Jump to content

Hungarian Paratroopers ??

Recommended Posts

By the battle of Budapest it seems that unit was no longer called 1st Parachute Group. It was apparently called 1st Parachute Regiment and formed part of the Szént Lászlo Division, a partially German trained and equipped division of various odd bits and pieces. 1st battalion of that regiment got caught in Budapest. German records list it as part of the troops there, and then as destroyed there in february 1945. The other parts of this Regiment seem never to have left German training camps? At least no field command listed.

The only other appearance of Hungarian "Fallschirmjäger" in German records - from what I can find that is - is listings as being part of operation Marita. Again listed as 1st Parachute battallion ("zunächst 1. Fallschirmjägergruppe, zunächst 1. Fallschirmjäger-Regiment."). Serving with the Hungarian troops. Verbündete listings, very laconic, no details of what they did or where, sorry.

No other mention. Doesn't necessarily mean they served in no other operations, but if so it was out of German sight.

Well, got us a little bit on the path. But I guess we need more details. Anybody speak Magyarul around here?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Én beszélek magyarul. smile.gif

Ok. I am Hungarian but I have very little information about the paras.

They had a battalion of them that is all.

You can find Laszlo Nemedi at the WarfareHQ forum, he must know a lot about them. Send him a PM there.

If I can squeeze it in my very little free time I may translate their OOB, That is all I know about them right now.

It is good to know that people are interested in Hungarian Military history.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

WarfareHQ Forum?

I was thinking - there are Hungarian Paras today no? So I gather they must probably have a homepage, or some other contact surface with the world. If for no other reasons, they will want to attract recruits. These paras will no doubt know about their origin, most units keep good track regardless of politics etc. I wager one could mail them and ask.

Problem is, I don't even know the word for "Paratroops" in Magyarul smile.gif So I wouldn't even know where to start. Could you do a search on the internet, maybe some official Hungarian army webpages, and see what you can find please?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...


I have a fairly comprehensive story on the Death Heads, Hungary’s Airborne Forces 1938-1945. The German Waffen SS paratroopers under Strumbannfuhrer Rybka were trained by the Hungarian airborne command located at Papa, Hungary for thir raid on Tito in 1944.

You can hit the link or read below.


The Parachute Forces

In 1938, the Hungarian Ministry of Defense decided to create an airborne infantry force the, "Ejtoernyos" (paratroopers). A parachute test center was established on Szent Endre, an island in the Danube river near the capital city of Budapest. Even though parachuting was in it's infancy in 1938, many enthusiastic Hungarian army infantry NCOs and officers volunteered to join this new unit. Parachutes and other airborne equipment were purchased from all over Europe and from the USA. The Italian Salvadore parachute, the German Schrodor parachute, and the US Irving parachute were all utilized by the Hungarians. This elite, special unit made many parachute drops with the newly acquired equipment from WW1-era Italian Caproni 101 aircraft.

Later, in 1939, the Hungarian army developed its own locally-manufactured airborne equipment, knee and elbow pads and a jump smock, as well as the H-39M parachute. The Hungarians also updated their aircraft inventory with the Savoia-Marchetti SM-75, purchased from Italy, and other modern aircraft.

The Hungarian Army Chief of Staff was impressed by the first training exercises of the paratroopers and recognized many practical applications for the new force within the regular army. The Hungarian army command expanded the paratrooper training program in 1940 and moved its location to the Papa Airport, where it established a standardized paratrooper school. The Hungarian paratroopers comprised one battalion of three companies with a total nominal strength of 410: 30 officers, 120 NCOs, and 250 enlisted men. The first operational battalion was soon ready in 1941.

When the Hungarian troops started to invade Croatia on 11 April 1941, they attacked the Batchka region. The Hungarian parachute battalion was placed on alert for possible deployment and kept in reserve by the Hungarian 3rd Army (commanded by Colonel-General Novák). When the Hungarians attacked from the north, the Yugoslav troops retreated from their first defensive line along the border with Hungary, behind the Franz Josef Canal. The Canal divides the Batchka area and the two canal bridges at Szenttamas and Verbasz had to be taken before the Hungarian Mobile Corps (Commanded by Major-General Béla Miklós) could occupy the rest of the region. The Hungarian Parachute Battalion was to be dropped behind the canal, approach the bridges from the rear, and seize them. The Hungarian airborne forces made their first operational combat jump over the northern Yugoslavian district of Delidek on April 12, 1941. After the drop, the Hungarian paratroopers marched over 30 kms to their objectives at night, then took the bridges after brief fighting with Yugoslav forces.

