Pages 32 and 33 will always be of great importance to any Wehrpass collector as they detail the actions the unit the soldier the Wehrpass belonged to was involved in. These come in many shapes and forms. Normally they take the form of handwritten entries but often printed entries stuck straight into the Wehrpass are also encountered, as in this particular case. In Hans’ case the war diary entries cover the progress of the 16th Infantry Division through its early participation in Operation Blau. It details the breakthrough battles and follow up operations up to the River Don. Hans also followed his Division into the Caucuses with actions at the Kuban river and the Kalmuk Steppes. The 16th Infantry (Mot) was also the unit that pushed its troops the further East as some of its recon elements came as close as 20kms to Astrakhan. As the tide turned Hans was also involved in the harsh retreat from the Caucuses after the surrounding of 6th Army at Stalingrad. His service record for 1943 is full of ‘Abwehrkampf/Abwehrschlacht’, defensive battles as the Red Army inexorably pushed Westwards. The names of the rivers (Mius, the Dontez, and the Dnepr) read as the different defensive lines where the Wehrmacht tried to make a stand and stem the Soviet steamroller. Still attached to a reconstituted 6th Army, Hans continues his service in the workshop company. In early 1944 elements of the 16th Motorised along with elements of other units are used to create the 116th Panzer Division, the Windhund Division famous for its involvement in the Normandy Campaign. Hans however seems to have to stayed deployed in the Reich as shown by the entry ‘Verwendung in Heimatskriegsgebiet’ (service on the Home Front Area of Operations).
As you can appreciate below the 91st Luftlande Division was involved in the action in Normandy since the 6th June. As such it was totally destroyed in the fighting and was used as a conventional infantry division rather than an air transported one. The Wehrmacht had used air landed troops early in the war and always in areas of local or total air supremacy or superiority, for example in Norway or Crete, a Gebirgs division was transported to Crete by Ju-52. By the time of Overlord it did not have this luxury! Several of the items in my collection relate to Luftlande divisions or those units entrusted to their transport.
I have some Feldpost letters from pilots in Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 Langendiebach
I was able to research the unit and this is what I came up with :
Nucleus of all reserve group training can be traced back to January 1940 and Hauptmann Willerding in Braunschweig-Waggum. Initially 17./KG zbv 5 with 60 men, 8 Ju 52 and 20 DFS 30.
Fliegerschule (S) 1 Langendiebach (Glider Pilot Training School)
4 Stafflen: Langendiebach Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 Summer 1941-Autumn 1944
Eschborn Airfield – basic personnel, flying instructors and glider pilots.
Unit History and Notes
- January 1943 units of Erganzungsgruppe (S) 1 involved in supply drops to Stalingrad Kessel.
- Later supported actions in the Kuban Bridgehead and the Crimea.
- Commander April 1942-14th October 1943 Oberstleutnant Ludwig Reeps.
- As of 10th August 1943 the unit had the following aircraft: 1 FW 189, 1 HS 126, 74 DFS 230.
- Redeployed back to Germany in April 1943 to Langendienbach.
- Suffered heavily during bombing attacks on Reich by USAAF.
- 15th August 1944 a day raid by 4 engine USAAF bombers on Langendienbach airfield left it destroyed and out of action.
- This and the severe lack of fuel the Luftwaffe was suffering at the time meant that after Order Number. 12877/44 from OKL, the unit was ordered disbanded and its personnel drafted into the Fallschirmjager units