The Sturm-Division Rhodos was to be formed by order of OKH on 19 May 1943 and the formation process was started during the last days of May 1943. Basically upgrading Sturmbrigade Rhodos (staff), the division received elements of 22. Infanterie-Division (troops garrisoned on the Island already : Stab I./GR 16, 2./ and 3./GR 16, 8./ and 11./GR 65, Pz.Jg.Kp) and various smaller units stationed on the Aegean Islands of Festungs-Division Kreta and 999. Leichte Afrika-Division, which weren't transferred to North Africa in spring 1943.
On 8 September 1943, the Italian garrison on the island of Kastelorizo surrendered to a British detachment, which was reinforced during the following days by ships of the Allied navies. The next day a British delegation, headed by Lord Jellicoe, was dropped by parachute on Rhodes, in order to persuade the Italian commander, Admiral Inigo Campioni, to join the Allies. This was followed by the immediate reaction of the most important German force in the Dodecanese, the 7,500-strong Assault Division "Rhodes" (Sturm-Division Rhodos) commanded by Generalleutnant Ulrich Kleemann, and stationed on the administrative center of the Dodecanese Islands, the Island of Rhodes. Without waiting for the Italians to decide, Kleemann attacked the 40,000-strong Italian garrison on 9 September, and forced it to surrender by 11 September. This successful operation earned him the Oakleaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
On 17 October 1944 the division was formally dissolved. A smaller number of divisional units remained on the Island, Pz.Abt. Rhodos was amongst them. Larger parts of the division were incorporated to Panzergrenadier-Division Brandenburg, when the former Division Brandenburg (commando operations) was restructured to an ordinary combat formation near Belgrad in October 1944. The divisional staff was used to reform the staff of IV. Pz.Korps. The duty on the Island of Rhodos was overtaken by Kommandant Ost-Ägäis. With this command the remaining former Sturm-Division elements, together with all army units on the island under command of Panzergrenadier-Brigade Rhodos until December 1944, surrendered to British Forces on 8 May 1945.
CommandersGeneralleutnant Ulrich Kleemann (25 May 1943 - Aug / Sep 1944)
Generalmajor Ludwig Fricke (1 Sep 1944 - ? Dec 1944)
Area of operationsRhodes (May 1943 - Oct 1944)
Holders of high awardsHolders of the Knight's Cross (1) (EL)
- Oakleaves (1)
-- Kleemann, Ulrich 16.09.1943 [304. EL] Generalleutnant Kdr Sturm-Div. "Rhodos"
Order of battle (1944)Stab
I. Bataillon, 1. - 4. Kp [from I./GR 440]
II. Bataillon, 5. - 8. Kp [from II./GR 440]
III. Bataillon, 9. - 12. Kp [from Gren.Btl. Rhodos (Einheit Schlegel)]
13., 14. Kp
Füsilier-Bataillon Rhodos (Kp. later) [redesignated Füs.Btl. / 41. Inf.Div. in 1944]
1. - 4. Kp [from personnel on leave of the btls. II./GR 16 and II./GR 65]
1. - 4. Kp
Pionier-Kompanie Rhodos (999)
Sources usedMonthly status reports of Sturm-Div. Rhodos and Pz.Gren.Brig. Rhodos and various other German war time documents obtained from the BA-MA Freiburg and NARA Washington.
Thomas L. Jentz - Panzertruppen, vol 2
Andris J. Kursietis - The Wehrmacht at War 1939-1945
George F. Nafziger - The German Order of Battle: Infantry in World War II
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945