Originally formed in January 1944 with four batteries as Sturmgeschutz-Abteilung 1 der Luftwaffe (1). It was planned to have the unit serve as Korpstruppe under I. Fallschirm-Korps (1).
In December 1943, 37 Semovente M/42 where en route to equip the unit (4). Later equipment included 19 M42 SP guns with 75/18 and 5 with 75.34 guns, 30 M43s with 105/25 guns and four command tanks. On January 22, 1944, the Abteilung with 48 Italian armored fighting vehicles, was urgently deployed to protect the roads from Anzio and Nettuno to Rome. (B, 35 (Quarrie claims that 11th Brigade and Fallschim-Stugeschutz-Brigade Schmitz are the same thing. Which is odd, since none of my research has Schmitz as the commander of the 11th.) The 14th Army War Diary mentions that StuG.-Abt. der Fliegerkorps XI was ready for combat on February 9, 1944 (4). March 1, 1944 it was reported that 22 assault guns were operational (4). (The type is not specified). In April it was renamed Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 1 der Luftwaffe (1)(4). By June 1944 the unit had its name changed again to Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 11 (1)(4)(9).
Under the command of Hauptman Schüber, the brigade was deployed in an attempt to stop the tidal wave of the US Seventh Army’s drive through southern France after Operation Dragoon in August 1944 (A,249). By this time the unit had received 22 StuG IIIs and 9 StuHs (A, 246) (9). One source places Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 11 at the Giogo (Northern Italy) Pass between September 12th - 18th, 1944 (8). Another has the unit in the vicinity of Nancy (eastern France, near Strasburg and the German boarder) on September (?), 1944 the Brigade entered combat (9) and was virtually wiped out (4). They had only managed to knock out a few Allied tanks (9).
(The last paragraph is a little problematic. How did the Brigade get from southern France, northern Italy, and then to western France so quickly? Maybe by rail, but they still had to go around Switzerland and avoid any roaming jabos to boot! Any help on clearing this up would be greatly appreciated.)
The survivors under the command of Oberleutnant Hollunder formed a cadre that was withdrawn to Germany to rebuild during October and November of 1944 (9). At this time, the unit was possibly delivered 19 StuG IIIs and 12 StuHs. It is unknown what the exact numbers were.
In December 1944, Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 11 was used as part of the Ardennes offensive. At the time the Brigade had about 20 assault guns. (D, 185). On December 16,1944, (Or December 3, 1944 according to source 3 at Niederbreisig) the Brigade was attached to the 5. Fallschirmjager-Division, 7th Army with 27 assault guns (4)(9). Employed to protect the southern flank of the Fifth Panzer Army with the 5th Fallschirm Division at the start of the offensive, the 11th Brigade was almost immediately called to aid in the advance when the Germans ran into stiff U.S. resistance. (C, 155) The Brigade then crossed the Clerf River and advanced on Wiltz (9), which was taken on December 20th by the paras of the 5th Fallschirm Division along with 1,000 prisoners, 25 Sherman tanks and a number of trucks. On December 22, 1944 they went through Vaux les Rosieres and came within 15 kilometers of the south of Bastogne (9). The Brigade suffered heavy losses fighting against the U.S. 4th Armored Division and was eventually withdrawn as the offensive failed (9).
In Germany again, the unit was refitted one last time (9). With the deteriorating situation for the German forces in the East, the 11th Brigade was sent to Poland help stem the Soviet advance in January 1945 (A, 249). On March 28, 1945 the unit was renamed Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 111 (1)(4). On March 12, 1945, the Brigade was attached to 5. Fallschirmjäger-Division at Niederbreisig, Germany (near Köln) (4).
(The 5th FJD ended the war in the Ruhr according to DE1. Its odd to have the Brigade attached to the division only to send it east to fight the Russians.)
By April, the tattered remains of the Brigade surrendered to the Russians (A, 249). The survivors disappeared into Soviet captivity.
(Sturmgeschütz-Abteilung 1 der Luftwaffe which became the 11th Brigade is listed on http://www.feldgrau.com/ifk.html
as being part of I Fallschirm-Korps. The Korps fought exclusively in Italy. Is all this wrong? Did the Brigade remain in Italy or was it detached at some time to act as a fire brigade?)
Originally formed in January 1944 in Melun (is located in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, France), the unit was soon moved to the Donnmarie-Dontilly area south-east of Paris (A, 246), with four Batteries as Sturmgeschutz-Abteilung 2 der Luftwaffe. The unit was renamed Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 2 der Luftwaffe on March 26, 1944 (2)(4)(5). In March the unit began the conversion into a full Brigade. It wasn’t until June 26, 1944 that the Brigade gained the Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 12 designation (2)(4)(9). It was planned to have the unit serve as permanent Korpstruppe under II. Fallschirm-Korps (4)(5).
