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"Best trained and equipped soldiers of WWII?" Topic

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19 Oct 2018 6:09 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "Best trained and equipped soldiers of WW2 ?" to "Best trained and equipped soldiers of WWII?"
  • Removed from WWII Land Gallery board
  • Crossposted to WWII Discussion board

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1,245 hits since 19 Oct 2018
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Comments or corrections?

Emphatz19 Oct 2018 5:54 a.m. PST

As the heading states in your opinion if all countries got involved in the war at the same time, who pound for pound had the best trained and equipped soldiers, Use this criteria, please list countries in Order as I have, you can list reasons if you want.

2.Commonwealth forces

foxweasel19 Oct 2018 6:08 a.m. PST

The training and equipment changed totally as the war progressed, I think it's too broad a question.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 6:13 a.m. PST

It depends on the year.

Mike Target19 Oct 2018 6:13 a.m. PST

And that varies even within armed forces- compare and contrast the German armoured divisions that tore across frnce at a million miles an hour with all the best toys to the thousands of foot sloggers who followed them with their donkey carts and horse drawn guns…

olicana19 Oct 2018 6:23 a.m. PST

Yep, too broad – would you rather have a Panther or half a dozen Shermans. Are production numbers for such things to be included?

Emphatz19 Oct 2018 6:30 a.m. PST

Question was for the beginning of the war, as stated, top five nations, who in general terms (based on your knowledge) who had the better trained and equipped troops, please take a stab at it.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 6:43 a.m. PST

If you are really considering the beginning of WW2, that is 1939-1941, then I would rate the US below the USSR and Japan.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 6:48 a.m. PST

I too, refuse to answer the question as stated. I have no idea how I'd even start.

Everyone has a peak, where the army has fought enough to be worked in properly, but not not so much that the bold leaders are mostly dead, and the surviving infantry cautious--or untrained kids and old men. I think Germany peaks around June 1941, and the US maybe August 1944. Japan probably early 1942. "The Commonwealth" may be too broad, but say Tunisia or Sicily. And I really don't have a good feel for the Soviets, but possibly summer of 1943.

Equipment is almost always better with time--right up to the moments of national crisis, where stuff gets dragged out of old stockpiles and museums.

Now, consider comparing 4th US Armored Division rolling across France in Shermans and Stuarts with 5th Panzer Division driving on Moscow with PZKW II's and early model III's and IV's, and you can see why I punted on the question.

Griefbringer19 Oct 2018 7:02 a.m. PST

Question was for the beginning of the war

That would be September 1939 then, when many militaries were less than ideally prepared for the war. I'll give it a try:

1.) Japan: they had already been fighting in China for a while, so knew what war meant. Their equipment was not really really top notch as regards land forces.

2.) UK: small but well-trained regular army, that had seen a bit of action in the small wars of the colonies. As regards equipment, they had introduced quite a number of modernisation projects in the later half of 30's, including motorisation (though they still had some horse cavalry left at the beginning of war).

3.) Germany: well-trained and sizeable force. Equipment situation left a bit to be desired: while there were various modern designs introduced in the 30's, the industry could not keep up with the expanding military and many units had to do with older equipment and horse-drawn transportation. And rather importantly, ammunition reserves at the beginning of war were limited.

4.) Greece: while materially limited, managed to not only hold but also to push back the Italian offensives in 1940-1941, only collapsing when attacked by Germans from the north.

5.) Finland: also materially limited, but managed to hold back the Soviet offensive in 1939-1940. And the equipment available was quite well-suited to the needs of that war: SMGs, skies, warm tents, snow camo, winter clothing (though much of it of civilian origins)

As for other big players, Soviet Union at the time was impressive on paper but performed poorly. United States army was tiny and had quite some old equipment. France was probably better than it's later reputation, being hindered by the high level leadership in 1940. As for Italy, they were let down by a lot of things.

There are a lot of other countries that I will not try to rate for now.

Banana Man Inactive Member19 Oct 2018 7:16 a.m. PST

It's a dumb question. Next!

Aethelflaeda was framed19 Oct 2018 7:27 a.m. PST

Artillery shells, spare parts, rations and petrol are all part of the equipment equation. The US almost always had enough and the commonwealth and Soviets next (partly because of USA production). Quantity is as valuable as quality, probably more so. Well trained without ammo/fuel are not better than lesser trained but with something to shoot and no way to get their tanks and guns to the battle. Yeah, 5 Shermans supported by 6 155mm howitzers are better than a single king tiger particularly if hasn't any fuel and a battery of Wespe with broken radios and no parts to fix them.

Irish Marine Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 7:46 a.m. PST

The US Marine Corps was the best equipped during the war, they had Marines.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 7:48 a.m. PST

Irish Marine for the win!

