Site hosted by Build your free website today!

History & Mission

The history of Luftwaffe field divisions is not well documented. Their role in the German Order of Battle was fairly limited. The first Luftwaffe field divisions were organized in the autumn of 1942 as a result of the depletion of German ground forces on the Eastern Front. Because of these shortages in the East, Reichsmarshall Herman Göring was faced with the dilemma of transferring Luftwaffe flight personnel to the Army (Heer). Instead he chose to establish his own army under air force commanders.

Twenty two divisions were planned ultimately by the OKW and the Luftwaffe Air Ministry. The first ten of these divisions were organized in September of 1942 and completed training by the end of that year. Having received only minimal training in combat, these divisions were dispatched to the Eastern Front. By order of Reichsmarshall Göring, these divisions were only to be involved in defensive actions along quiet sectors of the Front. There were not to be split up and were to be committed to combat only as a single fighting force. This was never implemented. Further, although, they were to be under the tactical command of the Heer, the divisions were to remain under Luftwaffe control for all other purposes.

The remaining twelve Luftwaffe field divisions were formed in 1943 and later. They were dispatched to the various theatres of operation as replacement troops and to fill gaps in the defensive lines. These divisions suffered from the same lack of proper training and leadership as their predecessors.

Luftwaffe field divisions were approximately half the size of their Heer infantry counterparts. Even these numbers were never reached in most instances as the Luftwaffe field divisions suffered chronic shortages of men, competent field commanders, fighting equipment and supplies.

For all of these reasons, the Luftwaffe field divisions proved to be ineffective fighting forces and were labeled as "Luftwaffen-Fehlkonstruktions-Divisionen" or "mistakenly constructed air force divisions" by members of the Heer. After much debate regarding the future of these divisions, beginning in the Fall of 1943, the complete command of the Luftwaffe field divisions was assumed by the Heer.

Only 14.Feld Division (Lw) survived the war. Remnants of three other divisions (11., 12. and 21.) filled the ranks of the remaining Wehrmacht divisions in the East. Despite their poor performance, no less than 18 among their ranks were awarded the Knight's Cross.

18.Feld Division (Lw)

The 18.Feld Division (Lw) was one of five Luftwaffe field divisions positioned along the Atlantic Wall in June of 1944 as part of the 15.Armee. Its zone stretched from the beaches of Dunkirk to Calais. Besides the units anti-tank battalion, all other means of mobility were provided by horses. The division was ordered into combat on 14 August 1944. It departed from Dunkirk with orders to engage the allies and drive them back across the Seine River. Despite initial success and much needed support from the 17.Feld Divison (Lw), relentless allied attacks and brutal air raids split the division and forced it to conduct a orderly, fighting retreat. Nearly encircled near Mons, the division launched a breakout movement in early September. Divided into groups of forty or less, the remnants of the division succeeded in crossing Belgium and reaching the Fatherland. Despite having no vehicles to use and being pursued by allied troops and partisans, its members moved over 230 miles in 17 days to reach their homeland. Upon entry into Germany, the remnants of the division were consolidated with other units to form the 18.Volksgrenadier Division. As part of the 18.Volksgrenadier Division, the survivors of 18.Feld Division (Lw) took part in the assault and capture of St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge.

Follow this link to the Order of Battle for 18.Feld Division (Lw).

Our Impression

It is our intention to portray one of the fragments of the destroyed 18.Feld Division (Lw) after its brief, but brutal, encounter with the overwhelming allied forces deployed in France in 1944. We do not represent a division, battalion, regiment or company. We represent a few German soldiers trying to escape capture or death and return to their homeland to fight another day. We continue the brave fight. We lose some along the way to the continued pressure of the ever-advancing allies and their partisan compatriots. We portray the tired, battle-worn soldier thrown back into the conflict in a last gasp hope of delaying the inevitable. Finally, we represent the desperation of what was the once mighty Wehrmacht after having fought the good fight.

Sources and Credits

Information is at best sketchy directly relating to Luftwaffe field divisions. The above information was compiled from the following sources:

Uniforms & Traditions of the Luftwaffe, Volume 3, by John R. Angolia and Adolf Schlicht, copyright 1998, R. James Bender Publishing, ISBN 0-912138-75-0

Luftwaffe Field Divisions, 1941-45, by Kevin Conley Ruffner and Ron Volstad, copyright 1997, Osprey Publications, ISBN 1-85532-100-9

Luftwaffe Airborne and Field Units, by Martin Windrow, copyright 1972, Osprey Publications, ISBN 1-58097-022-2

Hitler's Army: The Evolution and Structure of German Forces, 1933-1945, by the editors of Command Magazine, copyright 2000, Combined Publishing, ISBN 1-58097-022-2

The Armies of Rommel, by George Forty, copyright 1997, Arms and Armour Publishing, ISBN 1-85409-503-X

Göring’s Grenadiers, The Luftwaffe Field Divisions, 1942 - 1945, by Antonio J. Munoz, copyright 2002, Axis Europa Publications, ISBN 1891227408