Strumtruppe Edelweiss - The Gebirgsjäger
German Mountain Divisions
1939 - 1945


Prominent Commanders     Julius Ringel
Major BattlesMetaxas Lines1941
Crete1941


The German Mountain Divisions in WWII were considered the elite Alpine troops of their era. As there were 15 such divisions, the 5th Division, being one of the most prominent, will be featured here.

The units around which the 5th Gebirgs Division was created were the 100th regiment, which was surplus to the establishment of 1st Gebirgs Division, and the former 85th Infantry Regiment. Which became supernumerary when 10th Infantry changed its role and became a motorised division. The artillery component of the 5th came from both 1st Gebirgs Division and 10th Infantry. Both Jäger regiments retained their original numbers, i.e., 85 and 100, and the artillery Regiment was numbered 95. 

The elite division was formed in autumn 1940 and was commanded by the charismatic Julius 'Papa' Ringel until 1944. It was based in Salzburg, Austria, although the personnel were predominantly from Bavaria. 

The first few months of its life was spent training in the Bavarian Alps then moved to the Balkans theater, where it played a prominent role in the smashing of the Metaxas defence lines and the defeat of the Greek and Commonwealth forces.   

After the successful conclusion of the Greek campaign, Ringel's Gebirgsjäger became part of the German assault force launched against the island of Crete. During the battle of Maleme, these tough mountain troops  came to the aid of the beleaguered Fallschirmjäger in what was to become the tuning point of the "Operation Merkur" on Crete.

The division was allowed a period of rest and refitting from 1941 to March 1942. 

It then returned to battle on the Eastern Front, where it was attached to Heeresgruppe Nord, serving in the Volkhov region on the Leningrad front. It remained in this sector until the end of 1943. 
In December 1943 the division was transferred to Italy in control of 10.Armee.  

It distinguished itself many times fighting up the 'leg' of the Italian mainland during the battles for the Gustav and Gothic defence lines. It was fighting in the border region between Italy and France towards the end of the war, and eventually surrendered to the American forces in April 1945. 
   
Their Last Actions

This division was the last Mountain division to fight in high alpine terrain and was situated in the Western Alps [along the French-Italian border].  Then on April 20, [1945], seven Gebirgsjägers made a night climb up the Northeast wall [or face] of Roc Belleface.

Their brave raid succeeded in dislodging the French garrison's defenses.  After some additional combat actions, the division assembled for the last time and marched in full order eastwards toward Milan.  After fighting with Italian Partisans (during their journey), they went into Amercan captivity just north of Turin.



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