Help support TMP


"German infantry Sections, WW2" Topic


39 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please be courteous toward your fellow TMP members.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board

Back to the WWII Rules Message Board

Back to the Game Design Message Board


Areas of Interest

General
World War Two on the Land

Featured Hobby News Article


Featured Link


Featured Workbench Article

Simple Magnetic Flight Stands

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian takes another stab at building a more perfect flight stand.


Featured Movie Review


2,138 hits since 1 Jan 2021
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2021 2:11 p.m. PST

Question, gentlemen.

How did the German rifle squads form with the MG.

To contrast. The British had 6-7 rifles in the Rifle group, then the 3 man BREN group. They could act separately; The Rifles move under cover of the Bren, then the Bren joins them under rifle cover. Indeed one tactic or assault was the Platoon Sgt had the Brens gathered as a firebase, while the Lt would lead the rifles in to do the close killing.

The US had it 3 groups, 1 BAR, then 2 groups that operated seperately rather that the Brits 7 man rifle group.

The impression I get was that the German rifles were quite closely tied to the Gun group, because of the appetite the MG34/42 had for ammo, and they were carrying the ammo.

Did they tend to stick together?

Legion 401 Jan 2021 3:40 p.m. PST

IIRC your are correct. The Infantry worked with and supported the MGs. old fart

John Armatys01 Jan 2021 3:49 p.m. PST

The Germans abandoned splitting the squad by 1941, and as with the British, may not have done it much before then.

pfmodel01 Jan 2021 5:07 p.m. PST

This gives a good overview of german squad tactics: YouTube link

Starfury Rider01 Jan 2021 6:02 p.m. PST

The 1937 Squad (Gruppe) organisation was based on a separate Rifle Troop (7 men) and an LMG Troop (4 men), the latter with a single MG, and two NCOs. The new Squad org introduced at the end of 1939 changed to a single NCO, six riflemen (one now acting as deputy Squad leader) and three men for the LMG. The US translation of the undated manual on the new Squad mentions the following;

"Employment of the Squad in surprise fire…Victory comes to the one who fires the largest number of well-aimed shots against his opponents in the shortest time.

"General principles…The squad is usually employed in combat as a unit. The division into two groups – a light machine gun group and a rifle group, with different combat missions – no longer applies. The fire fight is now conducted through the concerted effort of the entire squad…The employment of the light machine in the fire fight emphasizes the heaviest concentration of fire against the more threatening and most dangerous targets.

"Fire discipline…the rifleman fires upon that portion of the target designated to him…If the selection is left to the rifleman, he himself fires upon the target which interferes most with the accomplishment of the squad's mission."

link

Gary

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2021 7:24 p.m. PST

Nice link.

Martin Rapier02 Jan 2021 1:04 a.m. PST

What Gary said. The operation of the German section (and platoon and company) is covered in mind numbing detail by the Nafziger translation of "German Squad Tactics" from the 1942 manual.

The section stays together, including the MG accompanying the riflemen in the assault.

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2021 8:12 a.m. PST

This is very good for the British in 42. It is very stilted, as highlighted by the uploader as well as the original voice over, so that men watching it as a training film could see it being done. One assumes they didn't prance like the Spanish Riding School horses in the field!

youtu.be/4akCISxZTuU

Starfury Rider02 Jan 2021 8:20 a.m. PST

'Platoon in the attack' is also worth a watch;

YouTube link

It is pretty much replicated in the March 1944 document "Infantry Training Part VIII – Fieldcraft, Battle Drill, Section and Platoon Tactics".

Gary

Last Hussar Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2021 9:21 a.m. PST

Fantastic little film that, thanks.

Legion 402 Jan 2021 9:27 a.m. PST

Starfury – Yes, That is the way I understood it. The MGs were with the squad and the Infantrymen supported the MGs and vis versa, so to speak …

Andy ONeill02 Jan 2021 10:10 a.m. PST

Forget all the fancy splitting sections/squads down.
That just didn't work with the people they had.
Outside of special forces.

And as John mentioned, it's not clear whether Jerry's two groups per section stuff was ever used at all. It is entirely possible the "new" standard of not splitting a section described in later manuals was making official real world practice.

There are always exceptions.

The main one I can think of for the Germans is their "false fronts" which could be fixed positions reducing casualties from soviet massed arty or delaying mg.
It was quite common late war to leave small mg groups behind to delay advancing enemy.

