History of 39 Infanteriedivision (July 1942 - March 1943)

 

The 39 Infanteriedivision was established from the reserve army on 7 July 1942 as part of Operation Walküre II. This operation was carried out in order to build reserve forces which could counter a (expected) major uprising both in the Reich and the occupied territories. On this day the Chef Heeresr¨sting und Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres ordered parts of the reserve army to be assembled at the Truppenübungsplatz Elsenborn. In order to oversee this process the Ausbildungsplan 39 was established at Elsenborn under the supervision of General Castorf, the then commander of Division 166.

On 7 July 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had the following officiers and Beamte in the divisional headquarters:

 

 

On 11 July 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision was then established from the Ausbildungsverband Elsenborn.

On 13 July 1942 the divisional headquarters was the first unit to arrive at Elsenborn.

On 14 July 1942 Generalleutnant Hugo Höfl.arrived as the new commandar and took over from Castorf. His Ia was Major iG Lüben.

Between 17 and 20 July 1942 the division moved to Walcheren, where it took over coastal defence duties from the 719 Infanteriedivision.

On 18 July 1942 the AOK15 wrote to the corps and also the 39 Infanteriedivision to inform them about the Vereinheilichung der Scheldeverteidgung or unification of the defences of the Schelde Estuary. The problem had been that the boundary between the AOK15 and the WBN  had been located right in the middle of the estuary, which, of course, presented potential problems and risk in the event of an allied attack here. For this reason the above boundary was pushed upwards to include Walcheren and North and South-Beveland. Consequently, these areas came under the tactical (but not territorial) command of the AOK15. The second consequence was that the 39 ID also became responsible for the added areas after it had relieved the 719 ID. As such the Küstenverteidigungsabschnitt A1 was, in effect, created. In order to perform this task the divisional forces were to be distributed as follows

  • on Walcheren: 1 infantry regiment, 1 light annd 1 heavy artillery batallion (with regimental headquarters), 1/2 engineer batallion (with batallion HQ), 1/2 AT-batallion (with batallion HQ), 1/2 signals batallion (with batallion HQ) and part of the logistical units

  • on North Beveland: 1 reinforced infantry company

  • on South Beveland: the remainder of the division

The central effort of the infantry defence of Walcheren was to be the VB Vlissingen, while Walcheren itself was to be divided into 3 sectors. Only some weak defences were to be stationed on the narrow connection to the mainland in the east.

On the same day, an unloading overview was issued. This document is interesring in the sense that it not only offers the initial location of all divisional units, but also the location for the day(s) immediately following the date of unloading. For this reason the processed version of the document is shown below:

 

 

On 19 July 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision started relieving the 719 Infanteriedivision on Walcheren and North and South Beveland. At 7pm on the same day the 39 ID officially assumed control of the sector.

On 22 July 1942 the II/GR 114 had taken up positions in Vlissingen with its 5. and 6. Kompanie and 1 platoon of the 8. Kompanie. On the same day, a German map shows the locations of all units. The processed version of the map is shown below:

 

 

On 27 July 1942 the Oberbefehlshaber West visited units of the division deployed along the coast. On the same day, construction of the new field positions and strongpoints necessitated by the increased number of the occuptation troops was started. As early as 30 July it was reported that this construction work was being delayed by a shortage of barbed wire and timber.

On 31 July 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision wrote to the Ortskommandantur Vlissingen concerning the forced evacuation of the civilian population. The division reported that during his recent inspection trip the AOK15 commander Generaloberst Haase.had commented that the billeting area of the division was not large enough and that civilian refugees from Vlissingen were present in the combat area. Haase had found this unacceptable and demanded measures to be taken. Thus, the 39 ID now required the displacement of refugiees from Vlissingen from Walcheren as well as the displacement of a part of the local population, in so far as their presence was not needed.

 

On 1 August 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8781 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10483 men. The following weapons were held by the division: 384 machine guns, 90 mortars, 6 3.7cm Pak, 17 5cm Pak, 9 7,5cm Pak, 8 Panzerbüchse, 24 light field guns and 8 heavy howitzers. On the same day talks were held in Den Haag on the subject of the evecuation of the coastal areas on Walcheren. Finally on this day, a Zustandsbericht was released, detailing the combat readiness of the division. As was usually the case, the division was short of personnel (24 officers, 49 NCOs and 237 other ranks) and some weapons (54 MG34), as well as vehicles (60). Also lacking was observation and signals equipment. On the whole, though, the divisional commander gave a positive assessment of the division, even claiming that after another 14 days training the division would be ready for any mission.

