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Elite Units of the German Army 1939-1945

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  • #61
    Your argument is one of semantics, and I disagree with it. I don't argue over semantics as a rule.

    Armies appraise their units, and know which ones are more effective and which ones are less. These are units of an identical organizational form, and find themselves in identical situations, which they are subsequently trained for if they get a chance.

    It is surely difficult to compare performance if you haven't read unit histories. General histories will talk about a division but never its components in action, its war fighting leadership, or its logistical experience. But from reading unit histories of identical units (panzer divisions) a mosaic appears as do criteria.

    It is rough, the source material is not the best, and we are not experts like Army or army group generals, but it is what it is.
    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


    • #62
      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
      Your argument is one of semantics, and I disagree with it. I don't argue over semantics as a rule.
      No problem.

      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
      Armies appraise their units, and know which ones are more effective and which ones are less. These are units of an identical organizational form, and find themselves in identical situations, which they are subsequently trained for if they get a chance.
      That's oversimplifying. In summer 1942 you've got PzD with one, two or three tank battalions and 14 to 150 tanks to them. That is not much of 'identical organizational form'. Considering 'identical situations' - well, we could talk of 'similar situations' but even then it's hard.

      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
      It is surely difficult to compare performance if you haven't read unit histories.
      My point is - it is difficult even after you read them. “If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you're mis-informed.” (c)

      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
      General histories will talk about a division but never its components in action, its war fighting leadership, or its logistical experience. But from reading unit histories of identical units (panzer divisions) a mosaic appears as do criteria.
      You seem to have read a lot of unit histories and I would really appreciate your opinion on the criteria.

      Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
      It is rough, the source material is not the best, and we are not experts like Army or army group generals, but it is what it is.
      By the way, why don't we consult the experts then?

      Comment


      • #63
        Who are the experts? What if they decline to boldly go into the fray?

        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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        • #64
          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
          Who are the experts? What if they decline to boldly go into the fray?
          That is exactly what I was trying to hint at.

          Comment


          • #65
            Originally posted by krichter33 View Post
            4. panzer was excellent as well.
            I just realized that Dietrich von Saucken commanded this division for a while and also was appointed commander of Panzerkorps GD.

            I am not sure of what it did in 42'. It was important areas in 1941 and 1943. The 35th Panzer regiment was the most decorated in the army.

            Recently I have read of poor performance of the 5th Panzer division in the summer of 1943. The commander was a general staff officer that didn't last long in his position. Decker takes the division, and during Bagration it was the most dangerous unit in the area.
            Last edited by Cult Icon; 21 Oct 14, 01:25.
            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


            • #66
              Originally posted by broderickwells View Post
              Of course no SS divisions would be considered elite army units - they were never in the Heer.
              More semantics. </stern finger-wag>

              "Elite" is a relative term, even an ambiguous one. I think it's fair to say that the German armed forces in mid 1941 were at a peak their game, and could be considered overall to be elite. However, for practical purposes a better definition is needed. A useful yardstick might be their morale and the priority they were given in receiving newer equipment.

              Offhand, I would include Grossdeutschland, the Fallschirmjäger, Gebirgsjäger, Leibstandarte AH, Das Reich, Totenkopf, Panzer Lehr and perhaps the Afrika Korps.

              1. They all thought they were better than anyone else, especially the Waffen-SS;
              2. The TOE of the Panzer divisions expanded as their legend grew;
              2a. They also received the latest weapons, and more of them.

              Regards
              Scott Fraser
              Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

              A contentedly cantankerous old fart

              Comment


              • #67
                Weren't there a number of German Infantry Divisions in 1941-42 only good for garrison work? I would have to qualify any statement that said the whole German Army was elite. Some Divisions had the older troops, bad equipment and few vehicles.

                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


                • #68
                  Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                  Weren't there a number of German Infantry Divisions in 1941-42 only good for garrison work? I would have to qualify any statement that said the whole German Army was elite. Some Divisions had the older troops, bad equipment and few vehicles.
                  Well, of course. But that isn't just necessarily because of older troops, less training, lower morale. 15.-Welle divisions in June 1941 had two infantry regiments instead of three, each with a total of 48 LMGs and 12 50mm mortars (no ATGs, no IGs); a standard 1.-Welle division at this time had three infantry regiments, each with 43 LMGs, 12 HMGs, 27 50mm mortars, 18 81mm mortars, 6 75mm IGs, 2 150mm IGs, 2 47mm or 50mm ATGs, and 9 37mm ATGs. This division's infantry regiments also included a recon platoon and an engineer platoon (the 15.-Welle division's regiments lacked these).

                  The 15.-Welle division also had one artillery battalion, for a total of 12 105mm howitzers. The standard 1.-Welle division had an artillery regiment with four battalions, for a total of 36 105mms and 12 150mms.

                  All of the stuff (in particular motor vehicles and artillery) in the 15.-Welle unit was captured.

                  I could continue but I think the point is clear. Even if the 15.-Welle units had had first-rate human material, you won't be elite with fourth-rate numbers and equipment. And this is at the zenith (June 1941).
                  Michele

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    IMO,the whole thing is a non sequitur : there is nothing that one can use to label division A as elite and division B as non elite .

                    ex:

                    A had an offensive mission:strength 15000 men and 150 Pz;it is faced by opponent C with 20000 men and 200 tanks .

                    A fails in his mission and loses1000 men and 50 tanks,why opponent C loses 3000 men and 150 tanks.


                    B had a defensive mission,strength 10000 men and 50 tanks and is faced by opponent D with 10000 men and 50 tanks.

                    B succeeds in his mission ,lost 3000 men and 10 tanks while D lost 2000 men and 50 tanks .

                    Who is the elite ?

                    A who fails in his mission,but loses less men than C and than B?

                    or
                    B who succeeds in his mission but loses more men than A and opponent D?

                    And this is only a very simplified exemple,there are a lot of additional variables available ,as,intervention of the air force,supplies,weather, ground,deployment,etc

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      The better numerical measure, which doesn't require General Staff training and experience as a Generalmajor/leutnant/oberst would be numbers of prisoners and material captured on a frequent basis as well as the track record of situational awareness plus mission accomplishment. Units that can frequently beat enemy units via tactical maneuver (that is not part of operational envelopments) rather than firefights have a superiority.

                      Own losses can be pared with these movements.

                      Also with soviet and german forces (preceding a major offensive), the evaluation of their armies can be sensed.

                      At Kursk, the II SS panzer korps- the strongest one- was wedged inbetween 48th Panzer korps and III panzer korps. III Panzer korps and the neighboring infantry corps to the east were to hold the flank and screen the SS's drive. The 5th Guards Tank Army of the Steppe front was days away and it was not meant to be committed instantly. III Panzer korps did not really make it and was unable to screen the SS PzK's drive, which led to the early deployment of the SS-TK as a flank guard.

                      The 48th Panzer korps was directly in the path of 1st Tank Army. Its spearhead was the GD with its attached Panthers, and they were meant to defeat Katukov's army. Since they were in the way of a tank army so close to the front, they could not be expected to be the first to 'close' the pocket.
                      Last edited by Cult Icon; 21 Oct 14, 19:10.
                      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


                      • #71
                        Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post
                        Units that can frequently beat enemy units via tactical maneuver (that is not part of operational envelopments) rather than firefights have a superiority.
                        Huh, or they are just motorized/mechanized units that are equipment-wise suitable for that kind of task, and thus are often given that sort of orders, or leeway. Meanwhile a crack or elite leg infantry unit may well be ordered, exactly because of its tough veteran status, to launch a frontal assault elsewhere because nothing else is possible there.
                        Michele

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          I'm not talking about just mechanized units. Even horse drawn infantry units on the eastern front employed envelopment and maneuver (which requires breakthrough to get in, as well), except at a smaller scale (with regiments, battalions and companies). It was at however, a slower tempo and based more on better troop skill & initiative.

                          The impression I am getting is that some of the arguments here are based on the 'operational level'. I am literally talking about combat actions division and below and of a much more frequent basis.
                          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


                          • #73
                            Panzerkorps GD I and II have information about the origins of the 'Fuhrer Begleit Brigade'. I had first seen this unit when reading about St. Vith and the Battle of the Bulge.

                            This was originally a well trained combat ready battalion that was used to protect Hitler while in transit or at his bases such as the 'Wolf's lair'. It was seen that this unit would not be just security guards, but rather combat experienced. The men of this unit rotated between front assignment to the battalion or in PzG division GD. The Fuhrer begleit also sent a heavily armed company to the eastern front (AGN) to get battle experience. It was then moved back in.

                            In 1944, AGN was short of reserves in Jan. due to the endless crisis in the south and the center. This heavily equipped battalion was immediately raised and fought on the eastern front for 3 months:

                            2 rifle companies
                            1 heavy company
                            1 panzer company ( 3 x Panzer IV platoons, 1 x Assault gun platoon)

                            elements of the Führer Flak Battalion with:
                            four 88mm guns four 37mm flak
                            six to eight 20mm guns on self-propelled carriages
                            as well there was a signals unit with 3 field telephone and
                            2 radio troops

                            This unit was sent to support Oberst Graf von Strachwitz's battlegroup for his successful Narva counterstrike with 'Feldherrnhalle Division and the 61st Infantry Division'.

                            The experience gained from the deployment of “Battle Group Böhrend,” which was created at short notice as a result of the emergency situation at Narva, and its later success as part of Graf Strachwitz’s armoured battle group led to the formation of a combat regiment. As per an order from Hitler, this reinforced regiment was only to be used at focal points.
                            So these are the origins of the Fuhrer Begleit Brigade.
                            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


                            • #74
                              There also was a Fuhrer Grenadier Brigade as well. The FB Brigade was raised to divisional status at the end of the war and committed to the Eastern Front. The Grossdeutschland was originated as a Heer Battalion to guard Hitler. The German Army did not want to let just the SS do the job. The Wach Battalion (Parade unit) in Berlin was involved

                              It seemed like every time a special Guard unit was set up it would be expanded and another Guard unit took its place.

                              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


                              • #75
                                The FBB and the FGB were unique brigades (~7,000) during the battle of the bulge that were, as typical, heavily equipped and required higher authorization before they could be used (FM Model). The FBB was designated as an 'exploitation' force for 5th Panzer Army. Its mission reminds me of a tank corps.

                                Rommel commanded the FHQ before he was posted to command the 7th Panzer division. Note the tank that says 'Rommel'. Hitler's security force also had tanks.

                                Lorenz is now 'Generalmajor' so this is after Sept. 1944. Lankeit is the one with the cap and oak leaves. He was the long time commander of Panzer regiment GD. He was eventually promoted to Generalmajor and commanded the newly formed Pzg Division 'Kurmark' in 1945 (in reality more like a mechanized brigade):

                                Last edited by Cult Icon; 25 Oct 14, 11:22.
                                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

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