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"Size of 1914 German and French Divisions" Topic

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Comments or corrections?

Winston0112 Sep 2018 7:47 p.m. PST

I have found different numbers sited for both German and French Divisions at the beginning of the war in 1914. I am referring to regular divisions not reserve divisions or colonial divisions. An example is I have found both 12,000 and 15,000 troops sited for the French not counting artillery and machine guns. I understand the size can vary and the divisions were smaller later in the war with attrition. What would a regulation size be for each country?

Porthos13 Sep 2018 2:05 a.m. PST

Perhaps this helps ?

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Sep 2018 5:27 a.m. PST

Why would you not count artillery and MG in a WW1 division, they were essential and integral components of the formation ?

Both changed their organisation during the war and, even at the start of the war, they were not always at full 'book' strength – particularly the French.

Both had roughly the same 12 Bn organisation but a German Bn was a bit larger than the French one. The total numbers would fall within the range you give, in theory nearer the top end of it in 1914. If you include all non-combat troops under divisional command (such as the logistics train) then it would be higher.

Memento Mori13 Sep 2018 11:35 a.m. PST

I would highly recommend Spearhead for First War battles ranging from 1914-1918. It has some excellent reference material such as organiazational charts for all participants While it features 6mm figures it is adaptable to other scales



Vimy Ridge13 Sep 2018 12:26 p.m. PST

The difference could be peace time and wartime footing. Each army had square divisions, 2 Brigades of 2 Regiments each regiment of 3 Battalions. Each Company during peace time was 150 Strong in the German Army, raising to 270 in wartime meaning a change from roughly 13000 to 18000. This was due to the increase in all 48 Infantry Companies as well as a fleshing out of the MG Company in each Battalion (the 13th Company of course).

The French did a very similar type of increase!

Winston0113 Sep 2018 6:46 p.m. PST

"Why would you not count artillery and MG in a WW1 division, they were essential and integral components of the formation ?"
I am interested in number of riflemen for gaming purposes and all the sources agree on how many MG and artillery in a division. That is the one thing every book had the same.

Peace time to wartime footing would be a good explanation to why one division would be listed at 12,000 then three other divisions together would be given a rifle strength of 39,000.

Die Engelsman01 Jul 2022 5:16 a.m. PST

Military History Visualised has a good channel on YouTube and one of his vids is about 1914 German infantry divisions. He may well have one on French and British divisions too.

Blutarski02 Jul 2022 1:16 p.m. PST

Hi Winston01,

Re the German Army, the following book will prove useful -

It is a re-print of a World War 1 era UK War Office manual. Despite its title, the book covers the evolution of German divisional organizations from 1914 through to April 1918.


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