Just after midnight of June 6th
"I ordered my Regiment to form into combat order and proceed towards Carentan..... Riding a side car.... I reached a hamlet called Ste Marie du Mont..in the main square stood an old church with a fairly high steeple..
from the top, had a breathtaking view which I shall never forget...... on the horizon countless of warships were lined up forming an almost unbroken chain."
Born: Munnich Germany, March 30, 1907
Date of enlistement: April 1 1925
Fallschirmjäger since: August,1, 1940
Last Service Rank: Oberstleutnant
Last Service Position: C.O. Operation "Stösser" Battle of the Buldge
Knight'scross: July 9, 1941
Awarded for: Crete, Operation "Merkur"
Position: C.O. I/FJR3 with rank of Hauptmann
Oakleaves: October 18, 1944
Awarded for: Normandie
Position: C.O. FJR6 with rank of Oberstleutnant
German Cross in Gold: March 9, 1942
Luftwaffe parrachutist badge: October 20, 1940
Luftwaffe ground assault badge
Iron Cross First Class
Iron Crross Second Class
Wound Badge in Black
Italian War Cross in Gold
Baron Von der Heydte joined the Reichwehr as an officer candidiate on April 1 1925. After serving with the 18th Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment he became commander of the 2nd Company, 6th Anti-tank Battalion as Oberleutnant.
He fought in the Western Campaign as an infantry Hauptmann, but soon after joined the Fallschirmjäger troops in August of 1940. He was quickly placed in command of the I Battalion 3rd Fallschirmjäger Regiment and was part of Operation Merkur (Mercury) the airborne invasion of Crete on May 20, 1941. His Battalion was dropped somme where near Agya. On May 27, the Baron and his Battalion captured the Eastern end of the Cretan capital of Chania, he then pushed on through to the harbor. He was awarded the Knightscross for his bravery and leadership during the campaign.
Baron Von der Heydte was then sent to North Afrika as Commander of the Lehr Battalion (I/FJR3) of the Ramcke Brigade, Originally his Battalion and the rest of the Ramcke Brigade was to be used in the invasion of Malta, which was postponed and the where sent to reinforce Rommel's Afrika Korp. By August 1942 the Battalion was in combat positions where they succesfully held it's positons until November 1942, when they where froced to evacuate along with the rest of the Brigade . The following weeks where the most difficult for the men under Heydte and the Ramcke Brigade, when the Brigade a most daring escape by capturing a British supply column making quick use of the lorries and supplies the Brigade, whate remained of it, aproximately 600 men made it's way bck to Tunisia. Once there the majority was evacuated in planes and boats and very few remmained behind and even a handful of these men daringly escaped accross to Sicily in small crafts.
On February 1st, 1943 Von der Heydte was appointed as IA (1st Adjutant) of the 2nd FJD under General Bernhardt Ramcke, with which he was involved with the disarming of the Italian forces in and around Rome in September of 1943. Unfortunately while flying to the isle of Elba his aircraft crashed seriously injuring him and putting him out of action for over four months.
After his recovery he was appointed commander of the newly fromed 6th Fallschirmjäger Regiment on February 1st 1944. He lead the unit through out the hard fough campaign of Normandy where his young regimant, whos average age was 17 1/2, took a tremoundous loss. But their actions where well noted and remembered by both sides, they where even mentioned in the Wehrmacht communique. And earned the name given to them by the U.S. paratroops "The Lions of Carentan".
On August 1st , Von der Heydte was promoted to Oberstleutnant and was assigned with setting up a parachute army combat school in Aalten Germany. On December 8, He was tasked in forming a Kampf Grupp (Battle Group) "Kamfp Grruppe Von der Heydte" for Operation "Stösser" which was ordered to parachute into the Ardenees during the "Battle of the Buldge" during the night of December 17, 1944. His misson to capture and hold open roads and bridges for the 6th SS-Panzer army, unfortunately due to high winds his men where badly scattered. And with their comunications equipment damaged, men scattered hopelessly, Von der Heydte with a broken arm the operation was a total failure. Their was very little Von der Heydte could do but divide his remaining men in small bands and send them back to Germnany. As for Von der Heydte he held up in a farm house, where on December 24th he sent the farmers son with a message of surrender to the Americans. Von der Heydte was taken prisoner and held until July 12, 1947.
While being held as a pridoner he was bitterly attacked and critizied for his out spoken anti-Hilter coments, he went on to become a professor of law at the University of Würtzberg. He also wrote his exploits of the the invasion of Crete in a book titled "Daedulas Retruned". (inset right)l
Von der Heydte (w/broken arm) pictured left during the Battle of the Buldge