As the war went on Jerry picked up some infiltration tactics which could be very effective. Or disastrous.
One approach was a company wedge with sections split down into small dispersed groups.
Particularly reliable scouts would be used at the point of the wedge and were supposed to find a good route. Maybe neutralise any small force encountered.

If they could sneak past an enemy force and re-organise without being detected this could work really well.
When they were discovered and engaged whilst dispersed then that was usually the other extreme.

My Dad went through basic training 3 times I think in the UK. Then did Chindit training in India – which was much more like special forces with realistic scenarios, live ammo and pop up targets. Then taught battle school.
He described the (British) platoon moving in attack as "the three legged beast".

His description of training was totally different and way simpler than the official methods I had read about in manual.
I don't know how widespread this was. But all that stuff in wigram's report seems to indicate simplification in the field was common.

donlowry02 Jan 2021 10:42 a.m. PST

But then the panzergrenadiers had 2 LMGs per gruppe, didn't they?

Starfury Rider02 Jan 2021 11:09 a.m. PST

Yes they did, and the odd thing is in the 1939-41 period they used the same 13-man Squad as found in the standard Rifle Platoon. (I'm currently working on the early war Schutzen for the next addition to bayonetstrength and they have required a lot of reconstruction as about half the tables are missing).

At some point in the pre-war period, some of the Schutzen units had their LMG allocation in each Rifle Company doubled, while others did not. There does not appear to have been a change in the small arms allocation to Companies with 18 LMGs as opposed to those with the normal 9. I've no idea why the increase was made, whether the extra LMGs were for use in particular circumstances, or whether there was a actual change in the LMG Troop of the Squad to allow it to operate as two teams of two, each with an LMG.

The 1941 Schutzen Squad was still based on 13 men, and had a change of small arms issue so that there were now four LMG crewmen, each with a pistol, serving two LMGs. That Squad gets trimmed back to 12 men with the late 1941 reorg of the Panzer Divs, and the Schutzen are subsequently renamed Panzer Grenadiers.

Gary

donlowry03 Jan 2021 9:46 a.m. PST

So, with a 13-man gruppe and 2 LMGs, we have:

1 gruppe leader (Sgt.?)

2 sub-gruppes of 6 men, each having:
1 sub-gruppe leader (Corp.?)
2-man LMG team
3 riflemen

Maybe?

IIRC, in the early days, the motorized platoon (zug) was carried in 7 Krupp Protze (Boxer) 3-axle trucks: 2 trucks per gruppe and 1 for the 5cm mortar.

Legion 403 Jan 2021 9:54 a.m. PST

I believe the organization of our Infantry Squads when I was on Active Duty, '79-'90. May have been based on the WWII Germans. For the most part.

SL – M16

1st Fire Tm:

1 – M60 MG
1 – M249 SAW/LG
1 – M203 GL
2 – M16s

2d Fire Tm :

1 – M47 MAW
1 – M249 SAW/LG
1 – M203 GL
2 – M16s

Mech Infantry had an M2 .50 HMG mounted on the Track, but could be dismounted if need be.


That is a lot of firepower for 11 troops …

Starfury Rider03 Jan 2021 11:40 a.m. PST

Don,

Roughly along those lines it seems. There's a 1939 document on germandocsinrussia re changes in the handling of the Schutzen units when equipped with halftracks rather than trucks. That shows an 11 man dismount (driver staying with the vehicle), deploying as;

Squad leader (MP)

Two Troops, each -
Troop leader (R) (one Troop leader being an NCO and also the assistant Squad leader)
2 LMG numbers (2P, 1 LMG)
2 riflemen (2R)

With a 13 man Squad (as noted in two Kfz.70 trucks, each with a driver), presumably they would use the same format, with three riflemen in each Troop.

As mentioned by Martin, the only Panzer Grenadier training literature I've seen translated is the Nafziger publication by Matthew Gajkowski (I daren't think how long ago it is since I bought that!). It includes portions of the Rifle Squad document translation linked to earlier, and portions of the Panzer Grenadier Squad manual (H.Dv 299/4a it seems) but only for the halftrack Squad, not the motorised version.

