History of the Regiment
In 1935 the Luftwaffe was officially
created and a year later moves were taken to establish a parachute section using the former Prussian Landespolitzeigruppe
General Goring. The Army already had a parachute kompanie that was later raised to battalion strength. The two services paralleled
each other until 1938 when Hermann Goring decisively brought all the parachute elements together under the control of the
Luftwaffe as Fallschirmjäger Regiment 1 (Goring reasoned that anything that involved flying at all fell under the domain of
his Luftwaffe). FJR2 was formed in early 1939.
Parachute Regiment 3 takes its
routes and traditions from Assault Battalion No. 7 commencing in 1916 and FJR3 was established as a unit in August of 1940.
Elements of Assault Batallion No. 7 had been deactivated in 1919 but remnants of this unit and parts of Assault Batallion
No. 5 were built up into two infantry companies that were given the task of guard detachment of the German High Command (Wachkommando
The two regiments saw
little action in the Polish Campaign; Hitler preferred to save his new regiments for operations that were more suited to their
special skills. At the start of the Campaign in the West the both were kept very busy, with operations in Norway, Belgium,
and the Netherlands.
Fallschirmjäger Regiment 3 was formed in August 1940
around a nucleus of veterans from FJR1. After eight months of intensive training, the unit was considered combat-ready. Crete
(Kreta) was to be the first test of the new Regiment, and they formed up as part of the largest German Airborne operation
of the war.
.....May 19, 1941 I./FJR3 was finally informed of
the attack plans... readied and moved into dispositional locations assigned for the operation from Topolia, Greece the attack
was 'on'... thier mission Chania, the capital of Crete. Certain elements of the division were air dropped and others were
to attempt delivery by small ships (troops with small arms) and equipment (vehicles & heavy equipment via freighter).
A major portion of the I./FJR 3 vehicular transport, medium support with flak weapons and support equipment did not arrive
in time for operations in late May, 1941, (that were being shipped to Crete from the Port of Athens, Greece) part were diverted
to Tripoli and others (some companies of troops in the regiment were being sent on small ships from Piraeus, Greece) were
forced to flee to Milos. Some small ship troop elements of I./FJR and freighters had been attacked on the night of May 19/20
by the British Med. Fleet with the survivors of this attack to thier small ships forced to watch the Ju-52's carrying their
'brother' fallschirmjagers fly overhead to the Airborne attack on Crete.
Note: This gives us additional vehicles from
the FJR3 Regiment thus appearing new and also with "Kleeblatt's" being diverted to North Africa and other areas around the
The FJR3's was recalled to Germany in July 1941 and
part were airlifted home (as Meleme airfield was still littered with destroyed aircraft) but others boarded ships for Greece
and much of there remaining servicable equipment was left on Crete for continued defense of the island after the battle. Roll
call: on 24th of July, 1941 they had successfully returned by train to Woffenbuttel from Greece and were greeted by joyous
citizenry even late into the night
I./FJR unit was refit, re-equiped and did training
manouvers during the balance of the summer up to the late September OKH order for the 7th Flying Division to depart for their
first trip to Russia. I./FJR 3 was thereby then put on alert stationed currently at the Wehrmacht Training Ground at Wildflecken.
The Regiment was airlifted to the aerodrome near Ljuban via Konigsburg (29/9/41) and Pleskau, then transported by rail to
Mga and from there by trucks to the combat zone.
The I./FJR3 took battle positions along the Neva River near Kelkovo
and Wyborgskaja with additional airborne engineer companies to reinforce. Some were still attired in their summer jumpsuits
and totally unsuited for the brutal weather conditions of this winter campaign. By November 15, 1941 only 120 paratroopers
of FJR3 were available for inspection by Oberst Heidrich. (in one single company more than 130 men had been lost to frostbite
and the weather!)
The few survivors were recalled with only their
personal weapons with their remaining "Kleeblatt" logo troop transport and service equipment back to Germany (Those that had
survived the 'wasp nests' of the Russian/ Leningrad Front luckily withdrawn spent Christmas with their families). In early
January 1942, the FJR 3 was dispatched to the training ground at Gros Born and spending nearly the next three months to rebuild,
re-equip, & train. The Regiment also received the order in January to dispatch the I Batallion to the XIth Fying Corps.
This unit which was still commanded by v.d. Heydte having the function of training batallion ("Lehrbataillon") and was under
the control of the XIth Flying Corps.
The I./RJR3's home base was now Doberitz-Elsgrund near Berlin. They spent the
period receiving intensive training even in heavy gliders (DFS-230) from January to early June 1942 (when moved from Hildesheim
by rail to Paraeus, Greece).Many of I./FJR3 felt the next operation as rumored and discussed to be the invasion of Malta after
being issued Tropical kit on 23/6/42..
