Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Reichsarbeitdienst Infanterie-Divisionen

1.RAD-Division / Infanterie-Division Albert Leo Schlageter
2.RAD-Division / Infanterie-Division Friedrich Ludwig Jahn
3.RAD-Division / Infanterie-Division Theodor Körner
4.RAD-Division / Infanterie-Division Güstrow

General mobilization was declared in Germany on August 26th, 1939, and to aid the call to arms, 1,050 individual Reichsarbeitdienst units were transferred in full to the Wehrmacht, specifically to the Heer, to form the basis of the new Bautruppen - the construction troops that would build roads, clear obstacles, dig trenches, create fortification, and take part in all manner of military construction duties. The 1,050 RAD Abteilungen were transferred directly to the Wehrmacht Heer and expanded to 401 men each through the addition of older untrained army reservists. They were formed into a series of 55 regimental-sized units known as Abschnittsbaustäbe which were numbered in the 1 to 111 series. Each Abschnittsbaustäbe consisted of four 2,000-man Bau-Bataillone in the 1 to 335 number series. Each of these was in turn made up of four of the ex-RAD Abteilungen, now expanded to 401 men each. 18 Heavy and 12 Light Motorized Road Construction Battalions were also formed at this time from the RAD units transferred to the Wehrmacht. About 60% of the newly formed Bautruppen units spent the majority of their time during the Polish Campaign clearing roads so that supplies and men could continue to reach the front. After the Campaign in Poland had ended, the Wehrmacht kept the Bautruppen units that had been formed from the RAD and in their place was formed a new contingent of 900 RAD Abteilungen that would once again take up the previous duties of the Reichsarbeitdienst.

Throughout WWII the RAD continued to serve its originally established duty of training young men prior to their service in the Wehrmacht by providing construction and agricultural work for the nation. But also throughout WWII, the RAD increasingly took part in more militarized roles. During the Norwegian Campaign and the Campaign in the West in 1940, hundreds of RAD units took part in supporting the troops by helping to ensure that supplies continued to reach the front over clear roadways. They also helped repair damaged roads, built and repaired airstrips, constructed coastal fortifications, loaded and unloaded supplies and ammunition, laid minefields, manned fortifications, and even helped guard vital locations and prisoners.

RAD units served on all fronts during WWII, from Norway to the Mediterranean Sea, and from France in the west, to the far reaches of Russia in the east. Units served in Albania, Greece, and the former Yugoslavia. In the Soviet Union, they supported the Wehrmacht in its massive drives towards Moscow in 1941 and into the Caucasus Region in 1942. Many RAD units were encircled and forced into frontline combat, while other units were drafted directly into military service on the spot. In 1942, there were at least 427 RAD units serving on the Eastern Front. Increasingly in the fighting on the Eastern Front, RAD units took up arms to fight off Soviet tanks as well as partisan forces. Security operations also became an increasingly common duty of the RAD units.

Service was not limited to the multitude of combat support roles listed above though, as hundreds of RAD units were trained and later used as anti-aircraft units under the control of the Luftwaffe. Many saw service along the Western Front in the form of RAD Flak Batteries, while others also saw service in the East as ground combat units against the advancing Soviet Armies. In October of 1944, at least 60,000 RAD troops are known to have served in RAD Flak Batteries. When serving in RAD Flak Batteries, the troops were known as Luftwaffe-Flakhelfer. RAD troops were but a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands that served in such a role during WWII.

As WWII reached its end, in February of 1945, service in the RAD was reduced to between 6 and 8 weeks’ time, while training was limited exclusively to infantry and anti-tank tactics. Although Hierl had avoided a move to join the RAD with the German Volksturm - the "People’s Army" formed as a last ditch defense of the homeland - thus maintaining the independence of the RAD till the very end of WWII, the RAD could not avoid conscription into the frontlines as the war neared its conclusion. 6 major frontline units consisting of Reichsarbeitdienst troops were formed in the last months of WWII, 3 of which are known to have seen limited but fierce action. The 6 units of mainly RAD troops known to have been formed were as follows: RAD-Division z.b.V.1/Infanterie-Division Albert Leo Schlageter, RAD-Division z.b.V.2/Infanterie-Division Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, RAD-Division z.b.V.3/Infanterie-Division Theodor Körner, RAD-Division z.b.V.4/Infanterie-Division Güstrow, Gebirgsjager-Brigade Steiermark, and Gebrigsjager-Brigade Enns.

The Reichsarbeitdienst was disbanded with the collapse of the Third Reich on May 8th, 1945.

Inf.Div.„FLJ” [Friedrich Ludwig Jahn] [Reichsarbeitdienst-Division z.b.V.2]
Forming March or April 1945.
Gren.Rgt.„FLJ 1” [two Btl]
Gren.Rgt.„FLJ 2” [two Btl]
Gren.Rgt.„FLJ 3” [two Btl]

April 1945
Issued 10 JgPz 38(t) Hetzer (PzJäg38(t)) für 7,5cm Pak39. 

April 1945 [12th to 20th]
Gren.Rgt.„FLJ 1” [two Btl]
Gren.Rgt.„FLJ 2” [two Btl]
Gren.Rgt.„FLJ 3” [two Btl] 

April 1945 [20th]
Forming up on the parade ground at Jüterbog main ammunition depot when it was scattered by Russians tanks.
Most of the men from two Rgt’s were saved but nearly all the artillery was lost, the third Rgt was missing.

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