Airborne Artillery Group (German)


One of very few paratroopers to have received the General Assault Badge and the Winter War Medal, Kanonier Erwin Forkel qualified as a paratrooper in November 1940 and jumped in Crete in May 1941 with Fallschirm-Artillerie-Abt 7. Like all survivors of Crete, he received the EK2 although the document is missing from the group. FAA7 became Fallschirm-Artillerie-Rgt 1 late in 1941, with two batteries.

Erwin Forkel was in I./FAR 1 in May 1942, when he received the Wound Badge in Black after being wounded near Lake Ladoga. He received the General Assault Badge a month later for Wolchow.

Such documents are extremely rare to paratroopers. This example is handsigned by Generalleutnant Sponheimer, who held the Knight's Cross and German Cross in Gold. Sponheimer was commander of 21. Infanterie-Division, fighting in the Wolchow zone. It is interesting that Forkel received this badge almost two months after the introduction of the Luftwaffe version, which he was given in October 1942.

His LW Ground Combat Badge document is further enhanced by the hand-signature of Generalmajor und RKT (Knight's Cross Holder) Richard Heidrich. Note the correction to Heidrich’s rank; he had been promoted Generalmajor on August 8th 1942 after taking over 7 FD on August 1st 1942. 2./FAR1’s combat zones included Stoschkowo, Iwanowka, Alexejewo, Orlowo, Nikitino and Balka.

Anyway, 7 FD was relieved and transferred to France in the spring of 1943, to the Amiens area in the north. FAR 1 went with them. 7 FD became 1 Fallschirmjäger-Division in May 1943, headquartered at Flers near the Norman town of Caen under XI Fliegerkorps, with its sub-units distributed around the region.

Forkel also received the Winter War Medal. The regiment was transferred to France in 1943 where it spent some time garrisoned in and around the Norman town of Flers, near Caen. 7. Flieger-Division was renamed 1. Fallschirmjäger-Division in May 1943, still under the command of Heidrich, promoted Generalleutnant. 1. FJD moved to the Avignon area in the south of France in May 1943 and participated in field manoeuvres with 2. FJD before being airlifted to Sicily in July 1943.

During this period, on 20.5.1943, Forkel received his Kreta armband. This is one of only two handwritten Kreta documents I have ever seen, the other being to Heinz Gropengießer, one of Forkel’s comrades, whose group was recently sold by a wellknown Swiss collector. 1. FJD was the last German formation evacuated from Sicily in September 1943.

Now serving as Oberjäger with III./FAR1, formed in 1943, Forket received the RK1 for Sicily in December 1943. The document bears Heidrich’s facsimile signature. 1. FJD was garrisoned in Brindisi and Ortona and along the Adriatic coast before moving to Monte Cassino in February 1944. As Erwin Forkel also fought at Monte Cassino from February to May 1944 and then in the Rimini area from June to October 1944, moving north to Imola and Via Emilia under 1. Fallschirm-Armee-Korps, surrendering to Allied forces on the northern frontier in May 1945.

Erwin Forkel survived WW2.


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