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Any examples of Western Allies using Kampfgruppe style units, post 1940?

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  • Any examples of Western Allies using Kampfgruppe style units, post 1940?

    Are there any examples of Western Allies using Kampfgruppe style units, post 1940?
    I’m doing some research for a possible tute sub-thematic on the art (I like to think of it as an art - must be the French in me, hee, hee, hee!) of combined arms ops from the ancient world to late C20th early C20th
    (and no I don’t want to hear that the Ancient Greeks and Romans can’t really be considered practitioners of the art - if I interpret some of their battles as combined arms ops then, they were indeed combined arms ops!,
    If I conclude there is a direct connection between the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the Bolivian potato crop of 1937….the connection exists. Agreed? )

    As part of this I’ll be looking at the ‘Kampfgruppe’ or battlegroup formations

    Now as many of you know the term Kampfgruppe is usually associated with the German Army in WII especially in the latter period (for those of you who don’t know: GET OFF MY THREAD!!).

    Essentially Kampfgruppes were ad hoc, quickly formed combat units varying in size but using often veteran infantry, armour (if available), artillery and other assets (if available). They were formed to carry out specific tasks (defensive or offensive). They were often named after commanding officers (KG Peiper of Battle of the Bulge Fame being the best known in the West I suppose).
    This had shades no doubt of the ‘Freikorps’ units (right-wing murder squads) that plagued Germany just after WWI, some named after their commanding officer.

    Characteristically these detachments often rapidly developed a kind of almost ‘spontaneous’ esprit de corps which help ‘bond’ the unit, enhancing its performance and efficiency etc.

    A good example was outlined in the ‘Battlefields #1 Against All Odds’ magazine (Ian Allan 2011) by Robert Kershaw where he described these units this way:

    “German veterans by this stage of the war fought for each other, serving in units bonded together and personalised by the name of the commander.
    Men fought for the Kampfgruppe ‘Lippert’ or ‘Spindler’ and ‘Moeller’ around the environs of Oosterbeek, perhaps less so far a dying Reich.”


    There could be extremely effective due to various factors the Germans possessed (and for the 100th time, with French and Polish parents I am NOT a Wehrmacht/Nazi fanboy).
    I’m interested in and appreciate the Wehrmacht’s methods and inherent capabilities - got it? Okay!

    What I’m interested in is if anyone has information on the Western Allies using these type of formations Post 1940?

    I’m not so sure either the US or UK Armies in NW Europe or Italy ever had any real need to form major units of this type, as of course they simply had such overwhelming resource superiority and never operated under serious pressure as the Germans had too almost continuously on the Eastern Front post-Kursk and against the Anglo Americans from late 1942 onwards.

    The Americans used those Regimental Combat Teams but they’re not really the same thing are they?
    Not ad hoc and certainly not operating in the anything like the desperate circumstances the Germans would have been.

    Maybe the USA used something like a KG in the Bulge?
    Or did they possibly use ad hoc units similar to KG’s in the defence of Bataan in 1941/42, where they were actually operating in desperate circumstances?

    Did the British have any Kampfgruppe moments?
    Their army tradition, organisation and regimental system may not have lent itself to this kind of formation and usage.
    Maybe in Norway or around Dunkirk in 1940?
    North Africa?

    Here I must confess to a small personal interest:
    In the early seventies I mentioned the subject to my father when I was first looking at Kampfgruppes (anyone remember the old Strategy and Tactics and Fire & Movement magazines? or the old British publication War Monthly?)
    He said something like:

    “eh dis donc (roughly translated: ‘Well I never!’ / ‘Hey that’s interesting.’ / ‘How ‘bout that’ etc.) back in ‘40 on the road to Dunkirk’ we had some old ‘75’s (French 75mm Field Guns) and a couple of light tanks join us (his infantry company and mortar detachment) when we were trying to set up a road block near Lille. Did that make us one of these ‘Kampfgruppe things”?

    I said: “Err sorry dad not really.”

    Might also mention that with my ole man’s war stories it was always: "on the road to Dunkirk in ‘40" or "when we were in Stalag XIIIB" (yep, the real one near Hammelburg, NOT the ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ fictionalization also ‘near’ a TV Hammelburg)

    Anyway I’d be interested if any of our resident US/UK army aficionados or experts have any info.
    Looking forward to your input

    Regards lodestar

  • #2
    Combeforce under Lieutenant-Colonel J. F. B. Combe for Operation Compass (9 December 1940 – 9 February 1941)

    Nickforce under Brigadier Cameron Nicholson February 1943, for the defence of Thala,

    Layforce under Colonel Robert Laycock, 2,000 men saw action in Bardia, Crete, Syria and Tobruk 1941

    Layforce II under Major Peter Laycock British and French troops 1943 - deception raids French coast 1943

    Britain may be said to have pioneered this type of ad hoc formation named after its commander in WW1 especially in response to the Kaiserschlacht
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

    Comment


    • #3
      Then there is also

      Dalforce under Lieutenant Colonel John Dalley also known as Dalley's Desperadoes. Mainly Chinese volunteers from police units etc fought at Singapore and continued afterwards as guerillas

      Task Force Butler under Brigadier Gen B G Butler S France 1944 division sized mixed US infantry and armour ad hoc formation.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

      Comment


      • #4
        I generally don't respond to lodestar threads due to their excessive and unnecessary verbiage but I'l make an exception to this one.

        Pretty much every Commonwealth and American combat involved a "kampfgruppe". Its just they didn't call them that.

        Americans called their KGs "regimental combat teams" or "combat command".

        The Commonwealth didn't really bother because its basic "infantry" battalion was a combined arms combat team already. It had light armour, anti tank, anti aircraft, artillery, engineering and infantry assets inherent. Its only attachments would be armour, machine gun support from the divisional MG battalion and access to artillery from the divisonal artillery regiment.

        See the following for how a commonwealth infantry unit changed during the war.
        http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39...v_inf_inf.html
        http://niehorster.org/017_britain/42..._inf-brig.html
        http://niehorster.org/017_britain/44...id_inf-bn.html


        The western allies were rich enough to put the assets that were needed into infantry units so every unit had them. The Germans only the other hand were not rich enough and so had to attach them on an as needed basis.

        The kampfgruppe should be seen as an indicator of a poor army making do, not some brilliant invention.

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        • #6
          As I indicated a British WW1 feature including
          Chaytor's Force under Major General Edward Chaytor Jordan Valley August - October 1918. Horse Foot and Gun (including motorised infantry)

          Norper Force under Major-General W. M. Thomson Horse foot and gun and RAF and armoured cars. Northern Persia 1918 -1919 Formed from Dunsterforce - see below

          Gators Force under Brigadier General Henry Gator. Composite infantry and motorised machine gun units March 1918 Western Front

          Dunsterforce under General Lionel Dunsterville, Motorised infantry, armoured cars, mortar batteries some cavalry 2 fighter bombers. Caucasia 1917-1918
          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

          Comment


          • #7
            Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
            I generally don't respond to lodestar threads due to their excessive and unnecessary verbiage but I'l make an exception to this one.

            Pretty much every Commonwealth and American combat involved a "kampfgruppe". Its just they didn't call them that.

            <snip>
            The western allies were rich enough to put the assets that were needed into infantry units so every unit had them. The Germans only the other hand were not rich enough and so had to attach them on an as needed basis.

            The kampfgruppe should be seen as an indicator of a poor army making do, not some brilliant invention.
            Nice! +1
            Will no one tell me what she sings?--
            Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
            For old, unhappy, far-off things,
            And battles long ago:
            -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

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            • #8
              Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
              I generally don't respond to lodestar threads due to their excessive and unnecessary verbiage but I'l make an exception to this one.

              Pretty much every Commonwealth and American combat involved a "kampfgruppe". Its just they didn't call them that.

              Americans called their KGs "regimental combat teams" or "combat command".

              The Commonwealth didn't really bother because its basic "infantry" battalion was a combined arms combat team already. It had light armour, anti tank, anti aircraft, artillery, engineering and infantry assets inherent. Its only attachments would be armour, machine gun support from the divisional MG battalion and access to artillery from the divisonal artillery regiment.

              See the following for how a commonwealth infantry unit changed during the war.
              http://niehorster.org/017_britain/39...v_inf_inf.html
              http://niehorster.org/017_britain/42..._inf-brig.html
              http://niehorster.org/017_britain/44...id_inf-bn.html


              The western allies were rich enough to put the assets that were needed into infantry units so every unit had them. The Germans only the other hand were not rich enough and so had to attach them on an as needed basis.

              The kampfgruppe should be seen as an indicator of a poor army making do, not some brilliant invention.
              I think you are somewhat muddled between a brigade and a battalion. A battalion very much relied on its division for all that and even a brigade was not really providing this. Some artillery might be brigade but most was divisional etc your linked diagrams actually show this. British all arms operations beginning with Hamel which demonstrated it in 1918 was organised at the divisional level the 21st division being the first example.
              Last edited by MarkV; 09 Jun 16, 14:20.
              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

              Comment


              • #9
                Were they not called- Task Force such and such in the Allied forces?
                SPORTS FREAK/ PANZERBLITZ COMMANDER/ CC2 COMMANDER

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                • #10
                  Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                  I think you are somewhat muddled between a brigade and a battalion. A battalion very much relied on its division for all that and even a brigade was not really providing this. Some artillery might be brigade but most was divisional etc your linked diagrams actually show this.
                  I consider embedded mortars as artillery, especially if they are 3 inch or greater.

                  The support company of each commonwealth battalion has artillery (mortars), carrier platoon, anti tank guns and engineering assets. A German infantry battalion only has a heavy weapons company with mortars and machine guns.

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                    I consider embedded mortars as artillery, especially if they are 3 inch or greater.

