3. Kompanie Reichsgrenadier Regiment "Hoch- und Deutschmeister"
Reichsgrenadier Division "Hoch- und Deutschmeister"
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Early History
The Great War & the Inter-war years
The Polish Campaign 1939
The French Campaign 1940
The 1st Russian Campaign 1941/42
The 2nd Russian Campaign & the Division's destruction at Stalingrad 1942/43
Formation of the Reichsgrenadier Division
South Tyrol & Istria 1943
The Italian Campaign 1943/44
Hungarian Campaign late 1944 to the end in Austria 1945
Post War History
The Italian Campaign 1943/44

 

The Division arrived in the Cassino area via rail transport and its battalions were immediately deployed to the “Reinhardt Line” positioned forward of Cassino itself. The “Reinhardt Line” itself was a temporary defensive line and was named after the Chief of Staff of the RGD HuD, Oberstleutnant i. G. Fritz Reinhardt. This line was used to buy time for the more complex set of defences in the “Gustav Line” to be constructed and completed. The Division set about its new task with troops inexperienced and underequipped in mountain warfare facing an experienced opponent whose superiority in men and equipment the German Army as a whole could not surpass.
It was clear from the outset that the Division would face a difficult time nevertheless it managed to slow down the momentum of the Allied Forces restricting them to an overall territorial gain of 20Km, although in doing so it incurred heavy losses. The exhausted and battered Division was eventually to fall back and become a cornerstone of the “Gustav Line” to assist in the defence of Cassino. 


The first major Allied attack on the “Gustav Line” hit amongst others the Reichsgrenadier Division with full force, and again it suffered significant losses with some battalions being reduced to platoon strength subsequently losing some dominant terrain features as a result of these severe losses. Into this critical situation the Germans introduced the 1st Parachute Division whose name would become forever linked with the battle for Monte Cassino. Whilst the Parachute Division received the accolades for stabilising and blunting the Allied assault it could only fully be achieved by the hard fighting conducted by other German divisions including the Reichsgrenadier Division too, a fact that has often left veterans of these formations frustrated by the lack of recognition attributed by their own side at the time and general historians since.


The second battle for Monte Cassino began with the bombing of the Monastery but again no significant gains were made by the Allies as the Germans managed to hold the “Gustav Line” and prevent any breakthrough towards Rome. The sector defended by the Reichsgrenadier Division was relatively quiet apart from regular patrolling and small skirmishes with the troops facing them.
The third and final battle of Cassino was commenced in May 1944 and a breakthrough led by General Juin in command of the French Expeditionary Corps following an artillery barrage of unprecedented force was finally achieved over the Garagliano bridgehead on 11 May 1944. The French Forces were met by “Kampfgruppe Nagel” (made up of Grenadier Regiment 131, Aufklärungs Abteilung 44 and elements from both 15th Panzergrenadier Division and 71st Infanterie Division) and despite brave resistance the battle group was unable to prevent an Allied link-up between the French forces and those forces which had been landed at Anzio/Nettuno as a part of Operation Shingle although they did prevent the juncture between the two German Army Corps from being severed, for this achievement its commander, Oberst Nagel (Kdr Grenadier Regiment 131) received a Knight’s Cross. However, because of the Allied linkup with the forces at Anzio the way to Rome lay open and indeed the city had been designated as an “Open City” to prevent any further unnecessary destruction of suffering. Such a situation now left the Germans on the “Gustav Line” in a tenuous position.

 
Under these circumstances a general retreat was begun by all German forces and the battles of the following weeks were characterised by the division (and others likewise) often turning to strike at the pursuing Allies to buy time and to enable the bulk of its forces to withdraw in an orderly manner. Indeed by striking out to claim Rome as a prize on the 5 June 1944, the Allies failed to turn the German retreat into a rout by allowing them to withdraw to new defensive lines further north. Throughout the summer months fighting continued on both sides of the Tiber in the northern Apennines. The Allies were once again held at a new defensive line near Florence designated the “Green Line” (often referred to as the “Gothic Line”).  The Division launched a counterattack at Monte Battaglia in September 1944, which was described as “ferocious” by the commander of the American troops who faced them.
However, having sustained significant losses at and since the battles at Cassino the Division was withdrawn from the line and sent to Udine in Northern Italy for a period of rest and refitting. However, this respite proved to be short-lived as the situation had worsened on the Eastern Front and the approach of the Red Army threatened to overwhelm Hungary.
 

Home & Disclaimer
Group Members
The Real Reichsgrenadier Division
Organisation & WW2 Service
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Permitted Kit List
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Sister Unit - Kampfgruppe Zoltay
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