On May 17, 1944, Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 12 had an authorized strength of thirty-one assault guns(5). The difference between paper and reality painted a different picture as the unit had yet to be supplied with any combat ready vehicles by this date (4)(5). The crews were ready, but they had no armored vehicles to fight with! Although it is not known exactly when they received their sturmgeschutz, Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 12 was released to the command of II. Fallschirm-Korps on June 15 (5). It is also not known if the Brigade had received its full complement of assault guns by this date (5). The Brigade was to have six StuG and three StuH in each battery (5). By June, the Brigade had received 22 StuG IIIs and 9 StuH 42s prior to its deployment in Normandy (9).
Photo evidence show that through out the Normandy campaign, the StuGs of Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 12 were equipped with new production StuG IIIGs with saukopf/topfblende mantles, panzer-grenadier rails, and lacking schurzen. It is possible that the dense terrain of the French hedge rows made it impossible to keep the schurzen adequately secured. (A, 247)
Even as the 12th Brigade was still training at the beginning of June (5) it was rushed into action immediately after the Allied landings. On June 6, 1944 the unit was moved to the area south of St. Lo (A, 241)(9). The Brigade was attached to the 3. Fallschirm-Division (5)(9). Under the command of Major Güther Gersteuer, the Brigade consisted of three batteries that each contained seven long-barreled StuGs and three StuHs (A, 250). Engaged in the fighting on the Cotenin Peninsula, the Brigade reported eleven combat ready assault guns on June 27, 1944 (4)(5)(9).
On July 12th the 12th Brigade found itself rushed into the line to defend Hill 192, the miles east of St. Lo. By the end of the next day the badly mauled unit pulled back to help form a new defense line south of the St. Lo-Bayeux highway.
After a month of fighting, it still reported having seven StuGs and three StuHs ready on July 29th (4)(5)(9). By the end of the Normandy campaign only single StuH would survive the Falaise Pocket (4)(9). (Source A claims that 5 StuGs survived Normandy (A, 241). Were their numbers further reduced in the Falaise Pocket or is there some confusion with when the Brigade was partially rebuilt in September?) The manpower with in the Brigade’s combat elements had been reduced to 60% and the support elements had about 90% when the Brigade crossed the Seine (5).
From the east bank of the river, the unit traveled to Rouen to St. Quentin to Namur and Luttich (9). The Brigade was then sent near Koln-Wahn, Germany to rebuild in September of 1944 (4). At this time the unit is partially re-equipped with four rebuilt assault guns (9). This brought the total strength of the Brigade to a mere five assault guns. Some of these were StuG IVs (A, 241-242).
The surprise airborne attack of Operation Market-Garden quickly saw the remaining five sturmgeschutz back in action around Niemwegen against the US 82nd Airborne (A, 242). The Brigade was to provide support to the newly formed 7 Fallschirmjager Division on September 16, 1944 (4)(9). After the Allied assault on Arnhem the Brigade moved through Weeze and Wesel and was committed in the Wyler area in late September(9). Due to its limited combat strength the Brigade had little impact. Once the Germans had secured the front from the ill-fated Allied offensive, the 12th Brigade was once again returned to Germany to rebuild (A, 250).
On January 4, 1945 the Brigade was brought up to full strength while stationed at Amersfoot (This is in Holland, not Germany) (4)(9). They received 10 StuGs and StuHs which finally brought them back up to an effective combat strength (9). On February 8, 1945, the Brigade was attached to the 7 Fallschirmjager Division to provide support during the Reichswald battle (4). Their first battles occurred in the areas west of Cleve (9). They also fought in and around Venlo (9).
For the remainder of the war the brigade was in near constant action against Allied armor as it was sent form sector to sector to shore up the line.
Since March 24, 1945, Leutnant Heinz Deutsch had knocked out thirty-four Allied tanks by April 15th (9). On March 31, he destroyed five allied tanks in one day (A, 242). On April 24, 1945 he destroyed a Jumbo Sherman at Edewecht (9) bring his total to 46 (A, 242). (44 according to source 9.) For these actions he received the Knight’s Cross (A, 242)(9). He was the only parachute assault gunner to be so decorated. His crew received the German Cross in Gold (9).
On March 28, 1945 the unit is given its final designation as Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 121 (2)(4).
As the war drew to a close the Brigade was to cross the Elbe River at Cuxhaven but this did not happen (9). Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 12 ended the war on May 8, 1945 in the Cuxhaven Pocket (A, 242). The survivors were later interned at Wilhelmshaven (9).
Over the course of less than a year, Fallschirm-Sturmgeschutz-Brigade 12 was credited with destroying 240 Allied tanks (9). The high scorer of the Brigade was Leutnant Deutsch (9).
For two months after the war, the members of the Brigade were allowed to feed and administer themselves with the rest of the German military forces trapped in the pocket. The British forces in the sector were stretch too thin on the ground and too were busy managing the needs of the civilian population to risk any confrontation with the armed Germans. The survivors of the Cuxhaven Pocket finally laid down their weapons and marched in captivity in the summer of 1945. They were some of the last German military forces in Europe to do so. (A, 242)