Fs-Führer Uhlig is a German Infantry unit.
Overview[edit | edit source]
Oberfeldwebel Alexander Uhlig was born in Saxony and one of the first paratroopers to join the freshly formed German airborne units in 1937. Serving with I. Bataillon/Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 1, he participated in the occupation of Czechoslovakia and the invasions of Poland, Norway, Crete, and North Africa. Following his transfer to Oberst von der Heydte’s 6. Fallschirmjäger-Regiment in Normandy in 1944, Uhlig participated in one of the most infamous defeats of the U.S. 90th Infantry Division.
On July 22, the 1st and 2nd battalions of the 358th Infantry Regiment belonging to the division captured Saint-Germain-en-Seves, pushing back elements of Fallschirmjager-Regiment 6 and securing the town. However, the slow progress made by the U.S. units convinced Oberst von der Heydte that it was just a reconnaissance force. To stem the attack of well over 1,500 soldiers, he dispatched 16. Kompanie with 32 men led by Oberfeldwebel Alexander Uhlig. After reconnoitring the target, Uhlig realized what kind of opposition he was facing, but had no choice: His company was all that remained in the gap between the regiment's sixth and eleventh companies. He quickly decided on a plan of action: After sneaking onto the 1st battalions right flank, he launched a sneak attack that pushed the U.S. forces back 300 m, inflicting heavy casualties by nightfall, while losing only four men.
He then decided to attack the other end of the frontline, with support from three Panzer IVs of the 2. SS-Panzerdivision, two MG-42 machine guns, and with 16 extra men. The attack started at 7 AM on July 23rd. U.S. units successfully defended their position two times, but when they attacked the third time and broke through to the battalion HQ, the U.S. defense fell apart and the battalion commander ordered his troops to surrender. Soldiers who did not throw down their weapons and attempted to retreat to friendly lines ran straight into the two MG-42s, set up to repulse any reinforcements coming from the rest of the division. By the end of the day, Uhlig held the frontline, captured 265 prisoners of war (including six officers), at a negligible cost to his own men and materiel (except for two Panzers lost to mechanical failure). He also arranged a truce to allow American wounded to be evacuated. For his actions, Uhlig received the Knight's Cross in October 1944.
However, his turn came soon: A week after his feat, Operation Cobra was launched and Uhlig was quickly surrounded, surrendering to the 357th Regiment belonging to the very division he soundly defeated earlier in the year. Uhlig was relocated to a POW camp in England, from which he escaped in 1947, making his way to Leipzig through the U.S. and Soviet occupation zones. Never recaptured, Uhlig remained an important figure in the veteran community, trying to bridge the gap between former enemies. His reputation and especially the truce that allowed many U.S. lives to be saved aided him in his endeavor.
Alexander Uhlig died in November 2008, aged 89, an accomplished engineer and a honorary member of the New Zealand Crete Veterans Association.
Strategy[edit | edit source]