Latvian Legion Military and Feldpost History

    15. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Lettische

    In the spring 1943, three regiments were raised to form the "Freiwilligen Lettische Legion" (Latvian Volunteer Legion) with the exception of the artillery regiment, which did not arrived until January 1944. General Rudolf Bangerskis, a former Latvian minister of war was placed in charge as inspector general and Arturs Silgailis as his chief of staff. Eventually the Latvian Legion and the Latvian SS Volunteer Brigade (formerly 2nd SS Infantry Brigade) would served under the VI SS Volunteer Corps. In November 1943, the Latvian Legion saw action at Novo-Sokolniki, northern Russia, as part of the 16th Army Group North. The Legion was regrouped in December 1943, to form a new division called 1st Division of the SS Latvian Legion. The division later became the "15. Waffen Division der SS Lettische Nr 1" serving under XXXXIII Corps of 16th Army. It was composed of: 471 Officers, 1330 NCO's, and 13,192 other ranks.

    A Soviet winter offensive was launched that month, and it continued until February 1944. This encountered ferocious fighting with heavy casualties on both sides. Meanwhile the 2nd SS Brigade was upgraded to form the 19th Latvian SS Division. By March 1944, both Latvian Divisions under the VI SS Corps fought together for the first and last time to control strategic points along the Velikaya, River. The VI SS Corps suffered significant casualties after facing eleven Russian Army Divisions. The Soviet offensive was contained, but preparations for a new offensive was taking formation by more Soviet forces.

    In June, another attack was launched by the Soviets on the battered positions held by the 15th SS Division located on the banks of the River Sanukha. With the Soviets pressing forward, the 32nd Regiment ran into the rear of a Soviet Army Corps, and was almost decimated. By July 1944, the 15th SS Latvian Division fought another massive Soviet offensive near Ostrova, Estonia losing two regiments in the process. The withdrawal had been very costly, reducing the regiments to less than 200 men.

    The remnants of the division and the artillery were transferred to the 19th SS Division and the 15th SS Division was withdrawn for rebuilding. In August 1944, the surviving cadres of the 15th SS Division were shipped to the SS "West Prussia" Training Camp in Germany. In September, recruits conscripted in Latvia and engineers from the SS Training and Replacement Battalions at Dresden were used to reform the "15. Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS Lettische."

    A new SS Artillery Regiment was formed to replace the regiment left in Latvia. Far from ready in January 1945, the division returned to the front line to take up positions along the Vistula-Oder Canal. It fought in Pomerania were again it suffered heavy casualties. By end of February, the Soviets had broken through to Kolberg on the Baltic Sea, effectively surrounding other German units and the remnants of the 15th SS Division that formed part of Battle Group Tettau (named after the Commanding General of the Corps, Hans von Tettau). In March German units attempted a breakout while the 33rd Grenadier Regiment acting as rearguard were the last to withdraw after blowing up the only remaining bridge at Dievenow. The 15th SS Division was removed to an area west of Schwinemuende for refitting. Survivors were sent about 80kms north of Berlin to Neubrandenburg for refitting and to rebuild new defensive lines. Some remnants of the division made up battalions from 32nd and 33rd Regiments to form a Battle Group led by Standartenfuehrer Janums. This Battle Group was assembled and immediately dispatched towards Berlin.

    On April 24, after repelling several Russian attacks south of Berlin, a delegation was sent to the American lines to arrange the surrender of the Battle Group. The next day the remnants of the unit surrendered to the Americans at Gutergluck. On 2 May 1945, the remainder of the 15th SS Division managed to reached the American lines near Schwerin, avoiding Soviet capture. The 15th SS Latvian Division was one of the most decorated foreign volunteer forces. Who had won no less than 13 Knight Crosses! This was the highest score of any non-German Legion.

    Latvian Legion Feldpost

    Latvian Legion Feldpost

    The legion cover has a printed "SS-FELDPOST" marking and a local "RIGA" cancel. This SS cover was mailed to FPN 33857 (SS Signal Unit 15) on November 1943, by then the Legion was converted into the Latvian SS Volunteer Division. The cover also shows the Unit Seal with "Ostland" and "Higher SS and Police Leader-Riga-Hygiene Institute." Notice the red circular marking with an eight Rfg. postage due.
    Another SS-Feldpost cover mailed by a volunteer using FPN 33857 indicating SS Signal unit. By now the survivors of the division were sent to west Prussia training grounds for refitting. The front cover shows SS Circular censored marking and Unit Seal showing FPN 34636A (33rd Gren. Rgt., 2nd Btl.,1st Co.).

