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The 22. Infanterie-Division was formed in Bremen on 15 October 1935. It was mobilized in August 1939 as part of the 1. Welle (wave). Trained as a Luftlande (air landing) unit in October 1939, the division, in conjunction with the Fallschirmjäger troops of the 7. Flieger-Division, now redesignated 22. Infanterie-Division (Luftlande), took part in the combined airborne/air landing attack on Rotterdam and Den Haag, Netherlands in May 1940. It took part in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, fighting on the southern sector under the 11. Armee. After taking part in Crimean campaign and the capture of Sevastopol, the division was restored to Luftlande status on 29 July 1942 with the additional designation of “mot.trop.” (motorized-tropical). Transferred to Greece in August 1942, it later moved to Crete where it served on occupation, security and coastal defense duties. Its restoration to Luftlande status was cancelled on 1 October 1942. The division participated in the recapture of the Aegean islands of Kos, Kalymnos, Leros and Samos from British and Italian forces in 1943. Generalleutnant Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller, the division commander, directed the operations. Of note, Major Sylvester von Saldern-Brallentin, commander of II./Grenadier-Regiment 65, led a Kampfgruppe in the amphibious operations against Kos and Leros.

On 26 April 1944 the commander of the division, Generalmajor Heinrich Kreipe, was kidnapped by a British Special Operations Executive (SOE) team led by Major Patrick Leigh-Fermor. His car was stopped on the way from the divisional headquarters at Ano Arkhanais to his quarters at Knossos and he was taken on a trek over the mountains to the south coast where they were picked up by a British vessel near Rodakino 14 May.

The division remained on Crete until September 1944 when it was evacuated to the mainland during the German withdrawal from Greece. It was redesignated 22. Volksgrenadier-Division in March 1945.


See also The Infanterie-Regiment 47 airborne operation on Valkenburg 1940.

Known war crimes

General der Infanterie Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller were executed in 1947 for war crimes committed during the time the 22. Infanterie-Division garrisoned Crete.

 

Commanders

Generalleutnant Adolf Strauß (15 Oct 1935 - 10 Nov 1938)
Generalleutnant Hans Graf von Sponeck (10 Nov 1938 - 10 Oct 1941)
General der Infanterie Ludwig Wolff (10 Oct 1941 - 1 Aug 1942)
General der Infanterie Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller (1 Aug 1942 - 15 Feb 1944)
Generalmajor Heinrich Kreipe (15 Feb 1944 - 26 Apr 1944)
Generalleutnant Helmut Friebe (1 May 1944 - ? Mar 1945)

Operations Officers (Ia)

Oberstleutnant Dr. Ing. Kurt Waeger (15 Oct 1935 - 5 July 1937)
Major Theodor Busse (5 July 1937 - 1 Mar 1939)
Oberstleutnant Werner Ehrig (1 Mar 1939 - 26 Aug 1939)
Oberstleutnant Heinz Langmann (26 Aug 1939 - 1 June 1943)
Oberstleutnant Hans-Joachim Liesong (1 June 1943 - 15 Feb 1944)
Oberstleutnant Rolf Ewald (5 Mar 1944- ? Mar 1945)

Area of operations

Poland & West wall (Sep 1939 - May 1940)
Netherlands (May 1940 - June 1941)
Eastern front, southern sector (June 1941 - July 1942)
Crete (July 1942 - Sep 1944)
Balkans & Austria (Sep 1944 - Mar 1945)

Combat rating

On 30 March 1942, it was rated "Zur Abwehr voll geeignet" (fully suited for defensive missions). It had 9 batallions with up to 50% of their establishent combat strength (Kampfstärke), with almost complete divisional artillery. Was considered to require refilling before being capable of offensive missions.

Nicknames and Honor titles

Kornblumen-Division (Cornflower Division)

Infanterie-Regiment 16 was given the title Infanterie-Regiment Oldenburg 1 October 1934 but was redesignated 15 October 1935.

Holders of high awards

Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army (13)
Holders of the Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (1)
- Giesecke, Heinz, 16.05.1942 (141), Gefreiter, 10./Inf.Rgt. 65
Holders of the German Cross in Gold (46)
Holders of the Honor Roll Clasp of the Heer (6)
- Hoffmann, Dieter, 15.02.1945, Hauptmann, I./Gren.Rgt. 65
- Knoop, Willy, 20.09.1941, Oberfeldwebel, 9./Inf.Rgt. 65
- Klemme, Hanns, 19.11.1942, Oberleutnant, 3./Pi.Btl. 22
- Thöring, Günter, 19.11.1942, Feldwebel, 3./Inf.Rgt. 16
- Ullrich, Werner, 09.09.1941, Oberleutnant, 1./Fla-Btl. (mot.) 22
- Wendroth, Johannes, 15.07.1942, Oberleutnant, Aufkl.Abt. 22
Holders of the Knight's Cross (21)
Holders of the Romanian Order of Michael the Brave, 3rd Class (Orden “Michael der Tapfere” III. Klasse)  (4)
- Boddien von, Oskar, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 3035/06.10.1942, Oberstleutnant, Kdr. Aufkl.Abt. 22
- Canstein Freiherr von, Ulrich, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 907/31.03.1943, Major, 22. Inf.Div.
- Choltitz von, Dietrich, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 3034/06.10.1942, Oberst, No unit listed (awarded presumably for his command of Inf.Rgt. 16)
- Wolff, Ludwig, Königlichen Dekrets Nr. 1362/08.05.1942, Generalmajor, Kdr. 22. Inf.Div.
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army  (2)
- I./Infanterie-Regiment 16
-- Date/Place of Action: 13.06.1942 bei Sewastopol
-- Award Date: 15.07.1942 / Vorschlagsbuch (1079)
- III./Infanterie-Regiment 16
-- Date/Place of Action: 13.06.1942 bei Sewastopol
-- Award Date: 15.07.1942 / Vorschlagsbuch (1081)
Unit-Level Commendation Certificate of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army for Shooting Down Aircraft (4)
- 7./Artillerie-Regiment 22
-- Date/Place of Downing: 13.11.1943 bei Ajil Deka
-- Award Date: 01.02.1944 (455)
- 7./Artillerie-Regiment 22
-- Date/Place of Downing: 23.07.1943 bei Ajil Deka
-- Award Date: 01.02.1944 (456)
- 8./Artillerie-Regiment 22
-- Date/Place of Downing: 23.07.1943 bei Siwwa
-- Award Date: 01.02.1944 (457)
- Panzerjäger-Abteilung 22
-- Date/Place of Downing: 09.11.1943 bei Pesa
-- Award Date: 01.05.1944 (480)

Order of battle (1939)

Infanterie-Regiment 16
Infanterie-Regiment 47
Infanterie-Regiment 65
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 22
Artillerie-Regiment 22
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 58
Beobachtungs-Abteilung 22 (1)
Pionier-Bataillon 22
Panzerabwehr-Abteilung 22
Nachrichten-Abteilung 22
Feldersatz-Bataillon 22
Versorgungseinheiten 22

Order of battle (1942)

Grenadier-Regiment 16
Grenadier-Regiment 47 (2)
Grenadier-Regiment 65
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 22 (3)
Artillerie-Regiment 22
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- I./Artillerie-Regiment 58 (4)
Pionier-Bataillon 22
Flak-Bataillon (mot) 22
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 22
Nachrichten-Abteilung 22
Feldersatz-Bataillon 22
Versorgungseinheiten 22

Order of battle (1943-1945)

Grenadier-Regiment 16
Grenadier-Regiment 47
Grenadier-Regiment 65
Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 122
Artillerie-Regiment 22
- I. Abteilung
- II. Abteilung
- III. Abteilung
- IV. Abteilung
Pionier-Bataillon 22
Flak-Bataillon (mot) 22
Panzerjäger-Abteilung 22
Nachrichten-Abteilung 22
Feldersatz-Bataillon 22
Versorgungseinheiten 22

Notable members

Hans Graf von Sponeck (Arrested 1942 for disobeying Hitler's "No retreat" order and executed 23 July 1944 for suspected involvement in the resistance against Hitler, the Bundeswehr barracks General-Hans-Graf-Sponeck-Kaserne in Germersheim was named in his honour 1966)

Footnotes

1. Released from the division in December 1939 and designated Heerestruppe.
2. Grenadier-Regiment 47 was transferred to North Africa in October 1942 and assigned to Kampfgruppe Buhse, which was subordinated directly to the 5. Panzerarmee. It was redesignated Panzergrenadier-Regiment 47 on 26 February 1943 and assigned to the 21. Panzer-Division. Destroyed in May 1943 in Tunisia, it was reformed as Grenadier-Regiment 47 in February 1944 on Crete through Feldersatz-Bataillon 22 and reassigned to the 22. Infanterie-Division.
3. Aufklärungs-Abteilung 22 was reorganized/reformed as Kradschützen-Bataillon 13 on 6 August 1942. It returned to its original designation of Aufklärungs-Abteilung 22 on 2 October 1942 before being redesignated Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 122 on 1 April 1943.
4. Transferred to Artillerie-Regiment 229 of the 197. Infanterie-Division in July 1942.

Sources used

BA-MA RH2/429
Anthony Rogers - Churchill’s Folly: Leros and the Aegean, The Last Great British Defeat of World War II
Georg Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht 1933-1945

Reference material on this unit

Bruns - Grenadierregiment 16 1939-1945
Rudolf Buhse - Aus der Geschichte der Grenadier-Regiments 47
Friedrich August von Metzsch - Die Geschichte der 22. Infanterie Division 1939-1945

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