That manual is from May 1942 and is very similar to the 1939 document, with the main difference being there is now a Squad leader and a Troop leader, both NCOs, plus the two LMG teams and four riflemen. The halftrack now has both a driver and assistant, with the latter manning the board MG. In general the Squad is shown in the book as splitting into two parts, each of an LMG team and two riflemen, under the direction of the Squad leader, with the asst. leader being able to takeover one half of the Squad if required.

The motorised version of the Squad, and again just a presumption, would deploy similarly, but had 12 men on the dismount, so could have three riflemen in each half portion.

Gary

laretenue04 Jan 2021 3:38 p.m. PST

I think I'd already understood how the PzGr (and FJ) squad was eventually built on two MG teams.

But I've never grasped how this arrangement gave them enough rifles in the assault. If you've ever picked up a MG34/42 or a FN GPMG, you'll know that these things are fearsomely heavy, and few of us could charge with one.

I'm probably missing an essential point of doctrine here. But even allowing for the German preference for infiltration tactics, they had to be able to charge if needed.

My other headscratch is how to represent such Squads in Crossfire or similar rules. I'm thinking that I'd just show the PzGr/FJ Zug as two MG Squads, each with an extra rifleman or two to keep the guns going. In mid-1944, two Squads was all they could scrape together anyway. But as I've already said, for all that firepower, this makes them thin in the assault.

Legion 404 Jan 2021 4:36 p.m. PST

But I've never grasped how this arrangement gave them enough rifles in the assault. If you've ever picked up a MG34/42 or a FN GPMG, you'll know that these things are fearsomely heavy, and few of us could charge with one.
Like the US M60 an MG is heavy along with it's ammo. At least a lot heavier than a standard troop's rifle. Which many at that time were still bolt action. Not very good for using as suppressive fires, generally. A bolt action rifle can not quickly and/or accurately fire that many rounds.

Especially running which as I said is not that fast with all your equipment, etc. Plus you have to consider the terrain, e.g. you probably are not be running on an improved road or trail. For obvious reasons.

But I know many of my troops had little trouble carrying or using the M60. Big guys usually ended up being an MG Gunner.

I'm probably missing an essential point of doctrine here. But even allowing for the German preference for infiltration tactics, they had to be able to charge if needed.

That being said. Realize in an assault, again you can't run at full speed with all that equipment. Even if just with a combat load, not an existence load. In the assault unlike in e.g. the ACW or WWI. You don't run or move very far in the open. You move from cover to cover, etc., hopefully with suppressive/covering fires. And always use cover & concealment.

The MGs could be set up in a position to provide suppressive fires for the rest of the assaulting Infantry. Or they could leap frog/using maneuver & fire, with one MG with a Fire Tm, Section, etc. Covering the other Fire Tm, Section, etc. with another MG. Again moving from cover to cover.

To go into an assault you are probably pretty close the enemy location(s). The rule is in the Assault Position, the last covered/concealed position near the OBJ. Which has been suppressed and attrited but supporting fires from e.g. mortars, etc.

Again you are not covering a lot of open ground. And the Germans as well as other Armies tried to infiltrate, flank, attack a weak point, etc. Not go into the direct attack head on into the enemies firepower. If it could be avoided.

And the Germans were generally always carrying hand grenades, which in the assault can be very useful. If you know how to use them.

Plus as we know the Germans understood combined arms. So they would have FA, Mortars, etc., supporting their assault(s).

laretenue05 Jan 2021 5:22 a.m. PST

I get all that Legion 4 says. Several decades ago, when I was younger and fitter, I spent a few years periodically practicing the sort of Section attacks he describes. On bad days I even had to lug the GPMG around. Our organisation allowed for an assault group of at least 5-6 rifles, supported on to the objective by the MG.

But it's still not clear to me how, with much smaller rifle strengths, these Germany infantry units got sufficient boots on to the objective at the moment of decision. Was their ability to seize ground solely attributable to the shock and awe effect of their firepower?

Starfury Rider05 Jan 2021 6:55 a.m. PST

Well their already modest rifle count shrank further later in the war, even before real world shortages are taken into account. The late 1943 motorised PzGren Squad dropped from 14 to 12 men, now in one light truck, so 11 dismounted, of which six were riflemen (including the asst sqd ldr). The halftrack Squad was cut to 10 men, of which two were normally stayed with the vehicle, leaving eight men to dismount. In effect they were now just two LMG teams, each ostensibly of three men and an NCO.

