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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

    I found a copy of this osprey book and I wanted to post the author's interesting choices to see if they are agreeable:

    1. Grossdeutschland

    2. Feldherrnhalle

    3. Infantry regiment 119 and 19 'List' (In honor of Adolf Hitler)

    4. Panzergrenadier division Brandenburg

    5. Cavalry regiment 5 'von Mackenson'

    6. 44th Reichgrenadier division


    7. 116th Panzer division Windhund

    8. 21st Panzer division

    9. 24th Panzer division

    10. Panzer Lehr division

    11. 3rd Mountain

    12. 5th Mountain

    13. Tiger tank battalion 1-10 (first ten)


    I must admit that I never heard of the bolded outside of this volume.
    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

  • #2
    The Jaeger divisions had a good reputation as assault divisions. The original 44th Infantry Division died at Stalingrad. It was a prewar Austrian Infantry Division out of Vienna. It was rebuilt and soldiered on. While not in the Wehrmacht, the Fallschirmjaeger also had a good reputation.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      Panzer Division Brandenburg had a interesting story. The nucleus was originally special forces of the Abwehr and were the personal troops of Admiral Canaris, who was executed for treason.

      I believe under their various guises and names, they served in more theaters than any other German unit. They acted as advance troops in invasions to secure bridges and the like, and also served as infiltrators. They served in Poland, Poland, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Norway, USSR, Finland, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Crete, North Africa, South Africa, India, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.
      Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

      Prayers.

      BoRG

      http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
        I found a copy of this osprey book and I wanted to post the author's interesting choices to see if they are agreeable:

        1. Grossdeutschland
        Agreed.

        2. Feldherrnhalle
        Not a chance. Was wiped out twice and really didn't prove any better than any other division in combat.

        3. Infantry regiment 119 and 19 'List' (In honor of Adolf Hitler)
        Again an honorific without merit.

        4. Panzergrenadier division Brandenburg
        Formed towards the end of the war. A meaningless honorific.

        5. Cavalry regiment 5 'von Mackenson'
        Can't say. Unfamiliar with this unit.

        6. 44th Reichgrenadier division
        HuD or Hoch und Deutchmeister was a decent division but hardly elite.

        7. 116th Panzer division Windhund
        I think 2nd Panzer did better. The 116th really didn't prove elite.

        8. 21st Panzer division
        Where? North Africa? Certainly not in Normandy. It was originally formed using French junk and those Becker conversions. It certainly didn't prove highly effective after 6 June.

        9. 24th Panzer division
        Why?

        10. Panzer Lehr division
        Like its infantry cousin at Anzio, Lehr didn't live up to its reputation as skilled training troops.

        11. 3rd Mountain

        12. 5th Mountain

        13. Tiger tank battalion 1-10 (first ten)
        Same thing. I don't buy they are elite units.

        The 78th Sturm division might qualify. It was designated to hold the Smolensk to Moscow highway and kept up to strength as a 9 battalion division with support. As such it got good manpower and equipment.

        I might buy the three cavalry brigades formed one per army group in 1943 for use in the East. Nord, Mitte, and Süd all were hard fighting fire brigade units that were led by some of Germany's elite horsemen.

        1st Fallshrimjäger would qualify at least into 1944. It got the cream of the Luftwaffe's ground forces, was fully motorized later on and from 1940 on was a very well trained unit.

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        • #5
          I think 24th Panzer division is an elite division. I have the divisional history, and it was formed out of the elite 1st Cavalry division that fought in poland and france. Various supporting units were attached to it including a company of Brandenberger commandos.

          I tried to find more material about the cadres but I haven't found it yet. What is immediately noticeable is how the officer corps are sourced from 'vons' and clearly from Germany's military class. Many are professionals- older men with many years of prewar experience. I think of Manfred von Richthofen (from the junkers, and immediately sent into the elite calvary like others) when I saw this. The personnel are graduates from Germany's cavalry schools.

          Afterward France, they lost their 17,000 horses and were converted into a Panzer division and then debut in the 1942 summer offensive until their destruction in Stalingrad.

          It was rebuilt, and ended the war with 44 Knight's crosses.
          Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
          Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
          Barbarossa Derailed I & II
          Battle of Kalinin October 1941

          Comment


          • #6
            Just quickly breezing, not exact:

            According the 24th Panzer division's records, they captured ~32,000 soviet troops and a huge amount of material between the end of July to the end of October. This cost them over 5,500 causalities and operational tanks were down to a trickle.

            According to the 23rd Panzer division's records, from the end of July to the end of November they captured over 10,000 soviet troops. They took a few thousand casualties. Their tanks were also down to a trickle, and both divisions started with around the same number.

            The history of the 24th starts off with the comments pertaining to their background as cavalrymen, and implying that this experience paid dividends in the future as a panzer division.

            All of this is circumstances and so forth, but still.

            I wonder what that implied? I know that cavalry in WW2 worked as assault reserve, reinforcements, recon, screening, infiltration/flanking forces, etc.
            Last edited by Cult Icon; 28 Jul 14, 01:08.
            Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
            Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
            Barbarossa Derailed I & II
            Battle of Kalinin October 1941

            Comment


            • #7
              I hate subjective labels.

              I'm sure at one or several points in time these units were very good and capable. Elite has such an air about it that you can't apply it to a division that at one point in time has 14,000 men and then completely churns through men through a 1 to 5 year period. Commanders come and go, good ones and bad. Some units are decimated performing a heroic stand then are rebuilt with no veteran cadre. One unit will get blacklisted and sent to some remote location where it can't distinguish itself... there's so many things that make a unit "good".

