General Erich Von Manstein, Part 2.

During the battles around southern Leningrad, in October and November 1941, in temperatures reaching -40 degrees, the 3rd Fallschirmjager Regiment, FJR3, 7th Flieger Division, commanded by General Student, was dispatched to defend parts of the River Neva and repulse any Russian attempts at creating a bridgehead. They were used in battalion-sized units in a fire-fighting role and consequently some elements suffered up to 75% casualties. The setting for my third novel, Devils with Wings: Frozen Sun

This unit was just a small piece of the jigsaw of Army Group North’s push through the Balkans during Operation Barbarossa, launched by Hitler on Sunday, 22nd June 1941.

General Manstein’s WW2 career started as the Chief of Staff of Heeresgruppe Süd, Army Group South, coordinating the three subordinate armies during the initial invasion of the West, the infamous Blitzkrieg, and rapidly defeating Poland in its wake.

After only a matter of weeks after the fall of Poland, the General was given the operations order, Fall Gelb, Case Yellow, the plan for the attack on the Anglo-French Allies. The initial plan was for the focal point, using Heeresgruppe B, to be on the right flank in Belgium and Heeresgruppe A, with two armies and a single panzer division, making a supporting attack through the Ardennes.

Manstein quickly identified weaknesses in this approach, advocating that the allies would expect an attack through Belgium and the German Army would be unable to fulfil the new concept of encirclement. With Rundstedt behind him, Manstein wrote to the German High Command, OKH, suggesting that the main push, with Heeresgruppe A, should be through the Ardennes, with four panzer divisions, pushing across the River Meuse, followed by a ‘Sickle-cut’ deep into the allied lines to reach the Channel coast.

His preferences were not welcomed however, and many of his memos were blocked and did not reach Hitler. However, some of Manstein’s supporters managed to leak his ideas to Hitler and on the 17th February 1940, along with other senior commanders, he was invited to breakfast with the Führer himself. Taken aside and asked for his opinion, Hitler adopted this new approach and Heeresgruppe A was increased from 24 to 44 divisions, including the newly formed Panzergruppe Kleist, consisting of five panzer divisions, totalling some 1,200 tanks.

Manstein, although the father of the attack plan, had little involvement in the early stages. Eventually his XXXVIII Armeekorps was involved and was part of a multi-corps assault across the River Somme on the 5th June, eventually pushing the French forces back to the River Loire.

The rest is history, with the invasion of the west being launched on the 10th May 1940, the main allied force being quickly defeated and the remaining French forces defeated by a second Blitzkrieg, ending with the signing of the armistice on the 22 June.

Manstein’s involvement in the Campaign, although short, was successful and he was awarded the Ritterkreuz der Eisernen Kreuzes, Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross, and made General of the Infantry. Although there were a number of contributors to the final plan, it was Manstein’s model that ensured German’s greatest military victory.

With Operation Sea lion, the Invasion of Britain cancelled, Hitler’s eyes were already turning east. Manstein was to prove his worth yet again in one of the largest battles ever…

General Manstein, one of the Wehrmacht’s top Generals. Part 1.

During the battles around southern Leningrad, in October and November 1941, in temperatures reaching -40 degrees, the 3rd Fallschirmjager Regiment, FJR3, 7th Flieger Division, commanded by General Student, was dispatched to defend parts of the River Neva and repulse any Russian attempts at creating a bridgehead. They were used in battalion sized units in a fire-fighting role and consequently some elements suffered up to 75% casualties.

This unit was just a small piece of the jigsaw of Army Group North’s push through the Balkans during Operation Barbarossa, launched by Hitler on Sunday, 22nd June, 1941.

General Manstein also had a key role to play in the invasion of Russia, taking command of LVI AK, LVI Army Corps, in February 1941, under the command of Panzer Group 4. He was assigned the 8th Panzer Division, 3rd Infantry Division (motorised) and the 290th Infantry Division and was ordered, along with Reinhardt of the XLI AK, to strike through the thinly held Russian defences and encircle the Russian 8th Army, before continuing their advance towards the Dvina River and force a crossing. The ultimate goal for Army Group North, was to destroy the Red Army holding the Baltic States, capture Leningrad and link up with the Finnish Army.

Manstein was born in Braunfels in Hesse, on the 24th November 1887, one of ten children. Although born to the Lewinski family, his father a Prussian artillery Generalleutnant, he was brought up by his mother’s sister, as they had no sons with whom to carry the Manstein name forward. Manstein was related to a number of famous Prussian Generals and naturally pursued a career in that same field. After completing his training and attending the Royal Military Academy at Schloss Engers, near Koblenz, he was attached, as a young officer, to the 3rd Garde-Regiment zu Fuss.