The question of whether that continual reduction in rifle men had an impact on their close assault capability is the kind of thing that always intrigues me, though I've not seen any contemporary views on it. Most of the motor/mech type units, Allied as well as German, had a relatively modest dismounted strength. British Motor Bns did complain they had not the same resources as a standard Inf Bn but were often tasked with similar frontages in the defensive. German units might well have had similar grumbles.

Gary

Just Jack Supporting Member of TMP05 Jan 2021 11:45 a.m. PST

Laretenue,

Yeah, I actually brought that up awhile back, was quite a discussion:
TMP link

I certainly believe having two MGs per squad hampered the squad's ability and perhaps even willingness to close with and destroy the enemy, had a hard time convincing others ;)

V/R,
Jack

laretenue05 Jan 2021 2:20 p.m. PST

And as a small rider to this theme:

British infantry seem to have learned quite quickly that Section Attacks belonged to basic training; in real-life practice, Platoons would concentrate their Bren LMGs in a single fire base and group the rifles into an assault party. The same principle could thus be applied at one command level up.

But back to the PzGr and others: if grouping your Gruppen still just (just!) leaves you with half a dozen LMG teams, this dilemma is still not solved.

I'm not arguing against the value of Fire Support, just that this must have cramped some tactical options, for example in counterattack. And the Germans are supposedly famous for their offensive doctrine at this period.

Legion 405 Jan 2021 3:10 p.m. PST

I get all that Legion 4 says. Several decades ago, when I was younger and fitter, I spent a few years periodically practicing the sort of Section attacks he describes. On bad days I even had to lug the GPMG around. Our organisation allowed for an assault group of at least 5-6 rifles, supported on to the objective by the MG.
thumbs up old fart

But it's still not clear to me how, with much smaller rifle strengths, these Germany infantry units got sufficient boots on to the objective at the moment of decision. Was their ability to seize ground solely attributable to the shock and awe effect of their firepower?
Well again the Germans like all armies knew or learned about combat multipliers. As we said, the Germans used supporting firers from mortars, FA, AFVs, even CAS. The "shock" of their firepower with was mostly bolt action rifles, an SMG or two, hand grenades, etc. As well as the MGs in support by fire positions. Plus the combat multipliers …

Plus the Squad does not normally assault by itself. It has others on their flanks or even a small reserve coming from behind.

One of the most "dangerous" times for the Squads close assaults is not only closing in on the OBJ. But having taken the OBJ. They have to immediately consolidate of the OBJ. Have to prep for a counterattack. As while setting up hasty defenses on/near the OBJ. The unit is still in a little bit of state of chaos, per se.

IDing who is where, who is a casualty, what is your ammo status, etc., etc. At that point is the best time for a counterattack for obvious reasons. It happened to me as a Mech Co. Cdr of an FTX … once … frown

As Starfury pointed out the Rifle Squad organization got smaller. And that does not include casualties.

In effect they were now just two LMG teams, each ostensibly of three men and an NCO.
The Riflemen were there to support the MG(s) and vise versa. And as I said sometimes the MG 34/42 would go in on the assault. While others are in a support by fire position(s).

The real firepower of the Squad was primarily the MG. Whether on purpose or it just morphed in to that.

If anyone ever played AH's Squad Leader Game, you can see this type for tactic/technique in action on the board.

And as mentioned before, you use terrain to cover your movement, looking for the flank and a weak spot, etc.,. To give you the edge with less Riflemen you may find you have.

had a relatively modest dismounted strength.

Interestingly a similar situation came about in the US Army with introduction of the M2 Bradley IFV replacing the M113 APC. I commanded an M113 Co. with 14 tracks. At the time in both Light & Mech Infantry had the 11 man Squad organization. I was a PL in the 101 before I was a Mech Cdr. As I posted earlier.

I believe the organization of our Infantry Squads when I was on Active Duty, '79-'90. May have been based on the WWII Germans. For the most part.

SL M16

1st Fire Tm:

1 M60 MG
1 M249 SAW/LG
1 M203 GL
2 M16s

2d Fire Tm :

1 M47 MAW
1 M249 SAW/LG
1 M203 GL
2 M16s

Mech Infantry had an M2 .50 HMG mounted on the Track, but could be dismounted if need be.


That is a lot of firepower for 11 troops …

With the M2 replacing the M113. The squad went from 11 to 9. Even with the 11 man Mech squad, two had to stay with the track. The Driver & TC w/M2 .50 cal HMG.

