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"Understanding German Corps-level Artillery" Topic

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355 hits since 20 May 2023
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Achtung Minen20 May 2023 10:18 a.m. PST

Lexicon-der-Wehrmacht is an incredibly useful tool, but I'm a little confused about the Korps-Truppen.

For example, take Army Corps III on June 22nd, 1941: link

The Corps consists of two Panzer Divisions (13th and 14th), good so far.

Then it gives a long list of Heerestruppen… but what exactly are Heerestruppen? My best guess is that they are troops that were occasionally sent down from OKH for specific reasons to support Army Corps III, but were not permanently attached units (so basically the distinction between "general support" and "direct support").

The Heerestruppen further includes ArKo's as well as artillery regiments. Should I assume the former were in command of the latter? Did the ArKo's command other artillery units not listed under the Heerestruppen? For example, under Korpstruppen, we find ArKo 3 and no artillery troops listed. What units did ArKo 3 control?

Blutarski20 May 2023 5:23 p.m. PST

Arko = "Artillerie Kommandeur"

An "Arko" was a semi-independent HQ unit under which artillery elements could be assembled and centrally controlled. Such a formation was extremely flexible: any type of available artillery in any desired numbers could be placed under the control of an Arko. The Arko itself would either be temporarily attached to any formation from a division to an Army, depending upon the task at hand, or could operate semi-permanently as an ad hoc artillery division. They would be committed anywhere their support was required and could quicklbe dissolved and re-organized if circumstances demanded it.

The following passage from "Inside the Afrika Korps – The Crusader Battles, 1941-1942" by Colonel Rainer Kriebel; edited by Bruce Gudmundsson should explain the function of the "Arko" –

In addition to the division artillery and Italian army artillery already on the spot, it was regarded as essential to have at least six more German heavy army artillery battalions. Of these, the following elements had arrived at the beginning of October:

> Headquarters of Artillery Command 104 (ArKo 104)
> 1 battalion of 10cm guns
> 12 battalion of 21cm howitzers (less one battery)
2 army coast artillery battalions of 15cm guns

Not yet arrived:
> 1 observation battery
> 1 army coast artillery battery
> 1 battery 17cm guns
> 1 battery 21cm howitzers
> 1 battalion French heavy field howitzers (15cm)

Note: A German artillery command (Arko) was a floating headquarters that could control the fire of a large number of artillery battalions. On the eve of World War II, the German Army intended to put an artillery command in every division, giving that division the ability to control the fire of artillery units greatly in excess of the three or four organic artillery battalions. The rapid expansion of the German Army during the war, however, made this plan unworkable: there were simply not enough artillery officers qualified for this sort of work. As a result, each artillery command tended to serve as sort of "flying circus" that moved from one part of the front to another. For details, see Bruce Gudmundsson, "On Artillery", WEstport CT, Praeger, 1993.

FWIW, Gudmundsson's "On Artillery" is a terrific reference work.


Starfury Rider21 May 2023 6:55 a.m. PST

Also recommend Axis History Forum, not sure if there is a thread on there but the search function is pretty decent.


Blutarski21 May 2023 1:39 p.m. PST

Hi Starfury,
You are correct. There are a lot of really interesting posters to be found there … especially from Germany, which is a cool thing.


Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.