During the invasion of the Low Countries in 1940 and at Crete the German paratroopers gained an impressive reputation, winning key victories (although at very high cost on Crete). However their role in the invasion of Poland in 1939 was unknown to me. This book certainly solves that, but a key problem for me with this book is that it is a detailed combat history of a unit that didn’t actually do anything significant during this campaign! The campaign history makes it clear that the Germans certainly intended to use the paratroopers during the invasion, but the fast pace of the battle meant that by the time a plan for an airborne attack was drawn up, it was no longer needed (the same happened to the British and American airborne forces between D-Day and Arnhem).
As a result the author doesn’t really have a great deal of action to report on. We get a good overview of the formation of the airborne division, followed by five regimental histories. Some of these regiments did at least end up in action in Poland, but only on mopping up duties or protecting various HQs. What little action there was is covered in great detail, but the main feature of the book becomes the photographs. This includes portrait shots of many of the paratroopers as well as a variety of pictures from the campaign itself (including a rather chilling one showing the troops entertaining Polish children who look rather unwilling to be there, and whose fate can only be imagined).
This book will be of interest to completists who are interested in the German airborne forces, covering a less familiar part of their wartime service in some detail, but probably be of less interest to more general readers simply because the units in question didn’t play a significant role in the invasion of Poland.
7th Fliegerdivision (Air Division)
II./Fallschirmjäger Regiment 1
III./Fallschirmjäger Regiment 1
I./Fallschirmjäger Regiment 1
I./Fallschirmjäger Regiment 2
II. ./Fallschirmjäger Regiment 2
Author: Stephan Janzyk
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military