So your dismounts went to 9. I.e. one Fire Tm of 5, the other with 4. Almost everyone was carrying an MG, SAW, GL or MAW. With only a few M-16. Who also became ammo bearers as well.

The M2 Squad was reduced to 9. But 3 had to stay on the track. Driver, Gunner & TC. So now your dismounted strength went to 6. One big 6 man Fire Tm or two 3 man Fire Tm. At that time us old M113 Mech guys thought that was too few dismounts. And in both TO&Es, 11 or 9 did not include sick, lame, on leave, etc., etc.

Now of course the M2 had a lot more firepower with the 25mm and TOW Sponson. Where the M113 had an M2 and maybe a Dragon mounted on the track.

But the problem we saw and it was similar to what happened in WWII. You just seemed to not have enough troops on the ground even at full strength.

So the firepower on the M2 would make up for the lack of dismounts it was thought ? But as all Mech guys know, the track can't go everywhere. So sometimes the Track won't be there to provide supporting fires for the dismounts.

Again a similar conundrum as it WWII.

So it comes down to IMO, to dismounted Squad would have to use combat multipliers, whether the weapon on the track[but if you are Light Infantry you don't have a track !] or depending in mortars, FA, AFVs, etc. to give you the firepower in the assault. Again IMO that was similar situation in WWII as now. I.e. Combat Multipliers …

Now another technique I used with success(?) as a Rifle PL in the 101. Was the dismounted night attack, using darkness and if you are luck some rain to cover your stealthy advance . Being on top of the OPFOR at about 03:00 where in most cases many are asleep. Or trying to stay dry. As we know Surprise is a Principle of War.

laretenue05 Jan 2021 3:27 p.m. PST

Well, Legion 4, I'm not discounting the voice of your experience.

But I confess that my main historical interest is in NW Europe 1944-45. With Allies air supremacy, the PzGr have can't chance their halftracks the way they could in Russia, and take to leaving them parked up and out of sight. Soless opportunity to that MG support.

Point taken about night atacks.

I think every other MG team in my Crossfure PG Platoons is going to have to include a Big Karl or Arni, who is able to storm a fire trench while wielding a MG42 from the hip … But pictures of the Wehrmacht at that time don't show too many chaps like that …

Legion 405 Jan 2021 4:15 p.m. PST

Legion 4, I'm not discounting the voice of your experience.
Didn't think you were. Just having an interesting conversation. thumbs up And remember much of our training was based on lessons learn even from WWII.

With Allies air supremacy, the PzGr have can't chance their halftracks the way they could in Russia, and take to leaving them parked up and out of sight. Soless opportunity to that MG support.
That is true generally. Yet they still used halftracks, they just had to modify tactics & techniques. Using camo, cover and concealment, terrain masking, etc. You always see photos of German AFVs using local flora to camo their vehicles. Just like we do today. Of course as time went on they were getting less and less replacement vehicles across the board.

Plus you can dismount the MG(s) on those Halftracks. Like I said in the 101 we didn't have a tracks as in Mech. Which we considered Mech units modern day PzGrs.

Also remember, you do see troops German, Russian, US, UK, etc., riding on the back of MBTs and other AFVs that are not APCs. We even had exercises to get trained and used to doing that in the Light Infantry Officers Course. Later in the 101 on a rare occasion we even got Tank & APC support and we rode on them. Just like in WWII …

PG Platoons is going to have to include a Big Karl or Arni, who is able to storm a fire trench while wielding a MG42 from the hip … But pictures of the Wehrmacht at that time don't show too many chaps like that …
Well they may not have usually fired the MG from the hip. But kept it nearby in a support by fire position, etc. But again Prep and Supporting Fires/combat multipliers are all part of the assault. Plus the assault teams should carry a number of hand grenades too.

And again dismounted night attacks I used as a PL and Co Cdr. Stealth and surprise … to get you on the OBJ.

As far pictures showing big guys. Generally the average European male back then were not that big or muscular. As today. But you do see them carrying a lot of gear. Including MGs, ammo, Panzerfausts, Panzerschrecks, mortars, etc.

