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Bundesarchiv Bild 141-0864, Kreta, Landung von Fallschirmjägern

Bundesarchiv Bild 141-0864, Kreta, Landung von Fallschirmjägern

German Fallschirmjägers gained an almost mythical standing in the first couple years of WWII.

Sky soldiers of the 7th Flieger-Division cut off the evacuation of Polish officers in the invasion of that country in September 1939.

They made the the first airborne invasion when invading Denmark on the 9 April 1940, taking control of Aalborg Airport and other key strategic locations well behind the front lines by complete surprise. A sequel to this came the near simultaneous Norwegian campaign where German paratroopers captured the defended air base of Sola and leapfrogged around tough defensive obstacles to capture the rail junction at Dombas five days later (but was later taken prisoner by the Norwegians when they ran out of ammo– an important lesson that few airborne pundits kept in mind).

Then came Operation Fall Gelb during which Kurt Student’s Fallschirmjägers fell in little groups all over Belgium and the Netherlands capturing the bridges at Veldwezelt and Vroenhoeven along with the huge fort at Eben Emael. While most of these came out OK, (although Student caught a round from a Dutch infantryman’s Hemburg rifle), a larger effort to capture The Hague and the bridges around Rotterdam failed miserably as the paras went “a bridge to far” so to speak.

Nevertheless, Student’s paratroops were expanded into the 14,000-strong XI. Fliegerkorps, and, used in conjunction with follow-on airlifted troops, conducted the first mainly airborne invasion in military history in Operation Mercury when they dropped into Crete on May 20. While they won the 13-day battle, they faced a some 40,000~ Greek and Commonwealth troops who were ready for them– definitely not the ideal for a mass airborne jump.

Click to big up

Click to big up

On the first day, Student landed 750 glider troops and 7,200 paratroops– of which 80 percent wound up as casualties.

Here is a great older documentary about the battle that proved the end of large-scale German parachute operations just months after they were heralded as a strategic wonder weapon.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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