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Few of the combatants of World War II have captured the imagination as compulsively as the Fallschirmjäger. Boldness and courage were vital characteristics in the rigorous selection process, and their training was highly demanding. Hitler's airborne troops were involved in some of the most daring actions of the whole war; from the 1940 assault on Eben Emael and the invasion of Crete in 1941, to the rescue of Mussolini and the attempt on Tito's life. In addition, they saw service as elite line infantry in the key theatres of North West Europe, North Africa and the Eastern Front. This title looks at the life and experiences of the average Fallschirmjäger, and includes first-hand accounts from different theatres and periods of the war.
The German Army of World War II was the first to fully realise the benefits of using airborne troops alongside armoured formations. German Airborne Divisions became an integral part of the blitzkrieg operations that overran much of Western Europe during 1940 and 1941, from the historic raid on the Belgian fortress of Eben-Emael to the pyrrhic victory over British and Commonwealth forces on the island of Crete. This title looks at the creation, evolution, and early operational deployment of the German airborne forces ('Fallschirmtruppe'), through highly detailed orders of battle, TOEs and examinations of crucial aspects such as doctrine, training, command and control, and the concept of vertical envelopment.
Following the battle for Crete in May 1941, Hitler refused to undertake any further large-scale airborne operations due to the high casualty rate. The Fallschirmjäger subsequently took up a new role as elite 'line' infantry, and they served in the Mediterranean from 1942 to 1945, taking part in the conflict in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Their performance in such hard-fought battles as El Alamein and Monte Cassino reinforced their reputation as some of the toughest troops of World War II. This book explores their changing role in organisation, training and doctrine as the paratroopers developed into Germany's finest frontline soldiers.
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