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Dated:  September 21, 2012

Luftwaffe Ground Troops

Various types of Infantry troops within the German Air Force

   The German Luftwaffe (Air Force) used troops in various ground roles.  This was especially true after the Allied air forces gained supremacy of the skies.   I've divided these into four groups and some of these were very specialized troops.  All four types saw service in Italy.
   The most common of the non-flying Luftwaffe troops was the Anti-aircraft units, of course.  This page describes the other types of air force personnel used in combat asin Italy infantry .
   In Paul Schultz's book, "The 85th Division in WW2", it mentions that the US 85th Division took a few prisoners in August of 1944 near Florence that included members of a 20th Luftwaffe Field Division and the 4th Parachute Division.

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Select - Paratroopers Paratroopers -   Fallschrimjager
Airborne troops that became grounded after the Allies took control of the sky.

Select -HG Division Herman Goring Panzer Division 
Originally a police force, this grew into a full division that was in Italy  July 1943 until July 1944.

Select - Luftwaffe Field Divisions Luftwaffe Field Division
Troops trained as infantry.  Poorly led and equipped.  Two Divisions were in Italy.

Select - AA units Anti-aircraft Units 
Many of the Luftwaffee troops were used for anti-aircraft defense.


Paratroopers - Fallschrimjager
The German paratroopers were organized from a cadre of troops of the Herman Goring Regiment who had been trained to use parachutes.  The paratrooper units were enlarged and grew.  The climax of the German paratrooper was during the campaign to take control of Crete.  Here the paratroopers were successfully used but their casualties were heavy due to anti-aircraft fire.  Many aicraft where shot down.  Paratroopers were used to strengthen their defenses of Sicily.  Sicily was the site of a unique "first"--this was the first time paratroopers of opposing forces, this case it was German and US, to jump into the same battle at the same time.
  After their tremendous losses and after the decline of the German air forces, and especially the loss of their larger troop-carrying aircraft, the German paratroopers were relegated to fighting as light infantrymen---however well trained and motivated infantrymen.  By June of 1944, there were 150,000 paratroopers but only 30,000 were jump trained.
   Part of the reason the paratroopers were not deployed more was because of their poor equipemtn.  The German used the Ruckenpackung Zwangauslosung RZ-16 or RZ-20 parachute.  Its risers connected at four points, two at the hips and two at the shoulders.  This caused the paratrooper to land in a face-down position, which required elbow and knee pads for protection.  The parachute was hard to control, especially in cross-winds and limited the amount of equipment that could be carried.
Battle of the Bulge - Operation Stoesser(Falcon) -  The last large use of German paratroopers in an airborne assault was on December 17, 1944.  The 3rd Parachute Division, consisting of the 5th, 8th, and 9th Parachute Regiments, were used in the Ardene offensive.  They were led by Major August van der Heydte.  Their drop zone  was 11km north of Malmedy and their objective was a cross-road junction.  The assault began with 112 Ju-52 troop carriers that also carried 300 straw dummies.  However, only 10 aircraft made it to the drop zone.  Some paratroopers landed 50 miles behind German lines and some landed in Holland.  Remember this was in the middle of winter and the area was blanketed by a low cloud cover. Only 125 made it to the drop zone; about 1/10 the original force.  If they can claim any success it was in the fact that the paratroopers and the German spys dressed as Americans created confusion and expenditure of resources to guard the rear areas.
Chronology of the
Paratrooper Divisions

1938  - Paratrooper battalion transferred to 7th Flieger Division to form the 1st Battalion, 1st Fallschirmjager Regiment.
1943 Sept - Gen Skorsensky and troops of 7th Fallschrimjager carry out a daring rescue of Mussolini.

1943 Nov  - 4th Fallschrimjager Division formed from 2nd FJ Division and Italian paratroopers.

1944 Jan -  4th Fallschrimjager Division and HG Division attack at Anzio

1944 June - Normandy invasion. 6th FJ Regiment under Maj. Frederick von der Heydte is deployed at Caraten. II Fallschrim Korps moved to Normandy: 3rd FJ Division at St. Lo and 5th FJ Division outside Caen.

1944 Dec 17 - 3rd Fallschrimjager Division is deployed in an air assault in the Ardene Offensive (i.e. Battle of the Bulge).

Paratrooper units in Italy  Two of the 15 paratrooper divisions served in Italy.