Following the invasion of northern Yugoslavia, in June 1941, the Hungarian paratrooper battalion was named in honor of Major Árpád Bertalan, a pioneer of Hungarian parachuting. Major Bertalan, a winner of the Order of Maria Theresa in W.W.I. (Honvéd -IR.4, awarded ten years after the action on 25 October, 1927), Austria's highest award for valor, and the Parachute Battalion's first commander, died tragically in a plane crash on April 12, 1941 the circumstances of which remain somewhat controversial. The plane crash that claimed Major Bertalan's life occurred at Veszprém Air Field, to which operations had been shifted because rain had left the runway at Papa Airport, composed of compressed dirt and gravel, too muddy for use. The airfield at Veszprém was the only military air base with a cement runway, so it was used by the paratroopers that day for the airborne assault on Yugoslavia. The plane carrying Bertalan was over loaded with equipment and crashed as it was trying to take off: Bertalan returned to the crash site and tried to retrieve equipment and ammunition from the wreckage. Bertalan, the pilot, and 22 paratroopers died as the plane caught fire and exploded (one period newspaper article claimed their was four survivors). The other three planes involved in the operation, dropped the remaining paratroopers: 3 officers and 57 men, at Ujverbász that same day.

Starting in late 1941 a new commander was nominated for the elite Hungarian paratrooper battalion, Colonel Zoltan Szügyi. Szügyi had a very distinguished record from the First World War and held many important infantry commands before being appointed as the new officer in charge of the Hungarian paratrooper force. Szügyi was a decorated solider in the First World War in the Austro-Hungarian Army, he started his military career as a private and then earned rapid promotion to Sergeant and then finally in 1918 to Lieutenant. General Szügyi decorations included the following Austro-Hungarian awards, the Order of the Iron Crown with war decoration and swords, The Military Merit Cross, 3rd Class with war decoration and swords, the Golden Bravery Medal (this was the highest award for valor an enlisted man could receive, date of award: May 15, 1915). The Silver Bravery Medal, First Class and the Silver Bravery Medal, Second Class, the Silver Military Merit Medal with swords, the Bronze Military Merit Medal with swords and the W.W.I German Iron Cross, Second Class. In the Second World War Szügyi was to further receive the German Iron Cross, First Class and the German Knights Cross (January 6, 1945).

In 1942 and 1943, Colonel Szügyi and a small cadre of officers and NCOs of the airborne force were moved to the Russian front in an advisory role, for special operations of Hungarian infantry against the Russian army. In 1943 Szügyi help conduct and advise equipment, arms and medical supply drop operations in the Ukraine to relieve elements of the Hungarian Second Army that had retreated from the Don River front following the Axis disaster at Stalingrad. The Hungarian air lift brought relief to many trapped Hungarian military units, allowing the units to retreat and escape from the Red Army.

In August 1944, Romania, Germany's ally but Hungary's opponent in many past conflicts, defected from the Axis powers and joined forces with the Russian Red Army, thus endangering the southern flank of the Axis forces in the Balkans. With the German occupation of Hungary starting in March 1944, many German and Hungarian units rushed to shore up the southeastern flank of the collapsing Axis eastern front. The Hungarian paratrooper battalion was rushed to meet the threat to Hungary's southeast border posed by their new opponents, the Romanians.

Colonel Szügyi, set up a strong defensive perimeter in the Carpathian mountains, the last natural defensive position to the east, along with many German units of the Wehrmacht. Out numbered 10-to-1, Szügyi's paratroopers put up a valiant struggle before being overwhelmed by the combined forces of the Red and Romanian armies.

Many survivors of the First Hungarian Paratrooper battalion, along with personnel from other units, including the Regents Body Guard and college students of the Levente Youth, were formed into the St. Lászlo Division (named for the victorious medieval king, Saint Ladislas I) on 20 October 1944. The Szent Lászlo Division was put under the command of now General Zoltan Szügyi (Szügyi having been promoted to Major General in October 1944 to lead this new, elite division). While the St. Lászlo division comprised three light infantry battalions, its strength fell far short of that of a regular division. In November 1944, the St. Lászlo Division was moved to the lake Balaton area, trying to stem the Russian south-west advance, after ten days of brutal combat the St. Lászlo was pulled back to defend Budapest, the battle for the Hungarian capital city was soon to follow.