Griefbringer19 Oct 2018 8:01 a.m. PST

The US Marine Corps was the best equipped during the war, they had Marines.

On the other hand, the Royal Marines (UK) tended to suffer from certain supply issues.

That is why they had to fight commando.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 8:11 a.m. PST

While "at the same time" was clear to you, it obviously was not clear to a lot of us. And "the beginning" is really not much clearer. That said, for the 1930s, I would put Japan much higher up on the list.

Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 8:39 a.m. PST

My Chinese friends tell me the war started in July 1937. Europe was late to the table.


Winston Smith19 Oct 2018 9:13 a.m. PST

As for the Germans having all the best toys, the bulk of their tanks were inferior to the French, and the best German tanks were Czech.

Mike Target19 Oct 2018 9:35 a.m. PST

Alright then:

1) France
2) Uk
3) Germany
4) Italy

mildbill19 Oct 2018 10:27 a.m. PST

Mike T has a point about equipment, but the French training was terrible. They were training for the wrong war and even then the training was suspect. To cite one example, a French tank unit had to abandon their tanks because they ran out of fuel. The Germans found the tanks and drove them off by switching to the second fuel tank that was on the tank that the French soldiers did not know about nor could find the switch.

The British were the only completely mechanized Army in 1939. That has to count for something.
Germans have the best doctrine.
The Japanese try to overcome shortcomings with elan.
The US Strategic doctrine is probably the best.
USSR is still suffering from the purges.
France is next.
Italy armed to early. Poor and out of touch officers, the rank and file deserved better.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 10:34 a.m. PST

Actually, if we're serious about September 1939, Mike's right: the number one spot goes to France.
UK and US are very good "pound for pound" in 1939 as long service professional armies. The rating would actually go down over the next two or three years as the attempt to add poundage creates training and equipment shortfalls.
After that, maybe Japan--veteran, but with bad doctrine.
Soviets have good equipment, but are purging themselves to death, and the Germans have a conscript army with no trained reserves very recently expanded. Only about 10% is motorized or mechanized. They tie for bottom, pound for pound.

Not the answer you wanted? Try a different question.

rmaker19 Oct 2018 11:25 a.m. PST

I dispute ranking France #1. The short term of service for conscripts meant that training wasn't very thorough, and the orientation to trench warfare made it of questionable value.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 3:35 p.m. PST

On doctrine alone France shouldn't have the #1 slot.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP19 Oct 2018 5:03 p.m. PST

And if you asked me who had the superior doctrine, I'd give the award to Germany with the USSR as first runner-up. But we were asked to lump "trained and equipped" together, and to average an entire army. You know how many divisions Germany is forming in 1939 by calling up men with no training whatever? The German Army performed at least a couple of miracles between September 1939 and May 1940, while the French were busy complaining that it was too cold to train. The French with great consistency and persistence refused to apply their own doctrine or to train up their mobilized troops to maintain their advantage. But they were better trained, averaging out an
entire army, than the Germans, and there was enough equipment to go around.

Ask me to rank army leadership, and I'll really have to think--and look at how much of the US and UK leadership team is already in place. But the French would certainly be out of the running.

Emphatz, I've been dealing with this sort of question since I was 17, and I never did like it. Could you please tell us what answer you want, and why?

Lion in the Stars19 Oct 2018 7:25 p.m. PST

Best equipped I'd have to go with US.

Best trained I'd say German.

Best morale I'd say Japanese.

Lee49419 Oct 2018 9:51 p.m. PST

Literal answer. Best TRAINED and EQUIPPED SOLDIERS at the SAME TIME at the BEGINNING of the war. So that MUST BE December 1941 and can't consider things like Armor and Artillery because the OP specifically said SOLDIERS and not ARMY or ARMED FORCES. That limits the discussion to individual GIs and their personal kit
… so here goes:

1. Finns
2. Canadians
3. Japanese
4. Great Britain. (ie England not UK)
5. Germany

The average "GI" Soldier from France, UK Empire, Russia and US was really rather poorly equipped with WWI era kit in 1941, look at the US troops in the Phillipines 1903 Springfields and all. Cheers!

Lee49419 Oct 2018 10:18 p.m. PST

As an alternative try this … let's compare ARMIES at EQUIVALENT times in the war based on entry date. By summer of 1942 Gazala, Germany and UK Empire had been at war about 2 1/2 years. So compare them in Gazala Battle to US in Normandy and Russia late 43 post Kursk. Then I'd rank them …

1. US
2. Russia
3. Germany
4. UK all
5. Japan

Martin Rapier20 Oct 2018 1:24 a.m. PST

What a ridiculous thread. I really don't know where to start.