On 2 August 1942 Oberst Wuthenow of the Grenadierregiment 114 with headquartes in Vlissingen assumee command of the infantry defences of the Verteidigungsbereich Vlissingen with the III Bataillon based in Vlissingen.

Between 8 and 18 August 1942  a total of 11,500 inhabitants were evacuated.

On 11 August 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8789 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10831 men.

On 15 August 1942 the Panzerjägeraufklärungsabteilung 139 reported the creation of a Kradschutzenzug, consisting of 71 men, with one 75mm AT-gun allocated.

On 18 August 1942 the evacuation of the civilian population referred to above, had been completed.

On 21 August 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8773 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10582 men.

On 25 August 1942 the OBWest released his Grundlegender Befehl Nr 14 ordering the Ausbai der Kanal- und Atlantikküste in his sector. That no time was to be lost is clear when considering the deadlines included in the document: 5/9 result of the reconnaissance in general, 10/9 result of the reconnaissance in detail and proposal of a zusammenhangenden Festungsfront with VB, StpGrp and bunkers and, finally, 15/9 schematic overal fortification planning for the constructions aloocated to the armies with detail of the number of bunkers per kilometer for the individual sector.

On 26 August 1942 the Divisionsbaustab 39 was established in order to ensure coordinated fortification construction work in cooperation with Hauptmann Talke of the Festungsbaudienststelle Vlissingen. The Baustab was commanded by Oberst Wuthenow (commander of IR 114).

On 27 August 1942 the AOK 15 ordered the construction in its sector of a total number of 5000-5500 bunkers, with 1000-1100 allocated to the sector of the Generalkommando Schelde. The only tactical focal point in this sector was the Schelde estuary. Also on this day the 39 Infanteriedivision was deployed as follows:

  • Walcheren: 1 Infanterieregiment, 1 Bataillon des zweiten Infanterieregiments, 1 leichte und 1 schwere Artilleriebatterie (mit Regimentsstab), 1/2 Pionierbataillon, 1/2 Panzerjäger- und Aufklärungsabteilung, 1/2 Nachrichtenabteilung (mit den dazugehörigen Bataillons- und Abteilungsstäben). Gefechtsstand in Middelburg

  • Noord-Beveland: 1 verstärkte Kompanie

  • Zuid-Beveland: Rest der Division

On 28 August 1942 the Generalkommando Schelde, in turn, issued its order, also adding labour and material focal points (Arbeits- und Materialschwerpunkte). For the 39 ID this was to be Middelburg for the VB Vlissingen. The 39 ID was allocated 500 constructions.

On 29 August 1942 the 39ID sent a (first) weekly report to the Generalkommando Schelde with a detailed enumeration of constructions built and static weapons built-in. Completed constructions were 2 KwK-Stände, 8 Bunker, 21 MG-Stellungen, 27 Tobrukstände, 12 spanische Reiter, 7022m Drahthindernisse, and 40m Laufgraben. Static weapons built-in were: 9 MG, 2 5cm Pak, 1 3,7cm Pak, 1 belg. Kanone, 4 KwK 5cm. Finally, 7 minefields with a total of 1488 mines had been laid.

 

On 1 September 1942 the first status report was drafted. According to this report, the division was in a good condition (personnal and equipment). Nevertheless, 19 officers and 31 NCOs were still required. In additio, the deployment of the division at the coast as well as fotification activies meant that the division's training could still be improved. However, this was felt to be possible in the short term. Also on this day, the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8540 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10866 men.

On 5 September 1942 talks were held with the 39 Infanteriedivision concerning the permanent fortification of the coast in its sector. In the report on these talks of 8 September 3 types of bunker were listed: Guppenstand, Pak/MG im Unterstand and guns with crew in bunkers with embrasures either in the main direction of fire or in flanking mode. Alsso, the 2nd line inland was seen as important. The document also makes clear that 500 permanent bunkers could be built in the sector of the division.

