HG Div - "Elite"?

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Pascal. Kullmann.
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HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Pascal. Kullmann. » 20 Jul 2021 17:40

Good evening,

the HG Div is often referred to as an elite or "crack" division in the literature. Looking at the performance and the strenght of this division during the Italian campaign, however, I cannot understand how one could describe this formation as an elite outfit. The division wasn't even complete when HUSKY began. The situation didn't improve very much after that, even after Salerno, and the unit did not get much time to rest before being send to the Anzio beachhead.

AFAIK HG archieved the top score in the QJFM model. Was there something special about this formation that I don't recognize?

(Repost, I posted it in the wrong sub)

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 21 Jul 2021 16:19

Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
20 Jul 2021 17:40
the HG Div is often referred to as an elite or "crack" division in the literature.
Hi Pascal,

Is it, can you offer some examples?

I think when first encountered by the British in Tunisia there was confusion between HG troops and paratroops - maybe that continued into Husky, etc.

I'll have a look in some books and get back to you.

Regards

Tom

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Urmel » 23 Jul 2021 13:24

Quick Google search throws up Ian Baxter (ha!), Doug Nash, Peter Tsouras calling it elite. And that's just with a few minutes of looking.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 23 Jul 2021 16:18

I don't know about later in the war, but in Sicily in 1943 it was described in US OH as:
The German troops were divided into two divisions, the 15th Panzer Grenadier and the Hermann Goering Panzer. They formed the
hard core of Sicily’s defenses. The 15th Panzer Grenadier Division was essentially combat ready, but the Hermann Goering Division was significantly understrength and contained some inexperienced personnel.
https://history.army.mil/html/books/072 ... _72-16.pdf

Regards

Tom

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Ivan Ž. » 23 Jul 2021 16:29

Hello, everyone

The "General Göring" Regiment, formed in 1935 (originating from 1933) and upgraded to the "Hermann Göring" Division in 1942, was to Göring what the Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" was to Hitler: a bodyguard unit. So it was considered elite before even entering combat.

See for example: viewtopic.php?f=81&t=214892#p2292476

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Urmel » 24 Jul 2021 08:34

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
23 Jul 2021 16:18
I don't know about later in the war, but in Sicily in 1943 it was described in US OH as:
The German troops were divided into two divisions, the 15th Panzer Grenadier and the Hermann Goering Panzer. They formed the
hard core of Sicily’s defenses. The 15th Panzer Grenadier Division was essentially combat ready, but the Hermann Goering Division was significantly understrength and contained some inexperienced personnel.
https://history.army.mil/html/books/072 ... _72-16.pdf

Regards

Tom
I'm certainly not arguing that calling them 'elite' was right, just providing examples of where they are called elite. Doug Nash is on Twitter, maybe get his view there :milwink:
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Cult Icon » 24 Jul 2021 17:01

This is the most detailed unit history (before the Kurkowski haters pop in) in english. I read bits, didn't get a chance to read it in full. :

https://www.amazon.com/History-Fallschi ... 0921991258

It's a bit like the Leibstandarte or G.D., I see it as competitor to Himmler's WSS. Hermann Goering's politically reliable group of men. This was expanded into a Panzerkorps late in the war. Reality did not match appearances.

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Martin_Schenkel » 31 Jul 2021 17:46

A while back I read "The Battle of Sicily: How the Allies lost their chance for Total Victory (Mitcham Jr, von Stauffenberg, 1991), and IIRC it seemed critical of the performance of Division CO at the time (Paul Conrath). A new Division, in the early stages of combat experience, with a less than stellar commander, is probably not going to give great results. It seems their performance was often sloppy and un-coordinated, they were inexperienced and under-strength, and often ignoring orders from above. I can't speak to what the Division's reputation became after that period.

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Pascal. Kullmann. » 09 Aug 2021 09:34

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
21 Jul 2021 16:19
Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
20 Jul 2021 17:40
the HG Div is often referred to as an elite or "crack" division in the literature.
Hi Pascal,

Is it, can you offer some examples?

I think when first encountered by the British in Tunisia there was confusion between HG troops and paratroops - maybe that continued into Husky, etc.

I'll have a look in some books and get back to you.

Regards

Tom
Sorry for answering that late, I was/am on a vacation. As already said, Douglas Nash calls the division elite. But at the moment I cannot find many more examples. I think what I meant (but didn't write... :roll: ) was that the division is often called elite when comparing 'elite' formations of the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS (HG and GD as the elite divisions of the WM, next to the Gebirgs- and Fallschirmjäger).

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Pascal. Kullmann. » 09 Aug 2021 09:44

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
21 Jul 2021 16:19
Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
20 Jul 2021 17:40
the HG Div is often referred to as an elite or "crack" division in the literature.
Hi Pascal,

Is it, can you offer some examples?
,,The Panzer-Division ‘Hermann Göring’ was a peculiar unit whose origins could be traced back to the mid-1930s. A Luftwaffe formation, it was effectively the private army of the Reichsmarshall, and was considered a ‘politicized’ – if not a fanatical – outfit. In 1943 it was deployed in Sicily where it suffered heavy losses. As Göring’s pride and joy, it was one of the first in line when it came to reinforcements and new equipment. Therefore, during the time it had spent reforming near Naples the division had regained much of its combat effectiveness. Still, it was chronically short of tanks and vehicles." (Salerno 1943, Osprey, p. 21)

Bruce Quarrie wrote a short divisional history of the HG calling the formation elite.

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Pascal. Kullmann. » 09 Aug 2021 09:56

Ivan Ž. wrote:
23 Jul 2021 16:29
Hello, everyone

The "General Göring" Regiment, formed in 1935 (originating from 1933) and upgraded to the "Hermann Göring" Division in 1942, was to Göring what the Leibstandarte "Adolf Hitler" was to Hitler: a bodyguard unit. So it was considered elite before even entering combat.

