infantry division in the German Wehrmacht
War II serving on the Western Front. The
unit is best known for its defense of Omaha Beach during the D-Day
the 3532.ID in front
of a truck with the Division's
352nd Infantry Division's symbol, shown above, is a Pegasus
leaping over a bridge.
There is no known information as to the history behind the
symbol or why
it was chosen.
picture to the right
in front of one of the few trucks belonging to the Division.
can be seen on the truck's door.
mythology, the Pegasus
sired by Poseidon and foaled by Medusa.
Wherever the Pegasus' hoof struck the earth, an inspiring
spring would burst forth. Bridges often represent strength.
chosen this symbol to represent their
- a strong
beaches, and if an invasion did
come, to pour forth an inspired and mighty assault.
Infantry Division, 352.Inf.
352.ID) was formed on 5
November 1943 at St. Lô under the
command of Generalleutnant
as part of the Wehrkreis XI
District XI), headquartered in Hannover. A majority of the
from decimated Divisions from the Ost
especially those in the battle at Kursk. The 352nd was placed
under the command of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Rommel
was in charge of protecting the
Atlantic coast from and Allied Invasion. Despite
the fact that much of
the German leadership believed
main Allied invasion would take place at the Pas-de-Calais, Rommel was
convinced that Normandy would be the location of the invasion. Rommel
placed the 352nd at Normandy to
push any invading force back into the sea.
The cadre of the Division
initially filled out with approximately
2,000 recruits - most of them coming from Infantrie Ersatz und
Ausbildungs Bataillon 480 based
in Schlann. The rest of the Division was filled out
was assigned to Wehrkreis XI
in Hanover. Initially, Officers and NCOs of the Division thought that
would be to the East Front, so training was
planned accordingly - they were trained to be outnumbered, out gunned,
surrounded, to never step back and to never surrender.
January 1944, the Division was placed on
defensive action in the area
around St. Lô.
Unlike the Division's
neighboring units - the 709th and 716th Infantry Divisions - the 352nd
was considered a combat unit. The 709th and 716th were
defensive "fortress" units, and were considered immobile. The
responsible for large areas of territory (almost unreasonably
large). It's primary missions were:
most resources and support went to the Ost Front,
the 352nd had to deal with ration and supply problems from its
- Costal Artillery
- Reserve Division
- One Regiment as
Reserve for LXXXIV Corps
from the remnants of the following
units serving on the Ost Front:
- Wehrkreis VII
488th and 499th Grenadier-Regiments
Reserve Unit, activated
- 1943: Ost Front
of Yelna Bend, Moscow, Rzhev and Kursk
fought at Cholm and Demyansk
- Wehrkreis XI
Activated at Abberville
1942: Ost Front
– Army Group Center
heavy losses at Kursk
- Wehrkreis XII
Drive across Don River, Volga River,
survivors from the 546.Grenadier-Regiment
formed the cadre for the 1st
battalions of the 916.Grenadier-Regiment
of the 352.Infanterie-Division.
most of the members of the 352nd were Ost
Front veterans, they were
soldiers - from the officers down to the Obergrenadiers.
large number of Volksdeutsch
recruits were also a part of the Division.
and Czech Germans, Alsatians (French Germans), and Russians
makeup of the 352 Infanterie-Division
was as follows:
- 3 Infantry Regiments
Infantry Battalions total)
- 1 Artillery Regiment
- 1 Tank Destroyer
- 1 Pioniere
- 1 Light
- 1 Field Replacement
the time of the Division's
formation, it had
12,021 men. Of that, only 6,800 men were combat troops.
was a large
by German standards at the time, but it
was by no means a "crack" division. Cadre from the Ost Front
formed the leadership of
the Division and the bulk of
were young conscripts and foreign volunteers from the East.