On 8 September 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued an order to its units with respect to the coastal fortifications. Thus, it ordered that the execution of the construction work was to be started without delay. Field and reinforced field fortifications under constructed were to be completed only if they could not be refitted into permanent bunkers. The following constructions were to be built with the highest priority: Gruppen- und Doppelgruppenunterstände, Pak-Unterstände mit Gruppe, Bataillons- und Regimentsgefechtsstände, Unterstände für Batterieführung, B-Stellen and Munitions- und Sanitätsunterstände. The proportion of crew bunkers to combat bunkers was tp be 3:1. The 500 bunkers to be constructed had been divided between the 3 services as follows: 340 for the Heer, 120 for the Kroegsmarine and 40 for the Luftwaffe. An interesting comment is that with this number Hitler's requirement that every soldier was to be protected by concrete could only be met for 50%. However, the above number did not include special constructions for the navy and the air force. The 340 constructions allocated to the Heer and the 39 ID were further subdivided as follows: Infanterie (200, davon 100 1. Ausbaustufe), Artillerie (80, davon 40 1. Ausbaustufe), Panzerjägerabteilung (24, davon 12 1. Ausbaustufe), Pioniere (21, davon 10 1. Ausbaustufe), Divisionsnachrichtenführer (15, davon 8 1. Ausbaustufe) These 170 first-phase bunkers were to be suggested with number and location by 11 September.

In response to the Hitler's order for the fortification of the coasts Dringlichkeitsstufen (levels of urgency) were proposed for Walcheren on 9 September 1942.

On 11 September 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8167 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10595 men. The following weapons were held by the division: 390 machine guns, 92 mortars, 6 3.7cm Pak, 17 5cm Pak, 9 7,5cm Pak, 8 Panzerbüchse, 23 light field guns, 8 heavy howitzers and 4 flamethrowers.

On 12 September 1942 Ia Major Lüben was replaced by Oberstleutnant Marten

On 15 September 1942 the division received the first order that it would be replaced by the 65 Infanteriedivision.

On 18 September 1942 the division released the result of an inspection trip by Generalmajor Gutknecht, the höherer Kommandeur der Kraftfahrtruppen OW West Frankreich. As his title suggests, he inspected the vehicles of the division. His assessment was that the vehicle pool of the division was satisfactory to good.

On 20 September 1942 the division issued another weekly report to the corps. Firstly, no changes had taken place in the defensive organization of the division. Secondly, the following had been constructed: 3885m Flanderzaun, 43 MG- und Geschützstände, 26 Ringstaände (Tobrukstände), 4 Wohn- oder Munitionsbunker, 6 Wasserbehälter and 150m Panzerhindernisse. Finally, newly built-in weapons were: 6 Zwillingssockeln, 2 KwK 5cm and 5 Panzerkuppeln aus Beutepanzern (3,7cm und 1 MG).

On 21 September 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8451 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10574 men.

On 27 September 1942 the division issued another weekly report to the corps.  Firstly, no changes had taken place in the defensive organization of the division. Secondly, the following had been constructed: 1500m Flanderzaun, 300 langes un 10m breites Stolperdrahthindernis, 15 Ringstände, 28 Geschütz- oder MG-Stellungen, 13 Munitionsbunker (feldmässig) and 10 Wasserbehälter. Finally, newly built-in weapons were: 1 Zwillingssockel und 1 Panzerkuppel (3,7cm und 1 MG).

On 29 September 1942 the Generalkommando Schelde issued its Korpsbefehl  for the relief of the 65 ID in the Antwerp area by the 39 ID. In turn, the former was to assume coastal defence duties in the KVA A1. The latter movement was to be concluded on 19 October, so that the 65ID could officially assume command of the KVA A1 on 20 October. The 39 ID was to use the old quarters of the 65 ID.

 

On 1 October 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8639 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10467 men. On the same day the division also issued a Zustandsbericht, detailing the combat readiness of the division. There were still a few personnel shortages (21 officers, 22 NCOs and 43 other ranks). As far as vehicles were concerned the division did not have its 7 armoured cars and had only 20% of its terrain-going cars.This prompted its commander to say that important personnel and material shortages no longer existed. However, the coastal defence duries and associated activities had set back the training of the division, but it was felt that after some 3-4 weeks of training in the Antwerp area, the division would be able to carry out any mission.

On 3 October 1942 the Generalkommando informed the division that OBWest had ordered that the switch of the two divisions was to take place mainly on foot.

