361st Volksgrenadier Division
Forming of the 361st Volksgrenadier Division and initial deployment
The 361st Infantry Division was destroyed in July of 1944. In August the 361.ID was reorganized into the 361st Volksgrenadier Division. Since the 361.ID had been destroyed, the 569VGD was used in forming the 361st Volksgrenadier Division.
- Grenadier Regiment 1165 became Grenadier Regiment 951
- Grenadier Regiment 1166 became Grenadier Regiment 952
- Grenadier Regiment 1167 became Grenadier Regiment 953
The commanding general of the division was Generalmajor Alfred Philippi. On 08.31.1944, he was assigned the command of the division and tasked with its reorganization. The area assigned for the troop training was Wahn, near Cologne.
- 951 Grenadier Rgt.
- 953 Grenadier Rgt.
- 361 Artillery Rgt.
- 361 Panz.Jäg. Abt.
- 361 Pioniere Batl.
- 361 Comm. Batl.
- 361 Div.Füs.Kp.
- 361 Supply Rgt
The division was to be ready for commitment by the beginning of October after a 4-week period of organization. Within the first 10 days the numbers reached about 70% of the required strength but the training level was low. Like many divisions being organized at that time, they had their share of former Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine troops.
On September 17th, after the British airborne landings in Arnhem, the division was instructed to form an infantry formation of regimental strength (about 900 men) equipped with small arms. The next day, this unit was transferred to a division that was already fully equipped for deployment. This was to be a major setback for the division in terms of trained personnel.
The first of their heavy weapons started rolling in on September 20th. Records indicate that 10 Sturmgeschütze IV were dispatched to the division on September 8th. These were not sent to Wahn but likely to the troop training grounds in Grossenborn, where the assault gun company was being organized.
The reorganization was complete in late September, and the unit was placed on 30 trains and shipped to Zwolle, Netherlands for further training. The 951 Grenadier Regiment had to be rebuilt as the 900 men that were acquired by the replacement army on September 18th impacted the formation of this unit.
Lorraine – October 1944
After the German attempts to stem the Allied advance in Lorraine with the Panzer Brigades failed, the Allies continued their push past Nancy and Luneville. One of the panzer divisions in this area was the 11th Panzer Division (in the area of east of Arracourt) which needed to be pulled from the front line. On October 15th, OB West ordered that the 361st Volksgrenadier Division be subordinated to the 58.Pz.Korps (AOK.1) and sent from Holland to replace the 11th Panzer Division in the front line. The 58.Pz.Korps was located at Les Bachts, 14 KM southwest of Saarburg and the 11th Panzer Division in the area of Dieuze.
The division was unloaded between the 20th and 25th of October in the area of Saarburg – Memmingen. They were being sent to the front as they arrived. Elements of the 361.VGD were subordinated to the 11th Panzer Division as they were being committed to aid in the relief process. The 953rd Grenadier Regiment was the first committed along with an artillery battalion during the night of 21/22 October. They were followed by the 952nd and the 951st respectively. The front line for the 11th Panzer Division was relatively quiet except for the southern section of the line bordering with the 553.VGD.
The relief of the 11th Panzer Division was completed without incident. Since there was no enemy activity and no indication that any would occur, the commanding officer of the 361st Volksgrenadier Division adjusted the main line of defense to a more favorable location. The first two weeks were relatively quiet and provided time for further training and for getting familiar with the area. The situation map below shows the 361.VGD in place and the 11th Panzer Division withdrawing.
Around the 3rd of November, the division was ordered to dispatch the 951 Grenadier Regiment, one artillery battalion, and the assault gun company to their neighbor to the south, the 553.VGD. These units represent a significant amount of the fire power the division had to offer and would be sorely missed during the coming engagements in November as the Allies continued their push west.
The Foreign Military Study program were manuscripts prepared by former high-ranking officers of the German Armed Forces. These manuscripts are a good addition to primary source information. You can download the FMS used in this study below. Other manuscripts can be found at the Sturmpanzer Research Tools section using this link: FMS Index
Additional resources, that can be found below, include an Organizational Diagram for a Volksgrenadier division as well as a link to Volksgrenadier KStN (tables of organization).
US National Archives & Records Administration
– Army Group G (H.Gr.G) KTB and Anlagen [T311 R142/3]
– LVIII.Pz.K. KTB and Anlagen [T314 R1497]
– Foreign Military Studies: B-626
Tessin – Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS
Dutch resisitance documents state in the first week of March 1945; The 361.Inf.Div., where the 951 and 953 Volks Gern.Regt. belong, left after a three weeks stay in the area Soest-Zeist-Doorn, left unexpectedly in Eastern direction. At he end of the day marching Lunteren was reached. The destinaton was unknown. (Source Nationaal Archief, Den Haag).
On 20 April 1945 troops of the 361th V.G.D. have been seen by Dutch resistance in the Alblasserwaard and Betuwe (some of troops in the towns Buren, Kerk-Avezaath, Zoelen, Asch, Zoelmond and Beusichem were of 361 V.G.D.), bicycles were seen with the two crossed horseheads a regimental h.q.flag and V.G.D.361 written on it same goes for some cars (exept for the missing Regt.hq flag). At 24 April 45 a sign was seen in Buren with “Philippi” further more some redcross-cars wereseen in Zoelen at the same date, on the cars the sign with the two crossed horseheads and “vers.regt.361”. So it seems that the parts of the division was not totally absorbed by the 559th V.G.D. or the staff was waiting for a new task. (NIOD, Amsterdam).
Jack, thanks a lot for the additional information.