The Division had
approximately 29% Russian volunteers, to
include Ukranians, Georgians and Bylorssians. Much of the
the Division's Landsers
young boys just out of high school, who suffered from malnourishment
from food rationing for the War effort.
organizational chart of the Division is shown
2 x 15 cm sIG 33
- 6 x 7.5 cm leIG
- 3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40
2 x 15 cm sIG 33
- 6 x 7.5 cm leIG
- 3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40
2 x 15 cm sIG 33
- 2 x 7.5 cm leIG
- 3 x 7.5 cm PaK 40
had three Infanterieregimenter
(infantry regiments), each with three Infanteriebataillone
Regiment in a German Division was known as an Infanterie-Regiement,
commonly at this time in the War as a Grenadier-Regiment.
was considered a
the standard 9 battalions, while a majority of all other German
Divisions at the time had been reduced to 6 battalions.
All infantry battalions had 60 light machine
and twelve 8 cm mortars. Each
had one infantry gun (IG). The 914th and
915th Regiment’s IG company had two 15 cm and six 7,5 cm
howitzers. The 916th Regiment’s IG
company had two 15 cm and two 7,5 cm infantry howitzers.
Each Regiment had a PaK (Anti-Tank) company
with three 7,5 cm PaK 40 Anti-Tank guns.
formed primarily by the survivors of Grenadier-Regiment
546 from the Ost
The rest of the Regiment was filled out with recruits coming
Ersatz Bataillon 396,
stationed in Nordheim.
in fighting around Caen in 1944. The MG-42 is configured in a light
support role, with folding bipod and detachable drum magazine
34 8 cm mortar and crew in action
loading a sIG
7,5 cm PaK 40
- 36 x 10,5
cm leFH 16
- 12 x
15 cm sFH 18
1-9 of the Artillerie
(artillery regiment) had four 10,5 cm leFH 16 howitzers each.
Batteries 10-12 had four 15 cm sFH 18 howitzers
each. None of these batteries were
motorized. The artillery all had one
basic load of ammunition. The 10,5 cm
guns had 225 rounds per gun, and the 15 cm guns had 150 rounds each.
10.5 cm leichte
15 cm sFH
14 x Marder
II and Marder
III variant Panzerjäger
- 10 x StuG III Ausf. G
- 9 x FlaK Panzer 38
destroyers/tank hunter battalion)
had 14 Marder II and III (Marder on a Panzer II and 38(t) chassis,
respectively), 10 StuG III and 9 motorized 3,7 cm FlaK guns.
III Ausf G
20 x Flammenwerfer
- 6 x 8 cm Granatwerfer
three companies, with 37
machine guns, 20 flame
and six mortars.
Pioniere in action in
Northern France, 1944
The Füsilier Battaillon was light
infantry/recon. The 1. Company of
battalion was located in the rear, away
from the beaches and was more mobile than a regular infantry
battalion. They were equipped
the same as a regular
battalion, with 60 light
machine guns, 3 heavy machine guns
and twelve 8 cm mortars.
In a defensive
position, like the
352.ID was, the Füsilier
Battaillon would most likely
protect the Division's
ride towards Arnhem,
6 x 8 cm Granatwerfer
- 1 x 5 cm PaK 38
- 1 x 7,5 cm PaK 40
- 1 x 10,5 cm Feldhaubitze
- 1 x Infanterie
- 2 x Flammenwerfer
Battaillon (field replacement
battalion) had five companies with
62 machine guns,
six 8 cm
mortars, one 5 cm PaK 38 AT gun, one 7,5 cm PaK 40 AT gun, one 10,5 cm
howitzer, one infantry howitzer and two flame throwers.
with their PaK
Marshal Erwin Rommel
believed that the Atlantikwall
(Atlantic Wall) did not have enough defensive capability to withstand
an Allied invasion. Rommel, believing that any chance of
Allied invasion would be decided on the beaches, made great strives to
increase the defenses of the Atlantikwall by increasing physical
barriers and bunkers, placing millions of mines, and increasing the
manpower on the Wall.
352nd began its coastal duty
improving the defenses of the Atlantikwall,
as directed by Rommel. They placed beach obstacles, to
stakes and anti-landing craft timbers. They cut the timber
woods, transported it to the beach, and drove it deep into the sand.
Rommel wanted over 10 million mines to cover the length of
but only 10,000 were available and laid before the Invasion.
10,000 mines placed, many were not waterproofed, so by the time the
D-Day invasion occurred, many of those mines had rusted and corroded
because of the salt water, and no longer worked.
first row of beach obstacles were Belgian Gates and were about 250
high tide water line.
