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3rd Parachute Division (Germany)

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Active  1943–45
Branch  Luftwaffe
Role  Airborne forces
Country  Nazi Germany
Type  Fallschirmjäger
Size  Division
3rd Parachute Division (Germany)

The 3rd Parachute Division was an elite military unit of Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe that was active during World War II. Its formation began in October 1943 in France near Reims. From February 1944 near Brest. In March 1944 division was reinforced by soldiers from the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Parachute Regiment.


Operational history

The 3rd Parachute Division was an airborne division which fought during World War II. It was formed during 1943-44 around a cadre consisting of the veteran 3rd Battalion, 1st Parachute Regiment. The Division was well equipped with 930 MG42s. Each company had 20 MG 42s and 43 sub machine guns while a squad had 2 MG42s and 5 sub machine guns.

In comparison, its main opponent, the 29th Infantry Division had just 2 M1919 machine guns and 9 BARS per company and a squad had just one BAR. The 3rd Parachute Division had 3 times as many mortars and with larger calibre. So it had between six and twenty times more firepower. It arrived in Normandy on 10 June, by truck after a night drive from Brittany. It was at full strength and consisted of young German volunteers, and numbered 15,976 soldiers and officers. Its level of training and excellent weapon systems prompted the commander of 29th Infantry Division to remark, "Those Germans are the best damned soldiers I ever saw. They're smart and they don't know what 'fear' means. They come in and they keep coming until they get their job done or you kill 'em."

The division went into combat in June 1944 in Normandy and inflicted heavy losses on the Allied forces opposing them. In August it was near virtually destroyed by mass aerial bombing in the area of Falaise. Formed again in Belgium thanks to replacements from 22nd, 51st, 53rd Luftwaffe Field Regiments. During September 1944 it fought as a part of Kampfgruppe "Becker" in Arnhem area before participating in the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. It surrendered in April 1945 to American troops in Ruhr.

Commanding officers

  • Generalmajor Walter Barenthin, 13 September 1943 – 14 February 1944
  • Generalleutnant Dipl.Ing. Richard Schimpf, 17 February 1944 – 20 August 1944
  • General der Fallschirmtruppe Eugen Meindl (acting), 20 August 1944 – 22 August 1944
  • Generalmajor Walter Wadehn, 22 August 1944 – 5 January 1945
  • Generalleutnant Dipl.Ing. Richard Schimpf, 6 January 1945 – 1 March 1945
  • Oberst Helmut von Hoffmann, 1 March 1945 – 8 March 1945
  • Oberst Karl-Heinz Becker, 8 March 1945 – 8 April 1945
  • Oberst Hummel, 8 April 1945 – 16 April 1945
  • Organization in June 1944

    Commander: General Major Schimpf

  • 5th Parachute Regiment
  • 8th Parachute Regiment
  • 9th Parachute Regiment
  • 3rd Parachute Mortar Battalion
  • 3rd Parachute Anti-Tank Battalion
  • 3rd Parachute Artillery Battalion
  • 3rd Parachute Engineer Battalion
  • 3rd Parachute Signal Division
  • References

    3rd Parachute Division (Germany) Wikipedia