Danish Legion Military and Feldpost History

    Freikorps Danmark

    On April 1940, the Germans invaded Denmark with virtually no resistance encountered by the defending Danes. With the events taking place during Operation Barabarosa, the Germans started a recruitment of Danish and Norwegian volunteers for the "Nordland Regiment."
    This regiment was sent to the eastern front in June 1941 and remained there until March 1943. Meanwhile a separate inclusive Danish volunteer formation was in the plans by the Germans with the approval of the Danish Government. The legion was officially authorized and announced by the Danish government on 28 June 1941.

    This formation was open to men who were currently in the Danish armed forces or who had completed their conscript service within a period of ten years. Unlike other western European volunteers, the Danish King and government granted equal veteran rights for all volunteers. Those who were career soldiers were promised the retention of their own military rank status.

    A Danish Press release to allow Danish men in joining the new formation was posted on 8 July 1941. Immediately recruiting offices were placed all over Denmark with the main office located in Copenhagen, on Rosenvaengets Alle 32. An initial draft of 430 Danish soldiers were incorporated into an SS battalion under the command of former Danish Army Colonel Christian Peder Kryssing. These volunteers were sent for training at Hamburg on 20 July 1941. In early August, a second group from recruited Danish volunteers including 200 Danes transferring from the "Nordwest Rgt." was formed at the Hamburg training facilities. The new formation designated as the "SS Freiwilligen Verband Danemark." In Denmark, it was commonly referred as the "Freikorps Danmark," thus evoking the memory of a Danish expeditionary force, which fought in the White Army against the Bolsheviks during the post-1917 Russian Civil War.

    It should be noted that a large contingent of ethnic-German and Danish volunteers came from the Danish northern region of North Schleswig.

    Upon reaching the training grounds in Hamburg, a special three legged collar tabs were issued. This was also the emblem of the "Norwest Rgt." In addition "Freikorps Danmark" Cuff Band were issued and worn by the volunteers. Interestingly a "Dannebrog" (Danish flag) collar tab was also issued and wore by the volunteers of the Replacement Company for a very short time till April 1943.

    Danish Insignia

    Danish Volunteer Insignia

    On 15 September 1941 the Freikorps Danmark was sent from Hamburg to the Posen-Treskau training camp. The training of the Freikorps was not proceeding in order and Leg. Obersturmfuhrer Kryssing was relieved of command on 8 February 1942. By April 1942, the command of the Freikorps was taken over by Count Christian Frederick von Schalburg, who served in the SS Panzer-Grenadier Division Wiking. Von Schalburg was promoted to Sturmbannfuhrer. At this time "Freikorps Danmark" had 34 commissioned officers, 75 non-commissioned officers, 109 officers and 781 privates.

    In May 1942 the Freikorps men (four companies strong) were airlifted into Demyansk salient in northern Russia. A replacement company was left behind at the Graz-Wetzelsdorf barracks. These troops were attached to the 3rd SS Panzer-Grenadier "Totenkopf" Division, which was holding a bridgehead at the juncture of the Lovat-Robja Rivers. Deployed on a 5Kms stretch of forested swampland along the Robja River, the Danes learned on May 26 that Soviets had crossed the river and were building a bridgehead. On the next day the Danes under the command of Stubaf. von Schalburg mounted an assault, which eliminated this bridgehead. On 2 June 1942, von Schalburg who was with his reserve troops of 50 men took the initiative to lend support to his bogged down assault troops that were tasked to incorporate the bridgehead into the Danish defensive lines. The assault group was pinned down by enemy fire, von Schalburg stepped on an enemy trip mine and was badly wounded in the leg.
    Three of his men came up to assist him but then enemy mortar shells began plopping down around them, a mortar round scored a direct hit killing von Schalburg and two of his men. The assault was called off, the Danes lost a total of 28 killed. The Command then passed to a German, von Lettow-Vorbeck, who was killed on June 11, during the fighting around Bolschoje Dubowizy. On that same day 75 Danish men were killed in action. In September 1942, after suffering 121 casualties (killed), the Freikorps returned to Denmark with a combat strength of 299 out of the original force of 1200.

    Freikorps Danmark

    Feikorps Danmark Feldpost cover

    Interesting cover with an Iron Cross label applied instead of the normal feldpost cancel. The sender was SS Leg. Schutze Johannes P. Nielsen, FPN 46050D Reserve Staff/Freikorp Danmark. Notice the file puncture hole on the cover. This cover was also censor with a sealing tape and red SS handstamp.

    The Freikorps was sent to Denmark for refitting and placed under the command of SS-Ostubaf. Knud Borge Martinsen. In October 1942, the Freikorps returned to the front near the town of Mitau for refitting. On 24 November, the Freikorps left Mitau by convoy and arrived in the town of Bobruisk, where temporary quarters were set up. A Danish reserve legion remained in Bobruisk, while the rest of the Freikorps with a combat strength of 1000 men left to the Front Lines located near the town of Nevel.