See for example: viewtopic.php?f=81&t=214892#p2292476

Cheers,
Ivan
That makes sense. I once saw a Wochenschau reel showing training sessions of the HG (portraying the unit as modern and elite/special as possible). I try to find that one.

Ps: Here it is https://www.net-film.ru/en/film-62839/

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Ivan Ž. » 09 Aug 2021 10:15

Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
09 Aug 2021 09:56
I once saw a Wochenschau reel showing training sessions of the HG (portraying the unit as modern and elite/special as possible). I try to find that one.

Ps: Here it is https://www.net-film.ru/en/film-62839/
The music playing at 00:31, during Göring's inspection of the unit, is Rode's "Der Jäger aus Kurpfalz", which was Göring's signature march and his bodyguard's parade march (the same as Fürst's "Badenweiler-Marsch" was Hitler's signature march and his bodyguard's parade march).

Cheers,
Ivan

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Aug 2021 02:44

Martin_Schenkel wrote:
31 Jul 2021 17:46
A while back I read "The Battle of Sicily: How the Allies lost their chance for Total Victory (Mitcham Jr, von Stauffenberg, 1991), and IIRC it seemed critical of the performance of Division CO at the time (Paul Conrath). A new Division, in the early stages of combat experience, with a less than stellar commander, is probably not going to give great results. It seems their performance was often sloppy and un-coordinated, they were inexperienced and under-strength, and often ignoring orders from above. I can't speak to what the Division's reputation became after that period.
Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
09 Aug 2021 09:44


,,The Panzer-Division ‘Hermann Göring’ was a peculiar unit whose origins could be traced back to the mid-1930s. A Luftwaffe formation, it was effectively the private army of the Reichsmarshall, and was considered a ‘politicized’ – if not a fanatical – outfit. In 1943 it was deployed in Sicily where it suffered heavy losses. As Göring’s pride and joy, it was one of the first in line when it came to reinforcements and new equipment. Therefore, during the time it had spent reforming near Naples the division had regained much of its combat effectiveness. Still, it was chronically short of tanks and vehicles." (Salerno 1943, Osprey, p. 21)

Bruce Quarrie wrote a short divisional history of the HG calling the formation elite.
The formation designated Herman Goering had been effectively destroyed in the Tunisian campaign. Imeadiatly 'reformed' the several components were assembled at different locations and collected as a division in Sicilly a few very short weeks before the Allied invasion there. The division had just a few days train as a division. The division command staff & the regiment or battle group staffs had less than a week to either train or function as command staffs. While the infantry, armored, artillery. & other battalions & the HQ had plenty of combat veterans, & were high quality men the division had command & control problems during the Sicilian campaign. The best battle group was Gruppe Schmalz which at least held together in its counter attacks in the first few days and after. The other two principle battle groups fell apart in the first 48 hours & their counter attacks against the beachead held by infantry failed. Basics like route reconnaissance of the approaches to the designated battle areas, simple map exercises to orient the commander & staff to the army & division role, & signals plan had not been completed. The veteran led companies that did make contact gave the green US soldiers a scare, but had to shift over to the defensive as the second day of the campaign spun out. The commanders & staff were not up to the task of a coordinated attack

Two months later at Salerno the HG held up in a stiff fight as it counterattacked the veteran British corps there. Tho it & the 15th PzG Div failed to make a decisive dent in the British half of the beachhead.

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Cult Icon » 12 Aug 2021 03:10

Division HG fought in the Eastern Front in 44-45 and during the battles for Warsaw. divisions HG1 and HG2 were established along with the Panzerkorps HG corps HQ.

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Re: HG Div - "Elite"?

Post by Pascal. Kullmann. » 12 Aug 2021 06:21

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
12 Aug 2021 02:44
Martin_Schenkel wrote:
31 Jul 2021 17:46
A while back I read "The Battle of Sicily: How the Allies lost their chance for Total Victory (Mitcham Jr, von Stauffenberg, 1991), and IIRC it seemed critical of the performance of Division CO at the time (Paul Conrath). A new Division, in the early stages of combat experience, with a less than stellar commander, is probably not going to give great results. It seems their performance was often sloppy and un-coordinated, they were inexperienced and under-strength, and often ignoring orders from above. I can't speak to what the Division's reputation became after that period.
Pascal. Kullmann. wrote:
09 Aug 2021 09:44


,,The Panzer-Division ‘Hermann Göring’ was a peculiar unit whose origins could be traced back to the mid-1930s. A Luftwaffe formation, it was effectively the private army of the Reichsmarshall, and was considered a ‘politicized’ – if not a fanatical – outfit. In 1943 it was deployed in Sicily where it suffered heavy losses. As Göring’s pride and joy, it was one of the first in line when it came to reinforcements and new equipment. Therefore, during the time it had spent reforming near Naples the division had regained much of its combat effectiveness. Still, it was chronically short of tanks and vehicles." (Salerno 1943, Osprey, p. 21)

Bruce Quarrie wrote a short divisional history of the HG calling the formation elite.


Two months later at Salerno the HG held up in a stiff fight as it counterattacked the veteran British corps there. Tho it & the 15th PzG Div failed to make a decisive dent in the British half of the beachhead.
Thanks for your detailed description of the problems HG faced during HUSKY. Would it be right to say that during the Salerno landings, the HG Div was complete? From reading about AVALANCHE it seems that HG wasn't that decisive for the german defenses (but I guess that most of the literature [especially Osprey] mostly focuses on the 16. PzDiv.).
Last edited by Pascal. Kullmann. on 12 Aug 2021 06:30, edited 1 time in total.

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