I Parachute Corps, lead by General der Fallschirmtruppen Alfred Schlemm, consisted of only one parachute division, the 4th Parachute Division, and some infantry divisions and a panzer-grenadier division.  General der Fallschirmtruppen Richard Heidrich was commander after Nov 1944.  I Parachute Corps served in Italy from Jan 1944 - May 1945.
The 4th Parachute Division was formed from the 2nd Parachute Division and the Italian paratroopers.
       4TH PARACHUTE DIVISION    Generalleutnant HeinrichTrettner
              10th, 11th, and 12th Parachute Infantry regiments
               4th Parachute AAA Battalion (motorized)
               4th Parachute Mortar Battalion
               4th Parachute Panzerjäger Battalion
               4th Parachute Artillery Regiment
               4th Parachute Flak Battalion
               4th Parachute Pioneer Battalion
               4th Parachute Signals Battalion
The 1st Parachute Division served at Sicily, July 1943 - Sept 1943.  It served under LI Mountain Corps  from Sept 1943 - May 1945.
       1ST PARACHUTE DIVISION     General der Fallschirmtruppe Richard Heidrich
              1st, 3d, and 4th Parachute Infantry regiments
                    13. Parachute Nebelwerfer Company
                    14. Parachute Panzerjäger Company
              1st Parachute Machinegun Regiment
              1st Parachute Antitank Battalion
              1st Parachute Artillery Regiment
              1st Parachute Panzerjager Battalion
              1st Parachute Pioneer Battalion
              1st Medical Battalion

German Paratrooper Fallschrimjager - 1942
Taken during Crete assault.
He is wearing smock and standard  paratrooper helmet worn by paratroopers.
 Corporal chevron rank on left sleeve and Luftwaffe eagle under his right hand. Luftwaffe belt buckle(oval center with eagle) on belt supported by suspenders. Armed with a Model P08 Luger pistol , a stick grenade, and ammo pouches for the MP-40 Schmeisser machine-gun(draped over his right shoulder).  


Photo is one of a group of color photos purchased from a mail order in the 1960's.

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Herman Goring Panzer Division

 Originally a small police battalion organized by the then Secretary of Interior, Herman Goring, it grew in size to a regiment.  The primary function of the regiment at the beginning of the war was a flak unit and later grew to a armored troops.  Its designation became Fallschrimjager PanzerKorps Herman Goring, which translates to a puzzleing name of "Parachutist Armor Corps".  Here is a short history.
   In February 1933, Hermann Goring as Minister of Interior created the Police Battalion Wecke.  By 1935 it had become the "General Goring State Police Group" and began to   adapt military training.  This resulted in it being assigned to the Luftwaffe as the "General  Goring Regiment".  By 1938 the role of the regiment consisted primarily of flak batteries and searchlight battalions but still retained a motorcycle company and a guard battalion.  These special guards were used at Goring's forrest estate at Karinhall and on special occasions such as Air Force day and Richtohofen's Memorial parades.
     In 1936, General Goring selected 36 soliders to perform a parachute demonstration jump.  From this, 600 recruits were selected to go through training and were the first German paratroopers.  On 1 July 1938, General Kurt Student organized the "Fallshirmtruppe" into the  "7th Aviation Division" in order to conceal their true purpose. The Hermann Goring Regiment was reorganized on 1 October 1939 to include a Parachute Rifle Battalion ("Fallschrimschutze"), which was later absorbed into the Luftwaffe's 1st Parachute Regiment and called "Fallschirmjager". That was the only time the Herman Goring troops were used as paratroopers, EVEN THOUGH they retained the term "Fallschrim" in their title.
     One battalion formed from the flak units became the Fuhrer Flak Battalion. This battalion was first used as as a special train escort on the Fuhrer's trip to Poland and as flak protection at his "Wolf's Lair" in E. Prussia. Later, it was organized into a regiment and eventually became the Fuhrer Escort Division.
     At the outbreak of war the HG Regiment fought in Poland.  Reorganized into the HG Division, they were sent to Italy for about one year.  On 6 January, 1944, the division was renamed "Fallschirm Panzer Division Hermann Goring" that consisted of panzer, armored artillery and infantry battalions.  They were sent back to Poland and fought in the battle of Warsaw in August 1944.  They served in Russia with the XXXIX Panzer Corps and at Fortress Graudenz  in February 1945.   During the fighting in Russia, the Henrich Goring, the nephew of the Reichsmarshall, was killed in action.
   The statistics indicate that 60,000 soldiers served with the HG Division during its life-span.   After the surrender in 1945, only 15,000 survivors remained.  An estimated 90% of the soldiers who fought on the Eastern Front were casualties.
Herman Goring Division Header
Chronology of the
Herman Goring Division