Instead the Ist battalion
of I./FJR3 or "Lehrbataillon" called "Task Force v.d.Heydte" was assigned to the Airborne Brigade Ramcke which was composed
of four parachute batallions. Burckhardt, Kroh, v.d. Heydte, and Hubner commanding these batallions with additional artillery,
engineers, anti-tank, signals, and medical units support. Their objective was Tobruk, with the Brigade's troops being airlifted
via Crete and their trucks were transported by ship.
The "Kampfgruppe v.d. Heydte" and brigade's assigned assembly
point was El Dab'a, 40 km west of El Alamein. The critical need for these troops meant their shipment to the assembly point
for the majority without their 'own transport... 'hitching' a ride on any available transport (mostly Italian trucks) with
little of their own transport on hand.
By August 12, the brigade were ready to support the Italian "Bologna" Division
to their right and these forces successfully held their positions until told to evacuate their positions with the fear of
being encircled on November 2, 1942. Some of their equipment (a few Kubelwagens, Kettenfraftrad and trucks arrived or were
"appropriated") finally trickled through to them. During the course of the next few months with delaying actions and the initial
capture of several British trucks and vehicles to supplement their limited delivered equipment they had additional successes
on the field.
More and more of this Brigade's valuable elite airborne troops/airborne specialists were retrieved from
the battlefield back to Italy. On November 7, 1942 the original Ramcke Brigade's forces had dwindled from nearly 4,000 to
a count of some 600. These few were forced to remain and with dogged determination fought in small task forces all the way
back to Tunisia.
After landing in Tobruk, they moved to the front and were soon engaged the Battle of El Alamein. Cut
off from the rest of the retreating Afrika Korps, they endured a 200 mile journey back to German lines, capturing a few British
vehicles on the way. As the tide turned for the Germans in Africa, elements of the decimated Battalion were flown back to
Germany and others escaped to Italy as the Afrika Korps capitulated in Tunis.
Only a handful of the survivors from the Ramcke Brigade, not captured, found their escape back to Sicily
and Italy on small craft and vessels.
Survivors back with their comrades in Sicily!
The Regiment returned to Russia in October 1942 and stoutly defended
the Ribschewo sector until March 1943. After some rest in Germany it was moved to France, then to Sicily in July to meet the
Allied invasion. FJR3 was to remain in Italy until the end of the war. The IV Battalion was renamed I Battalion and veterans
from Africa reinforced the newly renamed unit. After determined resistance against the Allies in Sicily the Regiment returned
to the Italian mainland. I Battalion was taken to reinforce 16 Panzer Division at Salerno, later rejoining the rest of the
Regiment at Ortona.
FJR3 then played a pivotal role in the series of engagements that was
the Battle of Cassino. From February to May the Fallschirmjäger defied all attempts by the Allies to take the town and Monastery
Hill, despite the overwhelming numbers of men, and concentrated air and artillery bombardment that was reigned against them,
and the high number of casualties they suffered.
Bloodied but undefeated, the Fallschirmjäger withdrew as ordered
only when the Allies breach of the Gustav Line threatened to encircle the Cassino position.
From May 1944 to May 1945, FJR3 and the rest of 1st Parachute
Division fought delaying battles as the Allies pushed onwards up the country, establishing and holding one defensive line
after another. When the war ended, FJR3 was situated south-east of Bologna, and they finally surrendered to the US 88th Infantry
Division on 2 May 1945
Oberst Richard Heidrich, 31.5.40 - 31.7.42
Oberst Ludwig Heilmann, 1.8.42 - 16.11.44
ObLt Eberhard Schneider, 16.11.44 - 4.45
Formed 1.6.40 with 3 battalions (III. formed 1.8.40,
II. and III. at Braunschweig-Rautheim), from cadres of Fallschirm-Jäger-Regiment 1. IV./FJR.3 was formed in the summer 1943. I./FJR.3 was transferred
to Africa 7.42, joining Brigade Ramcke, and was destroyed in Tunisia May 1943. The new IV./FJR.3 was soon redesignated I./FJR.3.
In 3.44 III./FJR.3 was used to create the 5. Fallschirm-Jäger-Division, by becoming the I./Fallschirm-Jäger-Regiment 13. A new III./FJR.3 was formed in May 1944.
1940: I. 1-4, II. 5-8, III. 9-12, 13, 14
1942: I. 1-4, II. 5-8, III. 9-12, IV. 15-18, 13, 14
1944: I. 1-4, II. 5-8, III. 9-12, 13, 14, 15 (Pi.)
Saw action independently under 7. Flieger-Division,
but from May 43 served with the 1. Fallschirm-Jäger-Division:
Crete (Chania), 20.5 to 2.6.41
Russia (Leningrad, Rzhev, Orel), 1.10.41 to early
Africa (Libya, Tunesia), August 1942 to May 1943 (only
the I. Batallion, as part of Brigade Ramcke).