Estonian Legion Military and Feldpost History

    Estnische SS Freiwilligen Legion

    On 28 August 1942 the Generalkommissar Litzmann announced the formation of a SS volunteer Estonian Legion to fight along side the Germans. Enough recruits were drafted to form three battalions plus a heavy mortar, engineer and antitank companies. The Legion was designated the "Estnische SS Freiwilligen Legion." Volunteers were trained at the SS barracks in Debica, "General Government" Poland. By March 1943, the Debica training camp was renamed to Heidelager. The command of the legion was given to the Austrian SS-Obersturmbannführer Franz Augsberger.

    On 4 April, 800 volunteers from the 1st battalion were detached from the legion and incorporated for active duty with the "5. SS Panzer-Grenadier Division Wiking." The Estonian Unit was commonly referred as the "Estnische Freiwilligen Bataillon Narwa" (Estonian Volunteer Battalion Narva). Later the battalion was renamed as "SS Pz. Gren. Btl. Narwa."

    Estonian Legion Feldpost

    Estonian Legion Feldpost

    Early legion cover sent to "Reval" (Tallinn), capital of Estonia in September 1942 from a volunteer who was in an SS hospital in Lichtenstein.

    Feldpost numbers assigned to the Estonian Legion

    In summer of 1942, an SS-Estonian volunteer Legion was formed. The following Feldpost numbers were assigned:

    1st. SS Regiment & Staff------------------------48001

    I Battalion (1-4 Co.)---------------------------------48314 *

    II Battalion (5-8 Co.)------------------------------48958

    III Battalion (9-12 Co.)----------------------------48566

    IV Battalion------------------------------------------56475

    SS Artillery Unit-------------------------------------09046

    Engineer Co.------------------------------------------48052

    2nd. SS Regiment & Staff

    13-14 Companies---------------------------------------36341

    War I Battalion (1-4 Co.)-----------------------------39340

    II Battalion (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------38304

    III Battalion (9-12 Co.)--------------------------------41040

    Engineer Co.----------------------------------------------58312

    Signal Co.-------------------------------------------------56812

    Veterinary Co.-------------------------------------------58826

    NOTE: * FPN 48314 was assigned to Staff Unit/Gren. Btl. Narwa. In April 1943, The Narwa Btl. replaced the departing Finnish Volunteer Battalion in the 5th SS Division Wiking. The battalion Narwa served as part of III/SS Pz. Gren. Rgt. 10 Westland of Wiking Division, FPN 28109B. The Wiking Division was converted into a Panzer Division, the Estonian Battalion, which had a strength of 1280 men was assigned to the III/SS Pz. Gren. Div. Rgt.10, FPN 35703. By July 1944, the battalion Narwa returned to 20 SS Division as part of SS Freiw. Div. Fusiler Btl 20.

    Estonian Legion Feldpost

    Estonian Legion Feldpost

    Above are two SS-Feldpost covers mailed by Estonian SS volunteers. On top is a Christmas postcard mailed in December 21, 1943 by a volunteer in the 3rd SS Volunteer Brigade. The sender was part of the SS Anti-aircraft 53 detachment as indicated in the FPN 01199. During this time the brigade had 5099 men and was engeged in anti-partisan operations.

    Below is a SS-Feldpost cover mailed in April 1944. The sender was stationed in the SS training Camp at Heidelager. The open address indicates SS Inf. Training and Replacement Battalion 33, which serviced the 3rd SS Volunteer Brigade.

    3. Estnische SS-Freiwilligen Brigade

    By late April 1943, despite the temporary detachment of the Narva battalion, the legion had increased its numbers to form a unit of brigade strength. On May 5, the brigade was designated as the "3. Estnische SS-Freiwilligen Brigade." By November 1943, the unit with 5099 men was ready for combat. This brigade was assigned to fight against anti-partisan operations in their homeland. Because of the Soviet offensive drive, the brigade was immediately rushed to the front lines. The brigade was placed under the German VIII Army Corps, 16th Army of Army Group North. The brigade fought against numerous Russian drives while suffering heavy losses. The brigade was driven back to the southwest to Opochka and had come under the 1st Army Corps.

    An Estonian "SS Inf. Ausb. u. Ers. Btl. 33" (SS Inf. Training & Replacement Btl. 33) whose purpose was to train and provide replacements for the 3rd Estonia Brigade was stationed in Heidelager.

