Battle of the Bulge: Volume Three: The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division in Action, December 1944-January 1945, Hans Wijers

Battle of the Bulge: Volume Three: The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division in Action, December 1944-January 1945, Hans Wijers

Despite its title, the text is very well balanced, with equally good use of German and American sources. The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division faced more than one American unit during the two months of the battle, and the book covers all of its opponents (the first two volumes in this series cover geographically focused topics, and thus take their titles from the places rather than one of the units involved).

Although there is a tendency to assume that airborne units were elite units, that wasn't the case here. The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division had suffered very heavy losses, and had been rebuilt with unneeded Luftwaffe personnel. It took part in the northern part of the German offensive, where the SS performed rather badly, disrupting the entire German plan. The 3rd Fallschirmjäger made some limited progress early in the battle, but this isn’t part of the story of the dash to the Meuse, and at least half of the book examines the US counterattacks, which slowly pushed the German paratroops back from their most advanced positions.

This is a good example of a very detailed small-scale combat history, using eyewitness accounts from both sides to paint a picture of the desperate fighting in the Ardennes. It does suffer from a lack of background information, especially at the start, where the division's part in the overall plan isn't really explained. It could also do with at least an overview map to show the progress of the division, and ideally more detailed maps to illustrate the individual battles.

This is quite a specialist title that will be of value to those with an interest in the Battle of the Bulge, or in the various units involved in the fighting.

1 - The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division
2 - The Battle for Lanzerath, 16 December 1944
3 - Honsfeld is taken by Surprise
4 - Operations of the 16th Infantry Regiment
5 - The 3rd Fallschirmjäger Division Attacks
6 - The German Attack on Belair
7 - Resistance by Elements of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 9 in Faymonville
8 - Events in the Operational Area of Elements of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 5 and Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 8
9 - D-Day in Belgium, 13 January 1945
10 - The Battle for Bellevaux and Hedomont
11 - The Battle for Huyer
12 - The Battle for Thirimont
13 - Situation of the 30th Infantry Division
14 - The Second Attack on Thirimont
15 - Clearing Hill 551
16 - The Battle for Faymonville
17 - American Attack on Steinbach and Remonval
18 - Heavy Fighting for Schoppen
19 - The Attack on the Moresheck Crossroads on 24 January 1945
20 - Retreat of the 3rd Fallschirmjäger-Division to a New Defense Line
21 - Captured!

Author: Hans Wijers
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 320
Publisher: Stackpole Books
Year: 2014

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