Belgian Gates (or
C-Elements) are heavy steel fences about three meters wide and two
used as anti-tank obstacles.
second row of obstacles was a band of mined stakes and log ramps, meant
or tear out the bottom of landing craft.
the third row of defenses were Czech Hedgehogs– static
defenses constructed of angled iron.
up the beachhead, the 352nd
occupied slit trenches, eight large
bunkers, 35 pillboxes, six mortar pits, 35 Nebelwerfer
launch sites and
machine gun nests.
The main defenses
were clustered into strong points.
of the 916.Grenadier-Regiment
located near Omaha Beach.
from the 716.Infanterie-Division
was subordinated to the 916th. The 915.Grenadier-Regiment
reserve southeast of Bayeux, and the 914.Grenadier-Regiment
deployed around Isigny.
Because most of the Wehrmacht’s
supplies were being sent to the
on the Ost
Front, by March 1944, the
only got to execute three
was only able
to throw two live grenades in practice. Many
of the vehicles the Division
foreign, so when they broke down, there were little, if any, spare
There was little
because of a
shortage of available fuel.
352nd IN BATTLE IN FRANCE
the D-Day invasion began on 6 June 1944, and the 352nd
realized it was
facing the brunt of the Invasion, it immediately absorbed
troops within is sector, to include Luftwaffe
troops and RAD (Labor
Service) personnel. Once
it became clear
that the main Allied invasion force was coming ashore at Normandy, all
available units were
to the front.
on or near the beach opened fire and continued to
they depleted their ammunition or all the men inside were dead. Artillery
pre-sighted every inch of the landing areas on the beach and rained
upon the landing Allied forces.
too, continued to fire until they had run out of ammo or were in danger
following excerpts are from U.S. soldiers fighting the 352nd
had a bad break tactically because the German 352nd Infantry Division
was on a
counter-attack training exercise at Omaha [Beach].
instead of a fortress
battalion -- you
know, with kind of second-rate troops -- we had a whole damned infantry
division in front of us. We
sand...behind the bodies of the amphibious engineers...and tried to
bit, but there was a large German bunker in front of us, and its
fire hit us every time we tried to move. We
didn’t have any comm with the American
destroyer behind us because...the naval officer had been killed, his
too, and the radio set destroyed...so we planned an assault. But
before we could get organized, there were
huge demolitions around the bunker. Thank
God we hadn’t moved out yet: an American destroyer had moved
and was firing
direct with 4-inch guns into the bunker." -Capt
Edward McGregor, US 1st Infantry Div
units disintegrating. Very heavy losses. Enemy
fire prevents crossing
of the beach line.
Landing units bunching
a very confined
Engineers unable to
through minefields and cannot destroy beach obstacles.
5th Corps, 08:30a.m. June 6, 1944
Regiment started to
engage the enemy immediately behind the beach line defenses and
units of the 726th Infantry Regiment of the 716th Infantry Division and
of the #17 Pioneer Battalion fighting as infantry. Also,
#7 Company 915th Infantry Regiment of the 352nd Infantry Division and
battalion (Russian and Italian) attached to the 352nd Infantry were
beach defenses to the Inundated Area the enemy action consisted mainly
delaying groups and snipers from the 1714th Artillery Battalion, #17
Battalion, 12th Battery #IV Battalion, 352nd Infantry Division
Artillery...Crossing of inundated area was strongly opposed by German
at eastern end, at COLOMBIERES and at BOIS de CALET at south of
units of 914th, 915th and 916th Grenadier-Regiments. Snipers
delaying units were identified as Schnelle Brigade #30. 2nd Battalion
attacked at Le CARRETOUR by units of the 352nd Division Artillery...The
approach to, and the crossing of the Elle River was opposed by units of
(3) battalions of the Schnelle Brigade #30, units of the 352nd
Division and an unknown SP gun unit. Documents indicated that
the 5th Paratroop Regiment were in these defensive positions...The
units were identified from the Elle River to July 1st 1944.
