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"Play Test of Macís Crossfire Missions in the Pacific" Topic

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World War Two on the Land

569 hits since 13 Sep 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2018 1:03 p.m. PST


Lee49413 Sep 2018 1:03 p.m. PST

With respect for the amount of expertise TMP readers share my question is this … as WWII units suffered casualties did they simply field smaller units, for example platoons, or did they combine units to maintain effective strength.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2018 2:18 p.m. PST

[Insert comment about limited knowledge here.] Answers will probably vary by army and by level. I've never seen a US division reorganized as a regiment, for example--probably because the US did a reasonable job at keeping units up to strength. Where I have seen a serious and sudden shrink--armor in North Africa, for instance--the battalions might go down to company strength, but I've never run into them merging the different battalions of an armored regiment. Probably the expected replacements soon, and possibly also because they were avoiding a mixed medium/light tank unit, which the TO&E did not permit at that time.

What I've seen on British armor in North Africa says they'd first eliminate squadrons within regiments, then merge regiments within a brigade. Note that this would still leave you with a Cruiser or an I tank unit, not a mixed one.

The German practice seems to have been to wear divisions down to nubs before pulling them from the line to rebuild them, but it mostly seems to have been a matter of "kampfgruppe." The number of surviving officers of suitable rank seems to have been a factor. I note that certain lines were rarely crossed: a Tiger battalion might be down to company or platoon strength, but it never actually became part of the unit it was attached to, and I can't remember an instance of SS units being consolidated with Heer, or vice versa. The independent panzer brigades of fall 1944 all seem to have been disbanded as independent formations and attached to the nearest panzer division somewhere around weak battalion/strong company tank strength, but this may just have been an admission that they were a bad concept organizationally.

I'd be interested myself if anyone can remember someone saying that X many infantry or Y many tanks were not enough to operate as a platoon and they were consequently merged with someone else.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2018 3:45 p.m. PST

Great comments by Robert – US practice was to feed in replacements compared to the Germans who let units get ground down and then pulled them out – there is a school of thought that says the German approach is better for unit cohesion

The Germans did use kampfgruppes a lot – especially later i the war

I think that the T in TOE should stand for Theoretical!

Aethelflaeda was framed13 Sep 2018 4:13 p.m. PST

theoretical even for a brand new fresh unit. Even peacetime US army units usually lacked the TOE – except on paper.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Sep 2018 5:16 p.m. PST

Reading about the Eastern front at Rzhev, Model was often sending in battalions and companies that were down to 5 tanks – but they were never combined except as parts of combat groups.

Whirlwind13 Sep 2018 6:01 p.m. PST

I'd be interested myself if anyone can remember someone saying that X many infantry or Y many tanks were not enough to operate as a platoon and they were consequently merged with someone else.

IIRC the minimum viable strength for a British rifle platoon was considered to be 13 (1 x Pl Comd, 2 x sections of 6) and would be re-organized (not merged) through the parent company and battalion to enable this.

Martin Rapier13 Sep 2018 11:32 p.m. PST

Most Armies reorganised around the concept of viable subunits (e.g. minimum section size of 6 etc).

Yes, the Germans did this too, so a weak tank battalion might consist of an HQ and a single company of two platoons. They also amalgamated units e.g. the composite panzer grenadier regiments IInd SS panzer Corps used at Hill 112 in a similar manner to the Russians.

Both the Russians and Germans chose or were forced to let formation strengths fall, so ended up amalgamating subunits in a way that allied units tended not to.

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