History of XXXXII Armeekorps (July 1940 - June 1941)

 

The XXXXII Armeekorps was established on 29 January 1940 in Wehrkreis XIII. Stationed in the West after the invasion of Belgium and France, it was a part of the 16 Armee and thus also earmarked for the invasion of Britain, albeit as a third-wave corps (with the 45 and 164 Infanteriedivisionen). Its commander (until October 1941) was General der Pioniere Walter Kuntze, who headed the corps frim its headquarters in Charleveille-Mezières. However, with that invasion of Britain cancelled and the attack on Russia pending, it was scheduled to leave France. In the meantime, however, the corps was subordinated to the Armeeoberkommando 16 (from 6 July 1940 until 23 April 1941) and, after that, briefly to the newly-established Armeeoberkommando 15 (from 23 April until 13 June 1941). Despite the fact that the corps was thus only very briefly subordinated to the AOK15, we discuss its history in some detail here, since it was involved in the coastal defence of northern France for a brief while.

 

On 12 July 1940 the corps was responsible for coastal defences between the Schelde estuary and Cap Gris Nez. It controlled the 225 Infanteriedivision (Schelde estuary to French-Belgian border) and the 208 Infanteriedivision (French-Belgian border to Cap Gris Nez).At this time the XXXXII Generalkommando was located in Ypres.

On 28 July 1940 the XXXXII Armeekorps moved its headquarters to Charleville-Mezières in the east of France, thus official ending its coastal protection role. However, the 225 Infanteriedivision and the 208 Infanteriedivision remained at the coast, but left the corps and became subordinated to the V AK. In Charleville the XXXXII Armeekorps now commanded the 45 Infanteriedivision and the 164 Infanteriedivisin With these divisions under its command, the corps was planned to take part in the operation Seelöwe as a third-wave corps (hence its location further inland). These divisions were made up of the following units:

  • 45 Infanteriedivision: Infanterieregimenter 130, 133, 135

  • 164 Infanteriedivision: Infanterieregimenter 382, 433, 440

In August 1940 the corps was still made up of the 45 Infanteriedivision and the 164 Infanteriedivision. In August, however, the 71 Infanteriedivision, based in Luxemburg, also joined the XXXXII Armeekorps.

 

On 27 September 1940 the 71 Infanteriedivision left the XXXXII Armeekorps and returned to Germany.

 

On 1 October 1940 the organization of the corps was as follows, with the 45 ID billeted in the department Aisne and the 164 ID in the departement Ardennes.

 

 

In November, however, the 164 Infanteriedivision and the 45 Infanteriedivision were called upon to resume their coastal protection duties. Thus the 164 Infanteriedivision relieved the 225 Infanteriedivision along the Belgian coast on 3 November 1940 (starting its move from the Reims area on 22 October)with the 225 Infanteriedivision arriving in the Ardennes on 28 October. Likewise, 45 Infanteriedvision relieved the 267 Infanteriedivision on 11 November 1940. In doing so, they were no longer subordinated to the corps. Rather, the relieved coastal protection divisions, which had been pulled back to the northeast of France now became subordinated to the corps.

Initially, it had been planned to again relieve  the 164 Infanteriedivision by the 225 Infanteriedivision along the coast in the first half of January 1941 and the 45 Infanteriedivision by the 267 Infanteriedivision in the second half of January 1941, but this plan never materialized for the former, since rhe division was sent elewehere (see below).

 

From 11 January 1941 onwards responsibility for the security of the demarcation line and the area of the Departement Ardennes south of the Aisne river was officially handed over by the AOK 16 to the AOK 9.

On 21 January 1941 the 225 Infanteriedivision left the corps and was transferred to the Le Havre area. This only left the 267 Infanteriedivision subordinated to the corps.

On 27 January 1941 the Artillerieregimentsstab 803 became subordinated to the corps.

 

In the first week of February 1941 the 267 Infanteriedivision relieved thet 45 Infanteriedivision at the coast, thus leaving the corps. From 8 February 1941 onwards the relieved 45 Infanteriedivision took over the accommodation of the 267 Infanteriedivision, and became the only unit subordinated to the corps are this point in time.