Gr. Regts, 915 Gr. Regts and 916 Gr. Regts of the 352nd Infantry
943 Gr Regt 353 Inf Div
Bn 353 of 353 Inf Div
Regt of 3rd Parachute Div
517, 518 Bns of Schnelle Brigade #30
Fu Bn" -ALFRED V.
EDNIE, Colonel, 115th Infantry Division After Action Report June 1944
Commander, 916.Inf Reg
|The 352nd Infantry
heavy losses, both in causalities and by being captured, from the
attack as well as from enemy Jabos
(Fighter-Bombers). American and British Jabos would attack any daytime
movement, even individual men unfortunate enough to be out in the open.
It became nearly impossible to move in the daylight, which
meant front-line units quickly ran out of food, ammunition and other
supplies. The front-line troops became exhausted from
fighting and having no reinforcemets.
saw action on D-Day opposing the 1st and 29th
Divisions at Omaha Beach.
fought for several hours, inflicting many casualties, before being
retreated on the
morning of 7 June after Regiment Commander Oberst
couldn’t hold the
positions that they had just taken back on the previous
The rest of the Division
heavy fighting in the bocage
country while defending the area around St. Lô.
to wartime documents, the losses suffered by the Division
on 6 June
were 200 killed, 500 wounded and 500 missing. The
remained in the area
of constant fighting after
most of the Division
able to eat or sleep until 10 June. A
total absence of motorized
that all movement was by foot or bicycle. By
the time the Allies had
put armor on the beaches and started
advance, there wasn’t much the 352nd
could do to stop it.
this time, most of the fighting ability of
killed or captured. A
continued to fight, or were absorbed into
16 June, the Division
suffered 3,000 casualties.
casualties were 5,407 officers and men. Despite
these heavy losses, the Division
fighting, but continued to be beaten back and they continued to lose
men - The Allie's complete control of the air and their material
superiority were just too great. By
11 July, the 352nd
2,479 more casualties, and from 1
July, the Division
officers and men killed, 464 wounded, and 110 missing.
30 July, the Division
very poor shape.
of the 352nd abgekämpft
combat worthy) on that date, which
means that each battalion had less than 100 combat-ready
men. By the time the Division
it had subordinated the following units, all of which ended up worse
battalions from 266.Inf.-Div.
battalions from 353.Inf.-Div.
battalion from 30.Brigade
battalion from 275.Inf.-Div.
battalion from 343.Inf.-Div.
- One artillery
artillery battery from
of the Division
caught in the Falaise Pocket at the end of July and the beginning of
They, along with members of the 2.SS-Panzer
inflicted heavy casualties on the Polish 1st Armored Division
while in the pocket, but were eventually beaten back. The
Pocket ultimately was sealed off. Approximately 15,000
Germans were killed in fighting in the Pocket and about 50,000 were
taken prisoner. The collapse of the Falaise Pocket was a
point in the battle on the West Front - two major German Armies were
captured and destroyed in the pocket, severly depleting German strength
in the West.
|The Formation and close
Falaise Pocket, 8-17 August 1944
the first of August, the 352nd Infantry Division was withdrawn to refit
in the area
was only there for
a little over a week before
forces closed in. Elements of the Division
engaged in rear
action along the axis of Le Mans and
Dietrich Kraiß, the 352.ID
was injured in an attack on 4 August 1944. He died of his
injuries two days later. Oberst
Heyna was the interim
of the Division
as they pulled
out of the front-line in
link provides an account of the 352nd
from its Chief of Staff, Oberstleutnant
Fritz Ziegalmann. Oberstleutnant
Ziegalmann wrote a history of the 352nd
in Normandy for
the United States War Department’s
Studies after the conflict as a Prisoner of War. Special
to Stewart Bryant for his work translating Oberstleutnant
writing's and providing them on the internet.
Account of the 352nd
352nd IN BATTLE IN HOLLAND
moving near Arnhem
their condition and circumstances, the 352nd
well in France against much larger and much better supplied Allied
Troops. Soldier for soldier, the German army was equal or
stronger than Allied armies, but the Ally's overwhelming air power and
material supperiority is what played a major role in defeating the
Germans in Normandy. The 352nd Infantry Division was sent to
for refitting after being pulled out of the front lines in
refitting, the 352nd
into action when the Allies launched Market Garden. The
was attached to the 10.SS
and the 363.Infanterie-Division.
They helped prevent the Allied
Corps from linking up with the British 1st Airborne Division, which
Arnhem, Holland. Elements of the 352nd
engaged the U.S. 101st Airborne
was not a
completely refitted division while in Holland, and was
withdrawn to Germany to be refitted and reformed once again.
Battle, 28 September 1944
352nd VOLKSGRENADIER DIVISION AND THE ARDENNES OFFENSIVE
remnants of the 352nd Infantry Division were merged with
the remnants of the 581.Volkgrenadier-Division
detachments (formerly coastal artillery) to form the 352.Volksgrenadier-Division
September 1944, under the command of Oberst
slightly different than regular Infanterie-Divisions.
These Divisions had only six infantry battalions
instead of the standard nine battalions of a full Infanterie-Division;
this was already a common occurrence
in most other
at the time. Volksgrenadier-Divisions
strength rather than offensive strength. Standard infantry
weapons typically consisted of light machine guns, light automatic
weapons, and the Panzerfaust
(single shot anti-tank weapons). The Züge
(platoons) and Gruppen
(groups) of Volksgrenadier-Divisions were formed around
veterans to inspire and properly lead whatever personel was used to
fill out the Division. The bulk of these Divisions were
commonly filled out with "jobless" Wehrmacht personnel
(Navy) and Luftwaffe
returning to duty, as well as men and boys considered too old or young
for peacetime military service.
(left) with Erich von Manstein in North Russia, 1941
itself was made up of several "jobless" Kriegsmarinemänner
(Navy men). Their morale was high, but their limited
experience as infantry in ground operations showed in their poor
fighting and maneuvering ability. The newly reformed Division
had the same three Infanterieregimenter
915., and 916.
but with only six Infanteriebataillone
newly reformed Volksgrenadier-Division was a part of LXXXV.
Armeekorps, and fell in with
under the command of General der
MG Battaillon 44
Movement in the
made the southern most push
during the Ardennes Offensive
(the Battle of the Bulge) towards Luxembourg. The main objective of the
southern push was to reach Luxembourg and protect the flank from any
Allied counterattacks. The
Divisions of 7.Armee
west 4 miles before meeting stiff
resistance from the U.S. VIII Corps. The 5.
managed to get 12 miles west on the
flank of the push. There was no armored support for 7.Armee,
so the initial advance was stopped fairly easily by American troops.
major engagements in the
in and around
push in the south, although
stopped initially, managed to move
again by the second week of the offensive and posed a threat to Allied
lines. On 23 December 1944, there was heavy fighting in
Merzig and a large portion of the Division
was captured or
destroyed there. Only
when the U.S. 80th Infantry
Divison was reinforced with
from the U.S. 702nd Tank Battalion were the Germans defeated on the
southern front of the Offensive.
Offensive as a whole failed, and again, the 352nd
was decimated by
losing men to casualties and being captured as
fighting in the Ardennes near Luxembourg
from the 914.Inf-Reg. of the 352.Volksgrenadier
surrender in Merzig after the Ardennes Offensive comes to a
24 December 1944
352nd IN BATTLE IN GERMANY
the defeat in the Ardennes, the 352.Volksgrenadier-Division
recalled to Germany to be refit and resupplied. It was then
placed under the command of General
Bazing. It was refitted
with men from the 66th
and what was left of the 9th Infantry Division. It's
to defend the area around Trier (Germany) and Moselle
(France). Fighting and Allied bombing effectively destroyed
what was left of the Division
mid-March 1945. Only a small remnant of
the Rhine at Worms as American forces
reconstructed one last time as a small battle
mid-April and deployed to defend Darmstadt, south of Remagen.
It's last battles were during a part of the Rhineland
Campaign, as the Allies pushed in the south to reach the Elbe.
The 352nd Infantry Division's career as a fighting unit ended
in the Rhineland at the end of the War. They surrendered to
American forces near Nuremberg in May 1945.
in Darmstadt, 1945
cross a bridge in Trier, 1945