In the Infantry you do get a lot of hardy, tough, some times mean SoBs, no matter whose army … wink

donlowry05 Jan 2021 5:45 p.m. PST

2 things:

1. On offense, Panzergrenadiers (or their predecessors, the motorized infantry) were intended to work with the panzers. That would -- ideally -- be how they assaulted a position.

2. Otherwise, they were there to hold what the tanks captured, until the leg-infantry caught up. Which is defensive work.

Hornswoggler05 Jan 2021 10:45 p.m. PST

The halftrack Squad was cut to 10 men, of which two were normally stayed with the vehicle, leaving eight men to dismount. In effect they were now just two LMG teams, each ostensibly of three men and an NCO.

In the relevant KStN dated 1.Nov.1943, each halftrack was allocated a Panzerschreck. I don't know if there was a drill manual which assigned the role of manning it when deployed to specific numbers within the squad, but it occurs to me that with 4 guys already crewing the LMGs there wasn't a lot of choice leaving only one dismounted rifle when the 'schreck was in use?

Wolfhag05 Jan 2021 11:17 p.m. PST

Shooting the MG34 and MG42 from the hip, you be the judge:
YouTube link

Woldhag

Starfury Rider06 Jan 2021 7:26 a.m. PST

I do recall a description of the duties of a 1980s British Rifle Section (in an FV432), which was along the lines of a commander, radio op, three men for the GPMG (including the L-cpl) and two men for the Carl-G, and driver. If everyone was serving command or support weapons duties there was no one left to be a rifleman proper.

This is a brief description of the duties of the riflemen in the 1939 document on training a Squad for use in the halftrack, courtesy of google translate;

"In the attack, they initially follow under the protection of the machine gunner and complete victory in hand-to-hand combat when breaking in. in defense they can be used for observation, securing blind spots or held back as a reserve. in attack and defense, take part in fire fighting at the distances where you expect your weapons to be effective."

The only line for the No.1 of the LMG is along the lines of; "Gunner 1 prepares the MG to fire. he uses it in combat and removes any inhibitions that arise." Presumably threats/obstructions would be a better fit than inhibitions :>

Gary

Legion 406 Jan 2021 10:21 a.m. PST

1. On offense, Panzergrenadiers (or their predecessors, the motorized infantry) were intended to work with the panzers. That would -- ideally -- be how they assaulted a position.
Yes that is why I said the PG would have support from Panzers or vis versa.

2. Otherwise, they were there to hold what the tanks captured, until the leg-infantry caught up. Which is defensive work.

Yes, because of Leg Infantry walking or using trucks, which you try not to get that close to the combat zone. For obvious reasons. Holding and consolidating the OBJ is all part of the assault. And if need be the Panzers & PG may have to do that until relieved by follow on forces. Or if the situation requires it they may continue the attack. Not waiting for follow on forces.

Plus again many armies mounted leg Infantry on Tanks and other AFVs. Then dismount based on the tactical situation …

Wolf that video looks and sounds pretty accurate AFAIK. I can only reinforce that based on my experience and training with the M60 MG which is similar to the MG34/42. Plus my study of WWII history. Again that also is what I said in some of my previous posts. MG(s) could move and fire with the assault troops.

"The MGs could be set up in a position to provide suppressive fires for the rest of the assaulting Infantry. Or they could leap frog/using maneuver & fire, with one MG with a Fire Tm, Section, etc. Covering the other Fire Tm, Section, etc. with another MG. Again moving from cover to cover." …

Andy ONeill06 Jan 2021 12:15 p.m. PST

The mgs pretty much had to move with the assault troops.
Because.
No fire teams.

If the platoon had something to assault.
A whole squad would be either supporting or assaulting.

With exceptions.
The officer plus a couple of guys with smg and bags of grenades was quite often the decisive assault element in any infantry company let alone platoon.

Also, the mg34 trigger was unusual.
Pressing the top gave you single shot semi auto.
Press the bottom for full auto.
There are lots of pictures of mg34 gunners carrying their weapon as described in that video.
I can't recall any with mg42.

Legion 406 Jan 2021 5:35 p.m. PST

Yes I agree with that …

A lot of good information on this thread.

