Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

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Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 22 Oct 2019 16:30

https://www.amazon.com/Hitlers-Paratroo ... 8&qid=&sr=
In June 1944, Allied forces fighting desperately to establish a foothold in Normandy and then breakout of the confining bocage found themselves opposed by a bewildering array of formations of the German Wehrmacht. Among them were the newly formed German II Parachute Corps.
I've been deep into reading this new book and believes that it deserves more recognition. It is a combat history of units of the II FJK in Normandy, well researched on both sides and clearly written. It seems to covers a gap in the literature.

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by krichter33 » 23 Oct 2019 09:50

I own the book, though I haven't read it yet. I had been waiting since 2014 for it to finally come out! The FJ have always been my favorite area of interest concerning individual German units.

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 25 Oct 2019 14:16

krichter33 wrote:
23 Oct 2019 09:50
I own the book, though I haven't read it yet. I had been waiting since 2014 for it to finally come out! The FJ have always been my favorite area of interest concerning individual German units.
do you have other favorites on late war 44-45 FJD?

What has stood out to me so far is the primary sources of II FJKorps and Meindel's writings looks like a must-read. It may be available through the internet.

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by krichter33 » 26 Oct 2019 08:35

I've read a lot of books concerning the FJ. Of course the most "famous" FJ, being the early war units and battles, Crete, and of course the fighting in Italy. For those units and battles there are quite a lot of books on those subjects. There are plenty of books about the 1940 campaigns, Crete, and of course Monte Cassino. Of course there is the excellent unit history in two volumes "The 1st Fallschirmjager Division" by Christensen. For later war, primarily, European Theater FJ units there aren't as much. Which is unfortunate, because I think some of the later war units, including many of the higher numbered divisions and Kampfgruppen performed quite well. There are of course the books "Autumn Gale," and "Kampfgruppe Walther" which deal with a lot of the smaller FJ Kampfgruppen as well as FJ Regiment 6. There is also the excellent book "The Lions of Carentan" by Griesser which is a unit history of FJ Regiment 6.

There is the book "The Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg; Volume 1: The Southern Flank December 1944-January 1945, The Germans" by Gaul, which deals with the 5th FJ Division. Also "Patton at the Battle of the Bulge" by Barron, which deals simultaneously with Patton's units fighting to reach Bastogne as well as a lot of information about the 5th FJ Division. Also, "Battle of the Bulge: 3rd Fallschirmjager Division in Action" by Wijers. For the Waffen SS FJ, the only good book in English is "SS Fallschirmjager Bataillon 500/600" by Michaelis.

The fighting in the Rhineland and the Reichswald has got to be one of the most unknown yet fascinating accounts of late war higher numbered FJ units performing quite well for themselves. The best book is "Rhineland: The Battle to End the War" by Whitaker. There is also the book "The Noise of Battle" by Colvin. This book is primarily from the British perspective during the battles in the Reichswald. It also deals a lot with British theory and tactics, but it does cover a lot about the German units involved.

I'm sure there are more I have read, but as of now that is all I can think of. Hope that helps!

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by krichter33 » 26 Oct 2019 08:44

There is also a post I made on the thread "The Combat Performance of the Fallschirmjager."
viewtopic.php?f=50&t=4839&hilit=fallschirmjager

It is a little bit long, but you might find it interesting...