On 5 October 1942  the 39 Infanteriedivision ordered from 10 October until the relief day its units were to continue their fortification work with all available forces. The first priority was to finish construction work that had been started, with special emphasis on the camouflaging of the constructions. Until the date of relief training was only of secondary importance.

On 7 October 1942  the 65 Infanteriedivision issued its order for the relief of the 39 ID in the KVA A1. The latter was to relieve the former in the period 16-19 October and was to take command of the KVA A1 on 20 October.Importantly, every strongpoint was to be occupied with the same strengths as the 39 ID. The division was to march to its new area in batallion groups and the marches were to be coupled to exercises. Until 20 October the divisional HQ was to remain At De Donk; after 20/10 it was to be established in Middelburg. The document below is interesting in that it shows which units of the 65 ID relieved which units of the 39 ID in which location.

 

 

On 8 October 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued a Ablösungsplan, detailing when the Vorkommandos of each sub-unit were to arrive in the Antwerp area and, more importantly for us, in what exact location also which unit of the 65 ID  they were to relieve. This plan can be found below:

 

 

On 11 October 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8244 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10465 men.

On 12 October 1942 the 39 Infanterieduision issued an order peratining to the use of the reserve bridge (Ausweichbrückeà across the Walcheren Canal. The bridge, located 1.8km northeast of the street bridge at the railway station, had been completed on 11 October.

On 13 October 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued its divisional order (Divisionsbefehl) for the relief of the division from the Walcheren sector and its movement to the Antwerp sector. The order is accompanied by a document detailing the movement and destination of the divisional units.as well as the units to be relieved. The document has been processed and is shown below:

 

 

On 18 October 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision officicially hand over command of the KVA A1 to the 65 Infanteriedivision. The 39 Infanteriedivision was to be moved to the Antwerp area as Armeereserve.

On 19 October 1942 the divisional headquarers arrived at De Donck near Antwerp, the location of the new headquarters.

On 21 October 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 7779 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 9964 men. The following weapons were held by the division: 390 machine guns, 92 mortars, 6 3.7cm Pak, 17 5cm Pak, 9 7,5cm Pak, 8 Panzerbüchse, 23 light field guns, 8 heavy howitzers and 4 flamethrowers. Already on this day, II/IR 114 and I/IR 113  had taken over guard duties in the Antwerp area, the latter unit in the port area.

On 22 October 1942 the last unit of the division, III/IR 114, had arrived in the Antwerp area from Vlissingen.

As the division did not altogether have many guard duties, a document of 24 October places increased emphasis on training.

On 23 October 1942 the Abschnitt Antwerpen issued an Abschnittsbefehl  for the defence of the Antwerp sector. This important document contains no fewer than 37 pages. The document is presented in more detail on this page.

On 24 October 1942 the 39 Infanterieidvision, in the context of the increase im combat power of the divisions, ordered that 135 men (or 10%) of the headquarters and logistics units were to be transferred to the combat units.

Around 25 October 1942 the division was organized as follows:

 

 

On 26 October 1942 he 39 Infanteriedivision issued an order for the security of the billeting area (Unterkunftsraum) against enemy air landings. The area was divided into 5 sectors with one Jagdkommando being on permanent alert in every sector. Also on this day the division issued an order concerning the alarm procedures (Alarmregelungen). The following stages were described: ständige Alarmbereitschaft, drohender Gefahr, Alarmstufe I and Alarmstufe II. These four stages chould be complemented with the mention Ausflug, which would signify that (part of) the division would be transported to a different area. Finally, the term Vorwarnung was also defined.

On 1 November 1942  the division was reported as being in a good material condition, with the exception of field cars. However, the latter shortage was offset by the present of commercial/civil cars. The division was assessed as to be fully capable of performing defensive operations as well as being able to coduct offensive operations. However, the recent arrival of 2870 virtually untrained recruits meant that the division was not ready for all missions for the time being. Also on this date, the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 7645 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10116 men.

A document of 4 November 1942 shows that the division also functioned as Heeresgruppenreserve. In this role, the division was to prepare the following movements (Aufmarschbewegungen) in case of an alert: Aufmarschbewegung 1A (Utrecht area), Aufmarschbewegung 1B (Antwerp area) and Aufmarschbewegung 2A (area north of Tielt)

On 10 November 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision was informed by the LXXIX Armeekorps that it was to prepare for deployment from 20 November onwards. The planned sector was that of the 306 Infanteriedivision. On the same day the corps was informed that the 39 Infanteriedivision would be subordinated to the corps for the purposes of relieving the 306 ID. In addition the AOK15 also informed the corps that it had requested the Militärbefehlshaber to take over the guard duties in the port of Antwerp from the 39 ID.

