The Heeres-Gebirgsjäger-Bataillon 202 was formed on 9 October 1944 in the Austrian WK XVIII. It was made up of convalescent veterans of the Russian front and young recruits from WK XVIII. The formation of a battalion only instead of a regiment was primarily done to have quickly available a mountain troops component for the reinforcement of 19. Armee, which was retreating from Southern France and reached the terrain of the High Vosges mountains in Eastern France this autumn 1944. After having been hastily trained and equipped in Austria, the Heerestruppe battalion was transferred to the West and was put under direct command of AOK 19.

Soon after arriving on the spot the unit had its fighting premiere which at the same time was almost its destruction. During the days of 24 – 30 October 1944 a most amazing incident in military history occurred, one of the most remarkable at the Vosges theatre at least. In the vicinity of Bruyères, in and around the Foret Domaniale de Champ, the rescue of two infantry battalions had to be undertaken, one American, one German, cut off, far behind the enemy lines of each. The 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry ("Alamo Regiment") of the US 36th Infantry Division, had been cut off for six days with food, water, and ammunition running out, when the Japanese-American Nisei of the famed "Go For Broke" 442d Regimental Combat Team were called upon to give their all to break through and save the Texans. At virtually the same time and place, the Geb.Jg.Btl. 202, thrown into combat without adequate preparation, had also been cut off, and its sister unit – Heeres-Gebirgsjäger-Bataillon 201 - had to perform an equally desperate rescue. With communications to Geb.Jg.Btl. 202 completely broken off, it appeared as though the thousand-men unit had been swallowed by the forrest. The weather was abysmal, the terrain almost impassable. For the Germans, it was a last stand, and they would fight to the death. The general order was to stop the Americans in front of the Rhine by all means. The Americans, caught in their bloodiest fight since Anzio, came to call the battlefield "the crossroads of hell". Nisei casualties were devastating (suffering over 400 casualties for the relieve of about 230 men of the Texans). Some generals lost their sons there.
As well as a small number of encircled men only of the US 1st/141st could be relieved, similar losses stood at the end of the Geb.Jg.Btl. 202 relieve. The original strength of appr. 1000 men was cut down to remnants only. Those remnants took part in the further retreat through the Vosges and the Alsace. In January 1945 the battalion was disbanded and the remnants were absorbed by 338. Infanterie-Division.

Commanders

Hauptmann Erich Maunz (9 Oct 1944 - 23 Oct 1944) (KIA)
?? (23 Oct 1944 - Jan 1945)

Area of operations

Western Front (High Vosges, Alsace / France) (Oct 1944 – Dec 1944)
Western Front (Oberrhein) (Jan 1945)

Order of battle

Stab
Stabskompanie
1. Kompanie
2. Kompanie
3. Kompanie
4. Kompanie

Ersatz / Replacement
Geb.Jg.Ers.- und Ausb.Btl. 138, Admont, WK XVIII

Sources used

Kriegsgliederung 19. Armee (Oct 1944 – Feb 1945)
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945
Franz Steidl - Lost Battalions: Going for Broke in the Vosges, Autumn 1944 (Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1997)

Reference material on this unit

Franz Steidl - Lost Battalions: Going for Broke in the Vosges, Autumn 1944 (Presidio Press, Novato, CA, 1997)

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