Achtung Minen20 Oct 2018 3:59 a.m. PST

Putting Germany first is laughable… isn't that the army that used horse and buggy carts throughout the entire war for most of their logistics? Fat good the autobahn did them there. They also had a severe paucity of artillery and shells throughout the war and their tanks were in hindsight pretty garbage. Only the Panther G deserves mentioning… everything else had either low armour and armament (respective to the opposition) or broke down constantly. Their armies after September 1944 were also made up of mostly old men and children with no practical combat abiliy whatsoever. The Germans weren't the best at anything, they were just operationally very lucky in the Early War, since opposing nations kept falling for the old "flank through a neutral neighbour" trick (think France via the Low Countries or Greece via Yugoslavia).

But the whole topic is silly anyway and seems vaguely jingoistic.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2018 5:57 a.m. PST

The Germans also mostly used Ww1 equipment.
There was just as many bolt action pre ww1 rifles in a German Squad as a British section etc.

Legion 420 Oct 2018 8:01 a.m. PST

It's like "Describe the Universe in 25 words or less, be specific." huh?

King Monkey20 Oct 2018 11:33 a.m. PST

Surely it can only be Walmington on Sea Home Guard?

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2018 12:29 p.m. PST

look at the US troops in the Phillipines 1903 Springfields

The 1903 was fully the equal of the bolt action rifles fielded by the other combatants in the war. The M1 Garand was a superior design but the 1903 served with distinction throughout the war and was preferred as a sniper weapon.

Lee49420 Oct 2018 10:35 p.m. PST

Marc, I didn't claim the M1903 was inferior to other WWI leftovers, but just that it WAS in fact a WWI weapon! Cheers.

Lee49420 Oct 2018 10:39 p.m. PST

Mr Actung, are those the same old men and children that beat the crap out of the Brits at Arnhem? Cheers!

mkenny20 Oct 2018 11:03 p.m. PST

are those the same old men and children that beat the crap out of the Brits at Arnhem?

They are the men who took the surrender of 2 full Infantry Regiment during The Bulge Campaign

Legion 421 Oct 2018 7:09 a.m. PST

No matter what ones calls or classifies WWII German forces … They were generally particularly effective, especially in the early war years. And they won many battles throughout the rest of WWII as well. I'm talking about tactical and operational effectiveness.

Not agreeing with, lauding, etc., their ideologies, etc., etc. We all know those ideologies, dogma, etc., were very bad and in many/most cases very evil, etc.

Achtung Minen21 Oct 2018 7:48 a.m. PST

Not just Battle of the Bulge! Look at Operation Nordwind, where Himmler got to play with lots of the new Nazi toys. He used his political wheeling and dealing to make sure the "elite" 10. SS PD was fully outfitted with new Panther G's and how well did they do? Nordwind was a ridiculous failure and came with a huge cost in men and matériel. They got beaten into the ground by the French army (using loaned M4A4 and M5A1 tanks), Moroccan irregulars and some Americans in the Northern part of the Colmar Pocket. The French had few if any Fireflies, so we are talking tanks with 75mm guns or less.

One of the reasons why I like IABSM v2 for gaming late war. If you are familiar with the rules for that game, the majority of Germany forces only get 1 or 2 Big Men… for the entire company! That seems about right. The Germans were a punching bag from mid-1944 on, with most of their quality platoon leaders and company commanders put to rest in Russian fields. They only managed to delay inevitable defeat until Spring of '45 by sacrificing inordinate amounts of their own people.

Griefbringer22 Oct 2018 2:38 a.m. PST

let's compare ARMIES at EQUIVALENT times in the war based on entry date. By summer of 1942 Gazala, Germany and UK Empire had been at war about 2 1/2 years. So compare them in Gazala Battle to US in Normandy and Russia late 43 post Kursk.

That is an interesting perspective, though I would like to point out that the Soviet Union also entered the war (of own initiative) in September 1939, slightly later than Germany. By summer 1942, they were not yet at quite peak performance.

William Ulsterman23 Oct 2018 11:11 p.m. PST

An easy question to answer: The Lun Dayaks, head hunters of Borneo, were the best trained (they had been in training since birth) and equipped (they were equipped with the blowpipe) soldiers of WWII.

Martin Rapier24 Oct 2018 2:42 a.m. PST

The OP actually asked about best trained and equipped 'pound for pound', so it is about cost effectiveness.

Using those criteria, the USSR is hands down winner. With a smaller GDP than Nazi Germany (and dwarfed by the USA and British Empire), produced over 100,000 tanks and SPGs, 500,000 artillery pieces, mobilised 34 million men and conquered half of Europe and held it for over 40 years.

Quantity has a quality all of its own.

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