On 11 November 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 8000 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 9975 men. On the same day, the division received a Vorbefehl, according to which it would take over the coastal sector of the 306 Infanteriedivision, to be concluded on 20 November at the latest.

On 12 November 1942 the diviison issued its order for the marching-off of the Einwesungskommandos and the advance party of the division. The first units were to be transported on 16 November. Also on this day, the corps issued its order for the relieving of the 306 Infanteriedivision. The transfer of command was to take place on 18 November. After having been relieved the 306 Infanteriedivision was to assemble in the area Lokeren-Torhout-Tielt-Kortrijk-Oudenaarde. Finally on this day, the corps also issued its order for the relieving of forces of the 39 ID in the Antwerp sector. Thus, the 65 Infanteriedivision (more specifically its Grenadierregiment 146 based on South-Beveland) was ordered to disptach a battalion to Antwerp, to arrive on 19 November. The battalion would be subordinated to the Abschnitt Antwerpen and was to be deployed as follows: 1 company in Oorderen (Stp Kruisschansschleuse), 1 company as the Sicherungskompanie for the corps headquarters in the Nachtegalenpark in Wilrijk and the battalion headquarters and the remainder of the battalion in Ekeren. The battalion was to be equipped with the static (bodenständige) bicycles of the 39 ID in such a manner that it would be able to operate against enemy paratroopers at full strength. The Unterabschnitt West of the Abschnitt Antwerpen was to be partially taken over by forces of the Grenzwachregiment Clüver.in as far as help could not be provided by security units (Landesschützen).

On 13 November 1942 the 306 Infantertiedivision issued its order for the division to be relieved by the 39 ID. At the same time the 39 ID also released its order.for the relieving of the 306ID. It was also decided that the organisation of the 29 ID in the sector to be take over would basically have to be the same as that of the 306ID. More specifically, the following system was to be applied: the GR 113 was to take over from the GR 580, GR 114 from the GR 579, I/AR 139 from the III/AR 306, II/AR 139 from the II/AR 306 and the III/AR 139 from the I/AR 306.

On 14 November 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued its order for the departure of the division from the Antwerp area. This move was to take place between 16 and 18 November. The headquarters of the sub-units of the division were planned as follows:

 

 

On the same day, however, a change to the order was released to the effect that the move was to begin earlier, namely in the night of 15/16 November.

On 15 November 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision was getting ready to be transferred. On the same day the division received a Korpsbefehl, according to which the forces in the Abschnitt Antwerpen were to be relieved by a batallion of the 65 Infanteriedivision,

On 16 November 1942 the first units of the division were transported to the new area of operations.

On 18 November 1942 the division relieved the 306 Infanteriedivision and officially assumed responsibility for the coastal area between Wenduine and the French-Belgian border. In addition the forces of the division stationed in the port of Antwerp (I/Grenadierregiment 113) and immediately west of the river (II/Grenadierregiment 114) were relieved by units of the 65 Infanteriedivision (I Bataillon/Grenadierregiment 146) and the Militärbefehlshaber Belgien-Nordfrankreich (1 Kompanie/Landesschützenbataillon 625), respectively. Pour la petite histoire it was initially decided that the division would be subordinate to the LXXXII Armeekorps. However, on the very same day, that decision was reversed and the division remained part of the LXXXIX Armeekorps, its area of operations now newly called Küstenverteidigungsabschnitt KVA A3, stretching from Wenduine to the French-Belgian border.

On 19 November 1942 the division submitted an experience report on the 10%-reduction of personnel in the headquarters and rear services which had bee, ordered from above. The division pointed out that the current personnel strength of the division was 10,800 (or 72% of a normal division). However, personnel stre,ngt in the rear services ranged between 53 and 70%. Also, the medical services had only 1 company (instead of 2) and there was no field hospital. As a result, the division reported that while personnel reductions were possible in the division headquarters, all available personnel was needed in the rear services.

