Military Wiki
Wilhelm Falley
File:Wilhelm Falley.jpg
Born (1897-09-25)September 25, 1897
Died 6 June 1944 (1944-06-07) (aged 46)
Place of birth Metz, Alsace-Lorraine
Place of death Picauville, Normandy
Buried at Orglandes German war cemetery
Allegiance German Empire German Empire (to 1918)
Germany Weimar Republic (to 1933)
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1914 - 1944
Rank Generalleutnant
Unit 4 InfRgt, 330th Inf Div, 246th Inf Div
Commands held 91. Luftlande Infanterie-Division
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross
German Cross in Gold
Iron cross 1914 and 1939

Wilhelm Falley (1897–1944) was the first German general to be killed during the Normandy Landings in France. He was commander of the 91st Infantry Division. Falley was killed by a paratrooper of the US 82nd Airborne Division, near Sainte-Mère-Église, Normandy.


Wilhelm Falley was born in Metz, Alsace-Lorraine (at that time a part of the German Empire), on September 25, 1897. Falley joined the Imperial German Army straight from school. Enlisted in the 93rd Infantry Regiment, he fought during the First World War as a junior officer. After the war, he continued his career in the army, gradually climbing the ranks. In 1936, Falley became an instructor at the military school in Munich.

Falley was Company Commander twice during the 1930s in the 5th Infantry Regiment, first the 5th Company and later the 18th Company. Following two battalion commands, 3-238th Infantry and 2-433rd Infantry, Falley was appointed commander of the 4th Infantry Regiment on April 21, 1941. As a Lieutenant Colonel, he was awarded for bravery the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 26 November 1941. As a Colonel in February 1942, he became commander of an officers' school, until June 1943. Promoted to Major General (Generalmajor) in December 1943, and Lieutenant General (Generalleutnant) in May 1944, he held various commands before being appointed Commander of the 91st Luftlande Infanterie-Division in April 1944.

Lieutenant General Wilhelm Falley was the first German general to fall in action during the Normandy landings. On D-Day, General Wilhelm Falley was returning from Rennes, where a war game had been organized by the High Command, to his Division headquarters, in Picauville, near Sainte-Mere-Eglise. Ambushed, his car, riddled with bullets, crashed against a wall. Wilhelm Falley was shot by Malcolm D. Brannen, a 1st Lieutenant of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne.[1]

Wilhelm Falley was buried in the German military cemetery at Orglandes.


Staff positions

  • Commander of 5th Company, 5th Infantry Regiment (01 Jul 1933-01 Oct 1934)
  • Commander of 18th Company, 5th Infantry Regiment (15 Oct 1935-06 Oct 1936)
  • Commander of 3d Battalion, 238th Infantry Regiment (26 Aug 1939-13 Jan 1940)
  • Commander of 3d Battalion, 433rd Infantry Regiment (13 Jan 1940-21 Apr 1941)
  • Commander of 4th Infantry Regiment (21 Apr 1941-19 Jun 1942)
  • Commandant of School V for Infantry Fahnenjunker, Döberitz then Posen (01 Aug 1942-10 Jun 1943)
  • Temporary-Commander of 36th Infantry Division (12 Sep 1943-01 Oct 1943)
  • Commander of 330th Infantry Division (01 Oct 1943-05 Oct 1943)
  • Temporary-Commander of 246th Infantry Division (05 Oct 1943-01 Dec 1943)
  • Commander of 246th Infantry-Division (01 Dec 1943-20 Apr 1944)
  • Commander of 91st Infantry-Air-Landing-Division (25 Apr 1944-06 Jun 1944)

Dates of Ranks

  • Leutnant (Reserve) (Second Lieutenant of Reserves) (07 Aug 1915);
  • Leutnant (Second Lieutenant, Regular Army) (26 Jan 1919);
  • Oberleutnant (First Lieutenant) (31 Jul 1925);
  • Hauptmann (Captain) (01 Mar 1932);
  • Major (Major) (01 Apr 1936);
  • Oberstleutnant (Lieutenant Colonel) (01 Aug 1939);
  • Oberst (Colonel) (01 Feb 1942);
  • Generalmajor (Major General) (01 Dec 1943) *;
  • Generalleutnant (Lieutenant General) (1 May 1944) *

Note: The German Army of World War II had no rank of Brigadier General.


  1. Das Mühlenanwesen bei Bernaville und der Tod des Generalleutnants Wilhelm Falley [1]
  2. Scherzer 2007, p. 302.
  • D-Day 1944 - Voices from Normandy, Robert Neillands and Roderick de Normann, Cold Spring Press, New York, 2004 ISBN 1-59360-012-7.
  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000). Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939-1945. Friedburg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 3-7909-0284-5.
  • Patzwall, Klaus D. and Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 - 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II. Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 3-931533-45-X.
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Generalmajor Heinz Fiebig
Commander of 246. Infanterie-Division
5 October 1943 - 20 April 1944
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Claus Müller-Bülow
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Bruno Ortner
Commander of 91. Luftlande-Infanterie-Division
25 April 1944 - 6 June 1944
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Bernhard Klosterkemper

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