Swiss 1st Army Corps - May 10, 1940

[Task and Position] [Order of Battle] [Fortress St. Gotthard] [Fortress St. Maurice]

The corps had the task to defend the two fortified areas of the St. Gotthard and St. Maurice and the Simplon pass. In addition it defended some smaller passes giving access to the main areas of defense.

Task and Position

The 1st corps had the task to defend the central alpine area of Switzerland and the Southern border to Italy. Its task was stated as follows in the Operationsbefehl No 4:

"1. A.K. hält sich bereit, einen überraschenden Ueberfall auf unsere Südgrenze im Abschnitt Mt.Dolen - Pizzo di Cresem entgegenzutreten; es bereitet sich für diesen Fall vor, sowohl die Stellungen der Grenztruppen, als auch die Festungen St. Maurice und St. Gotthard zu halten."

"The 1st Army Corps is ready to resist against a surprise attack against our Southern border in the area between Mt. Dolen - Pizzo di Cresem; in the case of an attack, the corps is ready to hold the positions of the boarder troops as well as the fortresses St. Maurice and St. Gotthard."

(Click here to get a larger map in a subwindow.)

For this task the Swiss 1st corps had one division, three brigades and two strong fortifications under its command:

Forward Positions

Main Position

Special Assignments

Due to neutrality issues, two regiments of the 9th Division had to close the gap left in the line of 3rd Corps due to the fact, that 1st Division was located in Switzerland (see Gruppe Dietikon). Therefore one of the main challenges for the 1st Corps was, that a part of its troops could only be moved, when two regiments of 1st Division would have been moved across half of Switzerland.

Order of Battle

(click on the units to get to more detailed OOBs)

The 1st Army Corps fielded the following force:

Field Fortresses Total
Men*) n/a n/a ca 69'241
LMG 2'103 n/a 2'103
Laf LMG 540 n/a 540
sMG 968 17 985
81mm Mortar 212 4 216
47mm ATG**) 154 8 162
75mm Feldgeschütz 48 47 95
105mm sch mot Kan 24 2 26
120mm Feldhaubitze 16 45 61
150mm Feldhaubitze 0 1 1

*) Combatant units only.
**) Actually a field gun. Mostly used in ATG role.

Commanding Officer: Oberstkorpskommandant Lardelli

Fortress St. Gotthard

The fortifications around the St. Gotthard pass are amongst the oldest in Switzerland. Construction started in the 19th century and reached a first maxima during WW1. In the 1930s the fortifications were extended. The fortifications consist of four major areas:

  1. The pass itself.
  2. The Southern approaches throught the Leventina with fortifications around Airolo.
  3. The Northern approaches through the canton of Uri with the fortifications around Andermatt and Göschenen.
  4. The other minor approaches with fortifications on the passes of Furka and the Oberalp.

Some of the fortifications were already pretty old and their value was certainly questionable in the age of the paratroopers and the Stuka. But there were also a lot of modern defenses and improvements added in the 30s. In addition the infantery defense was always very high on the priority list (in contrast to the Belgium fortress of Eben-Emael where German paratroopers destroyed the fortress in a surprise attack in May 1940).

Fortress St. Maurice

The fortifications of St. Maurice form one of the pillars of the defense of the Swiss alps. They consist of three major areas:

The initial fortifications date back to the late 19th and the early 20th century. There were a lot of efforts going on

[Last Update 30.08.2010]