Simon the Squirrel14 Oct 2021 11:49 a.m. PST

You may find this of interest – The German Infantry Squad in Action – A Demonstration of minor field Tactics:

YouTube link

TacticalPainter0115 Oct 2021 1:17 a.m. PST

The Chain of Command rules allow you to operate a German or British squad as two fire teams – LMG and rifles. It's a tactical option that's available if you want it. In practice I've found in most cases the squad works as a single group, which is probably as it worked out historically. Doctrine aside sometimes you just need to bring as much fire to bear or as many men as possible into a close assault. I guess that's exactly what separated doctrine from practice in actual combat. I see no problems in rules allowing for doctrine and training, even if in practice this occurred rarely. Tactically it's nice to have the option if it was available historically.

donlowry15 Oct 2021 9:42 a.m. PST

Well, in practice, how many times would a section operate alone? Wouldn't they more often act as an element of a platoon or company action?

Starfury Rider15 Oct 2021 10:56 a.m. PST

There is a line in one of the British Army publications, Section and Platoon Tactics of March 1944

"Every section is designed to provide its own covering fire within itself. It can, if necessary, rely on itself to get forward."

I think there was a recognition that a Battalion advance would not be conducted by 20 plus squads/sections each performing separate advances, but that any one of them should be able to do so if the situation required it. How often that situation arose, now there's a question. Probably not many, and yes a Company level advance would be more common I'd expect.

Gary

UshCha15 Oct 2021 11:32 a.m. PST

I suspect even in a large say battalion advance the advance would be either 1 up 2 back or 2 up 1 back so the cutting edge would always be 1 or two platoons supported as necessary. Typically a company attacks on about 500m against stiff opposition which means probably only 1 or two platoons at the front supported by the latter elements that probably replace the front as fear fire and fatigue and ammo use wear down the lead elements. It does seem sensible in some cases to group a platoons LMG's or equivalent as a single firebase, but probably no more.

Achtung Minen19 Oct 2021 7:40 a.m. PST

The question of whether that continual reduction in rifle men had an impact on their close assault capability is the kind of thing that always intrigues me, though I've not seen any contemporary views on it.

Charles Sharp, considered by many an authority on these things, wrote this years ago on the Battlefront WWII forum:

"As mentioned before, when a squad had two LMGs, this usually means that they have few if any riflemen left to take ground, and the squad becomes simply a support unit for the other (rifle) squads in the platoon."

That was in response to game-designer Rich Hasenauer saying:

"A book titled Beyond the Beachhead has a section on equipment, organization and tactical differences between U.S. and German combat units. It describes how the increase in light machineguns in late war German infantry squads increased their defensive firepower at the expense of leaving fewer troops for offensive maneuver."

Charles consulted on the development of Rich's game. Both quotes can be found here: link

Now, a few caveats.

1) As others have mentioned, the Germans did use their LMGs on the assault, so we cannot assume that having two LMGs in a squad actually made the German squad doctrinally unsuited to offensive action.

2) We have to qualify also that the source Hasenauer references brings up a number of wrinkles… for one, I couldn't actually find that idea (i.e. German squads being unsuited to offensive action) actually mentioned anywhere in the book and in fact that book only really talks about German Paratroopers having two LMGs per squad, not the 352nd Division which is the main German formation featured in the analysis (and in any case I have never heard anyone claim Fallschirmjagers were unsuited for attack maneuvers).

3) That book also only covers a little over a week after D-Day, detailing mainly the beach landing and hedgerow fighting where the 352nd only found the opportunity to fight defensively anyway. It is not surprising that little is said about German squad offensive tactics.

I suspect that the "two LMG" German squad's ability to fight offensively is underrated. After all, that organization was most universally used with the Panzergrenadiers, which were doubtlessly infantry meant to attack positions and follow tanks on the move. What the book Hasenauer mentions does say is that the MG 42 was a "remarkable" weapon that could be deployed in mere seconds, was comparatively quite light and even on the defense was always used in an extraordinarily mobile manner (switching between different shooting positions after brief episodes of firing in order to confuse attackers as to the true number of defending squads and their disposition).

By 1944-1945, German infantry formations (like many of their opponents) increasingly had lots of LMGs but they also had concurrently fewer opportunities and less appetite and expertise to fight offensively. More and more, they were fighting a defensive war with inexperienced replacement troops and little love for the close assault by those surviving veterans who did have battle skills. But any impact the latter issues might have had on offensive ability should not necessarily be conflated with the squad's LMG allocation. When these double LMG formations did go on the offensive (like during the Battle of the Bulge), I haven't heard of their fortunes being attributed one way or another to the presence of two squad machineguns.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.