Above Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring awarding the Fallschirmjäger who demonstrated gallantry in the invasion of Crete. The Fallschirmjäger participated in many of the famous battles of World War II and in many theatres. As elite troops they were frequently deployed at the vanguard of attacks and as the bulwark of a defense. They would see action in the Norway and Denmark campaign and in Belgium, Holland and France in 1940. Major actions in the Balkans Campaign, Crete, Italy, and on both the Eastern Front and later the Western Front would follow.
The skillful airborne seizure of Fort Eben-Emael permitted the early capture of Belgium and, alongside successful operations in Holland, was crucial for the speed of the German victories in 1940. The major airdrops in Norway and Denmark in May 1940 was also vital to the success of the campaign there, although, like the amphibious forces, had suffered heavy casualties.
Due to the parachute techniques used by the Fallschirmjäger their descent was uncontrollable and the frequently landed on their knees and elbows forcing them to carry only side arms and a gravity-sprung knife. Their weapons were dropped in containers which they had to assemble before being combat ready. Below one trooper has a modified lanyard made from parachute cord. Below Right: Fallschirmjäger inspect a captured Thompson submachine gun.