Saturday, 20 September 2014

German Squad makeup during the war.

Preface

So chaps, I'm sure you all get the idea here. I write stuff, you believe stuff blindly, then use stuff in games as fact only to have someone far brighter than me show you why I was wrong. that's history, right? Pretty much. I make no guarantee that any of this stuff can't be proven wrong, especially with the minor powers of each side. In this post, I will look at how a (at the very least, especially with the smaller armies) regular infantry section  would be deployed at full strength given no casualties or manpower shortages. I plan to include equipment and the roles of individuals within the squads. Among other things, including a few notes on how effectively this worked. Since the German's had a number of different units in the action during the war, I'll try to cover most of them. 


The Heer Gruppe (Early War) 

Squad Strength: 
9 men

NCOs: 
Squad Leader (Feldwebel or Unterfeldewebel, usually the latter.)
Deputy Squad Leader (Unteroffizer, usually.)

Loadout:
3 MP40s
5 Kar98 Rifles
1 MG34

Both squad leaders would have an MP40, as well as a third man. 5 men would be armed with rifles, the fifth being the MG34's loader.

The Heer Gruppe was relatively effective as a fighting unit and this often meant that most German units were built off of it. The Standard Waffen SS squad for example, had very similar makeup to the standard infantry, only having access to slightly better equipment and generally more experienced soldiers. 

The Grenadier Gruppe (Late War)
From what I've read, the Grenadier Gruppe was simply a renaming of the earlier Heer gruppe, the way the Bolt Action Sourcebook describes it, an efford to improve the esprit de corps of the Wehrmacht. While minor (official) equipment improvements did occur, such as Assault rifles started to be used in some number, G43 semi-automatic rifles floated around the units, nothing major changed to impact the organisational structure of German infantry gruppes. Of  course, bolt action rather conveniently uses the grenadier gruppe as the dividing line between units having access to panzerfausts and assault rifles or not. 

Basically, Add "Panzerfausts and STG44s" onto the above list - Since the STG44 was a marriage of rifle and sub machine gun, it is not unreasonable that some squad may conceivably have access to enough assault rifles to equip every man - a rare occurrence, to say the least! If only a small number should have STG44s, the men with Sub machineguns should get them first - so, the NCO and the Deputy, then the third bloke with an MP40.

Fallschirmjager Squads

Fallschirmjager squads were armed differently to the Heer as they were paratroops. This is mirrored in the example of American Paratroops, who used shorter rifles and lighter anti-tank weaponry. Realistically, every piece of differing equipment given to the paratrooper was designed to be suitable for him to make the drop most effectively. Fallschirmjager squads still made use of every kind of weapon that was available to the average heer gruppe, even having certain equipment that could be considered better.

Pioneer Squads

Pioneers squads were usually the same size as a german  Heer squads. Their equipment differed quite substantially, having all manner of exotic and fantastic weapons available to them. Given their role as combat engineers, Pioneers would have a higher propensity to being armed with explosives, flamethrowers and Sub machine guns. 

Panzergrenadiers Gruppe

Squad Size
12 men

NCOs
Squad Leader 
Deputy Squad Leader

Loadout
1 MP40
7 Kar98 Rifles
2 MG34's
2 Lugers
Panzerfausts

This standard loadout was used for the Average Panzergrenadier squad. Note that, because Panzergrenadiers weren't usually intended for assault or breakthrough operations (that, they left to the armour), so would really be used to protect the Flanks of the Tanks and screen certain zones too dangerous for the Tanks to enter. As a result, most combat situations didn't call for effective close assault proficiency. This is why there is a higher proportion of rifles when compared to the standard Heer squad. Later in the war, Panzergrenadiers became something of a mobile reserve force. By this time, they would be armed in a manner much closer to the methods of the standard Heer squad.

Late War irregularities 

As the war dragged on, the Germans started to sacrifice quality and quantity within their squads. A squad that once advanced as a twelve man unit now moved as a 7 man unit, and a unit of Luftwaffe infantry were made up of mechanics and technicians pressed into service desperately because of manpower shortages. Some units - such as the Waffen SS Florian Geyer - the cavalry, literally, were defeated to a man and were not available for the fall of Berlin. However, The Armies of Germany theatre selectors do a good job of making these units unavailable at the right time - for example, it stops you taking assault rifles at the invasion of Poland! 

Outgoing

These aren't all the units that germany had differing organisations for - unfortunately, I don't have the time or resources to research much more in depth than I did for this article. However, I'm always happy to answer any questions presented to me. Feel free to leave me a comment, critique or question, or if you feel like you'd prefer to speak to me personally, please e-mail diaord@hotmail.com.