3rd Parachute Division (Germany)

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German 3rd Parachute Division
3rd Fallschirmjäger Division (Wehrmacht WW2).svg
Unit insignia
Active 1943–45
Country  Germany
Branch Luftwaffe
Type Fallschirmjäger
Role Airborne forces
Size Division
Engagements World War II
Richard Schimpf

The 3rd Parachute Division was a elite[1][2] German military unit 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.[3]

Equipment and training

The 3rd Parachute Division was a German 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. Training was intensive and emphasised initiative and improvisation. 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.[4] 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."[5]

Operational history

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. It surrendered in April 1945 to American troops in Ruhr.[6]

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[7]

  • 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

Further reading

  • Schimpf, Richard; Dewey Janet E (1989). Fighting of the 3rd Parachute Division during the invasion of France from June to August 1944. United States. Army, Europe. Historical Division. Foreign Military Studies Branch.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Hans Wijers: Battle of the Bulge, Vol. 3: The 3rd Fallschirmjager Division in Action, December 1944–January 1945. Stackpole 2014, ISBN 978-0811713528.[8]


  1. Joseph Balkoski, Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy, ISBN 0-8117-2682-7
  2. Citizen Soldiers, Stephen Ambrose ISBN 978-0-684-81525-1
  3. Nowakowski Tomasz, Skotnicki Mariusz, Zbiegniewski Jerzy Niemieckie wojska spadochronowe 1936-1945 page 182
  4. Citizen Soldiers, Stephen Ambrose ISBN 978-0-684-81525-1
  5. Joseph Balkoski, Beyond the Beachhead: The 29th Infantry Division in Normandy, ISBN 0-8117-2682-7
  6. Nowakowski Tomasz, Skotnicki Mariusz, Zbiegniewski Jerzy Niemieckie Wojkska Spadochronowe 1936-1945 page 183
  7. Nowakowski Tomasz, Skotnicki Mariusz, Zbiegniewski Jerzy page 182,183
  8. TOC, Excerpt