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  • Red Army Division strength 1943-45

    Part of the 'story' of the Red Army circulating in the English language venues is the chronic understrength of the infantry formations. I've seen claims of the average strength of the "rifle Division" of 1943-45 placed between 5,000 and 8,000 men, with 3,500 men being not uncommon.

    Can anyone comment on the reality, and/or point to some easily acessable sources on this?

    Thanks

  • #2
    IIRC David Glantz gives some numbers in his books e.g. Colossus Reborn and its Companion.

    Also as an example: divisions of 8 Guard Army on April 10, 1945 by Alexey Isaev
    35 гв. сд 47 гв. сд 57 гв. сд 39 гв. сд 79 гв. сд 88 гв. сд 27 гв. сд 74 гв. сд 82 гв. сд
    Офицеров 633 663 616 678 657 654 655 643 678
    Сержантов 1153 1237 1036 1296 1397 1208 1229 1112 1469
    Рядовых 3280 3000 3135 2903 2775 3075 2938 2985 2916
    Всего людей 5066 4900 4787 4877 4829 4937 4822 4740 5063
    Rows are: Div num, COs, NCOs, privates, total

    You can see another common problem here - significant disproportion between ranks: RKKA turned into "sergeants and officers army" by that time

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
      Part of the 'story' of the Red Army circulating in the English language venues is the chronic understrength of the infantry formations. I've seen claims of the average strength of the "rifle Division" of 1943-45 placed between 5,000 and 8,000 men, with 3,500 men being not uncommon.

      Can anyone comment on the reality, and/or point to some easily acessable sources on this?

      Thanks
      check this document
      http://www.armchairgeneral.com/rkkaw...ldivstaff1.htm

      I'd say very often soviet divisions were understrengthened. Sometimes they were as small as nominal battalion. Of course this was not a usual case.
      If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

      Comment


      • #4
        Tried to align the numbers better...

        ...................35 гв. сд ..47 гв. сд ..57 гв. сд..39 гв. сд..79 гв. сд
        Офицеров.....633 .........663 .........616.........678.........657
        Сержантов...1153 ....... 1237 ........1036.......1296........1397
        Рядовых......3280.........3000.........3135....... .2903.......2775
        Всего людей 5066........4900.........4787........4877.......48 29


        ...................88 гв. сд ..27 гв. сд ..74 гв. сд сд 47 гв. сд
        Офицеров.....654......... 655.......... 643............ 678
        Сержантов...1208........1229.........1112......... ..1469
        Рядовых.......2775........3075.........2938....... ....2985
        Всего людей.4937.........4822.........4740...........506 3

        This makes sense if one wishes to retain a high portion of division cadres. I'll leave aside the question of why so many division cadres & HQ would be wanted. If one wants a division with many riflemen that can be created here by adding a mass of conscripts and a month or two of training them to fire rifles and light machine guns, or carry mortar ammunition. Otherwise these officers and sergeants can sit entrenched by their MG and cannon.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by amvas View Post
          check this document
          http://www.armchairgeneral.com/rkkaw...ldivstaff1.htm

          I'd say very often soviet divisions were understrengthened. Sometimes they were as small as nominal battalion. Of course this was not a usual case.
          I must sleep on this. Probablly a lot of new questions will emerge.

          Comment


          • #6
            From at least the middle of 19453 on, the Soviet Army leadership made the decision to not keep rifle divisions at full strength. As the numbers of non-divisional units dramatically increased in 1943, an increasing percentage of the available manpower went into tank, mechanized, artillery, combat engineer, self-propelled artillery, antitank and antiaircraft units. Basically, more men (and women) went into units that inflicted casualties rather than suffered them.
            In late 1943 general instructions went out to the Front commands on how to organize 'short' rifle divisions. I have not been able to find the originals of these instructions, but some of the Front HQ 'implementing instructions' I have found. Specifically, I have such instructions from 1st and 3rd Ukrainian Fronts, 1st Baltic Front, and Karelian Front dated April 1944 to February 1945.
            In virtually every case, the manpower shortages were concentrated in the rifle regiments: the artillery, antitank and antiaircraft elements in the divisions kept all their weapons, and reduced manpower by reducing the size of the gun crews and ammunition columns. In the rifle regiments, the changes were much more dramatic.