1933 - Goring in charge of Prussian Police Force. He created Polizeiabteilung 'Wecke' (Police Detachment). 
1934 - Renamed Landespolizeigruppe 'Wecke' (Provisional Police Group) 

1935 - Renamed Landespolizeigruppe 'General Goring' . Gen Goring placed in command of the newly formed Luftwaffee. 

1936 - Renamed Regiment 'General Goring'. Goring arranged a demonstration parachute jump. 600 recruits joined up for training and created a Fallschirmshutzen Battalion. 

1938 - Paratrooper battalion transferred to 7th Flieger Division to form the 1st Battalion, 1st Fallschirmjager Regiment. 

1942 Mar - Regiment General Goring expanded to Herman Goring Brigade, commanded by Conrath. 

1942 Dec - First elements of flak regiment was sent to N. Africa. 

1943 Jan - Expands to Fallschrim Division Herman Goring commanded my Major General Conrath

1943 July - HG Division called to Sicily and fights around Catania airfield and Primasole Bridge. 

1943 Sept - Salerno Invasion.  Part of HG unit called to defend north of Salerno.

1943 Oct - HG Division pulls out of line for rest at Cassino.
Obst Lt. Julius Schlegelrescues the art work out of Monte Cassino.

1944 Jan - HG Division and 4th FJ Division attack at Anzio 

1944 Mar - HG Division pulled out for rest. Reformed as an armored infantry and renamed 1st Fallschrim-Panzer Division 'Herman Goring'. 

1944 May - HG Division rushed to breach the Allies break out at Anzio. 

1944 July - HG Division leaves Italy

1945 Jan - Two HG Divisions are encircled. Some manage to fight their way out & evacuated by sea.

Organizational Table
Herman Goring Division
Defense of Salerno, September 1943

Hermann Göring Panzer Division  (Lt-Gen. Schmalz)

    Panzer Regiment HG (Oberst Roth)
                    HQ Company
                    II. Battalion
                    III. Battalion (StuG)

                         Tank Strength :
                              PzIV(Lang) : 31
                              PzIIIL : 25
                              PzIIIN : 3
                              StuGIIIG : 16
                              StuH42 : 6
                              PzBefehlwagen : 3

    Panzergrenadier Regiment HG 1 (Oberst Kluge)
                    I. Battalion (Mechanised)
                    II. Battalion (Motorised)
                    III. Battalion (Motorised)
                              13. Company (6 x 150mm sIG, mechanised)
                              14. Company (Engineers, motorised)

    Panzergrenadier Regiment HG 2 (Oberst von Necker)
                   I. Battalion (Motorised)
                    II. Battalion (Motorised)
                    III. Battalion (Motorised)
                              13. Company (6 x 150mm sIG, motorised)
                              15. Company (9 x SdKfz 10/4)

    Panzer-Artillery Regiment HG
                    I. Battalion (12 x Wespe + 6 x Hummel)
                    II. Battalion (12 x 105mm leFH, motorised)
                    III. Battalion (12 x 150mm sFH, mechanised)
                    IV. Battalion (12 x 150mm NbW41 + 4 x 150mm sFH, motorised)

    Flak Regiment HG
                    I. Battalion
                              1. Company (4 x 88mm FlaK18 + 3 37mm FlaK43)
                              2. Company (4 x 88mm FlaK18 + 3 37mm FlaK43)
                              3. Company (4 x 88mm FlaK18 + 3 37mm FlaK43)
                              4. Company (12 x SdKfz 10/4, 4 x SdKfz 7/1)
                              5. Company (12 x SdKfz 10/4, 4 x SdKfz 7/1)
                    II. Battalion
                              6. Company (4 x 88mm FlaK18 + 3 37mm FlaK43)
                              7. Company (4 x 88mm FlaK18 + 3 37mm FlaK43)
                              8. Company (4 x 88mm FlaK18 + 3 37mm FlaK43)
                              9. Company (12 x SdKfz 10/4, 4 x SdKfz 7/1)
                              10. Company (12 x SdKfz 10/4, 4 x SdKfz 7/1)
                    Führer FlaK Abteilung
                              1. Company (12 x SdKfz 6/2)
                              2. Company (12 x SdKfz 6/2)
                              3. Company (12 x SdKfz 6/2)

