Monday, June 8, 2015

The only "real" German marine infantry unit

The only "real" German marine infantry unit was the MARINE-STOSSTRUPP-KOMPANIE, formed in 1938, enlarged to the MARINE-STOSSTRUPP-ABTEILUNG in spring 1940, and renamed into MAA 531 (von Diest) in winter 1942.

Jörg Benz, Deutsche Marineinfanterie 1938-1945 ISBN 3-88042-799-2

A Navy Assault Team of the Kriegsmarine (Marinestosstrupp Haenigsen) parti- cipated in the attack on Danzig's Westerplatte which was held by polish forces in the first days of WWII. But I suppose the disembarkment was carried out in a conventional style with ensueing attack from the landside. So it would not qualify as an 'on the beach' landing in the strict sense of the word.    When Memel was returned to Germany in March 1939

Title: Deutsche Marineinfanterie 1938-1945
Author: Jörg BENZ
Publisher: Husum Druck- & Verlagsgesellschaft
Year: 1996 (1st ed.)
ISBN: 3-88042-799-2

Although the the title means German naval-infantry, this book IS ONLY the written history of the Marine-Stoßtrupp-Kompanie and its successor units (Marine-Stoß-Abteilung and later the Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 531)

This unit, more an assault-pioneer unit than an infantry, fought 1939 at the Westerplatte, Norway & France 1940, near of St. Petersburg at the Oranienbaum pocket 1941-1944, Battle at the NARVA 1944, participation at the Operation "Tanne Ost" 1944, Defending the Island of Oesel 1944,
1945 in Gotenhafen and the peninsula of Hela.

Klaipeda was captured by the 3. Marine-Stoßtrupp-Kompanie (part of which previously participated in combats in Spain against Republican forces - they captured the island of Ibiza occupied by Republican garrison). In Swinemünde they were embarked on decks of torpedo-boats and they landed in Klaipeda on 23rd of March 1939. Combats didn't take place because the Lithuanian garrison put out white flags and surrendered without resistance.

Dirk Rottgardt's book "German Naval Infantry in World War 1" on pages 67-70 he covers the Marines in WW2.
   A Marine-Stosstrupp-Kompanie occuppied Memel in March '39.  Two infantry platoons, one engineer platoon and one weapons platoon.  Total strength about 250 men.
   The M.S.K. attacked the Westerplatte on 1.9.39. (with heavy casualties).
   In 1940 the unit was expanded into a Marine-Stosstrupp-Abteilung (MSA), the goal was six companies.  Took part in in the occupation of Normandy and the Channel Islands (1.7.40 thru 3.41).
   23.6.41 the unit was in Russia, again with heavy losses.
   1.1942 renamed Marine-Artillery-Abteilung 531 fought on the Leningrad front, Remnants fought in 1945 in East Prussia (up to six companies).
Dumb luck had them evacked to Schleswig-Holstein in 8.1945.

Also, there is a book:  Benz, J "Deutsche Marineinfanterie 1938-1945 - Das Schicksal der Marinestosstrupps, der MAA 531 und anderer infanteristisch eingestzter Einheiten der Kriegsmarine"  Husum 1996

On 23 March 1939 Marineartillerieabteilung III from Swinemunde provided a landing force to occupy the port area of Memel when it was regained off Lithuania. I believe this was the origin of the Marinestosskompanie used at Westerplatte. It was transported from Memel to Danzig on about 25 August 1939 and attacked the Westerplatte on 1 September.

Further to what Sid mentioned, the 1st Minesweeper Flottila transported the unit (consisting of 225 men) from Memel out to the waiting German WWI era Battleship Schleswig-Holstein where they took up roost below deck to await the assault on the Westerplatte.

The Marine-Stoßtrupp-Kompanie later became the Marine-Stoß-Abteilung, and later Marine-Artillerie-Abteilung 531. This unit fought 1939 at the Westerplatte, in Norway & France 1940 where it was readied for the assault on the channel islands but since they were taken without fighting were stood down. I believe a section was airlanded on one of the islands though. The unit later fought near St. Petersburg at the Oranienbaum pocket 1941-1944, at NARVA in 1944, in Operation "Tanne Ost" in 1944, the defence of the Island of Oesel 1944, and finally in 1945 in Gotenhafen and the peninsula of Hela.

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