Salerno Landings

Discussion in 'Italy' started by Gebirgsjaeger, Jun 3, 2012.

  1. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Senior Member

    Thank you much for the Link! So i only have to look out for the second Battalion of the 1st Para´s division. Great pics at the other forum. For the area they have been, the saldy paased away Vet said that it was a mostly swampy area. Can this help to locate their positions?
  2. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Your veteran seems to have been somewhat contradictory about the terrain. I thought he said there were hills and some kind of pass where he was? That would fit the northern sector between Salerno and Maiori, but I don't think there was a swamp there. I think the River Sele, which separated the British X Corps and US VI Corps sectors, may have had some marshy ground along its banks. Most of the US 36th Division fought south of that river. Interestingly, in Salerno to Cassino (Ch. 10, I think) Blumenson says that some of the elements of 1st Parachute Div that came late to the battlefield "might have been used to recapture Altavilla." Altavilla was south of the Sele in the 36th Division area. So the mystery of your grandfather's location deepens.
  3. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Senior Member

    Maybe that he mixed up a battlefield with another?! And some do have a different understanding of "swampy". At the moment i go for the position you´ve mentioned and i think it made it more plausible for my Grandpa to get back to his unit than to start from down in the south.
  4. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    The German Order of Battle from the Knostam book, previously cited:

    pp.154 - 156

    German Order of Battle

    Note: All of these German formations were badly under strength when the fighting began, while some had troops deployed in other sectors, such as those fighting a rearguard action against Montgomery's Eighth Army, or the detachments left in the Bay of Naples, waiting for a second Allied landing, which never came. For the sake of clarity these units have been omitted from the order of battle. Also, during the Italian campaign the Germans rarely deployed troops in complete divisions, but divided their forces into commands (or Kampfgruppen,). I have therefore chosen to list these German forces in the way they were deployed. Also, for the sake of simplicity, when the composition of a Kampfgruppe changed during the course of the campaign, any changes are described in the text rather than here, in the order of battle.

    16th Panzer Division: Major General Rudolph Sieckenius
    Kampfgruppe Dorntmam (Major Dornemann)
    16th Panzer Reconnaissance Battalion
    1 Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Panzer Regiment (Stug III assault guns)
    Engineer Detachment, 16th Pioneer Battalion

    Kampfgruppe von Holtey (Colonel von HoItey)
    2 Companies, 2nd Battalion. 2nd Panzer Regiment (Panzer IV tanks)
    Artillery Battalion, 16th Artillery Regiment
    Engineer Detachment, 16th Pioneer Battalion

    Kampfgruppe von Doering (Colonel von Doering)
    79th Panzergrenadier Regiment (2 battalions)
    2 companies 2nd Battalion, 2nd Panzer Regiment (mainly Panzer 1Vs)
    Artillery Battalion, 16th Artillery Regiment
    Engineer detachment, 16th Pioneer Battalion

    KampfgruppeStempel (Colonel Stempel)
    64th Panzergrenadier Regiment (2 battalions – 1 equipped with halftracks)
    Battalion, 2nd Panzer Regiment (less one regiment – Stug III assault guns)
    Artillery Battalion. 16th Artillery Regiment
    Engineer Detachment, 16th Pioneer Battalion

    Hermann Goring Panzer Division: Lieutenant General Wilhelm Schamlz
    Kampfgruppe Haas (Colonel Haas)
    2nd Battalion, 1st Panzergrenadier Regiment
    2nd & 3rd Battalions, 115th Panzergrenadier Regiment
    Hermann Goring Reconnaissance Battalion
    Composite Battalion, Hermann Goring Panzer Regiment (mainly Panzer IV tanks)
    3rd Battalion, Hermann Goring Panzer Regiment (Stug III assault guns)
    Artillery Battalion, HG Artillery Regiment
    Engineer Detachment, HG Pioneer Battalion

    Kampfgruppe Becker (Major Becker)
    3rd Battalion, 1st Parachute Regiment

    15th Panzer Division: Major General Eherhard Rodt
    Kampfgruppe Strob (Colonel Strob)
    129th Panzergrenadier Regiment (2 battalions)
    115th Panzer Battalion (mainly Panzer IV tanks)
    71st Werfer Regiment (Nebelwerfer mortars)
    3rd Battalion, Hermann Goring Panzer Regiment (Stug III assault guns)
    Artillery Battalion, 15th Artillery Regiment
    Engineer Detachment, 15th Pioneer Battalion

    26th Panzer Division: Major General Smilo Freiherr von Luttwitz
    Kampfgruppe (commander unknown)
    2nd Battalion, 9th Panzergrenadier Regiment
    1st and 3rd Battalions, 4th Parachute Regiment
    129th Reconnaissance Regiment
    Artillery Battalion, 26th Artillery Regiment
    Engineer Detachment, 26th Pioneer Battalion

    3rd PanzergrenadierDivision: Major General Fritz-Hubert Graser
    Kampfgruppe Moldenbauer (Major Moldenbauer)
    1st Battalion, 29th Panzergrenadier Regiment
    2nd Battalion, 67th Panzergrenadier Regiment (attached from 26th Panzer Division)
    103rd Reconnaissance Battalion
    103rd Panzer Battalion (Stug III assault guns)

    29th Panzergrenadier Division: Major General Walter Freis
    Kampfgruppe Ulich (Colonel Ulich)
    1st and 3rd Battalions, 15th Panzergrenadier Regiment (half tracks)
    26th Reconnaissance Battalion
    Artillery Baitalion
    Engineer detachment

    Kampfgruppe Kruger (Lieutenant Colonel Kruger)
    71st Panzergrenadier Regiment (2 battalions)

    (Please excuse any spelling mistakes in the German)

  5. TTH

    TTH Senior Member


    Here is an order of battle for the Germans at Salerno that begins by showing the troops already in the area when the Allies landed on 8 September.

    The arrival of other German units is shown for the next few days, but not for the whole battle. I believe you said your grandfather was captured on or about 8th or 9th September, but was back with his unit by 13th September. According to Blumenson, the biggest battle group from 1st FJ Div ("about a regiment"--which might have intervened at Altavilla) did not arrive in the Salerno area until after 14th September. That suggests to me that your grandfather was attached to KG Becker (III/1 FJ Regt), which was already in the Salerno area when the battle began.

    As to the ground...Well, that Axis history page says that KG Becker was under the HG Div, which arrived on the northern sector. Presumably, then, KG Becker was already in that area, rather than south of the Sele. Also, while the Chiunzi Pass is very rugged, the town of Nocera, just north of the pass and in the German rear area during the battle, is much lower.

    To settle this, you should probably consult a war diary. Perhaps you ought to contact the archive in Freiburg to see if any of the relevant KTBs (1st FJ Div, HG Div, XIV Pz Korps, 10 Armee, III/1 FJ Regt) have survived.
  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

  7. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    The 'swampy' area to which you refer could well be Anzio rather than Salerno. The area beyond the River Moletta on the extreme left flank of the Allied beachhead was swampy salt marsh and occupied by a Para Div - 4 Para Div.


  8. Bradlad

    Bradlad Senior Member

    If your father's outfit was with the HG Div at Salerno, then he was north of the Sele River, around the Salerno-Maiori area. Most of the troops opposing the HG Div were from the British X Corps, specifically 46th (North Midlands and Yorkshire) Division and a British Commando force.

    My Paternal Grandfather was involved in this and was wounded here, but I have yet to find out exactly how or where. As far as I know he was in one of the Yorkshire divisions but again, no information to confirm that.
  9. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    There was only one northern Division at Salerno and that was 46 Infantry Division. 56 Infantry Division was made up of southerners and centred on London.

    Do you know what Regiment or Corps your paternal grandfather served in?


  10. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    My Paternal Grandfather was involved in this and was wounded here, but I have yet to find out exactly how or where. As far as I know he was in one of the Yorkshire divisions but again, no information to confirm that.

    The 138th Infantry Brigade of 46th Div had two Yorkshire units, the 2/4th King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and the 6th Yorks and Lancs. Your granddad's service number might tell you if he was in either of those regiments, as those numbers were arranged by corps and regiment. However, bear in mind that by that period of the war the regional basis of the army had long since broken down. As casualties mounted, men were simply sent to whatever regiment or unit needed them most. So even a service number might not tell you all you need to know.
  11. Gebirgsjaeger

    Gebirgsjaeger Senior Member

    Thank you very much, Mark! And no problems for the spelling, i have the same sometimes!

    TTH, Thank you for your work and the Links! The problem with which unit he was at there is now solved. I tried to get the war diaries of the units my Grandfather fought with, but they said that nothing had survived and told me to ask at the NARA. I will do it but i hope to find some other guys who will search for some diaries too becaus it isn´t really cheap to get informations from there.

    Bradlad, it would be interesting to hear this story. Please post it at here if you want.

    FdeP, i ´ll think that he will mixed up this places in his memoirs. Those guys had to survive so much hard battles that it is possible to mix the places up after more than 60 years!

    I´m very glad to get so much help from all of you, many thanks for that!
  12. Bradlad

    Bradlad Senior Member

    Thanks for the info guys, I think my Granddads wartime documents are still in the family so I'll do some investigating and post what I find.
  13. mhil

    mhil Member

    Battle for the beachhead Paestum on the gulf of Salerno september 1943
  14. mhil

    mhil Member

    TTH and stolpi like this.
  15. mhil

    mhil Member

    The story of Fort Schuster US Rangers defending the Chiunzi pass

    stolpi likes this.
  16. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    I./ Fallschirmjäger Regiment 3 formed part of the German counterattack (with units of 16. Panzer Division) at Battipaglia on 10th September 1943 which ejected 9 Royal Fusiliers from the town.
    I./ Fallschirmjäger Regiment 4 was committed at Altavilla on 15th september 1943 (while attached to 29. Panzergrenadier division) against units of 36th US Division.
  17. mhil

    mhil Member

    The Campaign in Southern Italy (September – December 43): Information from German Military Documents
    This document is based on German sources and declassified by the Army Headquarters (AHQ) of Canada .

    German troop movements are listed during the landings at Salerno and further (sept-dec 1943).
    On page 2 is noticed that "the war diaries of the 1st Para division unfortunately have not been found and it is believed that the have may been destroyed".

    "While the mass of 76 Corps, 4 Para Regt and elements of 3 Para Regt, were a part of the German forces fighting at Salerno, and the rear elements of the Corps were harassing the advance of Eighth Army, 1 Para Div continued in its role of protecting the deep eastern flank of 10 Army.
    On 8 Sept the mass of 1 Para Div was deployed in the area Altamura - Matera - Montecaglloso - Cantellaneta - Locorotondo. On 9 Sep it was to have carried out the instructions of "Document Achse" .with regard to the ports of Bari and Brindisi. But in the morning of 9 Sept A.O.K. 10 ordered the division to proceed north and to concentrate its forces in the Foggia sector without wasting too much time over the ports of Bari and (G.M.D.S. - 42803/4., Appx 127b, sit map 1 Para Div,8 Sep; 42803/2, Appx 144, 9 Sep; 42803/1, 9 Sep)"

    Appendix A list of German officers involved in the defense of southern Italy
    Appendix F an account of the combat action after the landings at Salerno by Col Gen Heinrich Vietinghoff

    Source / more info: The Campaign in Southern Italy (September – December 43): Information from German Military Documents -
    Heinrich von Vietinghoff - Wikipedia
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