            Here are examples of the 'guidelines' for organizing 'short' rifle divisions:

            (April 1944)
            Rifle Division total strength: 7189 men
            Rifle units:
            9 rifle battalions, each:
            3 companies, each
            3 rifle platoons
            rifle company total:
            106 men, 1 medium machinegun, 9 light machineguns

            (April 1944)
            Rifle Division total strength: 6245 men
            Rifle units:
            9 rifle battalions, each:
            3 rifle companies, each
            2 rifle platoons
            rifle company total:
            74 men, 1 medium machinegun, 6 light machineguns

            (April 1944)
            Rifle Division total strength: 5327 men
            Rifle units:
            6 rifle battalions, each:
            3 rifle companies, each
            3 rifle platoons
            rifle company total:
            91 men, 1 medium machinegun, 9 light machineguns

            (April 1944)
            Rifle Division total strength: 4400 men
            Rifle units:
            6 rifle battalions, each:
            2 rifle companies, each
            2 rifle platoons
            rifle company total:
            64 men, 1 medium machinegun, 6 light machineguns

            (February 1945)
            Rifle Division total strength: 3600 men
            Rifle units:
            6 rifle battalions, each:
            2 rifle companies, each
            3 rifle platoons
            rifle company total:
            76 men, 1 medium machinegun, 9 light machineguns
            (this organization achieved the larger rifle company strength by removing all the regimental submachinegun units and replacing them with a single
            Divisional submachinegun Company with 44 men, half the strength of the original regimental companies)

            In a table published in July 1944 in the Ukrainian Fronts, the manpower strength of the 'short' rifle regiment varied from 1915 officers and men to 900 officers and men, in rifle divisions which could total from 7200 to 4200 men total. And remember, these totals are BEFORE any casualties were suffered.
            Even in the 900-man regiment, however, the regimental 120mm mortar battery, 45mm antitank battery, and 76mm gun battery were all intact: the regiment might have too few men to actually take any ground, but it had plenty of heavy firepower to hold ground. If such a division was tasked with an attack, it would be supported by self-propelled artillery and tank units, combat engineers, and the number of riflemen would be increased by adding a 'penal' company or battalion. (After May 1944 the 'penal' units were renamed 'assault' units because their front line mission had become almost exclusively that of reinforcing assault divisions).
            All of this meant that even within the rifle division, the percentage of men in the front line and under the fire of the enemy was steadily going down, while the number of troops manning heavy weapons and pounding the enemy steadily went up as a percentage of the division.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by amvas View Post
              Thanks for this link. The chart shows a change in the composition of the artillery, specifically the reduction of the 76mm & 122mm caliber cannon, the change dated July 1941. What was the reason for this change?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                From at least the middle of 1943 on, the Soviet Army leadership made the decision to not keep rifle divisions at full strength. ...

                In virtually every case, the manpower shortages were concentrated in the rifle regiments: the artillery, antitank and antiaircraft elements in the divisions kept all their weapons, and reduced manpower by reducing the size of the gun crews and ammunition columns. ...

                All of this meant that even within the rifle division, the percentage of men in the front line and under the fire of the enemy was steadily going down, while the number of troops manning heavy weapons and pounding the enemy steadily went up as a percentage of the division.
                That satisfies one question I'd had & assumed the answer. The decision to keep the remaining soldiers concentrated with the heavy weapons is important to understanding what is going on here.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                  Thanks for this link. The chart shows a change in the composition of the artillery, specifically the reduction of the 76mm & 122mm caliber cannon, the change dated July 1941. What was the reason for this change?
                  Great losses in heavy artillery in summer 1941.
                  It had no enough powerful prime-movers and been towed by ordinary tractors had speed 5-6 km/h. Rapid German advance left almost no chances for heavy guns to escape
                  If you fire a rifle at the past, the future will fire a cannon at you.....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd read elsewhere about the losses of trained gunners/officers causing the reduction, but the date does not really match. It is not clear to me the losses in the first weeks were large enough to cause this reorganization so early, hardly five weeks after the Germans attack, and before the Urkrainian encirclement, or the engagement of many of the reserve formations which were just mobilizing. The other source ascribed this reduction to the loss of trained artillerymen, particulary officers, and placed it later in December 1941. This chart strongly suggests other reasons for the reduction of cannon in the rifle division.

                    It does occur to me the chart reflects a 'paper' action that was not executed on or near the date given. That is the new allotment of cannon was planned and published before & on 29 July, but the formation commanders had not executed the reduction schedule on or soon after that date. Perhaps executed slowly over many months as circumstances allowed?

                    Obviously more information is needed. The question reflects on some of the other sources, and interpretations I have on the shelf here.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Role of Nikolai Vornov - Red Army Atillery?

                      Had intended to ask this far in the furture, but this thread has come directly this related subject...

                      Here is a partial link to one of the sources I refered to in the earlier post. Specifically it is a essay by a US Army officer dicussing the decisions/actions of the Red Army artillery officer Nikolai Voronov concerning the defense of Moscow in 1941. It appears in the August 1991 issue of the Field Artillery Journal & the author is Captain S L Curtis.

                      http://sill-www.army.mil/firesbullet...ves/index.html

                      If anyone of the experts here could make the time time to read the article & critique it for me I'd be gratefull

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Ouch, I'm embarrassed - I used to write for the Field Artillery Journal, when I was stationed at Fort Sill, and I thought they could do better at military history.
                        Sadly, the author uses only English-language secondary sources, plus (I assume) the English language edition of Voronov's memoirs, without any cross checking with other Soviet sources, or contemporary (1941-42) German intelligence - which files were available at the time the article was written, because I was accessing them from the microfilm copies in the National Archives!
                        Anyway, his thesis is that 'Voronov's reforms' refurbished the Red Army artillery in time to have a major effect on the Battle of Moscow. Specifically, the building up of artillery reserves by stripping artillery from the rifle divisions, the addition of 120mm mortar units to 'fill in' for indirect fire, and the massive use of artillery in direct fire mode as both infantry support and antitank action.
                        In every case, that's either partly or completely wrong.

                        First, to dispose of the completely wrong: the 120mm mortar regiments were not formed until the Moscow Counteroffensive was already under way, and were not at the front in quantity until March - April 1942 - after the counteroffensive had largely run its course.

                        Second, the artillery in the rifle divisions. Starting in July, the existing (prewar) rifle divisions had their antitank battalions and howitzer regiments officially removed. I say officially, because quite a number of them kept both units until the Battle of Moscow: at Kalinin alone, about half of the Rifle Divisions still had their antitank battalions, and the 133rd Rifle Division had both its light artillery and howitzer regiments. New divisions being formed not only were missing their howitzer regiment and antitank battalion, but were authorized about half the machineguns and mortars of the prewar shtat. Again, many of the newly-formed divisions turn out to have extensively 'overarmed' themselves, especially with regard to machineguns, before they got into combat. The divisions formed from the NKVD in July are especially eclectic, some of them even including completely unofficial tank companies in the division.

                        What made a huge difference in the effectiveness of the artillery was not the number of guns, but the efficiency of indirect fire. The prewar rifle division had an "Artillery Commander's Platoon" to control and mass the fires of the divisional artillery. These were already undermanned before the war started, because the expansion of the Red Army in 1939 - 41 and far exceeded the school capacity to provide trained artillery staff and command officers. They disappeared completely from the wartime units, which meant that whatever howitzers/guns were available, the unit's ability to mass and control them in indirect fire was missing. By default, most of them wound up at the front lines, firing in direct fire and getting knocked out, shot up, or over run by the Germans.

                        The RVGK (High Command Reserve) artillery regiments, some of which were in front of Moscow, maintained their indirect fire capability and, with the few rifle divisions that still had it gave the Germans fits (the 133rd's artillery, among other things, shot the Luftwaffe right out of Migalovo airfield at Kalinin, destroying over 50 aircraft on the ground in the last half of October 1941 with long range artillery fire called in by forward observers spotting the airfield from the far bank of the Volga).

                        The principle direct fire success was in using non-antitank artillery as antitank means. At Moscow, from late October on, over half the 'antitank artillery' regiments were armed with antiaircraft guns (37mm, 76mm or 85mm) and some of the newly-formed antitank regiments had regular artillery pieces, up to 107mm corps cannon! They were cumbersome, and the gunners utterly untrained at engaging mobile ground targets, but if an 85m antiaircraft gun or 107mm cannon hit a Pz III or Pz IV, that was pretty much the end of tank, crew, and anything else within a 20 meter radius of the hit...

                        In summary (and in contrast to the article) the Soviet artillery successes at the Battle of Moscow, both defensive and offensive phases, were not due to 120mm mortar units or regular artillery in the direct fire mode. They were due to all artillery being willing to engage tanks in direct fire if necessary, and using the few indirect-fire capable prewar units (divisional or RVGK) to mass fire in offensive and defensive support. The support was, by the time of the offensive in December, usually coordinated at Army level by the Army Artillery commander and his staff, and this continued to be standard practice until the Artillery Divisions were introduced in quantity in late 1943. After that, the Artillery Division staff, which included a complete Artillery Reconnaissance Battalion and survey and communications assets, would control the army's fire support, including all assets down to regimental mortars and infantry guns.

                        The continuous improvement in the efficiency of Soviet Army artillery throughout the war, and especially after late 1943, is completely unrecognized in the west - largely because any German who experienced it didn't live long enough to write any memoirs about it!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the attention to this, As always I have a few questions.

                          Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                          Anyway, his thesis is that 'Voronov's reforms' refurbished the Red Army artillery in time to have a major effect on the Battle of Moscow. Specifically, the building up of artillery reserves by stripping artillery from the rifle divisions, the addition of 120mm mortar units to 'fill in' for indirect fire, and the massive use of artillery in direct fire mode as both infantry support and antitank action.
                          In every case, that's either partly or completely wrong.
                          Did this Voronov have anything to do with the artillery ?

                          Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post

                          First, to dispose of the completely wrong: the 120mm mortar regiments were not formed until the Moscow Counteroffensive was already under way, and were not at the front in quantity until March - April 1942 - after the counteroffensive had largely run its course.

                          Second, the artillery in the rifle divisions. Starting in July, the existing (prewar) rifle divisions had their antitank battalions and howitzer regiments officially removed. I say officially, because quite a number of them kept both units until the Battle of Moscow: at Kalinin alone, about half of the Rifle Divisions still had their antitank battalions, and the 133rd Rifle Division had both its light artillery and howitzer regiments. New divisions being formed not only were missing their howitzer regiment and antitank battalion, but were authorized about half the machineguns and mortars of the prewar shtat. Again, many of the newly-formed divisions turn out to have extensively 'overarmed' themselves, especially with regard to machineguns, before they got into combat. The divisions formed from the NKVD in July are especially eclectic, some of them even including completely unofficial tank companies in the division.
                          So, as per the chart linked earlier in this thread it was directed in July 1941 the Rifle division lose its AT battalion, its 152mm howitzers, and part of its 122mm howitzers. Is there any indication when & why this change originated?

                          Second is there any accurate indication how many of the rifle divisions actually made the change by November. Your decription indicates some did, and that the newly mobilized divisions (from established reserves?) were not compliant with the reduction.

                          Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                          What made a huge difference in the effectiveness of the artillery was not the number of guns, but the efficiency of indirect fire. The prewar rifle division had an "Artillery Commander's Platoon" to control and mass the fires of the divisional artillery.
                          Do you have any descriptions of how this platoon functioned, communications links, position in the divisions area of operations, what cannon batterries it usually controled...? This is at the core of my research & any sources or infaormation you can pass along would be most usefull.

                          I would note Cpt Curtis does identify the dilution of trained officers as the basis for poor indirect fire techniques.

                          Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                          These were already undermanned before the war started, because the expansion of the Red Army in 1939 - 41 and far exceeded the school capacity to provide trained artillery staff and command officers. They disappeared completely from the wartime units, which meant that whatever howitzers/guns were available, the unit's ability to mass and control them in indirect fire was missing. By default, most of them wound up at the front lines, firing in direct fire and getting knocked out, shot up, or over run by the Germans.

                          The RVGK (High Command Reserve) artillery regiments, some of which were in front of Moscow, maintained their indirect fire capability and, with the few rifle divisions that still had it gave the Germans fits (the 133rd's artillery, among other things, shot the Luftwaffe right out of Migalovo airfield at Kalinin, destroying over 50 aircraft on the ground in the last half of October 1941 with long range artillery fire called in by forward observers spotting the airfield from the far bank of the Volga).
                          Was the preservation of indirect fire capability with the RVGK artillery regiments accident or intent?

                          Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                          The principle direct fire success was in using non-antitank artillery as antitank means. At Moscow, from late October on, over half the 'antitank artillery' regiments were armed with antiaircraft guns (37mm, 76mm or 85mm) and some of the newly-formed antitank regiments had regular artillery pieces, up to 107mm corps cannon! They were cumbersome, and the gunners utterly untrained at engaging mobile ground targets, but if an 85m antiaircraft gun or 107mm cannon hit a Pz III or Pz IV, that was pretty much the end of tank, crew, and anything else within a 20 meter radius of the hit...

                          In summary (and in contrast to the article) the Soviet artillery successes at the Battle of Moscow, both defensive and offensive phases, were not due to 120mm mortar units or regular artillery in the direct fire mode. They were due to all artillery being willing to engage tanks in direct fire if necessary, and using the few indirect-fire capable prewar units (divisional or RVGK) to mass fire in offensive and defensive support. The support was, by the time of the offensive in December, usually coordinated at Army level by the Army Artillery commander and his staff, and this continued to be standard practice until the Artillery Divisions were introduced in quantity in late 1943. After that, the Artillery Division staff, which included a complete Artillery Reconnaissance Battalion and survey and communications assets, would control the army's fire support, including all assets down to regimental mortars and infantry guns.

                          The continuous improvement in the efficiency of Soviet Army artillery throughout the war, and especially after late 1943, is completely unrecognized in the west - largely because any German who experienced it didn't live long enough to write any memoirs about it!
                          I'd disagree with the last. Maybe because I've been hyper aware of artillery related print the last two decades. There has been a fair ammount published on the Red Army artillery, even if many details are wrong. In the matter or errors I've found there is not much difference between the Red Army & US Army artillery 'literature' . The more I pick through the eyewitness accounts & other direct sources the more I find the popular description of the US artillery to be as bad as what you describe for the RKKA.

                          At least two German artillery men survived. Siegfried Knappe spent the five months of 1941 in a German infantry divisions artillery before being withdrawn for wounds. Werner Adamcyzk spent the entire four years in 20th Motor Rifle/PzGrenadier Divisions artillery. His account illustrates the returning efficiency of the RKKA artillery counter battery skills. By early 1944 Adamcyzks battery was living underground even in the most temporary positions due to routine enemy counter fires. In 1941 he recalled exactly one CB attack, of less than a dozen projectiles from a heavy cannon battery.

                          Thanks again for your answers

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Did this Voronov have anything to do with the artillery ?
                            For certain. He was the Chief of Artillery for the Red Army for most of the war, and a STAVKA Representative to the Fronts advising on artillery for several major offensives. The problem I have is that his memoirs, as far as I know, have never been reprinted in a post-Soviet edition: based on the similar editions of Rokossovskii's and Zhukov's memoirs, there might be some entirely different paragraphs, sentences, or pages included once the 'Sovietically correct' passages from the original were returned to their original form.

                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            So, as per the chart linked earlier in this thread it was directed in July 1941 the Rifle division lose its AT battalion, its 152mm howitzers, and part of its 122mm howitzers. Is there any indication when & why this change originated?
                            On 29 July 1941 the 04/600 series shtat for the rifle division was issued. This removed the howitzer regiment and the antitank battalion, reduced the light artillery regiment, reduced the reconnaissance battalion to a single motorized reconnaissance company, and reduced the rifle units by about half their authorized mortars and machineguns. At roughly the same time, in a separate order that I have not ferreted out yet but has been referenced several times in other works, the existing prewar divisions were instructed to give up their antitank battalions and howitzer regiments. I have found very little evidence that any of them did so before September. In addition, among the new divisions being formed, the NKVD-based rifle divisions formed in July 1941 seem to have simply been equipped with whatever was available, and show wide variations from any existing shtat in both equipment and weapons. Likewise, the militia rifle divisions had a separate shtat and when converted into regular rifle divisions some still had very peculiar levels of equipment compared to what they were 'authorized'.

                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Second is there any accurate indication how many of the rifle divisions actually made the change by November. Your decription indicates some did, and that the newly mobilized divisions (from established reserves?) were not compliant with the reduction.
                            From the perecheny documents the dates when howitzer regiments were removed can be tracked for every division. I have not extracted all of that into a separate file, but for example, on 1 October 1941 in Western Front out of 19 prewar rifle divisions reporting, only 3 still had their howitzer regiments. In addition, however, one NKVD-based newly formed rifle division also had at least one battalion of 152mm howitzers assigned and another reported having 122mm cannon on hand (a corps-level weapon normally), so there was still wide variations in the divisional artillery.

                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Do you have any descriptions of how this platoon functioned, communications links, position in the divisions area of operations, what cannon batterries it usually controled...? This is at the core of my research & any sources or infaormation you can pass along would be most usefull.

                            I would note Cpt Curtis does identify the dilution of trained officers as the basis for poor indirect fire techniques.
                            To take the last first, the dilution was more the result of expansion than of the purges. The Artillery Commander's Staff Battery of 64 to 69 officers and men was authorized since at least the rifle division shtat of 13 September 1939, but during the period Aug 39 to Jun 41 the number of rifle divisions went from 98 to 229, and the schools cold not begin to keep up with the manning requirements.

                            Since the howitzer battalions had their own 'topo' (survey) sections and communications elements, the Staff Battery seems to have fulfilled the functions associated with the US Army Fire Direction Center in planning and conducting massed and coordinated fires amongst all the divisional artillery assets. Since the scale of radios authorized was so low (before the war, virtually none below battalion) all communication was by wire, so even with the best-trained officers in the world, the rifle division's fire planning was heavily dependent on preplanned fires and fire plans - not good if thrust into the fast-paced German offensives.

                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Was the preservation of indirect fire capability with the RVGK artillery regiments accident or intent?
                            Definitely by intent. When the rifle divisions lost their Staff Batteries and therefore their ability to plan massed fire, that capability 'moved uphill' to the Army Artillery Commander, and his assets for that were the RVGK artillery regiments. The Soviet critique of the Moscow Counteroffensive has an entire chapter on the problems the Army Artillery Commanders had, including the fact that they failed consistently to include any of the rifle regiment assets (120mm mortars, 76mm infantry howitzers) in their fire planning and that therefore these assets were largely wasted.