At the outbreak of World War 1, in August 1914, he initially served in Belgium before being transferred to the Russian Front in October, where, during the retreat from Warsaw, he was wounded and sent to Wiesbaden to recover.

After the war and under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, where the size of the Army was limited to 100,000 men, much of his time was spent in an organisational role and it wasn’t until October 1921 that he got his first command, 6th Company, 5th Infantry Regiment. He was now married to Jutta von Loesch and his second child, a son, was born.

To overcome the restrictions placed upon the Army by the Treaty small study groups were created, leading to new doctrine in infantry, armour and motorised warfare. Manstein was fortunate to be included in one of these groups helping develop new military concepts.

Promoted to Major in 1928 and Oberstleutnant, Lieutenant Colonel, in 1931, he commanded II Jaeger battalion of the 4th Prussian Infantry Regiment in Kolberg. He was at Kolberg when Adolf Hitler became Reich Chancellor in January 1933, and along with the rest of the German Military, swore an oath, pledging their loyalty to him. His Wehrmacht service had begun…

 

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This exciting fictionalised retelling of the invasion of Crete is written by an author with extensive experience in army intelligence. It’s the follow up to Devils With Wings, and continues the wartime adventures of Fallschirmjager paratrooper Paul Brand and his Feldwebel Max Grun. On a high after their successful subjugation of Fort Eben Emael, Paul Brand, now in command of his own company, and Feldwebel Max Grun, are parachuted into Greece to help capture the bridge spanning the Corinth Canal. Tough times are ahead when the German High Command decide to invade the Island of Crete. This will be the first ever airborne invasion in military history. The Fallschirmjager, supported by the famous Gebirgsjager mountain troops, are up against 40,000 allied soldiers – who will fight to the bitter end to protect Crete. Operating behind enemy lines, Paul Brand and Max Grun will face challenges that not only tests their fortitude but strains the close bond between them. Silk Drop is a thrilling sequel to Devils With Wings and is based on a factual episode.

Grüne Teufel – Green Devils

The battle of Crete, Operation Mercury, began on the morning of the 20th May, 1941. Greek and Allied forces defended the Island.

The Fallschirmjager, German Paratroopers, were used on a huge scale, the first ever mainly airborne invasion in history.

Up to 15,000 elite, Fallschirmjager initiated the attack by glider and parachute, later supported by up to 15,000 Gebirgsjager, Mountain Troops. Nearly five hundred transport aircraft were used, the famous Junkers JU 52, Tante Ju, Aunty June,  to the paratroopers.

Although a success, taking Crete in only 10 days, it was a Pyrrhic victory. Up to 7,000 were killed or wounded and over 350 aircraft were destroyed. They were never again used in large scale airborne operations, but as elite troops, they fought in every theatre of the war, by the River Neva near Leningrad, Monte Casino, Italy, Battle of the Bulge, Normandy and Africa.

A Video Clip of the Fallschirmjager

http://www.youtube.com/user/HarveyBlackAuthor/feed

 

A military thriller based around the adventures of two young Fallschirmjager paratroopers during the early part of World War II. It is a fictionalised adventure based on the famous assault on the impregnable Belgian Fortress, Eben Emael.

Fallschirmjager Harvey Black 055

Tall, gangly Paul Brand is supported by his junior sergeant, Unterfeldwebel Max Grun, as he experiences his first action as a platoon commander in Poland, September 1939. The mutual respect between the two comrades grows as they experience the sights and smells of battle at close quarters.  Following their success in Poland, Paul, Max and the platoon are sent to a clandestine camp in the foothills of the Harz Mountains to train for a secret mission. Confined to camp for six months they undergo intensive training for their next mission – the subjugation of the Eben Emael Fortress.

Two German secret weapons will assist them to complete their task; the first is the glider, used for the first time to deposit troops directly onto a target, and the second secret weapon is a new Hollow Charge Weapon, capable of blasting through steel or concrete. On completion of their training, nine gliders containing seventy two Fallschirmjager land on top of the fortress, before the troops move in to the depths of the tunnels to finish the job. Over one thousand Belgian troops fail to stop them.

Effects of a Hohlladung, shaped charge, on an armoured turret.

DFS-230 Glider

This exciting fictionalised retelling of the assault on Eben Emael is written by an author with experience in army intelligence.

Video Clip- Assualt on Eben Emael.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_xsfQPQicQ&context=C4ee50f8ADvjVQa1PpcFN4SRfRBFPjuFRtYcx2OZf4CM9-Mi_XGZQ=

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