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|334.Infanterie-Division by Jason Pipes|
The 334.Infanterie Division was formed at the Grafenwohr training area in the autumn of 1942 as a composite unit. It's three motorized Infanterie-Regiments, the 754, 755, 756, being raised from three different Wehrkreise (Military districts); (754/XIII - Nurnburg, 755/XVII - Wien, 756/XVIII - Salzburg). It's first posting was to North Africa, where the lead elements of the 754.Infanterie-Regiment arrived in Bizerta in late December of 1942 under the command of Oberst Friedrich Weber, (promoted Generalmajor on Jan.1,1943), with the rest of the division arriving by January 15,1943. The division was attached to Pz.A.O.K. 5 (5.Panzerarmee), and was committed immediately to the Tunis-Tebouria sector alongside Division "Von Broich" and 10.Panzer-Division.
The first major action in which the division participated was during "Unternehmen Eilbote I" on January 18,1943, operating as an element of "Korpsgruppe Weber" in support of von Arnim's drive on Bou Arada, Tunisia,where it sustained moderate losses. The division remained continually engaged in northern Tunisia througout Feburary and March of 1943 in a series of fierce and costly engagements that cost the division dearly in casualties that it could not replace. In late April 1943 "Gruppe Audorff" of the 334.Inf.Div. participated in an attack on the heights of Medjez el Bab. After a week of bloody fighting the 756.Geb.Inf.Rgt. retired from the heights it had recently regained,and moved back toward Tunis.
By May 7, the hard fought division was out of fuel, and found itself immobilized near the Chonigui Pass. It was encircled by advancing UK forces, and finding itself with no other option,surrendered on May 8, 1943.
During it's last two months fighting in Africa, the 334.Inf.Division's 754.Inf.Rgt.(mot.) had attached to it a diminutive unit of Vichy French origin called the "Phalange Africaine." This obscure unit had it's start upon the advent of the Anglo-American landings in Nov.1942. Feeling directly threatened by the new Allied threat to it's African domain, Vichy organized a "volunteer" force to aid the Italo-German cause which it initially named the "Legion Imperiale." The first and only Battalion of the grandly named "Legion" was formed as the "Phalange Africaine' with a strength of 300 Frenchmen and 150 Algerian Moslems. It was armed with a mixture of French and German small infantry weapons, while the colonial uniform of the French Army, along with the German stahlhelm and Afrika-korps greatcoat made up it's uniform. It saw brief combat in Tunisia alongside the remnants of "Kampfgruppe Krause" (334.Inf.Div.), and in the last days of April was renamed the "LVF en Tunisie" (Legion Volontaire Francaise in Tunisia). The unit (LVF e.T.) passed into captivity alongside the rest of the Axis forces in North Africa on May 8, 1943.
A new 334.Infanterie-Division was re-mustered in southern France in July of 1943, after the original 334 surrendered in North Africa with the fall of Tunisia. Unlike the former 334.Inf.Div. - all of it's regiments were drawn from Wehrkries XIII - Nurnburg. After some 3 months intensive training, the division was transferred to Army Group C in Italy in November of 1943. Withstanding heavy defensive actions, the division was down to Kampfgruppe strength by May of 1944,but remained engaged on the Gothic-Line continuously through September of 1944, bearing the brunt of the Allied push throught the Futa Pass.
It fought later along the Florence-Bologna Road as part of the XIV.Panzerkorps,being briefly relieved and shifted to the Adriatric sector for a short period of rest in December 1944. Still understrength, the division was employed in the defense of Bologna in Feburary of 1945 with an effective strength of only some 2600 troops. The 334.Inf.Div. was finally decimated in late April of 1945, along with much of LI.Gebirgskorps,in the last major Allied offenisve on the Italian front.
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