Monday, May 11, 2015


F1: Szazados, Parachute Assault Regiment, Szent László Division, February 1945 This company commander is wearing the paratrooper brown-sand-white camouflage jacket over his field tunic with the parachute qualification badge above the right breast pocket on grass-green cloth backing; several variants existed, including wire-embroidered. He also displays the Combatant Officer badge on the right breast pocket, and the aluminum Szent László badge on the left - an axe with a crooked shaft on a crown in a wreath. He carries a 'Frommer Stop' pistol. German M1937 paratrooper helmets were also worn in this unit. F2: Szakaszvezetö, 10 Reconnaissance Battalion, December 1944 This deputy platoon commander wears the rare white/light greenish brown reversible padded winter jacket, and trousers tightened with ankle strings over black half-boots. He has a M1939 Kiraly SMG, magazine pouch and necklace of M1936 grenades. F3: Alhadnagy, Military Police Company, 10 Infantry Division, January 1945 This warrant officer wears the Gendarmerie field uniform: peaked field cap with green plumes; khaki overcoat with madder-red and steel-green spearhead collar patches with a silver Gendarmerie platoon- or post-commander’s crowned button, and a M1944 Field Security duty gorget; breeches and black leather riding boots. His weapon is the M1943 version of the Kiraly SMG.

G1: Örvezetö, 12 Artillery Battalion, December 1944 This gunner wears his field tunic with scarlet collar patches replaced by cloth strips due to material shortages. He wears M1943 trousers with canvas anklets and ankleboots, and has discarded his field equipment while serving a field gun. G2: Tizedes, Air Force Rifle Regiment, Szent László Division, December 1944. This radio-operator wears the khaki Air Force enlisted field uniform, with brown crowned 'Turul' hawk cap badge on a black triangle on the beret with black cap band and neck ribbons. The tunic has a white braid chevron and two rank bars on black shoulder straps, brown winged-propeller collar badges, and brown crowned hawk buttons; on the left breast pocket is the aluminum Szent László badge on black branch colour cloth. He wears long trousers and black half-boots. and operates an R-3 radio. G3: Hadnagy, Buda Volunteer Regiment, February 1945 This platoon commander wears Hungarian Army uniform with a white armband showing the company number. He has picked up from the battlefield a Soviet PPSh 41 7.62mm SMG and a khaki canvas pouch for its distinctive drum magazine. His overcoat has infantry officers' gold-buttoned spearhead collar patches and cuff rank insignia.

Budapest, with a population of about 1 million, is divided by the Danube into Buda (west) and Pest (east). Hitler designated it on 6 Dec 1944 as a 'fortress', requiring defence to the last man; the siege lasted 102 days, 3 Nov 1944-13 Feb 1945. On 9 Dec 'Leader of the Nation', Szálasi fled to Szombathely, in March 1945 to Vienna, and later to Munich.

The Budapest garrison, under SS-Ogruf Karl Pfeffer-Wildenbruch (a militarily incompetent senior policeman), comprised 79,000 personnel. The principal Hungarian units were Budapest I Corps, with 1 AMD, 10 & 12 ID, part of 1 HD; 1,7 & 10 Assault Artillery Bns; Parachute, Budapest Guard, five AA and five Gendarmerie battalions; 16 KISKA home guard battalions (25 Sept 1944-6 Jan 1945); also seven Hungarist Combat Groups of Szálasi Militia, Arrow Cross Youth and Budapest Police units. German forces included IX SS-Mountain Corps (13. Pz, Feldherrnhalle PzGren, 8. & 22. SS-Cav Divs), 153. Field Training and 271. VolksGren Divs, plus SS-Police units. Other units from Fretter-Pico (23 Dec 1944, Balck) west of Budapest fought in the city until 27 Dec, besieged by the 177,000-strong 2nd Ukrainian Front and Romanian 4th Army.

Three concentric earthwork rings of the Attila Line I (outer), II and III protected Pest. 12 ID, 8. SS-Cav Div and Hungarian paratroopers repelled 2nd Ukrainian Front on the south-eastern Attila I Line on 5 Nov, and 13. Pz, 18. SS-PzGren and 46. Inf Divs halted a north-eastern probe on 22 November. Soviet forces took Csepel Island in the south on 21 Nov against 1 HD, and broke through northern Attila I at Fót on 10 Dec against Feldherrnhalle and Hungarian 10 ID, paratroopers and KISKA. Meanwhile Soviet-Romanian units pushed back 10 ID and 12 RD, penetrating Attila II at Isaszeg on 12 December. Discounting a western attack, Army Group South had built no defences around Buda, but 3rd Ukrainian Front reached the western Buda suburbs on 24 Dec, taking Budaörs the following day, capturing Üröm on the 26th and Szentendre on the 27th in the north, completing Budapest's encirclement. Soviet artillery began shelling, while Arrow Cross Militia terrorized civilians and murdered Jews. Soviet-Romanian forces penetrated the Pest suburbs on 25 Dec, occupied most of the Attila I and II lines, and by 5 Jan 1945 were fighting house-to-house inside Attila III. They occupied Pest on 18 Jan, most of its defenders having evacuated to Buda.

Soviet forces advanced towards Buda centre in ferocious street fighting between 24 Dec and 3 January. In January, IV SS-Pz Corps west of Buda made three attempts to break through Soviet lines to Budapest: Operation 'Konrad I', 1-12 Jan; 'Konrad II', 7-12 Jan; and 'Konrad III' (with III SS-Pz Corps), 18-27 January. 'Konrad' was unsuccessful; but Balck Army Group retook Székesfehérvár on 20 Jan, reached the Danube, and advanced to within 20 miles of Budapest. Soviet forces resumed the attack on Buda on 16 Jan and occupied Margit Island between 19 and 30 January. The final assault on Buda began on 30 Jan; the garrison surrendered on 11 Feb, and on the 13th all resistance ceased.

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