Walloon Legion Military and Feldpost History

    Corps Franc Wallonie

    Leon Degrelle Label Political fascist parties already existed in Belgium by the time Germany began occupying the country. These political parties were already prepared to collaborate with the Germans. Leon Degrelle was a pro-Nazi collaborator who founded the "Rexist Party."

    The Rexist party was composed of Walloons who wanted a separate sovereignty. When Germany invaded Belgium, Leon Degrelle was placed under arrest by the government for fear he would collaborate with the Germans. German troop's, discovered him in a French prison and was promptly released. As soon as the war with Russia broke out Leon Degrelle and his followers joined the Wehrmacht. They were known as the "Corps Franc Wallonie" (Free Corps Wallonie).

    In August 1941, the Corps was sent to Poland for basic training. The Walloons were provided with army uniforms. An arm shield showing the Belgium national colors was worn on their uniforms.

    This Legion of 1500 men was registered as the "373. Infanterie Battaillone." The Legion was for a time attached to a Romanian combat group, later to the German "100. Gebirgsjager Division." The Legion was placed under the command of Captain George Jacobs.
    On 2 November 1941, the Legion arrived by rail at Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine. Before sending them to the Front line, the battalion marched toward Pavlograd and made an offensive operation against Soviet partisans who were forming bunkers along the Samara riverbank. There the battalion suffered its first casualties but captured the Soviet bunkers.
    By December 1941, the worst Russian winter in decades hit the volunteers who were ill prepared and short on winter clothing. Immediately cases of frostbite amounted to the volunteers. By February 1942, the battalion was at the Gramovaja-Balka region, which was located along the path of a Russian offensive. Two Soviet Regiments composed of 4000 men and 14 tanks launched a major attack against 500 Walloons and 1 tank who where placed in a defensive stance. The battalion's new commander, Captain Pierre Pauly, ordered his volunteers to counterattack. Gramovaja-Balka changed hands several times before German aircraft and tanks arrived to assist the Walloon defenders in expelling the Soviets for good.

    The commander of the 100th "Jager" Division awarded 32 Iron Crosses including one to Degrelle..

    Wallonie Feldpost

    Rere feldpost cover mailed by a Walloon volunteer on Christmas day December 25, 1942

    In March 1942, the battalion was withdrawn from the Eastern Front after losing half of its personnel including 20 of the 22 Officers. After refitting in Germany, it was acting as a reserve unit of the German 68th Infantry Division but was transferred to the "97. Jager Division." The Legion was placed under the command of Belgian officer Lucien Lippert. In July, the Legion became involved in heavy fighting on the River Don opposite Stalingrad. Fortunately for the Walloons, they were withdrawn and sent to Kharkov. There the Legion traveled 800 Kms in one month and arrived in the Caucasus region, where it fought at Maikop so distinctively that the Germans were impressed with the fighting capabilities of the Walloons.

    In one action alone the Walloons lost 854 out of 1000 men.

    By mid-August 1942, the oil region of Maikop was captured. The survivors of that campaign wore the German Army "Edelweiss" arm and cap badges, identifying them as an elite Mountain Unit. In September 1942, the battalion's next objective was to take the Black Sea port of Tuapse, preventing the Soviet fleet from transporting supplies. Heavy rain mixed with hail and snow was slowing the legion's advance, follow by continued Soviet artillery and air strikes. On 15 November 1942, after setting up defensive positions near the Tuapse port, the Legion was ordered back to Germany for refitting and re-organization.

    5. Freiwilligen Sturmbrigade der Wallonien

    Wallonie Shield

    Wallonie Legion Shield

    By June 1943, 1600 veterans of the Legion were incorporated into the Waffen-SS. The formation along with another 400 recruits was sent to a training camp near Meseritz. Then it was sent to the training camp at Wildflecken, where it was better equipped. On 3 July 1943, it was designated the "Freiwilligen Sturmbrigade der SS Wallonien" and was placed under the command of Lt-Col Lucien Lippert with the rank of SS-Sturmbannführer

    On November 1943, the Sturmbrigade was sent to the Ukraine and was assigned to the famed 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking. The Sturmbrigade (Assault Brigade) fought on the Dnieper bend and was trapped in the Cherkassy-Korsun pocket, along with the 5th SS Panzer Division Wiking and five other German Divisions. Efforts at relieving the pocket began on late January 1944. The Walloon Brigade defended the positions on the extreme eastern corner of the cauldron and received the brunt of the initial enemy attacks.
    Outside the pocket, the III SS Panzer Corps was preparing to attack from the southwest in an effort to link up with the trapped troops once the breakout began.

    The Walloon Brigade was assigned to relieve the German 105th Infantry Regiment, which was defending the southern part of Novo Buda. The Walloon Brigade was tasked to hold the Soviets at bay while the remainder of the encircled forces assembled along the pocket's western edge.