On 20 November 1942, when the last unit of the division had arrived in its new area of operations, the organization and deployment of the division was as follows:

 

 

On 21 November 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 7916 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10120 men.

On 24 November 1942 the corps commander visited the area of operations of the 39 Infanteriedivision (Generalleutnant Höfl). From the report of this visit (dated 25 November) we learn some interesting facts. Firstly, III/AR 39 became operational on this date. Secondly, we are given information on the operational use of the reserve batallion (I/GR114) in Veurne. The 2. Kompanie had been shed to bolster coastal defences, so that only the 4. Kompanie and about 2/3 of the other companies were actually located in Veurne. Thirdly, the Militärbefehlshaber Belgien-Nordfrankreich was said to have a truck unit in Veurne to carry out missions for the OT. Fourthly, the Standortkommandantur Veurne was administered by the reserve batallion. Fifthly, the reserve batallion would be given 600 bicycles coming from Torhout (in addition to those already present). Finally, we also learn more about Abschnitt III/GR114. This batallion was located at the coast from the Yser Canal to the French-Belgian border. The 13. und 14. Kompanien were located in Oostduinkerke (but not subordinated to the batallion), from I/GR114 one platoon and 2. Kompanie were allocated to the Stp Viktor while the reserve company was located behind Stp Bruno and the last units of the 12. Kompanie.

On 25 November 1942 we find an overview of the artillery in the sector of the 39 Infanteriedivision. It can be found processed in the document below:

 

 

On 1 December 1942 the material situation and operational readiness of the divison was reported as having been unchanged. However, the training of the 2780 new recruits (see above) had been interrupted by the division's having to take over the coastal defence sector and had been delayed by continuous alarm conditions. As a result the division was judged to be ready for defensive operation but not for all purposes. Also on this day, the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 7639 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 10058 men.

On 4 December 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision reported that the Grenadierregiment 113 was to provide an infantry platioon, reinforced by a heavy MG-section and 4x 5cm AT-canons, to be subordinated to the Hafenkommandant Oostende for the defence of the western jetty.

On 11 December 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 7415 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 9999 men.

On 12 December 1942 we find an interesting document detailing the combination and naming of strongpoints and resistance nests in the area of the 39 Infanteriedivision; This can be found processed below:

 

 

On 14 December 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision ordered the engines of all all motorized vehicles to be tested every 2-3 weeks in order to limit the numbers of these not being operational.

On 18 December 1942 the division, acting on orders from higher headquarters, ordered that all troops and units which were not billited in strongpoints or resistance nests at night were either to be moved into these strongpoints or were to be removed out of the 2-km wide coastal stretch.

On 19 December 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued an order regarding the subordination relations and the use of German citizens in the coastal defence sector. Thus the Hafenkommandant Ostende was subordinated to the Grenadierregiment 113 for the preparation and the execution of the infantry defence of Oostende. Also, subordinated to the commanders of both regimental sectors, the port commander of Oostende and the commanders of the Fallschirmjagdbezirke for the preparation of defences were all units, headquarters, organisations, construction personnel  Further, all German personnel would be called upon to perform (defensive) duties, their names and duties being registered in so-called Kampflisten. These were then assembled in alert units (Alarmeinheiten), to be deployed in Alarmstufe II. Even female German personnel was to be engaged, more specifically in first-aid duties.

 On 20 December 1942 the division ordered maximum use to be made of civil guards for security duties. An order to this effect was issued on 25 December. Also on this day, the 39 Infanteriedivision, acting on orders of the corps, issued an order for the re-equipping of the Gerätebatterien and Stellingsbatterien within the sector of the division. The following re-equipment was ordered:

  • Gerätebatterie B/39: 4x leichte Feldhaubitze 14/19 (t)

  • Stellungsbatterie 324: 6x 15,5cm sFH 141 (f) + 2x lFH 14/19 (t)

  • Stellungsbatterie 343: 5x 15,5cm sFH 141 (f) + 2x lFH 14/19 (t)

  • Stellungsbatterie 4x 10,5cm Kanone 331 (f)

  • The freed-up 4x 7,5cm Kanone (b) were put at the disposal of the division to be used as LAG (Landeabwehrgeschütze)

On 21 December 1942 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 7256 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 9193 men.

On 30 December 1942 Genealleutnant Ludwig Löweneck became the new divisional commander. At this time, the Chef was Oberstleutnant Marten and the Artilleriekommandeur Oberstleutnant Klamroth.

