By Bruce Quarrie
Following the conflict for Crete in could 1941, Hitler refused to adopt any longer large-scale airborne operations a result of excessive casualty cost. The FallschirmjГ¤ger as a consequence took up a brand new function as elite 'line' infantry, and so they served within the Mediterranean from 1942 to 1945, enjoying the clash in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Their functionality in such hard-fought battles as El Alamein and Monte Cassino bolstered their attractiveness as a few of the hardest troops of worldwide warfare II. This publication explores their altering function in enterprise, education and doctrine because the paratroopers built into GermanyвЂ™s most interesting frontline squaddies.
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Extra resources for German Airborne Divisions: Mediterranean Theatre 1942-45
It was a poorly conceived scheme from the start, compounded by inept navigation and pilot error in the gathering dusk of an overcast and windy day. None of the paras landed anywhere near their targets, there were many injuries from misjudged glider landings, and the Fallschirmjager were quickly rounded up by British patrols. It made an undignified end to the illustrious history of 7 Flieger Division, but the new 1 and 2 Fallschirmjager Divisions would quickly show that the traditions created were still very much alive.
First to suffer in this role was I Battaglione Paracadutisti 'Tuscania', now under Maggiore Edoardo Alessi, which was despatched to help Rommel in July; it was almost completely destroyed at Agedabia in early December during LieutenantGeneral Sir Alan Cunningham's Operation Crusader. In the interim, Bignami's parachute brigade at Tarquinia was reconstituted officially on 1 September as 1° Divisione Paracadutisti 'Folgore' under Generale Francesco Sapienza. With the air/sea invasion of Malta specifically in mind, it soon had three infantry regiments (l°-3°) of 1,482 men apiece, plus a 459-man parachute-saboteur (guastatori-paracadutisti) battalion under Maggiore Burzi modelled on Sturmabteilung 'Koch'.
4, page 29). After a plan to use the Ramcke Brigade to capture selected bridges over the river Nile in September was sensibly scrapped, the paras were instead allocated positions slightly right of centre in the Alamein line with the 'Folgore' Division further to their south. The new idea was that they would be used as ground reinforcements to exploit Rommel's hoped-for breakthrough towards Cairo and Suez. Quite how they would have accomplished this without adequate motor transport is unclear. Montgomery's Operation Lightfoot launched on 23 October thwarted this plan anyway, and on 2 November Ramcke was ordered to withdraw his brigade 30km west in a night march.
German Airborne Divisions: Mediterranean Theatre 1942-45 by Bruce Quarrie