    The commander of the brigade Lippert was killed, and Degrelle was promoted to replace him.

    After heroically repulsing all Soviet attempts to break through near the town of Novo Buda, the Walloon Brigade began withdrawing one platoon at a time, under cover of darkness. Under heavy enemy fire, the Walloons advanced across snowy terrain, pulling their wounded behind on carts.

    Of the 2000 Walloon men only 632 managed to escape the entrapment. Of the 56,000 soldiers originally encircled, all but 18,800 made it out of the pocket. As soon as the battle was over, they were brought back home for some rest and refitting.

    Rex Invitation Leon Degrelle was flown to Hitler's headquarters in East Prussia, where he personally awarded Degrelle the Knights Cross.

    By this late stage of the war DeGrelle was actively recruiting volunteers to fight against Bolshevism.

    On your right is an early Rex party invitation card rallying members and persons to attend the "Rex ou Moscou" meeting, which was held at the Sport Palace in Bruxelles. A 5 Franc fee was charge with the proceeds of the sale going towards the combatants.

    During spring 1944, The brigade was restructured, by bringing some 1500 men. The Eastern Front was collapsing, the Soviets launched a major offensive that destroyed Army Group Center while Army Group North was fighting for survival at Narva. By the end of June 1944 Degrelle received orders to prepare a motorized battalion for combat duty in Estonia. On 15 August 1944 a battalion of 450 Walloons arrived at Dorpat, Estonia and joined a German Battle Group "Wagner." The fighting in Estonia was referred as the "Battle of the European SS at Narva" because of all the different Waffen-SS foreign Legions that participated. Strong Soviet forces overran the Walloon's defensive positions causing them to retreat through Poland. Of the 450 Walloons taken to Estonia two weeks earlier, only 32 remained!
    In September 1944, the Walloons were withdrawn and sent to Breslau, Germany to form the 28th SS Division.

    28. Freiwilligen Panzer-Grenadier Division der SS Wallonien

    Walloon Legion Card

    The Walloons were organized and refitted in Breslau then in South Hannover and Braunschweig, Germany. The volunteers consisted of former Legionnaires and refugees from Belgian and France, who were leaving their homeland from the wake of the allied invasion.

    A substantial number of Spaniards veterans of the Blue Division, Legion and Frenchmen from the "LVF" had also volunteered to serve with the Wallonien Division.

    Most of the volunteers who joined the Walloon Division lacked military training, so only a Battle Group of about 4000 men were ready for action. On 20 September 1944 the unit was converted into the "28. Freiwilligen Panzer-Grenadier Division der SS Wallonien."

    In early January 1945, the Walloon Division was sent to a defensive position southeast of Stargard in Pomerania. The command was given to a German officer, who was later killed just before the division reached the Pomeranian region, and was replaced by SS-Obersturmbannführer Leon Degrelle. The Walloon Division was composed of one Artillery Unit and two Regiments (69 & 70).


    In Pomerania, the Walloon Division was prepared for the participation of Operation "Sonnenwende" (Solstice). This major offensive operation was entrusted to SS-Obergruppenführer Feliz Steiner's 11th SS Panzer Army. In Operation Sonnenwende there were three main attacking groups:
    The first group was assigned to the III SS Panzer Corps, which had some scattered units of the 11th SS Panzer-Grenadier Division Nordland (Scandinavians), 23rd SS Panzer-Grenadier Nederland (Dutch), 27th SS Grenadier Division Langemarck (Flemish), and the Fuhrer-Begleit Division (German SS Escort Cadre). This group would deliver the main offensive to relieve the encircled garrison at Arnswalde.
    The second group was assigned to the XXIX Panzer Corps, comprising of the Panzer Division Holstein, 10th SS Panzer-Grenadier Division Frundsberg, 4th SS Polizei Panzer-Grenadier Division and the 28th Grenadier Division Wallonien. This group would operate in the area between two lakes, the Madu See and the Plone See.
    The third group, which was the weakest, had the 281st and 163rd Infantry Division, the Fuhrer Grenadier Division and the tank assault 104th Panzer-Jager Brigade. This group was to protect the left flank and advance towards Landsberg on the Warthe.

    The Soviets under the command of Zhukov knew in advance of the German buildup, and was prepared with two armies: the 2nd Guards Tank Army in the west and the 61st Soviet Army in the east. The 61st Army alone had a total strength of 90,000 men. On 15 February 1945, a general three pronged drive by the German groupings won some ground in the face of Soviet counterattacks. After two days of sustained heavy losses from both sides, the German offensive was stalled and the SS troops were withdrawing to their starting positions. During the next weeks, the elements of the Panzer Corps were scattered to various areas in the crumbling defense lines around Berlin. The remnants of the Walloon Division fought major battles against overwhelming Soviet forces.

