Following the costly success of Operation Mercury, the airborne assault on Crete in 1941, several elite Fallschirmjäger units were formed into an ad-hoc brigade under the command of veteran commander Oberst Hermann-Bernhard Ramcke. The brigade was slated to take part in Operation Hercules, the planned invasion of Malta.
When the attack was cancelled, the Brigade, now named Fallschirmjäger-Brigade Afrika, was sent to join Rommel’s Deutsches Afrika Korps in North Africa.
In April 1942, the brigade was renamed Fallschirmjäger-Brigade Ramcke. After arriving in North Africa in July 1942, the brigade performed excellently, providing a counter to Stirling’s Special Air Service, which had been wreaking havoc with the Axis command, control and logistical system. Ramcke’s unit next formed a part of the spearhead during the DAK’s assault towards the Suez Canal, fighting alongside the Italian 25th Infantry Division Bologna before British opposition solidified near the town of El Alamein.
The brigade was then heavily engaged in the Second Battle of El Alamein. During the German withdrawal, the brigade was cut off behind enemy lines and written off as lost by Rommel. Despite this, on 3 November 1942, the brigade began marching west to rejoin the retreating Axis forces. On the night of 6/7 November, the brigade came upon a British 8th Army supply convoy, consisting of a large number of British transport vehicles. Without firing a shot, the brigade hijacked the column. Now fully motorised, the brigade continued moving west. The transport unit which they had hijacked happened to be the entire supply convoy for an allied Armoured division, and besides the trucks themselves, Ramcke’s men had captured quantities of fuel, water, food and cigarettes. By the time the brigade reached friendly forces, it had travelled over 200 miles. Following this feat, the brigade was sent back to Tunisia for rest.
The brigade was now renamed Luftwaffen-Jäger-Brigade 1, and after a brief period of rest was thrown back into the lines against the advancing allied forces in Tunisia. Ramcke was transferred back to Europe, and command passed to Major Hans Kroh, one of the battalion commanders. The brigade was involved in heavy fighting against the British in the mountainous terrain of southern Tunisia. The brigade kept fighting until the capitulation of Panzer-Armee Afrika in May 1943, when the survivors surrendered to the Western Allies.
Ramcke Brigade veteran Friedrich August von der Heydte went on to command Fallschirmjäger Regiment 6 near Carentan in the 1944 Normandy campaign. Ramcke himself was placed in command of the defence of Brest, which he held until 20 September 1944, and was responsible for the evacuation of over 40,000 civilians (font Wikipedia).