    2. Waffen-Grenadier SS Lettische Brigade

    Conscription was applied in Latvia by early September 1942, a draft mobilization was intensified by 1943. In late 1942, the Latvian Security Battalions 19th and 21st from the Latvian Legion were attached to the German 2nd SS (motorized) Infantry Brigade. This brigade was an international formation that included Dutch, Flemish and Norwegian volunteer Legions. In late January 1943, the Latvian Battalions from the 2nd SS (motorized) Brigade were rebuilt as a Latvian Brigade. The existing 18th, 24th, and 26th Latvian Schuma Battalions serving in Leningrad were used to form the Brigade's 2nd SS Volunteer Regiment. The Latvian 19th and 21st Battalions serving with the brigade were withdrawn. In January 1943, it was sent for training at Krasnoje Selo, where they were joined by the 16th Latvian Battalion, which was one of the first Latvian units serving in the Eastern Front.

    On 18 May 1943, these Latvian Battalions along with the other three Latvian Legion Battalions were incorporated into the 2nd SS (motorized) Brigade, and converted into the "2. Waffen-Grenadier SS Lettische Brigade." The Dutch, Flemish and Norwegian formations were removed from the 2nd SS Brigade. The 2nd SS Latvian Brigade was deployed with Army Group North. It was placed under the command of SS-Brigadef´┐ŻGeneralmajor Fritz von Scholz, later SS-Standartenf´┐ŻSchuldt and Bock. The 2nd SS Latvian Brigade was engaged in defending the west bank of the Volkhov River near Leningrad until late 1943.

    Latvian Legion Feldpost

    Latvian Legion Feldpost

    Above shows a Luftfeldpost cover mail to volunteer in FPN 33595 (SS Vol. Rgt.1, Staff, 2nd SS Bde.). Cover is dated November 1943 and has local town cancel.

    Below is a SS-Feldpost cover mailed by a volunteer in the 2nd Lett. Freiw. Brigade, FPN 45849B (SS Rgt.1, 2nd Co.). In March 1943, the 1st and 2nd Rgt. Formed the nucleus of the Latvian SS Brigade.

    Feldpost numbers assigned to the Latvian Legion

    The Latvian SS Volunteer Legion was formed by spring 1943. It was officially dissolved on 1 December 1943. The following is a list of assigned Feldpost numbers.

    Staff and War Reporters Co.-------------------------------34400

    SS Volunteer Rgt. 1 Staff Rgt------------------------------32595

    I Staff (1-4 Co.)------------------------------------------------34636

    War II Staff (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------------35532

    III Staff (9-12 Co.)---------------------------------------------36426

    13th. Industrial Co.---------------------------------------------35103

    14th. anti-Tank Co.---------------------------------------------33974

    SS Volunteer Rgt. 2 Staff Rgt------------------------------36982

    I Staff (1-4 Co.)-------------------------------------------------37849

    War II Staff (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------------36099

    III Staff (9-12 Co.)--------------------------------------------35776

    13th. Industrial Co.-------------------------------------------38158

    14th. anti-Tank Co.-------------------------------------------39524

    SS Volunteer Rgt. 3 Staff Rgt------------------------------39875

    I Staff (1-4 Co.)-------------------------------------------------33171

    War II Staff (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------------32883

    III Staff (9-12 Co.)---------------------------------------------37168

    13th. Industrial Co.--------------------------------------------39173

    14th. anti-Tank Co.--------------------------------------------38444

    SS Artillery Rgt.,Staff Rgt. -------------------------------40253

    I Staff (1-3 Battr.)-------------------------------------------41204

    II Staff (4-8 Battr.)------------------------------------------42777

    III Staff (7-9 Battr.)-----------------------------------------37313

    IV Staff (10-12 Battr.)--------------------------------------38669

    SS Supply Command Transport--------------------------40866

    Supply Co.------------------------------------------------------------41043(A-D)

