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Nazi Germany - Amphibious Assault Troops

Nazi Germany had no specialized amphibious assault troops [Angriff mit Amphibienfahrzeugs-Truppen]. Although the German Army conducted several amphbious operations, and planned others [notably the invasion of England], these operations were conducted by units trained for those specific operations.

In the months before World War II, the Germans tended to use men from marine artillery units as landing troops, at least early in the war. At Memel on 23 March 1939 they used elements of III Marineartillerieabteilung as landing parties to occupy the port. The same unit provided the reinforced company that attempted to storm Westerplatte at the entrance to Danzig harbour on the first day of the war.

The invasion of Norway saw a large use of paratroopers. The invasion was a combined air and sea attack. The British warships wreaked havoc on the German amphibious forces, but the German Airborne troops were successful in establishing several airheads. As soon as these were established, thousands of German soldiers and their supplies were transported by air. As a direct consequence, Norway fell.

In 1941 the Germans planned to seize the island of Crete by another combined air and sea attack. The vaunted British sea power intercepted the German convoy. Almost half of the German amphibious forces were lost, and the rest were driven back. The Norwegian campaign was supposed to have been a rehearsal for the invasion of England (or so it has been claimed). The Cretan campaign furnished further drill and experience but it was no "dry run." Commitment of British air reserves won the Battle of Britain, precluded a German amphibious invasion, and in many ways had turned the tide of the war.

Later, the German Navy formed land units from their excess reservists. These were used just like normal land units, only they had less to no formal infantry training. The uniforms were the same field grey color as the army. However, buttons were gold or field grey with an anchor. Field equipment was the same (usually black) except for the belt buckle which was gold. Another notable difference was with the shoulder boards which were quite different. These were scratch units, made up of Naval personnel without ships toward the end of WW II, whose most notable action was Market-Garden. There were over 2000 "Marines" fighting in and around Arnhem. They fought as cohesive units supplimented with Heer or SS NCOs attached for leadership and direction (naval personnel not so well trained in street fighting).

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Page last modified: 10-01-2012 19:23:47 ZULU