German Marines? (& Amphibious Assaults.)

Discussion in 'Axis Units' started by von Poop, Jun 30, 2009.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Did the Wehrmacht have any Marines during WW2?
    Any amphibious assaults, beyond river-crossings? (In the GPW perhaps?)

    Just occurred to me that I couldn't immediately think of a mention of these kind of troops, or an actual operation (As opposed to Sealion - which obviously doesn't count, as it never happened.)

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  3. Formerjughead

    Formerjughead Senior Member

  4. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    The Germans had the Seebatallione which were Marines before WW2.

    Seebatallione - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    For some reason though, they were not constituted in the Kriegsmarine, strange!

    FormerJughead, those formations were established in February 1945 and were the result of Doenitz making available troops no longer needed for naval purposes, the same happened with the Luftwaffe after Goering promised his fuehrer troops to help the manpower shortage in the east. If the Naval troops were as bad as the luftwaffe ones then they likely got slaughtered.

    The fact that no organised formation existed for marine assaults shows how unprepared Germany was for a global conflict - if they had one then surely it would have been used at Crete but it wasnt.
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

  6. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    It was reading a little on the pre & post war Seebatalione that made me wonder; 'where did they go during the war'. It'd never occurred to me before that it's an arm that seems to be missing in the Wehrmacht. Seemed an interesting omission to me - some sort of doctrinal reason? Or another expression of Adolf's distaste for Naval matters?

    On the Machinery: - As an addition to the Landwasserschlepper there was also the later and less widely mentioned 'Panzerfahre'. An equally strange vehicle designed as an Engineer machine & ferry, that could float a pontoon between two vehicles strong/bouyant enough to carry a Pz.IV (slightly reminiscent of the modern M2 & M3) Spielberger says work on that was ditched around 1942 though, and it looks 'strictly for rivers' to me (not that rivers can't be pretty substantial obstacles).

    Found on the web - both scans from Spielberger by the look of it:
  7. Macca

    Macca Member

    The attempted seaborne invasion of Crete highlights how little the Germans had prepared for amphibious operations. Nineteen commandeered Greek caiques and 2 ancient steamers escorted by only 2 Italian destroyers carried just 2 battalions from the 85th and 100th Mountain regts plus a load of supplies and light flak units. This 'armada' was intercepted by the RN and mostly blown out of the water (or under it as the case may be) and the rest fled back to the nearest sheltering islands. It wouldn't really have mattered if the troops had been marines or amphib trained as they never got anywhere near the island they were intended for. I guess that this probably decided Hitler against creating Marine units much as the decimation of the airborne units decided him against future large scale paradrops.
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  8. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

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  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Good ones chaps.
    The Cretan debacle made a lightbulb come on, but the Leros thing's news to me.
    (I see owen did a thread on it a while back, not seen that :unsure:. )
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

  11. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Interesting Q. A few comments on this issue, having thought about it some years ago in context of research on Scotland in WW2, and fears, in early 1940, of an attack on the Orkneys, Shetland and the Scottish mainland.

    The WW2 German land forces/navy were not, it seems, instinctively "raiders" - it seems to me they never really understood (with a few notable exceptions, Skorzeny being the obvious one, and maybe others in the Fallschirmjager), as the British do, the fact that you can achieve operational or even strategic impacts with what are, by their scale, tactical operations. For example, the political, i.e. strategic impact of a couple of battalions of Germans landing in, say, Brighton or Lowestoft in summer 1940 and duffing up the locality would - even if they had all been killed/captured - have had a political impact way out of proportion to the scale of attack.

    What was the one of the first things the Brits did after being kicked out of Europe in 1940 ? Set up raiding forces. The Germans never "raided" the UK.

