2nd Parachute Division (Germany)

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German 2nd Parachute Division
2nd Fallschirmjäger Division Logo.svg
Unit insignia
Active 1943–45
Country  Germany
Branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Type Fallschirmjäger
Role Airborne forces
Size Division
Engagements World War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke

The German 2nd Parachute Division (2. Fallschirmjäger Division) was a German airborne division during World War II.

Formation[edit]

The 2nd Parachute Division was raised in 1943, with 2nd Parachute Regiment, recently detached from the 1st Parachute division serving as its nucleus. In May, the division was sent to Avignon in France, where it became part of the XI Flieger Corps along with the 1st Parachute Division. This Corps served as the reserve for the German Tenth Army in Italy.

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. 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 island retaken by German forces.

Operational history[edit]

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

In October 1943, the division was deployed to the Eastern Front in the Soviet Union and was subordinated to the 42nd Corps, west of Kiev. On December 15 the division was airlifted south toward Kirovograd to contain a Soviet breakout. A German counter-attack then commenced against heavy opposition. By December 23 the attack faltered and the division returned to the defensive. In January 1944, the division remained on the eastern front, opposing the Soviet offensive around Kirovograd. The Soviet advance resumed in March causing the division to retreat behind the Bug River. The division fought its last actions on the eastern front in May during a counterattack against a Red Army bridgehead across the Dniestr river. At the end of May the weakened division was pulled from the line and returned to Germany for refit.

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 at Saint-Lô. On June 13 the remainder of the division was transferred to Brest in western France. 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 division was driven back and cut off in the city of Brest, where it surrendered on September 20. A new division was formed by December; 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 Generalmajor Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke
September 13, 1943 Generalmajor Walter Barenthin
November 14, 1943 Generalleutnant Gustav Wilke
March 17, 1944 Generalmajor Hans Kroh
June 1, 1944 General Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke
August 11, 1944 Generalmajor Hans Kroh
November 15, 1944 Generalleutnant Walter Lackner

References[edit]

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