On 8 February 1941 an army order announced the arrival of the 93 and 96 Infanteriedivisionen.

On 21 February 1941 the 96 Infanteriedivision officially joined the corps. This division was actually known as an Urlaubsdivision. Thus, in 1 February some 80% of its troops were on leave. It was billedted in the French departement Ardennes.

On 25 February 1941 the Beobachtungsabteilung 9 left the corps.

On 27 February 1941 the corps was informed that the 93 Infanteriedivision would be located elsewhere (area Amiens-Peronne with the AOK9) and would be replaced by the 95 Infanteriedivision. It had been intended to billet the 93 ID in the Charleroi area.

On 28 February 1941 the Flakregiment 51, Artillerieregimentsstab 606 and the Artillerieregimentsstab 803 left the corps area.

 

On 4 March 1941 the Artilleriekommandeur 131 left the corps area, followed by the Baubataillonen 17, 129, 216  and 218 on 9 March 1941.

Also on 9 March 1941 the XXXXII Armeekorps received 10 Stabskolonnen (transport units) for help with agricultural activities. All but one of these were allocated to the 95 ID.

On 10 March 1941 the 95 Infanteriedivision became officially subordinated to the corps and was located in the Namur-Maubeuge-Avesnes area. At this point in time, the corps was thus made up of the 45, 95 and 96 Infanteriedivisionen and had effectively given up its coastal defence duties (which had been taken over by the XXIII Armeekorps, headquartered in Brugge).The XXXXII AK, however, remained headquartered in Charleville-Mezières.

On 15 March 1941 the 95 and 96 Infanterieidvisionen took over responsibility for the security of the Demarcation line from the AOK 9.

 

On 14 April 1941 the corps was headquartered in the French city of Charleville-Mezières, with just three divisions: the 95 Infanteriedivision (HQ: Chimay in Belgium, later St-Quentin in France, after the 45 ID had left this area), the 45 Infanteriedivision in St-Quentin and the 96 Infanteriedivision (HQ: Charleville-Mezières), the units serving as Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) reserves.

On 15 April 1941 it was reported that the 95 and 96 Infanteriedivisionen had finished their individual and company training and that they would start larger unit training as of 1 May. Further, until this day, the following officers had been assigned to the corps (since 1/10/40):

 

 

On 23 April 1941 we learn from the activity report of the section IIa/IIb that in the period 1 October 1940 to 15 April 1941 the corps had the following units subordinated (though not necessarily simultaneously): 6 infantry divisions, 2 artillery regimental headquarters, 2 artillery batallions, 1 observation batallion and 4 construction batallions. In addition, 1 smoke regiment was subordinated economically.

Eleven days later, on 25 April 1941, documents reveal 1 more division to have temporarily joined the corps: the 58 Infanteriedivision.

On 29 April 1941 the 45 Infanteriedivision left the corps area. It was replaced by the 711 Infanteriedivision on 28 May (see below)

 

On 25 May 1941 the 711 Infanteriedivision became subordinated to the XXXXII Armeekorps.

 

On 4 June 1941 the 711 Infanteriedivision had completely arrived in the corps area and was subordinated to the XXXXII Armeekorps.

On 6 June 1941 a Vorkommando of the corps left for the East

On  8 June 1941 the 95, 96 and 711 Infanteriedivisionen, which had constituted the corps, became directly subordinated to the AOK 15 (AOK 16, Abt T) and the corps headquarterrs were getting ready to move Easy in preparation for the attack on Russia.

On 12, 13 and 14 June 1941 the headquarters and the Korpstruppen of the Generalkommando XXXXII Armeekorps left for the East.

Nevertheless, on 15 June 1941 documents show the corps controlling 3 divisions: 95 Infanteriedivision (with its headquarters now moved to Soissons), the 96 Infanteriedivision (HQ: Charleville-Mézières), and the 711 Infanteriedivision (HQ: Guise). This would be in contrast with the above, unless the headquarters had actually already left at this point, leaving just the divisions. The document further states the intention of moving the latter unit into the area of the 95 Infanteriedivision at a later stage. Locations of the XXXXII Armeekorps divisions at this point in time, as well as of other commands, are shown on the map below: