We seek to represent troops from:
The 4. Kompanie , 914. Grenadier Regiment, 352. Infanterie Division which was one of four companies within the regiment's first battalion (I./914). The Kompanie was divided into four platoons (Zug), each Zug sub divided into four squads (Gruppen).
The troops who served in the ranks of 4. Kompanie were a mixed bunch. On it's forming in 1943, a veteran recalls that 50% of the Kompanie were 17 or 18 year old Hanoverian conscripts, 20% were Poles who were classed by the authorities as being of German stock, and therefore eligible for combat service, 20% came from the recently dissolved Vlassov Division and the final 10% were 'eastern front veterans', although what constituted a 'veteran' is unknown.
Although the regiment was later part of 352 VGD, its order of battle remained essentially the same.
Sept 1943 - Dec 1943 The 914. Grenadier Regiment (GR914), alongside 915. and 916. Grenadier Regiments, was part of the 352. Infanterie Division (352ID) - A new "type 1944" infantry division. The division came into being following Adolf Hitler's directive No. 51 in November 1943. The cadre for the new division came mainly from the 321. Infanterie Division which had been smashed on the Eastern Front. A smaller number of recruits came from the 268. Infanterie Division which had been broken at the battle of Kursk, July 1943.
Dec 1943 - Mar 1944 The 352ID arrived in St. Lo, (20 miles south-west of the Normandy landing beaches) on 5th December 1943 to start training its new recruits in anti-invasion tactics. Some of the NCOs were Russian Front veterans whilst most of the officers were combat experienced ex-NCOs, their knowledge and experience was passed down to the new men during the training.
The division had a strength of nearly 13,000 men and its full complement of weapons. In January 1944 the division moved north to the coast, to an area that would later be known as ‘Omaha Beach'. Anti-invasion training was at the heart of the divisions operations in early 1944 but considerable time was also spent working on the physical construction of anti-invasion defenses.
Mar 1944 - June 1944 352ID continued to train and build its strength and by April 1944 it had reached its full complement, totaling 13,228 men. During May 1944 the division left St Lo and moved to the coast where it was given responsibility for 'Coast Defense Sector Bayeaux' which ran from Carentan, in the west, to Asnelles-sur Mer, 10km north-east of Bayeaux, in the east.
GR914, WWII LHA has researched the 352IDs Order of Battle (Gliederung in German) based on an original held in the Bundesarchiv. This can viewed in Adobe's PDF* format.
GR914 had its HQ at Isigny, about 6km in from the beach and I Battalion (I./914) had its HQ at Grandcamp, just 2km from the beach. The beach between Grand Vey to Pt.duHoc was known as “Utah Beach”.
The 352. Infanterie Division C.O. during this period was Generalleutnant Kraiß.
June 1944 - Sept 1944 D-Day - 6th June 1944 The first soldiers from 352 to spot the invasion fleet, at 05:02, were stationed in the Wiederstandnester (resistance nests) between Omaha and Gold beaches at Port-en-Bessin. The 4. Kompanie, GR914 was manning the defenses in front of the beach areas of Pt.duHoc and took a very heavy toll of the American 2nd ranger Division, which started its assault at 06:30.
The casualty figures for D-Day alone were: 352ID - 200 killed, 500 wounded and 500 missing.
The 352ID carried on fighting around St. Lo in July and by the end of July the division ceased to exist. Generalleutnant Kraiß was killed in action.
During August 1944, the few survivors of the regiment were sent to Flensburg, in Northern Germany, to form a cadre for a new 914. Regiment. To create the mass of the regiment, replacements were drafted in primarily from the Kriegsmarine, along with some redundant Luftwaffe ground crews. The troops were described as averaging 22 to 30 years old, with limited training and no combat experience. Yet GR914 was again up to full strength and had been allotted 98% of its equipment by the time it launched its attack on December 16th.
The 352. Infaterie Division C.O. during this period was Generalleutnant Kraiß to 2nd August (gefallen), later Generalmajor von Schuckman.
Sept 1944 - Dec 1944 The 352ID was merged with the 581. Volksgrenadier Division and rebuilt as a Volksgrenadier (People's Grenadier) division in August/September 1944 in the Schleswig-Holstein area of Northern Germany. The 352VGD held a sector of the West Wall before it was sent into action once more as part of the 7. Armee during the Ardennes Offensive launched on the 16th December. The 352's manpower had come mainly from the Kriegsmarine and disbanded units, most of whom had little, if any, experience of combat. The average age of the Volksgrenadier infantryman was 17 and most had only a few weeks of infantry training behind them.
GR914, WWII LHA has researched the 352VGDs Order of Battle (Gliederung in German) and has produced the attachment above. This can viewed in Adobe's PDF* format.
The C.O. during this period was Majorgeneral von Schuckman to 6th October, then Oberst Erich Schmidt to 23rd December, then Generalmajor Bazing.
Dec 1944 - Mar 1945 As part of the southern flank, 352VGD pushed the U.S. 28th I.D. back through Diekirch, Ettelbruck and Merzig. The division was commanded by Generalmajor Erich Otto Schmidt; the GR914 by Major Theodor von Lucken and the 4. Kompanie by Oberleutnant Gunter Obst.
After the Ardennes offensive, what was left of the regiment made a slow withdrawal into Germany. The division was once again reinforced with the last reserves of manpower available at the time. This meant Volkssturm border guard and alarm units. It doesn't take much imagination to realize that the regiment had virtually ceased to exist, and that old men and boys incapable of waging a war filled its ranks.
The 352. Volksgrenadier Division C.O. during this period and through Feb. 1945 was Generalmajor Erich Otto Schmidt.
Mar 1945 - June 1945 From March 1945 the unit was re-designated a Kampfgruppe and fought in the Rhineland battles south of Remagen. The 914. Grenadier Regiment surrendered to French Moroccan troops in South West Germany in April 1945. The Kampfgruppe finally being destroyed on 27th April 1945 whilst fighting in the area of Aasen-Heidenhofen due east of Freiburg.
The GR914 had a life of approximately 15 months, and is a classic example of the infantry line regiments of World War Two.
The 352. Volksgrenadier Divison C.O. during this period was Generalmajor Rudolf von Oppen to 29th April 1945.
For further reading on the 352 I.D./352 VGD, see the following good books:
"Hitler's Legions" by Samuel Mitcham (Leo Cooper)
"Invasion! They're Coming" by Paul Carell (Corgie)
"Beyond the Beachhead" by Joseph Balkoski ( Dell , USA )
"The Battle of the Bulge in Luxembourg . Vol 1: The Germans" by Roland Gaul (Schiffer)
"The Battle of the Bulge - Then and Now" by Jean Paul Pallud (After the Battle Publications)
"Omaha Beach" Battle Zone Normandy series by Stephen Badsey & Tim Bean