                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            I'd disagree with the last. Maybe because I've been hyper aware of artillery related print the last two decades. There has been a fair ammount published on the Red Army artillery, even if many details are wrong. In the matter or errors I've found there is not much difference between the Red Army & US Army artillery 'literature' . The more I pick through the eyewitness accounts & other direct sources the more I find the popular description of the US artillery to be as bad as what you describe for the RKKA.
                            Very little of the 'popular' histories have addressed the effects of artillery in WWII. Aircraft and tanks are glamorous and take great photographs, but the artillery did by far most of the killing. One German Army Group (G) in France put out an order which summed up the US Army artillery: it stated that to press home an attack against any size American unit that still had communication with any US artillery unit was simply suicidal: before you could properly develop your attack into a breakthrough or break in, every American tube within range would smother you under unlimited amounts of ammunition.
                            The Soviet Army's artillery divisions are fairly well known, but in early 1944, the Soviet Army artillery was vastly increased by forming the separate artillery regiments into Army Artillery Brigades (one per combined arms army) each of which included an Artillery Reconnaissance Battalion. Thus, each army artillery commander got their own internal assets for sound and flash ranging, met data for registration, fire planning and massed fire control that before they had to borrow from an Artillery Division HQ. It's one of the 'hidden reasons' why the 1944 offensives in Jun - July so completely German defensive artillery fire, which had been the basis for the German defensive systems in 1941 - 43. In other words, not only did the Red Army's quantity of artillery assets keep getting bigger, they got more capable throughout the war.

                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            At least two German artillery men survived. Siegfried Knappe spent the five months of 1941 in a German infantry divisions artillery before being withdrawn for wounds. Werner Adamcyzk spent the entire four years in 20th Motor Rifle/PzGrenadier Divisions artillery. His account illustrates the returning efficiency of the RKKA artillery counter battery skills. By early 1944 Adamcyzks battery was living underground even in the most temporary positions due to routine enemy counter fires. In 1941 he recalled exactly one CB attack, of less than a dozen projectiles from a heavy cannon battery.
                            I'm not as familiar with the German memoir literature, thanx for the tips.
                            As to Soviet counter fire, it got dramatically better after 1942. In Leningrad the command integrated all the army and the Soviet navy's ship-bourne and coastal defense artillery assets into counterbattery work, using mathematics developed in part by the University of Leningrad, and formed the 3rd Counter Fire Artillery Corps. These techniques, including silent registration, sound and flash ranging, were then used to form two Cannon Artillery Divisions in 1943 strictly for counter fire work on a large scale.
                            The Germans even developed specialized explosive charges, to be set off 1 - 2 km in front of their own battery positions, to mimic the sound of their own firing and spoof the Soviet sound ranging apparatus. Otherwise, you had to move the firing battery after only a few rounds to avoid being smothered under 152mm shells. Again, not only increase in quantity, but increases in capability which usually go un-noticed in the 'popular' histories.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              On 29 July 1941 the 04/600 series shtat for the rifle division was issued. This removed the howitzer regiment and the antitank battalion, reduced the light artillery regiment, reduced the reconnaissance battalion to a single motorized reconnaissance company, and reduced the rifle units by about half their authorized mortars and machineguns. At roughly the same time, in a separate order that I have not ferreted out yet but has been referenced several times in other works, the existing prewar divisions were instructed to give up their antitank battalions and howitzer regiments. I have found very little evidence that any of them did so before September. In addition, among the new divisions being formed, the NKVD-based rifle divisions formed in July 1941 seem to have simply been equipped with whatever was available, and show wide variations from any existing shtat in both equipment and weapons. Likewise, the militia rifle divisions had a separate shtat and when converted into regular rifle divisions some still had very peculiar levels of equipment compared to what they were 'authorized'.
                              Yes, I gathered the July date from the chart linked above, tho it is nice to have it confirmed. What I was asking was when did this originate? Was it the result of long term planning underway for many months, or from plannig initiated just weeks earlier?