    Armored Recon Abteilung HG
                    1. Company (8 x SdKfz.234/1, 6 x SdKfz.222, 4 x SdKfz.231/3)
                    2. Company (Infantry, motorised)
                    3. Company (Infantry, mechanised)
                    4. Company (2 x 75mm leIG, 3 x 50mmPaK38, 4 x HMG)

    Panzer Pioneer Abteilung HG (Hauptman Bittig)
                    1. Company (Motorised)
                    2. Company (Motorised)
                    3. Company (Motorised)

HG Division officers
Group of officers in late 1944.  
Central figure is Major Karl Russman
wearing a Knights Cross around his neck.
Each officer is wearing the black tanker's uniform with collar insignia of a panzer skull,
the Luftwaffee eagle on the breast and a "GENERAL GORING" armband on right cuff.
The visor caps are standard Luftwaffee pattern and color.  Also note the ribbon
for the Iron Cross 2nd Class is worn through the button hole on the corner of the lapel.

      {Photo is from "The History of the Fallschirm-Panzerkorps Hermann Goring" - Franz Kurowski}

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Luftwaffe Field Division  

A  Brief History of the 19th and 20th Luftwaffe Field Divisions - the two divisions that served in Italy.
  The 19th and 20th Luftwaffe Field Divisions(LFD) were part of the 3rd wave of infantry divisions formed from air force personel in France in March 1943.  Recruits and officers came from the XIII FliegerKorps.  Flieger-Regiment 23 was a training unit for pilots and ground personel in Russia and it was absorbed into the 20 LFD.  As they were forming, some units were transferred over to the 44th Infantry Division and 24th Panzer Division.  In June 1943, the 19th LFD was moved to Holland and the 20th LFD to Denmark to act as occupation forces.
    In Novermber, the General Staff had begun to make plans to absorb the Luftwaffe Field Divisions into the Army but Hitler blocked this change.  Instead, he designated the 20 LFD as a mobile formation.  The Army transferred some Cavalry officers and NCOs into this unit.  Since trucks were not available, the division formed into bicycle("radfahr") regiments and the artillery regiments were fully mobilized.  The flak and artillery battalions were armed with Soviet and Polish guns after having to give up their assault guns to units at the Russian front.  Just before their transfer the Luftwaffe field divisions were renamed as Luftwaffe-Strum Divisionen or Airforce Assault Divisions, probably to decieve the Allies and give the units more prestige.

19th LFD
  In June 1944, the 19th LFD was ordered to move to Italy, where it entered defense duty at Livorno(Leghorn) under the XIV Panzer Corps.  The 19th & 20th LFD were placed in the FRIEDA Line on the right flank of the XIV Army near Piombino.  The 19th LFD fought fierce rear-guard battles near Castagneto and Monteverdi.  The US 36th "Texas" Infantry DIvision launched an attack on 24 June that crossed the Ombrone River and advanced to Montepescali.  The 19 LFD escaped along the coastal Hiway 1.  On June 25th, the US 34th "Red Bull" Infantry Division replaced the 36th ID and continued to advance 15 miles to Hiway 68.   ( See map of Allied advance on Leghonr, July 1944:  Map )
   The 19 LFD escaped from Piombino area and set-up a defensive position behind the Cecina River at the town of Cecina that featured a massive stone castle.  The US 34th Division was strengthened by the US 1st Armored Division, as General Senger moved the 26th Panzer Division in to support the 19th LFD.  The German front consisted of the 19 LFD next to the coast, then the 26 Panzer Division and next to it the 20 LFD.  On July 3rd, the American 6th Corps launched a ferocious attack.  The 19 LFD fought holding actions as it fell back to the coastal town of  Rosignano-Solvay.  They held off the Americans for a week with several fierce counter-attacks, but they were outflanked by the US 135th Infantry Regiment.  The remnants of the 19 LFD witdrew to Livorno under pursuit by the US 133rd & 135th Regiments.  By July 19th, the German line had retreated north of Livorno.  The 19th Luftwaffee Field Division was ordered to disband late in July 1944.  Much of the division was ordered back to Denmark where it was absorved into the 19th Volksgrenadier Division. 

20th LFD
  The 20th LFD arrived in Italy in May 1944.  By July it was providing coastal defense and anti-partisan force at Lucca with the bulk of the forces between Viareggio and La Spezia.   On 12th of September, commander Major-General Wilhelm Crisolli was killed by partisans.   Colonel Kasper Volcker assummed command but 2 months later he was captured.  Soon after that the division was ordered to the X Army at the Adriatic coast where its 39th and 40th Jager Regiments were assigned to the 26 Panzer Division and the supporting units divided among the 29 & 90th Panzer Grenadier Divisions.  On November 8, 1944, the order was given to disband the division.  Many of the units transferred into the 155th Field Training Division.  The 20th Anti-Tank Battalion became the 1048 A-T Battalion of the 148 Infantry Division.  Two batteries of the 20th Artillery Regiment became part of 142nd Artillery Regiment of the 42nd Jaeger Division.

    Generalmajor Wilhelm Crisolli was the Commander of the 20th Luftwaffe Field Division. He was killed in a partisan ambush near Bologna on September 12, 1944. This was a few weeks before the Germans launched a massive anti-partisan assault in the Bologna area, which became known as the Monte Sole massacre or the Massacre of Marzabotta. Reference Monte Sole Massacre, south of Bologna Sept 29- Oct 2. It is interesting that some units of the Herman Goring Division participated in this "mopping-up" action--sending Luftwaffe troops to take retribution for the killing of a Luftwaffe officer.
  Reference:  Göring’s Grenadiers, The Luftwaffe Field Divisions, 1942 - 1945, by Antonio J. Munoz,
                      Axis Europa Publications, copyright 2002. ISBN 1891227408.

Description of US 36th Infantry Division's encounter in June 1944, near Civitavecchia north of Rome.

   "The 1st Battalion of the 142nd Regiment had run into one of the most curious combat units ever devised.  This enemy force consisted of 3 depleted companies of the 39th  Grenadier Regiment* of the 20th Luftwaffe Division—200 air force ground troops without artillery, mortar or anti-tank support, but equipped with bicycles, lots of bicycles.  The men had left Denmark only ten days earlier and had been give the mission of preparing this ground for defense but had barely completed a reconnaissance.  They were easily overrun.
   "The division engineer was led to comment on this incident:
     ''We captured the town of Bracciano on the 7th and overran the 20th Bicycle Regt the next day.  Now my men are throwing away their pieces of armor picked up in Movie Studios south of Rome and replacing them with bicycles'."
Source: "The Texas Army" by Rober L. Wagner, State House Press, 1972.

   A Luftwaffe Infantryman -  What kind?
This photo shows a Luftwaffe soldier wearing a steel helmet and cartridge pouches usually worn by infantry. The helmet and belt buckle are easily recognizable as the Luftwaffe insignia. Could this soldier be a member of a Luftwaffe Field Division or the Herman Goring Division?? 

     Photo was found in a destroyed tank by Bud Wagner, 151st FA, 34th Division, at Salerno on 10 Sept., 1943. This photo is from "And There Shall Be Wars" and is used with the permission of the author. 

Copyrighted photo.

See Death Cards for an example of a memorial card of a member of a Luftwaffee unit.

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Anti-aircraft Units

  Luftwaffe troops were used to man the anti-aircraft gun positions. This made up a large amount of troops around the cities of Germany. The flak units were organized into 7 different Corps. The flak units wore the standard field uniform with the Luftwaffee rank and insignia, but with red piping on the uniform and hats to signify the branch of service of artillery or anti-aircraft. My brother and I once owned a Luftwaffee visor cap with red piping of the flak troops

   I. Flakkorps was redesignated Luftwaffenbefhelshaber Mitte Mar 1941 and reformed Apr 1941.   It was redesignated Luftwaffen-Kommando Kaukasus Nov 1942 and reformed Feb 1943.

Obergefreiter Joseph Muller
Photo from his  "Death Card"

This German served in an FLAK battalion in Italy and was killed in action on 23 May, 1944, at age 23

See German 'Death Cards'


Luftwaffe Hat:  Anti-Aircraft
Luftwaffe Visor Cap

Red piping indicates FLAK unit. The Herman Goring Division would wear the same hat but with white piping. 


From my Brother's collection 


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See also Examples of German Death Cards .

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