    In May 1943, more personnel were added to reinforce the legion, which was re-designated as the 3rd SS Volunteer Brigade. The following Feldpost numbers were assigned:

    Staff & War Reporter Platoon-----------------------59340

    SS Grenadier Regiment 45

    Staff Regiment & Co.----------------------------------48001

    I Battalion (1-4 Co.)------------------------------------56475

    II Battalion (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------48958

    Repair Shop Co. 106-------------------------------------67463

    Engineer Co. 45------------------------------------------48775

    SS Grenadier Regiment 46

    Staff Regiment & Co.----------------------------------36341

    I Battalion (1-4 Co.)------------------------------------39340

    II Battalion (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------38304

    Engineer Co. 46------------------------------------------58312

    SS Artillery Unit 53-------------------------------------09046

    SS Anti-aircraft 53--------------------------------------01199

    SS Anti-tank Unit----------------------------------------48886

    SS Signal Co. 53-----------------------------------------56819

    SS Medical Co.-------------------------------------------17113

    SS Veterinary Co. 53-------------------------------------58826

    SS Military Police Troop---------------------------------05495

    SS Field Reserve Battalion-----------------------------38087

    SS Repair Shop Co.---------------------------------------56464

    SS FpA 53------------------------------------------------04530

    20. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Estnische

    In late 1943, Estonians from the two battalions 658th and 659th, and including certain Estonian Police formations were merged with the brigade to form a division. By spring 1944, a newly created division was designated the "20. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Estnische."

    In April 1944 the "Narwa" Battalion was pulled out of the "Wiking" Division and added into the 20th SS Division as the "SS Fusilier Bataillon 20." The divisional commander who was Augsberger was promoted to SS Brigaderführer und Generalmajor der Waffen-SS (he was later killed in action, on March 19, 1945, his placed taken by SS Oberfuhrer Berthold Maack).
    The division joined the IIIrd SS Panzer Korps, which defended the northern sector of Narva River line. In summer 1944, the division participated in the celebrated "Battle of the European SS" at Narva (Estonian-Russian border). After constant fierce attacks from the Russian forces, the remnants of the division retreated towards Tannenberg Line in North-Central Estonia.
    A new third Battalion composed of Estonian veterans was incorporated into the 46th Regiment of the Finnish Army and was rushed towards Tartu, Estonia, where it was virtually destroyed.

    By September 1944, despite their fighting spirit, the defenders were driven from their homeland and forced to retreat along with Germany's collapsing forces, into Silesia and ultimately, to Czechoslovakia. In May 1945 the less fortunate members of the division were captured by the Soviets.

    Certain Estonian units were able to escape westwards and gave themselves up to the Anglo-American forces. There were also individual Estonian volunteers in the Nordland Division but these probably numbered less than 100.

    During spring 1944, the 3rd Brigade was upgraded to the 20th Waffen Grenadier Division. The Feldpost numbers for the re-designated Waffen-Grenadier 45th and 46th Regiments remained the same however a third battalion was added to each regiment. In addition 47th regiment with three battalions was added. Also the 53rd SS Artillery Unit now became the 20th Artillery Regiment with four battalions. The division was given the Tactical FpA SS-20, and Kenn 471. The following Feldpost numbers were reassigned:

    Estonian Legion Feldpost

    Estonian Feldpost of 20th Waffen Grenadier Division

    SS-Feldpost cover mailed by volunteer in the 2nd Co./Signals Unit of the 20th SS Division.

    Waffen-Grenadier Rgt. 45

    III Battalion (9-12 Co.)---------------------------13893

    Waffen-Grenadier Rgt. 46

    III Battalion (9-12 Co.)------------------------------15973

    Waffen-Grenadier Rgt. 47

    Staff Regiment & Co.----------------------------------22166

    I Battalion (1-4 Co.)------------------------------------16836

    II Battalion (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------25712

    III Battalion (9-12 Co.)---------------------------------24586

    SS Artillery Unit 20

    SS Anti-aircraft 20------------------------------------01199

    I Battery -------------------------------------------------09046

    II Battery ------------------------------------------------27051

    III Battery -----------------------------------------------18194

    IV Battery -----------------------------------------------28668

    SS Anti-tank Unit 20-----------------------------------48886

    Assault Battalion 20------------------------------------48314

    Supply Troop & Staff 20-------------------------------19776

    Motor Transport Co.

    1st. Transport Squad-----------------------------------36356

    2nd. Transport Squad-----------------------------------30539

    Light Motor Column------------------------------------29253

    Motor Vehicle Repair Co.-----------------------------56464

    Engineers Battalion 20-------------------------------17403

    1st. Company-------------------------------------------48775

    2nd. Company-------------------------------------------58312

    3rd. Company-------------------------------------------26985

    SS Medical Btl 20

    1st. Medical Co.---------------------------------------17113

    2nd. Medical Co.---------------------------------------20794

    Motorized Ambulance Platoon--------------------46085

    Veterinary Co.-----------------------------------------58826

    Construction Unit 20

    Battalion (1-2 Co.)------------------------------------37871

    Signals Staff Unit 20----------------------------------23417

    1st. Company-------------------------------------------31139

    2nd. Company-------------------------------------------56819

    Military Police 20--------------------------------------05485

    Stewards Battalion 20---------------------------------06930

    SS FpA 53-------------------------------------------------04530

    NOTE: FPN 03844 is listed as Staff 2nd Rgt. (20th SS Div.) as of 2 October 1944. Then on 9 November 1944, it was assigned to the 3rd Rgt. till 27 February 1945. Since none of the FPNs belonging to regiments of the 20th SS Division were deleted, it is the assumption that a new 3rd Rgt. was to replace the 47th Rgt., which was destroyed during the fighting in Estonia.

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