                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              Since the howitzer battalions had their own 'topo' (survey) sections and communications elements, the Staff Battery seems to have fulfilled the functions associated with the US Army Fire Direction Center in planning and conducting massed and coordinated fires amongst all the divisional artillery assets. Since the scale of radios authorized was so low (before the war, virtually none below battalion) all communication was by wire, so even with the best-trained officers in the world, the rifle division's fire planning was heavily dependent on preplanned fires and fire plans - not good if thrust into the fast-paced German offensives.
                              You have seen or have documents showing the duties of the individuals in this company? ...a description of how it functioned when planning & controling artillery attacks?

                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              Definitely by intent. When the rifle divisions lost their Staff Batteries and therefore their ability to plan massed fire, that capability 'moved uphill' to the Army Artillery Commander, and his assets for that were the RVGK artillery regiments. The Soviet critique of the Moscow Counteroffensive has an entire chapter on the problems the Army Artillery Commanders had, including the fact that they failed consistently to include any of the rifle regiment assets (120mm mortars, 76mm infantry howitzers) in their fire planning and that therefore these assets were largely wasted.
                              What would it take to put a copy of that chapter into my possesion?

                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              Very little of the 'popular' histories have addressed the effects of artillery in WWII. Aircraft and tanks are glamorous and take great photographs, but the artillery did by far most of the killing. One German Army Group (G) in France put out an order which summed up the US Army artillery: it stated that to press home an attack against any size American unit that still had communication with any US artillery unit was simply suicidal: before you could properly develop your attack into a breakthrough or break in, every American tube within range would smother you under unlimited amounts of ammunition.
                              I guess "unlimited amounts" depends on your PoV. During much of that period Bradley was complaining about having to ration the artillery ammunition.

                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              The Soviet Army's artillery divisions are fairly well known, but in early 1944, the Soviet Army artillery was vastly increased by forming the separate artillery regiments into Army Artillery Brigades (one per combined arms army) each of which included an Artillery Reconnaissance Battalion. Thus, each army artillery commander got their own internal assets for sound and flash ranging, met data for registration, fire planning and massed fire control that before they had to borrow from an Artillery Division HQ. It's one of the 'hidden reasons' why the 1944 offensives in Jun - July so completely German defensive artillery fire, which had been the basis for the German defensive systems in 1941 - 43. In other words, not only did the Red Army's quantity of artillery assets keep getting bigger, they got more capable throughout the war.
                              Fairly clear from the accounts of the German soldiers.

                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              I'm not as familiar with the German memoir literature, thanx for the tips.
                              Another German eyewitness would be William Lubbeck 'At Lenningrads Gates'. He was a sergeant FO & then battery officer in the 13th heavy weapons company of one of the rifle regiments of the 58th Div. ..and yes, those 7.5 & 15cm light infantry guns were used for indirect fire.

                              I've run across, and lost, a internet text from a Red Army artillery officer serving in 1944/45. His duties were primarily as FO for 122mm cannon battery in some sort of motorized formation.

                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              As to Soviet counter fire, it got dramatically better after 1942. In Leningrad the command integrated all the army and the Soviet navy's ship-bourne and coastal defense artillery assets into counterbattery work, using mathematics developed in part by the University of Leningrad, and formed the 3rd Counter Fire Artillery Corps.
                              I suspose the mathematics could be a bit tough, but I have the impression the French artillery Groupment staff could have worked it out in a spare moment. For us the mathematics had long been taken care of.

                              Originally posted by Sharposhnikov View Post
                              These techniques, including silent registration, sound and flash ranging, were then used to form two Cannon Artillery Divisions in 1943 strictly for counter fire work on a large scale.
                              The Germans even developed specialized explosive charges, to be set off 1 - 2 km in front of their own battery positions, to mimic the sound of their own firing and spoof the Soviet sound ranging apparatus. Otherwise, you had to move the firing battery after only a few rounds to avoid being smothered under 152mm shells.
                              Both Adamcyzk & Lubbeck describe digging deep and deeper. Draft horses or the tow vehicles were dispersed far from the guns. Log roofed bunkers with bursting pans above, and the cannon in deep pits. From Adamczyks descriptions it appears the CB fires were frequent & sustained, but not very dense.

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