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The 5. Gebirgs-Division was formed in October 1940 in the Tirol region of Austria from 100. Gebirgs-Regiment from 1. Gebirgs-Division, Infanterie-Regiment 85 from 10. Infanterie-Division and some smaller elements from both units.

It saw action during the invasion of Greece in April 1941 attacking and breaking through the Metaxas Line of defensive works (named after Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas) from their positions in Bulgaria. After the fall of Athens the division remained there as an occupying force until the invasion of Crete.

Two flotillas of small vessels were assigned to take men from this unit to Maleme on Crete, one with 2.331 men and one with 4.000. The first flotilla left for Crete 20 May and was attacked by the British naval task force A1 led by Rear Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings and 12 vessels were lost, the unit suffered 300 dead. The second one left two days later and was attacked by task force C led by Rear Admiral Edward Leigh Stuart King and while Luftwaffe aircraft forced the British to call of the attack, the flotilla returned to port. During the rest of the invasion all transport of Gebirgsjäger troops to Crete were made by aircraft only.
After men from Gebirgs-Pionier-Abteilung 95 were attacked by armed civilians during fighting on the western parts of Crete, an order was issued by the division saying that for every German soldier killed by civilians, 10 civilians would be shot. It is not know if any such retaliation were carried out.
The division lost a total of 20 officers and 305 other ranks killed and 18 officers and 488 other ranks missing (most downed) during the invasion.

The winter was spent in Germany training and in March it was sent to the Eastern front southwest of Leningrad where it fought the Red Army offensives until November 1943, taking part in among other things the destruction of the surrounded Volkhov Front and it suffered heavy losses during the constant “fire brigade” actions in defense against the Soviet onslaught.
It was sent to Italy and the Gustav Line in the fall of 1943 where it took part in the fighting near the famous Monte Cassino and Gustav Line. The division took part in the fighting retreat north through Italy fighting not only the Allied forces but also the partisans before surrendering to the US Fifth Army north of Turin at the end of the war.

See also the article The invasion of Crete.

Commanders

General der Gebirgstruppen Julius Ringel (1 Nov 1940 - 10 Feb 1944)
Generalleutnant Max Schrank (10 Feb 1944 - 18 Jan 1945)
Generalmajor Hans Steets (18 Jan 1945 - 8 May 1945)

Operations Officers (Ia)

Oberstleutnant Wilhelm Haidlen (25 Oct 1940 - 20 Aug 1943)
Oberstleutnant Walter Koenig (20 Aug 1943 - 25 Feb 1944)
Oberstleutnant Erhard Pröhl (25 Feb 1944 - 10 Jan 1945)
Major Franz Zintl (10 Jan 1945 - May 1945)

Nicknames

Gamsbock-Division (Chamois Division)
Sumpfjäger-Division

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (5)
- Feldhäuser, Robert, 27.11.1944 (4652), Leutnant, Kp.Fhr. 4./Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 100
- Langmaier, Matthias, 27.08.1943 (2010), Hauptmann, Btl.Fhr. III./Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 85
- Reinfrank, Wilhelm, 17.03.1943 (1629), Oberleutnant, Chef 13./Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 100
- Schuster, Heinrich, 25.08.1944 (3761), Feldwebel, Zugführer i. d. 9./Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 100
- Wind, Remigius, 27.07.1944 (3643), Wachtmeister, Nachrichtenstaffelführer 1./Geb.Art.Rgt. 95
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (3)
- Holzer, Johann, 16.08.1943 (340), Leutnant, 12./Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 85
- Holzer, Johann, 16.08.1943 (370), Leutnant, 12./Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 85
- Teppan, Ferdinand, 14.10.1943 (394), Jäger, 13./Geb.Jäg.Rgt. 100
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (70)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (21)
Holders of the Knight's Cross (31)

Holders of other notable badges & decorations

Holders of the Golden Party Badge (1)
- Generalleutnant Julius Ringel (30 Jan 1943)

Order of battle

85. Gebirgsjäger-Regiment
100. Gebirgsjäger-Regiment
95. Aufklärungs-Bataillon
95. Panzerjäger-Bataillon
73. leichte Flak Batterie (Luftwaffe)
95. Gebirgs-Artillerie-Regiment
I. - IV. Abteilung
95. Gebirgs-Pionier-Bataillon
95. Nachrichten-Bataillon
95. Nachschubtruppen

Notable members

Walter von Eccher (Holder of the German Cross in Gold, later commander of SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Regiment 86 Schill of 32. SS-Freiwilligen-Grenadier-Division 30 Januar)
Anton Wintersteiger (Deputy Gauleiter of Salzburg, Reichstag deputy, served in the division in 1945)

Insignia

In addition to the regulation Edelweiss cap and sleeve insignia, personnel of the 5. Gebirgs-Division wore a semi-official badge on the left side of the Bergmütze beside the Edelweiss: a stylized white metal chamois mountain antelope (Gamsbock) standing on a triple mountain peak.

Soldiers from 5. Gebirgs-Division on their way to Crete
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(Courtesy of Bundesarchiv/Wikimedia, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 Germany)

Sources used

Clyde R. Davis - The Wehrmacht and the Golden Party Badge (in Military Advisor, Vol 22, No 2)
Jill Halcomb & Wilhelm P. B. R. Saris - Headgear of Hitler's Germany, Vol 1
James Lucas - Hitler's Mountain Troops: Fighting at the extremes
Michael Sharpe - 5th Gebirgsjäger Division: Hitler's mountain warfare specialists
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945
Gordon Williamson - German Mountain & Ski Troops 1939-45
Gordon Williamson - World War II German Battle Insignia

Reference material on this unit

Julius Ringel - Hurra, die Gams! Die Geschichte der 5. Gebirgsjägerdivision
Michael Sharpe - 5th Gebirgsjäger Division: Hitler's mountain warfare specialists

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