              The 800 pound gorilla in the room is that there's no SS in the list. But let's not go there because apparently as soon as you mention SS, everyone assumes elite.

              Labels are just easy subjective measurements without merit.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Dunnigan View Post
                I hate subjective labels.

                I'm sure at one or several points in time these units were very good and capable. Elite has such an air about it that you can't apply it to a division that at one point in time has 14,000 men and then completely churns through men through a 1 to 5 year period. Commanders come and go, good ones and bad. Some units are decimated performing a heroic stand then are rebuilt with no veteran cadre. One unit will get blacklisted and sent to some remote location where it can't distinguish itself... there's so many things that make a unit "good".

                The 800 pound gorilla in the room is that there's no SS in the list. But let's not go there because apparently as soon as you mention SS, everyone assumes elite.

                Labels are just easy subjective measurements without merit.
                My worst jump story:
                My 13th jump was on the 13th day of the month, aircraft number 013.
                As recorded on my DA Form 1307 Individual Jump Log.
                No lie.

                ~
                "Everything looks all right. Have a good jump, eh."
                -2 Commando Jumpmaster

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                • #9
                  Hi

                  Would have to broadly agree with both TAG's and Dunnigan's posts.

                  Regards
                  "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                  "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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                  • #10
                    I consider this to be a pretty bad book. The author simply chose a bunch of units that he liked but did not include any criteria behind his selection.

                    The sections that cover these units, some of them really obscure, do not extend evidence of their capability but rather are just a very short unit descriptions.

                    The inclusion of several units (espec. the adolf hitler regiment 'List') is just odd. This unit was Adolf Hitler's old regiment from WW1.

                    These units make sense to me, though:


                    1. Grossdeutschland

                    8. 21st Panzer division

                    9. 24th Panzer division

                    11. 3rd Mountain

                    12. 5th Mountain

                    13. Tiger tank battalions
                    Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                    Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                    Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                    Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Difficult question. I learn towards the view that the iterations of units that were formed pre 1942 were of a higher caliber after their experiences and for a time, could compete and achieve big things on the battlefield.

                      I believe that there were no elite units in the Wehrmacht in 1944 outside of GD/FJ 1 and the Wehr as a whole had deteriorated competitively.

                      78th Sturm yes. Brandenburg yes.

                      1st. FJ up to 1944.

                      PzD 1 to 11, 21st PzD, 24th PzD. up to 1943

                      GD up to the spring of 1944.

                      SS PzD 1,2,3,5 in 1943 only.

                      given the numerous units and gaps in my knowledge, this list is admittingly very imperfect.

                      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                      The 78th Sturm division might qualify. It was designated to hold the Smolensk to Moscow highway and kept up to strength as a 9 battalion division with support. As such it got good manpower and equipment.

                      I might buy the three cavalry brigades formed one per army group in 1943 for use in the East. Nord, Mitte, and Süd all were hard fighting fire brigade units that were led by some of Germany's elite horsemen.

                      1st Fallshrimjäger would qualify at least into 1944. It got the cream of the Luftwaffe's ground forces, was fully motorized later on and from 1940 on was a very well trained unit.
                      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Hi

                        There were several regular Heer divisions that had a good reputation throughout the war (1st, 11th and 121 for example(, and despite the huge difficulties they faced, they remained so. That's also true for some Stug Abt's

                        The German army developed a system for rating Divisions - "Bewertungen des inneren Wertes". The system was used from 1942, rating divisions according to a set of fixed criteria: hardness, endurance, command structure/skill of the Divisons leadership, fighting spirit, training standards and dependability.

                        The grading system was:

                        I: Particularly good division, unconditionally dependable. Has proven itself with distinction in crisis situations.

                        II: Dependable division, proven in crisis situations.

                        III: Conditionally dependable division, not or not fully proven in crisis situations.

                        IV: Division of low dependability, not to be relied upon.

                        Regards
                        "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                        "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          They used a I-V system in the Great War. After the collapse of Russia, there were only two Class IV divisions and the rest were Class V! There were several Cavalry Divisions in the V Class. Class I were outstanding in Attack. Class II were very good in attack. Class III were not to be used in the attack but were good in defense. Class IV were capable of holding a defense under good conditions. Class V were bad!

                          Divisions were also variable over time and the state of their personnel and equipment.

                          Pruitt
                          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Regarding the Brandenburgers

                            Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                            Formed towards the end of the war. A meaningless honorific.
                            You're forgetting that they started as a battalion of special forces under the command of military intelligence. Grossdeutschland started out as a battalion of ceremonial guards. They grew in parallel with Grossdeutschland. was their training partner. and finally was part of Panzerkorps Grossdeutschland. Until Admiral Canaris and the Abwehr lost control of the Brandenburgers they served all over the place at the same time in small units and also as firemen like the Fallschirmjaegers. These guys were language experts, demolition experts, special tactic experts, evasion experts, engineers, and more. A great number of Brandenburgers managed to melt away and escape capture when the Eastern front fell apart toward the end. Eighteen hundred of Otto Skorenzy's men were transferred from the Brandenburgers when they morphed into a panzer division because they did not want to fight conventional warfare.

                            All together, their contributions were greater than it appears at first glance. And in my earlier post, I inadvertently left off Belgium, Italy, and Turkey on their list of theaters that they served in.
                            Last edited by Salinator; 29 Jul 14, 03:19.
                            Flag: USA / Location: West Coast

                            Prayers.

                            BoRG

                            http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/8757/snap1ws8.jpg

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PtsX_Z3CMU

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                            • #15
                              Turkey?

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