    The odyssey of the Wallonien Division ended in the 1st week of May 1945 at Luebeck, Flensburg and in Denmark where the last remnants of the division capitulated. Degrelle was left with only a few hundred men. He issued them with fake foreign worker permits, and he took off to Norway, where, he used Quisling's aircraft for his escape. Degrelle flew to Spain where he spent the rest of his life in exile.

    Walloon Postal History

    Postal History: Free postal privileges for mail weighing up to 250gms, were given to Walloons while serving in the German Arm-forces. A fee of 3 Francs was charged for mail weighing 250 to 1000gms. The separatist Walloons issued a set of four propaganda labels for the Wallonien Legion.

    Feldpost numbers assigned to the Walloon Legion

    In August 1941, the Walloon Corps was used to form the 373rd Infantry Battalion, which was assigned the following Feldpost unit numbers:

    Staff Hqtr Btl-------------- 38918A

    1st. Rifle Co. -------------- 38918B

    2nd. Rifle Co.-------------- 38918C

    3rd. Rifle Co.--------------- 38918D

    4th. Heavy Inf. Co.------ 38918E

    Walloon Feldpost

    Walloon Legion Feldpost

    The Walloon Legion Feldpost cover shown above was mailed from FPN 38918B (1st Rifle Co.).

    In July 1943, the Walloon Corps was incorporated into the Waffen-SS to form the new Assault Brigade Walloon, the following Feldpost numbers were assigned as follows:

    Brigade Staff------------------------------------- 38918

    War Reporters Platoon------------------------- 31954

    1st. Btl. (1-4 Co.)---------------------------------------28193A-D

    2nd. Btl. (5-8 Co.)--------------------------------------16821A-D

    1st Assault Gun Battery-------------------------37572

    2nd Assault Gun Battery------------------------41163

    8.8cm Anti-aircraft Battery---------------------25151

    2.2cm Anti-aircraft Battery---------------------41461

    Anti-tank Co.--------------------------------------43857

    Intelligence Co.-----------------------------------36637

    1st Field Reserve Co.---------------------------42059

    2nd Field Reserve Co.---------------------------18909

    Heavy Transportation Column----------------38714

    Walloon Feldpost

    Walloon Legion Feldpost

    Interesting feldpost cover mailed to Mr. Van der Geten, a Flemish who volunteer in the Walloon Legion. The feldpost was mailed in May 1942 to FPN 38918C, 2nd Rifle Co.

    In September 1944, the Brigade was reformed as 28th SS Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Division Walloon. The Division was assigned the Tatical No. SS-28 and Kenn No. 755. The following Feldpost numbers were assigned as follows:

    Divisional Staff---------------------------------- 38918

    SS Volunteer Pz-Grenadier Regiment 69

    Regimental Staff-------------------------------- 28193

    1st. Btl. (1-4 Co.)------------------------------------- 00385A-D

    2nd. Btl. (5-8 Co.)------------------------------------ 01379A-D

    SS Volunteer Pz-Grenadier Regiment 70:

    Regimental Staff------------------------------- 16821

    1st. Btl. (1-4 Co.)------------------------------------ 01379A-D

    2nd. Btl. (5-8 Co.)------------------------------------ 06974A-D

    Wallonie SS Feldpost

    As indicated by June 1943, 1600 veterans of the Legion were incorporated into the Waffen-SS. The formation along with another 400 recruits was sent to a training camp near Meseritz. Then it was sent to the training camp at Wildflecken, where it was better equipped. On 3 July 1943, it was designated the "Freiwilligen Sturmbrigade der SS Wallonien" and was placed under the command of Lt-Col Lucien Lippert with the SS rank of Obersturmbannführer.

    Waffen-SS precursor Wallonie feldpost cover with content was mailed by Wallonie volunteer Jean Charbonnier. The feldpost shows circular open address Meseritz postal cancel, unit seal and SS "As" circular censor marking. In his letters the volunteer talks about the Wallonie formation transferring into the Waffen-SS.

    SS Volunteer Artillery Regiment 28:

    1st. Btl. ---------------------------------------- Not completed

    2nd. Btl. ---------------------------------------------- 02544A-D

    3rd. Btl. ----------------------------------------------- 65856A-D

    Motor Co. 28:

    Mobile Repair Detachment------------------- 38714

    Medical Co. & Ambulance Co.---------------- 03277

    Signals Section 28--------------------------------- 36637

    Engineer Btl.---------------------------------------- 25151

    Logistic Co.----------------------------------------- 04712

    Field Ordnance Co.------------------------------- 41461

    Armored Fighter Btl.------------------------------ 43857

    Veterinary Co.---------------------------------------18909

    Field Postoffice 28.--------------------------------- 03487

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