wss-29

The 29. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (italienische Nr. 1) was formed in Sep 1944 when Waffen-Grenadier-Brigade der SS (italienische Nr. 1) was upgraded to a division with the addition of among others 2.950 militia men from Miliz-Regiment De Maria (Pol.) commanded by Paolo De Maria. It was given the number 29 when Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS (Russische Nr 1) was disbanded but it never came close to divisional size.

The division mainly fought the Italian partisans but the Vendetta and Debica battalions saw some action against the Allies as part of the SS-Kampfgruppe Binz. The parts of the division that surrendered to the partisans at the end of the war were all executed.

Lineage

Italienische-Freiwilligen-Legion (Nov 1943 - ? 1943)
1. Sturmbrigade Italienische Freiwilligen Legion (? 1943 - Sep 1944)
Waffen-Grenadier-Brigade der SS (italienische Nr. 1) (Sep 1944 - Mar 1945)
29. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS (italienische Nr. 1) (Mar 1945 - May 1945)

Commanders

SS-Oberführer Constantin Heldmann (10 Feb 1945 - ? 1945)
SS-Oberführer Erwin Tzschoppe (? 1945 - ? Apr 1945)

Chief of Staff

SS-Sturmbannführer Georg Buchholz (? - ? Mar 1945)
SS-Hauptsturmführer Schneider (? - ? Apr 1945)

Area of operations

Italy (Sep 1944 - Apr 1945)

Manpower strength

Dec 1944 15.000

Honor titles

The division was not named, but two of its units were:
29. SS- Füsilier-Bataillon „Debica“
Named after the SS’ Heidelager training grounds in Debica, Poland, where the unit was formed.
„Vendetta“ (= II. Bataillon, 81. Waffen-Grenadier-Regiment der SS)
Vendetta is an Italian term originating from the Latin “vindicta”, which literally translates as “revenge” and describes a feud that is motivated by a desire for revenge.

Order of battle

Waffen-Grenadier Regiment der SS 81 (81 Reggimento Fanteria delle SS)
- I. Bataillon
- II. Bataillon
Waffen-Grenadier Regiment der SS 82 (82 Reggimento Fanteria delle SS)
- I. Bataillon
- II. Bataillon
- III. Bataillon
Waffen-Artillerie Regiment der SS 29 (29 Reggimento Artiglieria SS)
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
Füsilier-Battailon 29
Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 29
SS-Pionier-Kompanie 29
SS-Nachrichten-Kompanie 29

Officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen and Concentration Camps

Concentration Camps 3
Einsatzgruppen 1
(includes officers serving in the Einsatzgruppen och Concentration Camps either prior to or after service in this unit)

Insignia

Initially collar insignia with a red background was used by the Italians, either with the fasces or the SS runes.
collar-wss-29div
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

Members of the 1st battalion of the 81 Regiment wore a special collar tab with three arrows, a circle and a scroll with the text "Italia".

Pio Filippani Ronconi wearing the collar tabs of the 1st battalion of the 81 Regiment
filippani-ronconi-pio
(Courtesy of Col CM Dodkins Collection)

Some officers used an Italian eagle with fasces symbol instead of the normal German eagle on their visor caps.

Italian national sleeve shield
sleeve-foreign-it
(Courtesy of The Ruptured Duck)

Italian sleeve eagle
sleeve-foreign-it-eagle
(Courtesy of N & T Global Trading)

Propaganda & Culture

An Italian language newspaper called Avenguardia was published.

Sources used

John R. Angolia - Cloth insignia of the SS
Georges M. Croisier - Waffen-SS (PDF)
Terry Goldsworthy - Valhalla's Warriors: A history of the Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front 1941-1945
Jill Halcomb & Wilhelm P. B. R. Saris - Headgear of Hitler's Germany, Vol 2
Dr. K-G Klietmann - Die Waffen-SS: eine Dokumentation
Richard Landwehr - Italian Volunteers of the Waffen-SS
Kurt Mehner - Die Waffen-SS und Polizei 1939-1945
Andrew Mollo - The insignia & organization of the Italian volunteers to the Waffen-SS (in The Military Advisor, Vol 15 No 3)
Marc J. Rikmenspoel - Waffen-SS Encyclopedia
Frank Thayer & Marco Pennisi - The insignia & organization of the Italian volunteers to the Waffen-SS (in The Military Advisor, Vol 7 No 4)
Frank Thayer - SS Foreign volunteer collar insignia and their reproductions (in The Military Advisor, Vol 4 No 2)
Gordon Williamson - The Waffen-SS: 24. to 38. Divisions and Volunteer Legions
Mark C. Yerger - Waffen-SS Commanders: The Army, corps and divisional leaders of a legend (2 vol)

Reference material on this unit

Sergio Corbatti & Marco Nava - Sentire - Pensare - Volere: Storia della Legione SS italiana
Richard Landwehr - Italian Volunteers of the Waffen-SS

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