There is a bit of misinformation concerning some of the FJ units later in the war as being all sub par units, that didn't fight well. This, I think, has to do with the lack of any really detailed information, primarily in English, of some of these units. Of course the air drop in the Ardennes, and the 9th FJ Division's breakdown near the Seelow Heights are always mentioned as two examples of their failure primarily due to the poor quality, not of the leaders, but the men. Of course those two examples are accurate. When it comes to their late war performance only the FJ Regiment 6 at Carentan, and of course the FJ Division 1 in Italy throughout 1944 are the only examples mentioned of excellent performances. But there were numerous others.
Though most of the late war recruits were ex-Luftwaffe ground personnel and Naval transcripts, a lot of the FJ units still retained a corps of veteran officers and NCO's to make them perform quite astonishingly at times. Just a small list of examples: The 4th FJ Division performed well, the remainder of the 2nd FJ at Brest, the 3rd, and to a lesser degree the 5th around St. Lo. The FJ Regiment 6 fought incredibly, under von der Heydte in Belgium and Holland in September through November 1944 (read the excellent book "Autumn Gale" for this description), the FJ Regiment 5, the FJ Regiment Barenthin and the FJ Pionier Bataillon all three in Tunisia, the I./FJR 2 at Leros, the II./FJR 6 and I./FJR 7 in Italy, some of the Kampfgruppe that were formed from the training schools, such as Bataillon Bloch, Gramse, and Jungwirth, that fought in the Netherlands in the autumn of 1944, especially Jungwirth, Witzig’s Pionier-Bataillon/Regiment, Ramcke’s Brigade, the independent FJR 16 at Vilna, the I./FJR 7 - Fallschirm-Lehr-Bataillon, and the Fallschirm-Lehr-Regiment, and also the units that made up Division Erdmann which became the 7th Fallschirmjäger-Division. Another very interesting fact is how well the FJ units that fought in the Reichswald performed. These include elements of the 6th, the 8th, the entire 7th, and Kampfgruppe Hermann. The 7th performing exceptionally well. In fact General Montgomery himself said, concerning the battle of the Reichswald, "the enemy parachute troops fought with a fanaticism un-excelled at any time in the war," which is from Thacker’s book “The End of the Third Reich.”
So as you can see there were a lot of different units that are relatively unknown yet still performed well late into the war. Of course probably none of these units could compare with the original 7th Flieger-Division, as well as with the 1st FJ-Division, which remained excellent all the way until 1945. The problem with the FJ after the 7th Flieger-Division was split up is the fact that this branch of service was without doubt the most “incestuous” of them all. No other branch cannibalized units from regimental all the way down to bataillon level like the FJ did. In fact one reason why the 1st FJ-Division probably retained their excellent quality is that they were the least cannibalized of all. After they lost their 2nd Regiment in 1942, they only lost a couple of bataillons after that.

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 10 Nov 2019 13:54

krichter33 wrote:
26 Oct 2019 08:35
I've read a lot of books concerning the FJ. Of course the most "famous" FJ, being the early war units and battles, Crete, and of course the fighting in Italy. For those units and battles there are quite a lot of books on those subjects. There are plenty of books about the 1940 campaigns, Crete, and of course Monte Cassino. Of course there is the excellent unit history in two volumes "The 1st Fallschirmjager Division" by Christensen. For later war, primarily, European Theater FJ units there aren't as much. Which is unfortunate, because I think some of the later war units, including many of the higher numbered divisions and Kampfgruppen performed quite well. There are of course the books "Autumn Gale," and "Kampfgruppe Walther" which deal with a lot of the smaller FJ Kampfgruppen as well as FJ Regiment 6. There is also the excellent book "The Lions of Carentan" by Griesser which is a unit history of FJ Regiment 6.

There is the book "The Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg; Volume 1: The Southern Flank December 1944-January 1945, The Germans" by Gaul, which deals with the 5th FJ Division. Also "Patton at the Battle of the Bulge" by Barron, which deals simultaneously with Patton's units fighting to reach Bastogne as well as a lot of information about the 5th FJ Division. Also, "Battle of the Bulge: 3rd Fallschirmjager Division in Action" by Wijers. For the Waffen SS FJ, the only good book in English is "SS Fallschirmjager Bataillon 500/600" by Michaelis.

The fighting in the Rhineland and the Reichswald has got to be one of the most unknown yet fascinating accounts of late war higher numbered FJ units performing quite well for themselves. The best book is "Rhineland: The Battle to End the War" by Whitaker. There is also the book "The Noise of Battle" by Colvin. This book is primarily from the British perspective during the battles in the Reichswald. It also deals a lot with British theory and tactics, but it does cover a lot about the German units involved.
Thanks for the complete list of recommendations. I recently got a copy of "Noise of battle"- a bit tome on 3 Division vs. 8FJD. And Walther & the PhD thesis for Autumn Gale.

I have read most of II FJK Korps. While it covers all II FJK Korps units it focuses most heavily on FJR6 and 3FJD- from both US and German POVs, clearly showing how hard these units fought in the Battle of the Bocage, which was a bloodbath on both sides.