    War Transport Co.------------------------------------------40455

    1st. Large Motor Transport Col.------------------------42491

    2nd. Large Motor Transport Col.-----------------------41520

    3rd. Large Motor Transport Col.---------------------------

    4th. Large Motor Transport Col.------------------------43238

    War Repair Shop Co.----------------------------------------42128

    SS Medical Staff 1-2 Co.-----------------------------------41810

    1 Motor Ambulance Plat.-----------------------------------41810

    2nd. Motor Ambulance Plat.--------------------------------41810

    SS Military Police----------------------------------------------34062

    War SS Veterinary Co.----------------------------------------57064

    SS Engineers Btl.,Staff (1-3 Co.)----------------------------38935

    SS Signal Unit, Staff (1-2 Co.) -------------------------------33857

    SS Anti-tank Unit, Staff (1-2 Co.) ---------------------------33542

    SS Motorcycle Btl, Staff (1-2 Squad) ----------------------40699

    SS Stewards Btl, Staff--------------------------------------------37617A

    Bakers Co.----------------------------------------------------------37617B

    Butcher Co.---------------------------------------------------------37617C

    Provisions Co.------------------------------------------------------37617D

    Feldpost numbers of the 15th Latvian SS Volunteer Division

    By late summer 1943, the Latvian Legion was reorganized as a Latvian SS Volunteer Division, which included the Latvian SS Volunteer Brigade. In November 1943, the 15th SS Division served under the German 38th Corps of the 16th Army. Then in early 1944, the division was placed under the Latvian VI SS Corps. The Legion regiment numbers were converted for the newly formed "15th Lettische SS Freiwilligen Division" but the FPN's remained the same. The following regiments were redesignated:
    SS Volunteer Regiment 1 was converted into Grenadier-Regiment 32.
    SS Volunteer Regiment 2 was converted into Grenadier-Regiment 33.
    SS Volunteer Regiment 3 was converted into Grenadier-Regiment 34.
    SS Artillery Regiment was renamed Artillery Regiment 15.
    The rest of the formation remained the same with the exception of the unit number 15 designated in front of each regiment. The following 15th SS Recruiting Depot Battalions were added with new FPNs.

    Battalion XI 13953
    Battalion XII 19058
    Battalion XIII 05231
    Battalion XIV 16608
    Battalion XV 06527

    In late summer of 1944, the Latvian Division title was renamed to 15th SS Waffen-Grenadier Division, the regiment numbers and FPNs were not changed. The 15th SS Division was given the Tactical no. SS-15 and Kenn no. 568. The following units with FPNs were added:

    SS Artillery Regiment 15 Staff---------------14808

    I Battr---------------------- -------------------------23697

    II Battr-----------------------------------------------21854

    III Battr----------------------------------------------23307

    SS Construction Regiment 1 Staff------------58033

    I Unit---------------------- --------------------------19058

    II Unit-------------------------------------------------05231

    III Unit------------------------------------------------16608

    SS Construction Regiment 2 Staff--------------13953

    Latvian Legion Feldpost

    Latvian SS Volunteer Division Feldpost

    Interesting feldpost cover mailed by a volunteer in the 3rd Co. of the SS Engineer's Battalion as indicated by the FPN 38935C. The unit seal shows FPN 38935A (SS Engineer Battalion).

    Feldpost numbers of the 2nd Latvian SS Volunteer Brigade

    The 2nd Lettische SS Freiwilligen Brigade was formed by Spring 1943. The following feldpost numbers were assigned to the 2nd SS Latvian Brigade:.

    Staff and War Reporters Co.-------------------------------43500*

    SS Volunteer Rgt. 1 Staff Rgt----------------------------33595

    I Staff (1-4 Co.)-------------------------------------------------45849**

    War II Staff (5-8 Co.)-----------------------------------------15205**

    III Staff (9-12 Co.)--------------------------------------------42515**

    13th. Industrial Co.----------------------------------------43827

    14th. anti-Tank Co.-----------------------------------------27775

    SS Volunteer Rgt. 2 Staff Rgt----------------------------34300

    I Staff (1-4 Co.)----------------------------------------------35118

    War II Staff (5-8 Co.)---------------------------------------36164

    III Staff (9-12 Co.)------------------------------------------47278

    13th. Industrial Co.-----------------------------------------33938

    14th. anti-Tank Co.-----------------------------------------45683

    Tank Pursue Command------------------------------------27901

    1st. Art. Btl. 52----------------------------------------------57958

    Anti-tank Btl. 52,I Staff (1st Co.)-----------------------58680

    1st. Transport Column--------------------------------------58009

    2nd. Transport Column-------------------------------------56494

    Motor Vehicle Column-------------------------------------56201

    Military Police Troop---------------------------------------47836*

    Engineers Co.------------------------------------------------56216

    Staff Unit Anti-aircraft------------------------------------------57966***

    SS Medical Co.--------------------------------------------58895

    Motorized Ambulance Platoon-------------------------56327

    Signal Co.----------------------------------------------------46594*

    Veterinary Co---------------------------------------------58519

    Motor Vehicle Repair Platoon--------------------------47466*

    SS FpA 52---------------------------------------------------10512

    Baggage Supply--------------------------------------------01203

    (*) denotes formerly assigned to SS Brigade 2 Reichsfuhrer-SS.
    (**) denotes former Latvian Security Units previously listed:
    Staff unit 1-3 Latvian Security Guard Btl.-FPN 42515.
    Staff unit 1-3 Co./Latvian Border Defense Btl. 19-FPN 15205.
    Staff unit 1-4 Co./Latvian Border Defense Btl. 21-FPN 45849.
    (***) denotes Anti-aircraft Btl. 506 (VI SS Corps).

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