    On 5 December, the Freikorps was dispatched to the southern wing of the 1st SS Infantry Brigade. The Freikorps was then tasked to establish defensive positions and support German units defending Velikiye-Luki. On Christmas Eve, the Russians launched a diversionary attack on a 7.5Kms defensive line held by the Freikorps near the town of Kondratovo. The Christmas clash at Kondratovo had cost the Freikorps 40 men killed and 70 wounded. Meanwhile the main Russian forces launched a massive attack at the German strongpoint in the town of Velikiye-Luki. The Russians were able to surround Velikiye-Luki, and block off all relief attacks. As fighting raged near Velikiye-Luki, the troops under the command of the 1st SS Infantry Brigade were moved further north along with the Freikorps, Latvian Police units, Luftwaffe Field troops and Russian Auxiliaries. By late December, the Freikorps established its new positions near Medvekovo.

    In February 1943, Stubaf. Martinsen was relieved from command and sent to the SS Main Leadership Office of Berlin, where he meet with Himmler for the purpose of creating the "Schalburg Korps" in Denmark. On 22 February, Hstuf. Neergard-Jacobsen succeeded Martisen as Freikorps Commanding Officer. In mid-March, the Freikorps was assembled in the villages of Lyszovo and Medkovo. The Freikorps then began a motorized withdraw towards the west. Left behind was the Freikorps Reserve Company stationed in Bobruisk, where it saw some action against local Partisans. The Freikorps had completed its withdrawal on April 1943. On 11 June 1943, the SS Nordland Regiment and the Freikorps veterans were merged as the "24. SS Panzer-Grenadier Regiment Danmark."

    Danish Volunteer Danish Volunteer

    Danish Volunteer Feldpost cover

    Wonderful rare feldpost from a Danish volunteer in the 11 SS Freiwilligen Panzer-Gren. Division. The sender was none other than SS-Unterscharführer Fritz Ihle who was a "Nordschleswiger" who was assigned to the Armoured Recce Det. 11, and was awarded the EKI.

    Danish Postal History

    Postal History: On 22 May 1941, the Danish postal administration authorized Feldpost mail to be received in-country free of charge from German and Danish volunteers for mail weighing up to 250gms. A 20Rpf fee was applied in Germany for packages weighing from 250 to 1000gms for German recipients living in Denmark. An additional 25Ore postage was applied to Danish recipients receiving Feldpost packages. Danish volunteers had the same free airmail service as their German compatriots. Domestic postal rates were charged to Danish citizens sending mail to German soldiers. The Danish postal authorities charge 15Ore postal fee for postcards and a 20Ore postal fee for letters weighing up to 250gms. In 1942, the postal rates changed to 20Ore for letters weighing up to 50 gms, and 30Ore for letters and packages weighing from 50gms to 1000gms. All mail was examined and censored by German personnel.

    Feldpost numbers assigned to the Freikorps Danmark

    In late 1941, the following Feldpost numbers were assigned to the Freikorps Danmark:

    Battalion Staff 46050A
    1st. Rifle Co. 46050B
    2nd. Rifle Co. 46050C
    3rd. Rifle Co. 46050D
    4TH. Heavy Mortar Co. 46050E
    Training Staff 45665
    Reserve Co. 48499
    Freikorps Danmark Feldpost

    Danish Legion Feldpost

    Freikorps Danmark Feldpost

    SS-Feldpost cover mailed by a Danish Legionnaire FPN 46050A Battalion Staff/Freikorps Danmark. Cover was mailed by Leg. Sturmann Flyge to Compenhagen, Denmark. Cover shows Stumme (mute) cancel dated Jan. 16, 1942, volunteer was in training at Posen-Treskau. The mute cancel was used to hide the whereabouts of the legionnaires. The back cover shows a German military sealing tape, which was applied to all covers that were open by the German censors as well as red SS censorship handstamp.

    freikorps Danmark

    Danish Volunteer Feldpost

    Danish Volunteer Feldpost

    Not all Danish volunteers joined the Freikorps. The cover was mailed by a Danish volunteer who was in the German Marine Artillery Rgt 262, 3rd Battery as indicated by the FPN 31184C. Postage was not required since it was mailed through the German Feldpost system. The cover shows blue handwriting and handstamp "ZURÜCK" Return to sender. Notice the word feltpost written in Danish. This cover was also censored as shown. Also shown is another feldpost cover mailed by a Danish in a German reserve motorcycle unit.

    Danish Volunteer Feldpost

    SS-Luftfeldpost cover mailed by SS-Uschaf. Kurt Larsen, FPN 33362, SS Pz-Gren Rgt. Danmark of the Nordland Division. Two military luftfeldpost airmail labels were applied. This cover was mailed via FPN 37826A, II Btl., 5th Co/24th Pz-Gren. Rgt. as shown in the unit seal and upon arrival it was re-applied with the Danish town cancel dated April 24, 1944. The back of the cover shows SS-Sealing tape and SS censor red handstamp. During April 1944, the div. was heavily engaged defending Narva in northeast Estonia.

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