254th Infantry Division (Wehrmacht)


The 254th Infantry Division (German: 254. Infanterie-Division) was an infantry division of the German Heer during World War II.

254th Infantry Division
Active26 August 1939–8 May 1945
Country Nazi Germany
BranchArmy
TypeInfantry
SizeDivision
EngagementsWorld War II
Commanders
Notable
commanders

History


The 254th Infantry Division was created on 26 August 1939, the day of German mobilization, as part of the fourth Aufstellungswelle. It was raised in Detmold and Düsseldorf in Wehrkreis VI, using Replacement Battalions from Infantry Regiment 18 (Detmold), Infantry Regiment 37 (Lingen / Osnabrück), Infantry Regiment 58 (Herford), and Infantry Regiment 79 (Münster / Wahn). These various battalions from various regiments were formed into the Infantry Regiments 454, 474, and 484, which made up the initial structure of the 254th Infantry Division along with Artillery Regiment 254.[1] The initial commander of the division was Fritz Koch, appointed on 26 August 1939.[2]

On 1 February 1940, the 254th Infantry Division passed one infantry battalion and one artillery battery to the 292nd Infantry Division of the eighth Aufstellungswelle. On 9 June 1940, the motorized fourth detachment of Artillery Regiment 254 was replaced with a horse-drawn one. On 17 November 1940, the division passed a third of its strength to the 320th Infantry Division of the eleventh Aufstellungswelle.[1] On 30 April 1940, Walter Behschnitt had replaced Koch as divisional commander.[2]

During Operation Barbarossa, which started in June 1941, the 254th Infantry Division participated in the initial drive of Army Group North over Riga and Tallinn towards the Siege of Leningrad. The division was briefly commanded by Gerhard von Schwerin between 20 July 1941 and August 1941, before Behschnitt returned to command.[2]

In February 1942, the 254th Infantry Division fought in the Demyansk Pocket.[1][2] On 10 April 1942, Friedrich Köchling took command of the division. He was in turn briefly replaced by Hellmuth Reymann on 5 September 1942, before returning to his post on 19 November 1942.[2]

In 1943, three of the division's battalions were dissolved and a Division Fusilier Battalion formed from the Reconnaissance Detachment.[1] Alfred Thielmann assumed command of the division on 16 August 1943.[2]

On 10 May 1944, Grenadier Regiment 474 was dissolved, along with the third detachment of Artillery Regiment 254. Additionally, the 254th Infantry Division was strengthened by the Division Group 82, the remnants of the 82nd Infantry Division. On 4 July 1944, Division Group 82 was renamed Grenadier Regiment 474, thus reassembling the regiment that had been dissolved on 10 May.[1] On 31 December 1944, Richard Schmidt took command of the division from Thielmann. Schmidt would hold the command post until the end of the war.[2]

In April 1945, Grenadier Regiment 474 was dissolved and replaced by the Grenadier Fahnenjunker Regiment 1238.[1]

The 254th Infantry Division was trapped in the Deutsch-Brod pocket and subsequently taken prisoner by Soviet forces on 8 May 1945.[1][2]

Superior formations


Organizational chart of the 254th Infantry Division[1]
Year Month Army Corps Army Army Group Area
1939 September Assembly 5th Army Army Group C Eifel
October XXII 4th Army Army Group B Lower Rhine
December 6th Army
1940 January
May XXVI 18th Army
June Army reserves None Dunkirk
July VII 16th Army Army Group A Lille
August XXIII
September – December XXXVIII 9th Army Rouen
1941 January – April
May I 18th Army Army Group C East Prussia
June XXXVIII Army Group North Lithuania
July Army reserves Riga
August XXVI Tallinn
September Army reserves Leningrad
October XXXIX Volkhov
November I
December
1942 January – October
November – December XXXVIII
1943 January
February II Demyansk Pocket
March X Staraya Russa
April – September LIV Leningrad
October – December XXVI
1944 January
February – March XXXXVI 1st Panzer Army Army Group South Vinnytsia
April Absent from Wehrmacht records (possibly refreshment)[1]
May – June LIX 1st Panzer Army Army Group North Ukraine Ternopil
July XXIV Carpathian Mountains
August – September XI
October Army Group A
November – December Kaschau
1945 January
February XVII 17th Army Army Group Center Silesia
March VIII
April XXIV 1st Panzer Army Upper Silesia
May LXXII Deutsch-Brod, Moravia

Noteworthy individuals


  • Fritz Koch, commanding general of the 254th Infantry Division (26 August 1939 – 30 April 1940).
  • Walter Behschnitt, commanding general of the 254th Infantry Division (30 April 1940 – 20 July 1941, August 1941 – 10 April 1942).
  • Gerhard von Schwerin, commanding general of the 254th Infantry Division (20 July 1941 – August 1941).
  • Friedrich Köchling, commanding general of the 254th Infantry Division (10 April 1942 – 5 September 1942, 19 November 1942 – 16 August 1943).
  • Hellmuth Reymann, commanding general of the 254th Infantry Division (5 September 1942 – 19 November 1942).
  • Alfred Thielmann, commanding general of the 254th Infantry Division (16 August 1943 – 31 December 1944).
  • Richard Schmidt, commanding general of the 254th Infantry Division (31 December 1944 – 8 May 1945).

References


  1. Tessin, Georg (1973). "254". Die Landstreitkräfte 201–280. Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945 (in German). 8. Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag. pp. 229–233. ISBN 3764808721.
  2. Mitcham, Samuel W. (2007). "254th Infantry Division". German Order of Battle. Volume One. 1st-290th Infantry Divisions in World War II. Stackpole Books. pp. 301–303. ISBN 9780811734165.