Generic Stucture of a Fallschrimjäger-Division

The composition of all German divisional units before and during the Second World War was designed and organized so as to follow a specific set of guidelines as laid out by the German High Command. Each divisional type (Panzer Division, Mountain Division, Light Division, etc) in the German Wehrmacht was to have followed a specific set of organizational guides that regulated the types and numbers of sub-units, men, weapons, and equipment that would be found in any given unit. These guidelines were known as KStNs, and thousands were issued before and during the war, regulating everything from the size and composition an infantry squad to the organization of a Panzer Division. These guidelines were nearly always the basis for any divisional units organization, but rarely if ever did any unit, divisional or otherwise, actually follow them exactly. Although these guidelines were followed, it was impossible, especially in the middle and last years of the war, fora division of any type to ever completely follow them. As a result, the attempt to classify any given divisional units generic composition is a relative task at best. Therefore, when reading the following or any other generic divisional composition list, keep in mind that it is only a basis for what units were to have been generally organized as, and not, in fact, a strict, hard and fast rule that all units were able to follow. With that in mind, the strengths and weaknesses of any listing of a unit’s generic composition can be better understood.

Fallschirmjäger-Division – circa late 1944

A Division had three Fallschirmjaeger regiments, an artillery Regiment, a machine-gun Battalion (this was later removed), an anti-tank Battalion, and supporting units. total strength was 15,976 men. With nine rifle battalions and strong supporting elements, a 1944 FallschirmjaegerDivision at full strength was much stronger than a 1944 Army Infantry Division (six rifle battalions, 12,352 men) and had a much higher percentage of automatic weapons. (43) this is one reason why the Fallschirmjaeger divisions were so good at defense late in the war.

Fallschirmjaeger Regiment:

Three battalions (853 men each). Each Battalion had three rifle companies (170 men each) and a machine-gun Company (8 heavy machine-guns four 81MM mortars, and two 75MM light (recoilless) guns(205 men). The Regiment also had an anti-tank Company (three towed 75MM anti-tank guns and a large number of infantry anti-tank weapons – 186 men)and a mortar Company (nine – twelve 120MM mortars – 163 men). regimental strength was 3,206 men.

Artillery Regiment:

One Battalion with 3 Batteries each with four 75MM mountain guns. One Battalion with 3 Batteries each with four 105MM recoilless guns. later the official strength was 24 105MM gun/howitzers and 12 150MM howitzers – strength was 1,571 men.

Machine-gun Battalion:

Three machine-gun companies. After 1943 this component seems to have vanished from the Division. Both I and II parachute Corps apparently had a machine-gun Battalion.

Mortar Battalion:

Three 120MM mortar companies each with twelve 120MM mortars. Battalion strength was 594 men.

Anti-tank Battalion:

Originally sixteen towed 75MM anti-tank guns and one Company with four 75MM self-propelled guns. later, one Company with twelve towed 75MM anti-tank guns and one Company with fourteen 75MM self-propelled guns. also an anti-aircraft Company with twelve 20MM SP AA guns. The total strength was 484 men.

Pioneer (engineer) Battalion:

Three Pioneer companies and a machine-gun company. Strength of 620 men. German Pioneers were very much combat troops and were usually picked to lead assaults.

Anti-aircraft Battalion:

Two heavy AA Batteries – each with six 88MM guns; and 18 towed 20MM AA guns in a light AA Company – 824 men.

Signal Battalion:

One radio Company, one telephone Company, and alight signals Company – 379 men.

Medical Battalion:

Two medical companies, one field hospital, and alight medical Company.

Reconnaissance Company:

  • 200 men

One problem the Fallschirmjaeger divisions had was that they were very short of transport. After the Normandy invasion, the 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Division had only enough transport to move one Regiment at a time to the attack. However, it must be pointed out that at full strength a Fallschirmjaeger Division had nearly four times more motorized transport than a standard Infantry Division which still relied heavily on horse-drawn transport.