 

On 1 January 1943 the following Heerestruppen were fully subordinated to the 39 Infanteriedivision: Stellungsbatterie 308 (Küste) (4x 10,5cm K 331 (f)) and Stellungsbatterie 324 (Küste) (6x 414 (f) + 2x 14/19 (t)). Also on this day, the material situation and operational readiness of the divison was reported as having been unchanged. However, the training of the new recruits (see above) had not been completed, so that the division was only fully capable of performing defensive actions and only partly capable of performing other operations. Also on this day the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 6935 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 9003 men.

On 2 January 1943 a report was issued concerning deriliction of duty in the Stp Seydlitz in Westende. Apparentlly, the patrol operations had been left uncontrolled at night. What is interesting for our purposes is that the document mentions tyhe commanders present in the strongpoint (or nearby) at this time: Führer der Infanteriebesetzung Unteroffizier Spahn, Stützpunktkommandant und Batteriechef 3/HKAA 826 Hauptmann Stolz and the Kompaniechef Stellungs- und Sicherungskompanie Westende (7. Kompanie), Oberleutnant Lind.

On 11 January 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 6657 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 8964 men.

On 13 January 1943 an exception was made to the order that everything within the 2-km wide coastal zone was to be integrated in strongpoints or resistance nests. Thus, the barracks and officies of the OT could stay where they were for the time being, but were to be given special protection against possoble attack.

On 14 January 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued an order for the full motorization of the 14. Kompanien, ie the infantry anti-tank companies. In order to increase combat strength and to economize on personnel, the companies would be fully motorized for as long as they were deployed in coastal defence. Personnel thus freed up was to be used to operate the static AT-canons.

On 15 January 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued 2 Grundlegender Divisionsbefehle. The first such order concerned a standing defensive readiness. The division was ordered to be on constant defensive readiness. A distinction was made between a day organisation and a night organisation in this respect. Also, the strongpoints at the beach were to have as many heavy weapons as could be operated and ready so that any surprise enemy attack could be repulsed. In addition sentries were to be double in number and, if necessary, patrols were to circulate within the strongpoints. Between strongpoints there were also to be patrols. On average eevery location at the coast should be patrolled once every hour. In headsuartters there was constantly to be a duty officer ready to answer phones. Company commanders were to be reachable permanently. Two code words were also introduced. In case of Schwarzpulver being declared (i.e. favourable weather for an enemy landing), patrols were to be increased so that every location would be patrolled once every 30 minutes. On the other hand, if Sonnenblume was declared, several measures could be relaxed and coastal locations would only have to be patrolled once every 2 hours.

A second divisional order on this day addressed the issue of the evacuation of foreign OT-personnel, the use of alternative camps and the redeployment of construction works in the rear areas. For the evacuation the construction troops were to be organized in Bautruppen of between 100-150 men. These were to be moved as follows:

  • Lager Adinkerke I und II nach Bulskamp;

  • Lager Coxyde nach Alveringhem,

  • Lager Ostdunkerke I nach Steenkerke und II nach Avekapelle

  • Lager Middelkerke nach Leke

  • Lager Wenduine nach Stalhille Varsenare

German personnel in the camps would be reduced by 1/3 so that alert units originating from the OT could no longer be formed. The document also contains a very interesting Anlage which provides in great detail the nationalities and numbers of foreign construction workers in each of the camps, as wel as the Flemish and German companies they were employed by: This document has been processed below:

 

 

Also on this day, the motor cycle platoion of the Panzerjägeraufklärungsabteilung 139 was disbanded.

Finally on this day, the 39 Infanteriedivision released an order concerning the principles of Küsterverteidigung to be followed. This extensive document (too long to be dettailed here) also mentions that a Flakkampftrupp of the Untergruppe Ostende consisting of 2x 88cm der 3/252 (20 Mann) und 3x 2cm IV/5/252 (21 Mann) was to be pulled out and subordinated to the unit(s) required to conduct the counterattack in case of an enemy landing.

On 18 January 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued an order for the moving of the boundary between its two regiments  This boundary was moved further west and was situated between Stp Tirpitz and Stp Roon, in such a away that the Scheinwerferzug 12/III/4 would still be located within the sector of the Grenadierregiment 114.