Certain reports are very interesting and I wonder if they can be accessed w/o paying:

B-401 , ENTHINT 48, Schimpf, 541 Operations of 3 FS Division, B-839

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Richard Anderson » 10 Nov 2019 16:58

Cult Icon wrote:
10 Nov 2019 13:54
Certain reports are very interesting and I wonder if they can be accessed w/o paying:

B-401 , ENTHINT 48, Schimpf, 541 Operations of 3 FS Division, B-839
You can join Fold3 for a month trial for $7.95 and access them all. Just wait a bit though, they have a free access period going on one of their popular sections on Native American records and the site seems to be overloaded. Both browse and search are screwing this weekend. They will probably get it fixed next week.
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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Mori » 10 Nov 2019 19:21

krichter33 wrote:
26 Oct 2019 08:35
The fighting in the Rhineland and the Reichswald has got to be one of the most unknown yet fascinating accounts of late war higher numbered FJ units performing quite well for themselves. The best book is "Rhineland: The Battle to End the War" by Whitaker. There is also the book "The Noise of Battle" by Colvin. This book is primarily from the British perspective during the battles in the Reichswald. It also deals a lot with British theory and tactics, but it does cover a lot about the German units involved.
This book, "la campagne du Rhin 1945 (the Rhine campaign, 1945)" has a lot on the FJ units and the 1st Para army in general, including a nice assessement of Schlemm performance. But it's not in English.
Last edited by Mori on 10 Nov 2019 19:35, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Mori » 10 Nov 2019 19:33

Cult Icon wrote:
10 Nov 2019 13:54

Certain reports are very interesting and I wonder if they can be accessed w/o paying:

B-401 , ENTHINT 48, Schimpf, 541 Operations of 3 FS Division, B-839
I can send those I have. Email me to get a (free) copy.

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 11 Nov 2019 14:25

Thanks for the help!

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Mori » 11 Nov 2019 21:34

Download link here, valid for a week: https://we.tl/t-JIIK61vWIo

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Cult Icon » 12 Nov 2019 13:53

Thanks!!!!!

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Re: Hitler's Paratroopers in Normandy: The German II Parachute Corps in the Battle for France, 1944

Post by Larso » 10 May 2020 03:19

Review: 'Hitler’s Paratroopers in Normandy' by Gilberto Villahermosa

This book was a pleasant surprise as it’s odd to come across a fresh angle on the Battle of Normandy. Here the focus is on the Fallschirmjager units of II Paratroop Corps, particularly the 6th Regt and the 3rd Division, with attention given to the 2nd, 5th and 6th Divisions as relevant. There is some remarkable research which gives quite detailed figures on personnel and armaments. Some units were well trained and ready, others were not. Which explains the varied performances of course.

The most interesting elements are the battles by 6th Regt with the US 101st Airborne Division, including for Carentan. This regiment had been detached from its parent, 2nd Para and was close enough to the battlefront to be involved from the start. It suffered a number of disasters that impacted on its ability to assert real influence on the battle but it is still assessed to have done very well. This was particularly the case in the actions on Seves Island which was completely new to me.

The more significant formation was the 3rd Para division. It was quite well equipped and manned and probably the most powerful formation in France after the panzer divisions. It fought itself to destruction in front of St Lo and elsewhere. The trouble for the Germans was there was no rest and barely any reinforcements, so each unit was ground down by Allied numbers and fire-power. Then the disaster of Falaise reduced them to fragments.
The 2nd Para was rebuilding after service in Russia and considerably reduced but held Brest long enough for the port facilities to be completely destroyed. The 5th, incompletely trained and equipped was committed piecemeal but performed strongly at Mont-Castre. Again, a lot of their stories was completely new to me and I found it fascinating.

The author has done some excellent research to flesh out the level of readiness of each of these interesting units. In terms of personal accounts of the fighting, there’s not as many as I’d like but it’s a creditable effort nonetheless. There’s a bit taken from Poppel’s memoir of course and a lot of reliance on Meindl’s and Ramcke’s post-war writings. Villahermosa’s assessments of these commanders is very interesting. This also applies to the account by Major von der Heydte of the 6th Regt. Some relevant recollections were found in US reports and memoirs. There’s a few minor typoes with regt or battalion numbers and one inexplicable reference to the “SS Panzer Lehr Division” (though to be fair, this only happened once). Overall though, this was a very interesting account on an elite formation of the German army.

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