    The Brits themselves knew the risk. For example, the following quotes comes from CAB 80/10, War Cabinet, Chief of Staffs Committee, paper entitled "Seaborne and Airborne attack on the UK", dated 5 May 1940...i.e. after Norway, but before the invasion of France...which was discussing the risk of attack from Norway, and which assessed that the Germans had the capability to take and hold the Shetlands or the Orkneys (base of the Home Fleet of course), using a combination of seaborne and airborne troops.

    "The effects on our prestige of enemy troops in occupation of British soil would be serious and far-reaching...."

    This is the ironic point, actually - the Brits understood the potential political/strategic impact, but the Germans did not - thankfully !
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  12. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    A very fair point I reckon CH, but maybe also fair to say the British (and their commonwealth allies) had that 'raiding' philosophy somewhat forced upon them. Paralysed by the losses after being booted out of France, and still rebuilding the Army, they had little choice but to learn new ways to strike out in Europe.
    Churchill (though always haunted by the Dardanelles, and an associated Black Dog) certainly seemed to feel that raids in that difficult period were a good way of showing some overt 'local' military affects to the populace - the required 'political impact' you mention (Alanbrooke seems not so sure).

    Personally I think Churchill was right.
    Despite the air war, things raging on in Africa, and the mess at Dieppe, things like Norway, Bruneval, and St Nazaire did demonstrate that there was still a functioning nation that could strike closer to home, even if somewhat sporadically.

    I'm speculating; but the Wehrmacht perhaps had less overt need for raiding on the whole, being sat on a nice fat territory already, and Barbarossa being very much a question of land-bound expansion?

  13. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Absolutely right Van Poop, although I think the raiding instinct goes back further than just WW2 - Zeebrugge in WW1, some Napoleonic stuff if I recall, probably even Drake at Cadiz (sorry getting bit hazy, not my period) you say, good way to disrupt the continental power and prove to the home civ pop that we were still chipping away.

    Agree less need for Germans, and maybe early on some political restraint - and a few minor commitments elsewhere, as you say !
  14. Macca

    Macca Member

    I see it as a matter of basic philosophy ie: British being a naval power were used to transporting armed forces around the globe to land them on foreign coasts and nibble at the peripheries in order to force their military will on others. The Germans on the other hand were a strictly continental power and even more so under Hitler who had very little understanding or interest in things naval. This translates into a wider picture of British strategy and can be seen in their adamancy of a Mediterranean strategy in WW2 and even schemes like Gallipoli in WW1. Hence they were far more receptive and inventive with raiding forces than the opposition who had, initially, a far better concept of rapid land movement- Blitzkreig. Thaat and the fact that Churchill liked left of centre thinkers and their ideas and I'm thinking here of his support for men like Hobart and schemes like Habbakuk the ice carriers.
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  15. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Yes, I'd agree with that, Macca - maritime vs continental powers, and maybe, to some extent, eccentric people vs more conservative people !
  16. Wolfy

    Wolfy Member

    Some Brandenburger commando units were trained for this mission. There are photographs of them preparing for the aborted Operation SeaLion.
  17. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  18. China Hand

    China Hand No Longer A Forum Member

    Good reminder. If this was ever confirmed, it would, as far as I know, be the only occasion German boots landed on British soil in WW2 and got off again without visiting a POW camp in between...and therefore very significant !
  19. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    I know a fair number were used in the defence of s'Hertogenbosch where they kept sending squads to swim the various canals/in small boats to try and catch the Brits unawares - unfortunately for the Marines, the Brits got wise pretty fast and started sending out fighting patrols looking for easy shooting...
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I know of the Brandenburgers, and assorted Frogmen; with their generally 'Special Forces' sneaking about type behaviour. But they're not that analagous with a more formalised Marine Infantry unit, (or were they at some point? )

    So far, on what's been said here, it seems there weren't really any particularly 'Marine' Units in the Wehrmacht.
    Do any of the Naval types have an inkling of what sort of Ground forces might have been available to the Kriegsmarine? I've got very limited reference on the KM, and what I do have makes no mention of any such units.

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