- Published: 04 August 2011 04 August 2011
- Last Updated: 07 April 2012 07 April 2012
The 756 Gebirgsjager Regiment was raised November 9, 1942 in Wehrkreis XVIII and assigned to the 334th Infantry Division. The regiment consisted of three battalions, including antitank and heavy machinegun companies.
The 334th, commanded by Oberst Friedrich Weber, was an emergency reinforcement for the 5th Panzer Army (General Oberst Jurgen von Arnim) and this may explain its mixed structure. The division began to arrive in December 1942, with the 756th arriving in its entirety January 1943.
The 756th had barely had enough time to acclimate itself to its new surroundings when it was ordered into action. As a part of Kampfgruppe Weber, the 756th fought its first major engagement during Unternehmung Eilbote 1 (Operation Special Delivery). This attack, beginning on January 18, 1943, was intended to clear the Free French Moroccan Infantry Division off the Eastern Dorsal, a mountainous area which dominates the Tunisian Coastal Plain. Supporting the 756th was the 1st Company of the 501st schwere Panzer Abteilung (heavy Tank Battalion) equipped with Tiger 1 tanks. Their orders were to break through at Djebel Solbia. The terrain was very rough, and the 56 ton Tigers had difficulty in maneuvering. The rough terrain, however was no obstacle to the mountain trained 756th. The regiment's performance was considered good for its first time in combat. When the operation was ended January 28, it was considered a success. The German line now ran west of the northern Tunisian passes, and Allied losses were reported to be 4,000 prisoners and over 200 vehicles, including 24 tanks and 79 guns.
On February 26, 1943 von Arnim launched Unternehmung Ochsenkopf (Operation Oxhead). The general objective was to push the 5th Panzer Army's front line beyond the road running between Djebel Abiod and Menjez. Allied lines, however, solidified since Operation Special Delivery, and the offensive was not successful. By March 19, all future attacks linked to Ochsenkopf had been cancelled.
The 756th then took up defensive positions on Hill 256. This hill had been the scene of heavy fighting the previous December, and was dubbed Christmas Hill by the Germans. To the Anglo-Americans, the hill was known as Longstop. Hill 256 consisted of two peaks, Djebel El Ahmera and Djebel El Rhaa. The strategic importance of Hill 256 was that whoever controlled the summit also controlled two major roads leading to Tunis.
On April 22, 1943 the 756th was attacked by the British 78th Infantry Division, as a part of 1st Army's offensive called Operation Vulcan. The British hit the German position with a blistering artillery barrage, and then immediately followed up with an infantry assault. It took four days of what has been described as the fiercest fighting in the Tunisian campaign to clear the 756th off both peaks.
By the end of the fourth day, the 756th had suffered such heavy casualties that it had to be written off as destroyed. Those troopers that survived Longstop were captured by the Allies in May 1943, which saw the end of the campaign in Africa.
When the 334th Division was reformed, the 756th was part of the table of organization. However, it was not reconstituted as a Gebirgsjager regiment, but rather as a two-battalion grenadier regiment.
Sources usedUniforms, Organization and History of the Afrika Korps, Roger James Bender and Richard D Law, San Jose:R Bender Pub. 1973
Tiger:Die Geschichte einer Legendaren Waffe 1942-45, Egon Klein and Volkmar Kuhn, Stuttgart:Motor Buch Verlag
Rommel's Army in Africa, Dale McGuirk, London:S.Paul 1987
Hitler's Legions: The German Order of Battle World War II, Samuel W Mitcham, New York: Dorset Press 1987
Verbande und Truppen der Deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945, Die Landstreitkrafte 281-370, Die Landstreitkrafte 631-800, George Tessin, Osnabruck: Biblio verlag 1975
Afrika Korps 1941-1943, Gordon Williamson, London:Osprey Publishing 1991
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