1st Parachute Army (Wehrmacht)

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1st Parachute Army
1. Fallschirm-Armee
General der Fallschirmjäger Kurt Student.jpg
General Kurt Student commanded the 1st Parachute Army during the Allied Operation Market Garden
Active 1 March 1943 – 8 May 1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Type Airborne Air Force Infantry
Size Over 3,000 men[citation needed]
Engagements World War II
Disbanded 8 May 1945
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Generaloberst Kurt Student

The German 1st Parachute Army (1. Fallschirm-Armee) was formed in September 1944.

History[edit]

Its first commander was Colonel General Kurt Student, the Wehrmacht's airborne pioneer. During the Allied Operation Market Garden, Student's men delayed the Allied advance across the south of the Netherlands. The 3,000 paratroopers were likely the only combat-ready reserve forces in Germany at the time.[1] However, few of the Army's units or personnel were paratroopers.

Student was transferred to the Eastern Front, and on 18 November 1944, command of the First Parachute Army passed to General der Fallschirmtruppe Alfred Schlemm, who opposed the Canadian First Army during the Battle of the Reichswald.

The Canadian First Army and Lieutenant-General William Hood Simpson’s U.S. Ninth Army compressed Schlemm’s forces into a small bridgehead on the west bank of the Rhine opposite Wesel. On 10 March 1945, the rearguard of the 1st Parachute Army evacuated their bridgehead, destroying the bridge behind them. Schlemm was wounded in an air attack on his command post at Haltern eleven days later and on 20 March 1945, command passed to General Günther Blumentritt.

Just before Operation Varsity, First Parachute Army had three corps stationed along the river; II Parachute Corps to the north, LXXXVI Corps in the centre, and LXIII Corps in the south.[2] Of these formations, II Parachute Corps and LXXXVI Corps had a shared boundary which ran through the proposed landing-zones for the Allied airborne divisions, meaning that the leading formation of each corps would face the airborne assault — these being 7th Parachute Division and 84th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht).[3] After their retreat to the Rhine both divisions were under-strength and did not number more than 4,000 men each, with 84th Infantry Division supported by only 50 or so medium artillery pieces.[3] In the final days of the war, command passed once more to Student (10 April) and finally to Erich Straube.

Commanding officers[edit]

  • Generaloberst Kurt Student, 1 March 1944 – 4 November 1944.
  • General der Fallschirmtruppe Alfred Schlemm, 4 November 1944 – 28 March 1945.
  • General der Infanterie Günther Blumentritt (Heer), 28 March 1945 – 10 April 1945.
  • Generaloberst Kurt Student, 10 April 1945 – 28 April 1945.
  • General der Infanterie Erich Straube (Heer), 28 April 1945 – 8 May 1945.

Subunits[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ryan, Cornelius A Bridge Too Far. 1974. p. 49
  2. ^ Otway, Lieutenant-Colonel T.B.H (1990). The Second World War 1939-1945 Army - Airborne Forces. Imperial War Museum. ISBN 0-901627-57-7, p. 298
  3. ^ a b Otway, p. 299