Operation Hedderich

(German name)

This was a German airborne operation to facilitate the advance of Generalmajor Friedrich Kirchner’s 1st Panzerdivision from Luxembourg into north-eastern France on the first day of ‘Sichelschnitt’ (10 May 1940).

A small but important operation, thus undertaking was directly inspired by Adolf Hitler, and involved 125 volunteers under the command of a Leutnant Hedderich, who gave his name to the operation. The German party was landed before dawn in two lifts by 25 Fieseler Fi 156 Storch light aircraft to seize the vital communication centre at Esch sur Alzette. The Germans swiftly took their target, to the amazement of passing Luxembourgois workers, and later arrested a local policeman who objected to their presence on neutral soil.

By 09.00 of that morning the success of the operation was assured as the leading elements of the 1st Panzerdivision, part of General Heinz Guderian’s XIX Corps [mot.], arrived and started to pour into France.

Luxembourgois casualties for the day were six policemen and one soldier wounded, and 75 soldiers captured, while the Germans lost about 25 men killed and five Storch aircraft destroyed.