1st Ski Division (Wehrmacht)
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|1. Skijäger Division
(English: 1st Ski Division)
|Engagements||World War II|
The German 1st Ski Division (German: 1. Skijäger-Division) was an infantry unit trained to use skis for movement during winter. It was created on the Eastern Front in the autumn of 1943 in preparation for upcoming winter operations. It was enlarged into a full division in the summer of 1944. The division fought exclusively on the Eastern Front as part of Army Group Centre, including an approach to the Vistula river and during the retreat into Slovakia, southern Poland and the Czech lands (now the Czech Republic), where it surrendered to the Red Army in May 1945.
Formation and Organization
The American writer and publisher George Nafziger states that the 1st Skijäger Division was formed on 2 June 1944 by expanding the 1st Skijäger Brigade, which had been initially formed in September 1943. As was usual for German formations at this point in the war, the division was formed around existing units which were strengthened with new recruits. Elements of the 19th Panzergrenadier Brigade, the 65th Heavy Artillery Regiment, the 152nd Panzerjǎger Battalion and the 18th Werfer (Rocket) Battalion with the 615th Flak (anti-aircraft) Battalion which was used to expand the brigade into a division.
In January 1945, the division included the following sub-units:
- Divisional Staff
- 152nd motorized mapping detachment
- 152nd motorized military police detachment
The 1st and 2nd Skijäger Regiments, each had a headquarters staff, three ski infantry battalions, an engineer platoon, a signals detachment and a panzerjäger detachment of two heavy anti-tank guns.
Each of the three Skijäger battalions included:
- A Headquarters
- Three companies with nine light machine guns and two Sturm platoons (each man was armed with a SturmGewehr or assault rifle)
- One Heavy Company with eight heavy machine guns, one light machine gun, four 75 mm guns and six 80 mm mortars
Regimental 13th motorized support company had a platoon of eight self-propelled 20 mm Flak cannon, a platoon of six heavy machine guns and a panzerjäger platoon of six 75 mm Pak anti-tank guns, 18 anti-tank rifles and one light machine gun.
The 152nd artillery regiment had four battalions, with a total of 24 105 mm howitzers, 12 120 mm mortars, 12 150 mm howitzers and 59 machine guns.
The 1st Ski Fusilier Battalion had four Fusilier companies (with nine light machine guns and two Sturm platoons each) and a Heavy Company (see above).
The 1st Heavy Ski Battalion was probably one of the heaviest battalions in the Wehrmacht, with:
- One company of 12 Motorized Heavy Anti-Tank guns + 12 machine guns;
- One company of self-propelled 150 mm howitzers + seven machine guns;
- One company of self-propelled 37 mm Flak guns;
- 4th Armored Company with 22 captured Russian T-34 tanks (most likely armed with the 76.2 mm gun and three 7.62 mm machine guns).
The division's other units were the 85th Ski Pioneer battalion, the 152nd Ski Signals Troop and the 152nd Ski Feldersatz (Replacement) Battalion.
- Günther von Manteuffel, 1 April 1943 – September 1943
- Martin Berg, 13 May 1944 – 2 August 1944
- Gustav Hundt, 3 October 1944 – 15 November 1944
- p.35, Merriam
- Merriam, Ray, Gebirgsjaeger: Germany's Mountain Troops, Merriam Press, 1999 ISBN 1-57638-163-3
- Anderson, Thomas, Skijäger: une "nouvelle race" de guerriers, Batailles & Blindés n°40, décembre 2010-janvier 2011, éditions Caraktère.