                    The support company of each commonwealth battalion has artillery (mortars), carrier platoon, anti tank guns and engineering assets. A German infantry battalion only has a heavy weapons company with mortars and machine guns.
                    Anything greater was not battalion and 3 inch and less was classed as infantry weapons and not artillery indeed in WW1 even the 2 inch toffee apples were not under battalion command. Anti tank guns at battalion level were either Boys AT rifles or PIATS not classed as heavy weapons and pioneers are not engineering assets
                    Last edited by MarkV; 09 Jun 16, 14:38.
                    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                      Anti tank guns at battalion level were either Boys AT rifles or PIATS not classed as heavy weapons
                      The British Infantry Battalion, 1943 to 1945

                      Note the TOE for a British Infantry Battalion includes a anti-tank platoon (2 Officers, 53 men).

                      This was equipped as follows:
                      As mentioned earlier, initial anti-tank needs were met in North Africa by the 2-pdr gun. During 1942 the newer and more lethal 6-pdr gun began to arrive, but priority required it first be issued to the Royal Artillery, so the little 2-pdrs it usurped were dumped with the Infantry. By 1943, it was realised the 6-pdr had itself been overtaken by events, and the RA turned to the 17-pdr, the final step in British anti-tank gun evolution.

                      The Infantry again inherited the gunners' cast offs, and the 6-pdr became the standard infantry ant-tank gun throughout the campaign in Europe. The Platoon served six weapons, each detachment provided with two Loyd Carriers to tow the weapon and transport ammunition. The second carrier also added a Bren gun and 2-inch mortar, the latter providing smoke and illumination flares. Platoon HQ fielded a Universal Carrier, plus the usual trucks and motorcycles.
                      So as can be seen each infantry battalion had stronger anti tank weapons than anti-tank rifles or PIATS. They had their own anti-tank artillery.

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                        I
                        The western allies were rich enough to put the assets that were needed into infantry units so every unit had them. The Germans only the other hand were not rich enough and so had to attach them on an as needed basis.
                        Cute, let's look at the assets actually available to British/Commonwealth infantry battalions/brigades:
                        heavy machine guns - none (all in divisional MG battalions)
                        heavy mortars - none (all in MG battalions)
                        infantry guns - none at all
                        Whereas usual German infantry regiments had all them. What was specific to a British infantry organization was a lack of normal regiments hence a concentration of support elements on the battalion level. Neither comparison between US and German infantry regiments reveals a dramatic superiority of the first.

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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post
                          The British Infantry Battalion, 1943 to 1945

                          Note the TOE for a British Infantry Battalion includes a anti-tank platoon (2 Officers, 53 men).

                          This was equipped as follows:


                          So as can be seen each infantry battalion had stronger anti tank weapons than anti-tank rifles or PIATS. They had their own anti-tank artillery.
                          According to L. P. Devine "The British Way of War in Northwest Europe, 1944-5: A Study of Two Infantry Divisions" the 6 pounder platoons were placed in battalion support companies and Andrew Holborn "56th Infantry Brigade and D-Day: An Independent Infantry Brigade and the Campaign in North West Europe 1944-1945" points out that these were grouped into a support battalion. Each infantry battalion in a Brigade was allotted a Battalion support company from this. So the infantry AT guns were a Brigade responsibility. Moreover Devine states that the ageing towed six pounders were unsuitable for attacking conditions and were very vulnerable to being taken out by German infantry, attrition being so high that infantry battalions became more reliant on the PIAT not less. One PIAT being provided per infantry platoon. Some battalions amalgamated their PIAT sections into tank hunting squads.
                          Last edited by MarkV; 10 Jun 16, 06:00.
                          Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                          Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                            According to L. P. Devine "The British Way of War in Northwest Europe, 1944-5: A Study of Two Infantry Divisions" the 6 pounder platoons were placed in battalion support companies and Andrew Holborn "56th Infantry Brigade and D-Day: An Independent Infantry Brigade and the Campaign in North West Europe 1944-1945" points out that these were grouped into a support battalion. Each infantry battalion in a Brigade was allotted a Battalion support company from this. So the infantry AT guns were a Brigade responsibility. Moreover Devine states that the ageing towed six pounders were unsuitable for attacking conditions and were very vulnerable to being taken out by German infantry, attrition being so high that infantry battalions became more reliant on the PIAT not less. One PIAT being provided per infantry platoon. Some battalions amalgamated their PIAT sections into tank hunting squads.
                            Please refer to the website linked to. It outlines the War Establishment listing for the British Infantry Battalion. Your initial statement was that British Infantry Battalions had no stronger integral antitank weapons than antitank rifles or PIATs. The War Establishment outline shows this was not the case. You have provided selected examples of how this organization evolved and changed in the field. That is all well and good but it still does not alter the fact that British Infantry Battalions, as intended by official regulations, had an antitank gun platoon as part of their organization. Later evolution and changes made in the field do not alter this initial fact. So making a blanket statement that "anti tank guns at a battalion level were Boys Anti-tank rifles or
                            PIATs" is incorrect. And your later evidence also supports this . According to it, the 6 pounder platoons were removed from the battalions and grouped together by some divisions. It would be very hard to remove these platoons from the battalions to regroup them if the battalions did not have them in the first place and only had anti tank rifles or PIATs.
                            Last edited by CarpeDiem; 10 Jun 16, 06:44.

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