On December 31, 1944, Budapest was surrounded by the Red Army, the city surrendered officially to the Russians on February 12, 1945. The Red Army and their allies then began their steam roller offensive west, pushing the remaining Hungarian forces and their German allies back into Austria. On 10 May 1945, General Szügyi and the remaining paratroopers of the St. Lászlo Division surrendered to the British army. According to General Bor (Lieutenant-Field Marshal Jenö nemes halmaji Bor),* there were many Hungarians who wished to return to their homeland, in 1945. Although the Russians had overrun Hungary, there was not yet a Communist regime in place, and there may have been hopes that Hungary's independence would be preserved once the war was over and the Allies withdrew from their respective zones of occupation.

In hindsight, of course, this was unrealistic when considering the Russians, but Hungary didn’t have the "benefit" of experiencing a prior Russian occupation. Russia continued as the de facto governing authority over the central European countries it had liberated from the Germans by installing Communist regimes in each that, effectively, sympathetic to the government of the Soviet Union and Russian Communism and were controlled by Moscow.

Ultimately many high ranking Hungarian military officers in the west were turned over to the Red Army or arrested by either the Soviet authorities and transferred to the Hungarian Communist authorities. Many Hungarian officers were put on show trials, deported to Siberia or executed, by the new Hungarian or other Communist regimes in Central Europe, (Lt. General Szombathelyi, C n’ C of the Hungarian Army in 1941, was turned over to the Yugoslavian authorities in 1945, put on a show trial in Belgrade and executed by impalement in 1946).

General Szügyi was no exception. Delivered to the Red Army by British military authorities in May 1945, General Szügyi was tried by the new governing body of Hungarian Communists who found him guilty of treason and with collaborating with the Hungary's Fascist government (The Arrow Cross). He was sentenced to life in prison. Szügyi signed several false confessions, so it is reasonable to believe he was subjected to torture by his captors.

The Insignia

The basic parachute badge depicted outstretched wings, to the center of the badge, there is a bronze skull, from which derives the badge's name, Death Head Badge. Beneath the skull are crossed swords, pointing downwards. The basic paratrooper badge exists in three grades: officer, made from gilt bullion wire; NCO, in silver bullion wire; and EM, a stamped brass badge with bronzed finish.

Some of the EM metal basic paratrooper badges were chromed with a bright silver finish for formal wear. The EM brass badge measured 80mm from wing tip to wing tip and 36mm from the lower base of the badge to the top of the badge, the bullion wing had the same measurements but variances in size occurred due to different manufactures or custom tailoring for the officers wing in bullion wire.

In 1942 a second type EM metal badge was designed for wear, which had a more stream lined, slightly different design wing and slightly larger then the first type, the skull and swords logo was retained. The second type wing was made from stamped brass, some manufactures employed a gilt finish to the EM basic paratrooper badge. Although their are several different finishes employed with this brass metal basic EM paratrooper badge they were issued for enlisted personnel only and are not for NCOs or officers.

In 1940 a “First Class Parachutist Badge” was authorized for wear by parachutists who had completed at least 25 first class (perfect) jumps. This badge depicts a large, bronze parachute rising above a skull and crossed daggers, surrounded by an ornate wreath of dark-green enamel. A cloth version of this badge with bullion embroidery was also authorized for wear by officers and NCOs. The author has seen one example of the Hungarian gilt master parachutist bullion badge, in the holdings of the Hungarian Military Museum in Budapest, that has a crown of St. Stephen to the top of the badge; this was described to the author as a prototype badge. The First Class Parachutist Badge came in one grade with the bronzed or bronzed gilt skull, chute and crossed daggers. The basic measurements of the master badge are 64 mm high, by 47 mm wide, the width of the canopy measures 25 mm.

* Lieutenant-Field Marshal Jenö Bor, from Nov 1944 - 3 May 1945: Inspector of Hungarian Forces, N. Germany, Chief Hungarian Commissioner for Supplies, Germany.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

banfield: great summary. a lot of news for me. But some correction:

1., Szentendre is not an island, this is a town. There is an island near to Szentendre and that name is: Island of Szentendre. But these are two different objects.

2., Hungary never attack Croatia. We attacked Yugoslavia, but not croatian territory. You wrote Batchka (Bácska) was/is in Serbia (but the hungarians live there) and not in Croatia.

3., You wrote "Delidek". Really it's name: Délvidék, and it's mean "Southern Territory" (in hungarian) and this territory is same that Bácska (Batchka).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Unfortunately, your content contains terms that we do not allow. Please edit your content to remove the highlighted words below.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...