concentration before July.

In July the surviving elements of the 6th regiment were caught in the Falaise pocket and destroyed during the allied advance. By August 9 the remainder of the 2nd Parachute division was driven back and cut off in the city of Brest. There they remained until they surrendered on September 20. This ended the history of the original division. Only a few remnants survived to withdraw toward Germany.

The last few months[edit]

A new division began forming in Amersfoort, the Netherlands by September, and by December it was combat ready. The new division consisted of the 2nd, 7th and 23rd Parachute Regiments. It fought in the defense of Germany in January 1945 and ended the war in the Ruhr pocket in April.

Commanders[edit]

Date Commander
February 2, 1943 General-Major Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke
September 13, 1943 General-Major Walter Barenthin
November 14, 1943 General-Leutnant Gustav Wilke
March 17, 1944 General-Major Hans Kroh
June 1, 1944 General Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke
August 11, 1944 General-Major Hans Kroh
November 15, 1944 General-Leutnant Walter Lackner

Organization[edit]

May 1943

  • 2nd Parachute Division
    • 2nd Parachute Rifle Regiment
    • 6th Parachute Rifle Regiment
    • 7th Parachute Rifle Regiment
    • 2nd Parachute Artillery Regiment
    • 2nd Parachute Anti-Tank Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Engineer Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Signals Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Medical Battalion

May 1944

  • 2nd Parachute Division
    • 2nd Parachute Rifle Regiment
    • 6th Parachute Rifle Regiment (This was detached from parent unit and attached to different formations on several occasions)
    • 7th Parachute Rifle Regiment
    • 2nd Parachute Artillery Regiment
    • 2nd Parachute Anti-Tank Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Machine-gun Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Grenade Launcher Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Anti-Aircraft Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Engineer Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Signals Battalion
    • 2nd Parachute Medical Battalion

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Lucas, James. Storming Eagles: German Airborne Forces in World War Two. Arms and Armour Press, 1988.