On 21 January 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 6420 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 8631 men. Another document also mentions the strength of the Alarmeinheiten: 27 officers, 22 administrators, 202 NCOs and 720 other ranks.

On 29 January 1943 Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt inspected Oostende.

In January 1943  the following officers made up the headquarters of the 39 Infanteriedivision:

 

 

On 1 February 1943 the division had the following surplus (uberplanmässige) and static (bodenständige) weapons:

 

 

On 1 February 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision had a Gefechtsstärke of 6664 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 8710 men.

On 5 February 1943 the II/GR 114 was relieved by the I/GR 114.

On 9 February 1943  a change was made to the dauernde Abwehrbereitschaft of the division order earlier (see above), in order not to overburden the troopq. In certain cases, the size of the patrols could be reduced. Also, a new code word was introduced, Normaluhr. In this case eveny location along the coast was to be patrolled once every 1-2 hours. In case of Sonnenblume (see above), it would be sufficient to deploy half the patrols required under Normaluhr. Finally, in case of Schwarzpulver, the number of patrols was to be dioubled ane very coastal location was to be patrolled twice every 1-2 hours. The new order also emphasized that no patrol was to take lonfer than 3 hours, after which 4 hours of rest were required. Also, every soldiers was to sleep 7-8 hours a day. If the coastal defence troops were still not able to execute patrol duties even with these changes, they were to call upon the Alarmeinheiten.  Finally, it was also ordered that the Sturmabwehr- and AT-canons were no longer to be permanently manned during daytime.

On 10 February 1943 the division had a Gefechtsstärke of 6699 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 8853 men.

On 13 February 1942 the division received the Korpsbefehl for its relief by the 171 Reservedivision.

On 16 February 1943 the division issued its own order for the relief and the taking over of the coastal sector occupied by the 171 Reservedivision. It was planned that the first transports would arrive on 21 February.  The 171 Reservedivision was to occupy the KVA in such a way that changes in the organization of the forces employed were avoided. The following operation was planned: Grenadierregiment 113 to be relieved by the Reservegrenadierregiment 216, the Grenadierregiment 114 by the Reservegrenadierregiment 19, the Artillerieregiment 139 by the Reserveartillerieregiment 252, the I/AR 39 by the RAA 276 and the II/AR 139 by the RAA 19. In addition, the Reservegrenadierregiment 71 would be stationed with 2 battalions in the area  Pervijze-Veurne-Adinkerke. Also, the personnel of the static AT-canons (10x4,7cm Pam M36 (t) + 3x 4,7cm Fe Pak M36 mit gek MG M37 (t)) was to be transferred to the 171 RD.

On 17 February 1943 the order was received for the 39 Infanteriedivision to assemble in the area Diksmuide-Oostkamp-Tielt-Izegem-Roeselare after having been relieved. In this area the division was to form six Fallschirmjagdbezirke.

On 18 February 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued an order concerning the Alarmregelung, as well as order for the further training of the division.

On 21 February 1943 the division had a Gefechtsstärke of 6616 men and a Verpflegungsstärke of 8862 men.

On 22 February 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision issued an order for a possible intervention of the division at the coast from its assembly area. Five different cases (directions for the counterattack) were planned.

On 23 February 1943 an order was issued for the composition of the advance battalion (Vorausabteilung) for mobile use out of the assembly area.

On 24 February 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision began to be relieved by the 171 Reservedivision.

On 27 February 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision officially handed over command of its sector to the 171 Reservedivision and transferred to the area Oostkamp - Diksmuide - Tielt - Izegem - Roeselare as Heeresgruppenreserve, before being transferred to the East.

 

On 1 March 1943 the division, which had now completely arrived in its new area,  was reported as being in the process of being reorganised for deployment to the Russian front. However, due to the short-term departure of the division, full training for the new deployment had not been conducted. In addition, 47 officers, 127 NCOs and 1062 troops were still required, so that the division was judged as being only partly capable of performing mobile warfare.

From 4 March 1943 onwards the division then started being transported by train to the Russian front.

On 2 March 1943 preparations were started for the transfer of the division to the Russian front.

On 4 March 1943 the 39 Infanteriedivision began transferring to the East.

On 7 March 1943 the division had completely left the area of the LXXXIX Armeekorps. On this day, the following officers made up the headquarters of the 39 Infanteriedivision: