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the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS and Volkssturm.
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the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby shuniuhutu on 10 Dec 2012 06:06

what's the quality of german force in western front 1944? many people said except several panzer divisions, they are almost static divisions or stomach divisions with inexpericenced aged or sick men. but even under this circumstance, allied force still suffered a lot. So what's the fact? I know there were indeed many unfit men in western front in 1944. but how many of them? what about the eastern front at the same time?
PS, what about the Volksgrenadier divisions? still many people think they were inferior to the infantry division at the same time. is that true?
thanks.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby BuddaBell123 on 28 Jan 2013 11:16

The Wehrmacht in Western Europe by 1944 was a second class one compared to the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front which was of a slightly better quality. Many of the military age men were ones who had been wounded elsewhere and were sent to Western Europe to rest and allow their wounds if not too bad, to heal. Other men were in their late 40s who were due to their age weaker and less effective in combat situations. However, some of the 'men' were Hitler Youth of the ages of 14-17. They were fanatics and believed in the 'final victory', so many fought brilliantly, better than the older soldiers who could by that time see the writing on the wall for Nazi Germany. A good example of one of the most effective Hiter Youth Divisions stationed in France during 1944 was the 12Th SS Panzergrenadier Division Hiter Jugend that was made up of 17 year old 'boys' who fought as well as if not better than their 'adult' counterparts. Overall the Wehrmacht in the West was made up of ill-trained and ill-equipped men who were held together by the quality of the experianced Waffen SS Divisions.

By 1944 the Luftwaffe was mostly in Nazi Germany itself defending it from the Western Allied Bombing Campaign. To add to this the airplanes that the Lufftwaffe could spear were flown by mostly ill-trained pilots. As the demand for more pilots grew to combat the Western Allied Bombing Campaign and the Allied forces themselves when they unleashed their offensives the less time pilots had to train, reducing their experiance. As the Allied pilots got better the Luftwaffe pilots got worse. Another problem which effected all Wehrmacht vehicles by 1944 was the lack of fuel. Fuel had to be rationed so only when there was enough fuel could the airplanes takeoff.

The total lack of fuel mean't that their aircraft, armour and all other vehicles that were vital for bringing supplies and reinforcements to the front lines, while at the same time helping forces retreat had to be used only in emergencies. The Wehrmacht had brilliant vehicles of all types, but the lack of fuel for the vehicles caused many of them to have be destroyed and abandoned when this precious fuel ran out.

The quality of the soldiers and the lack of air support and fuel made the Wehrmacht in the West a force that showed that time was up for Nazi Germany. However, under all these circumstances the Wehrmacht did well to make the Western Allies bleed for every inch that they captured.

Oliver N.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby Christoph Awender on 28 Jan 2013 12:15

Hello,
In this context the spelling mistake "Hitler Juden" is quite remarkable.
Of course it was a Panzerdivision called "Hitlerjugend".

/Christoph
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby BuddaBell123 on 28 Jan 2013 14:07

I apologise for my spelling of HitlerJugend. I have corrected it now.

Oliver N.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby steverodgers801 on 28 Jan 2013 15:55

though in 1944, the tank forces in the west were of better quality then of the east, especially with the SS.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby Halle on 29 Jan 2013 00:47

1944 , between 01 Jan and 31 Dec , surely the circumstances ( certainly after 6th June ) dictated the quality of those soldiers stationed on the Western Front ? After all , you'd have to include Wacht am Rhein ?
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby canambridge on 10 Feb 2013 09:36

Nearly half the German AFVs were located in the west (are you also including Italy in that total? 2 Pz & 4 PG divs & 2 FJ Divs) although a greater number of Panzer & Panzer Grenadier "divisions" (18 of 32 Pz, and 10 of 15 PG) were located in the east. But many the Ost front divisions were much reduced in strength (if not quality).
The Germans knew that an invasion of France was coming in the spring of 1944 and had been giving the West a priority in terms of replacements, men and material, as a result in the months before. I would also argue that the LW forces engaged in the defense of the Reich (including all that AAA) were indeed facing the Western Allies.
There can be no denying that the majority of the German troops were located in the east, but arguments about quality are highly subjective and a matter of opinion. I think it is a very broad (and incorrect) over generalization to say that the Werhmacht in the West was second class compared to the forces in the East.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby joe cleere on 19 Feb 2013 02:15

The Wehrmacht and Waffen SS in the west were of mixed quality. In Normandy, the 243rd, 709th, 716th, and 711th Infantry Divisions were classified as static formations whose average age was in the mid-30's. These static formations had a large percentage of category III personnel, who were only nominally German and actually Polish. These divisions also had Ost Battalions consisting of Russians, Georgians, etc. These divisions were expected to fight from fixed positions in a defensive role and were not considered Ostfaehig or capable of being employed on the eastern front.

The field infantry divisions such as the 91st and 352nd Infantry Divisions were considered good formations capable of being employed on the eastern front. They consisted of a mix of combat veterans and newly trained teenage recruits. These divisions were classified as able to perform all defensive missions and limited offensive operations. Other field divisions stationed in the west were the 77th, 84th, 85th, 89th, 271st, 272nd, 275th, 276th, 277th, 331st, 353rd, and 363rd Infantry Divisions. The 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Division and the 6th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment consisted of highly trained and motived personnel and were the best infantry formations in the western theater.

The most powerful formations were the Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Divisions consisting of the 1st SS, 2nd SS, 9th SS, 10th SS, 12th SS, 17th SS PzGr, Panzer Lehr, 2nd, 9th, 11th, and 116th.

Supporting formations such as the III Flak Sturm Korps, and the 7th, 8th, and 9th Nebelwerfer Brigades added a good bit of firepower and helped to make up for the lack of GHQ artillery. The 89th and 363rd Infantry Divisions were initially stationed in Scandinavia and were sent to Normandy after D-Day, while the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions were on the Eastern Front near Kovel on D-Day, and were transferred to Normandy on June 12th.

So the German ground forces in the west were still quite formidable, especially if they were used to the best advantage. The Allies had overwhelming aerial supremacy, a large superiority in artillery and numbers of tanks, a deception plan (Fortitude) that confounded the German response to the invasion, and the ability to decipher German signals traffic through Ultra. These factors worked against the Germans using what they had to best advantage.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby sitalkes on 26 Feb 2013 00:43

The Volkssturm didn't exist until October 18, 1944. It conscripted males between the ages of 16 to 60 years who were not already serving in some military unit as part of a German Home Guard.

The panzer units had a mixture of the very latest equipment - Tiger II, Jagdpanther etc but also cannibalised French tanks and artillery tractors turned into self propelled guns, even some H35s of 1940s vintage with just the cupola changed. The H35s were Ok against airborne units until they brought out the bazookas and PIATs. The Panzer Lehr was a very good unit because it was at full strength and composed of tank instructors (Lehr=teacher) - a real last ditch unit, like the 12th SS.

The infantry units that included foreigners even had a Korean who had been captured by the Russians from the Japanese and then captured from the Russians by the Germans. Such units were kept fighting by their German NCO who had a gun pointed at their back but they surrendered at the first opportunity. Their German NCOs just kept fighting, though.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby ljadw on 26 Feb 2013 12:22

joe cleere wrote:The Wehrmacht and Waffen SS in the west were of mixed quality. In Normandy, the 243rd, 709th, 716th, and 711th Infantry Divisions were classified as static formations whose average age was in the mid-30's. These static formations had a large percentage of category III personnel, who were only nominally German and actually Polish. These divisions also had Ost Battalions consisting of Russians, Georgians, etc. These divisions were expected to fight from fixed positions in a defensive role and were not considered Ostfaehig or capable of being employed on the eastern front.

The field infantry divisions such as the 91st and 352nd Infantry Divisions were considered good formations capable of being employed on the eastern front. They consisted of a mix of combat veterans and newly trained teenage recruits. These divisions were classified as able to perform all defensive missions and limited offensive operations. Other field divisions stationed in the west were the 77th, 84th, 85th, 89th, 271st, 272nd, 275th, 276th, 277th, 331st, 353rd, and 363rd Infantry Divisions. The 3rd Fallschirmjaeger Division and the 6th Fallschirmjaeger Regiment consisted of highly trained and motived personnel and were the best infantry formations in the western theater.

The most powerful formations were the Panzer and Panzer Grenadier Divisions consisting of the 1st SS, 2nd SS, 9th SS, 10th SS, 12th SS, 17th SS PzGr, Panzer Lehr, 2nd, 9th, 11th, and 116th.

Supporting formations such as the III Flak Sturm Korps, and the 7th, 8th, and 9th Nebelwerfer Brigades added a good bit of firepower and helped to make up for the lack of GHQ artillery. The 89th and 363rd Infantry Divisions were initially stationed in Scandinavia and were sent to Normandy after D-Day, while the 9th and 10th SS Panzer Divisions were on the Eastern Front near Kovel on D-Day, and were transferred to Normandy on June 12th.

So the German ground forces in the west were still quite formidable, especially if they were used to the best advantage. The Allies had overwhelming aerial supremacy, a large superiority in artillery and numbers of tanks, a deception plan (Fortitude) that confounded the German response to the invasion, and the ability to decipher German signals traffic through Ultra. These factors worked against the Germans using what they had to best advantage.


All this is more than questionable :
let's take the mobile divisions:
1 SS : simply :inexistant on 6 june
2 SS : not operational,and manpower od dubious quality
9 SS : on 6 june on the East Front
10 SS : idem
12 SS : operational,but,its performances were not that brilliant
17 SS : was a motorized divisions without tanks
2 PZ: very good
9PZ: inexistant
11PZ ; idem
116 PZ : was only committed at the end of july
PL: was operational,but its performances have been criticized

And the Fortitude and Ultra stories are Indian tales .
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby ptimms on 26 Feb 2013 23:57

I can't agree with some comments, some divisions were low on equipment but still represent a powerful force.

Let's take the mobile divisions:
1 SS : simply :inexistant on 6 june
Not in Normandy but in the West. On 6/6/44 had 50 PzIV's. 38 Panthers and 45 Stug III's. On 1/6 it had over 19.000men although many were newly arrived and needed training. Admittedly very short of transport.

2 SS : not operational,and manpower od dubious quality.

Certainly partly operational about 1/6/44 had 55 PZ IV's, 37 Panthers and 42 Stug III's. When it moved to Normandy it only had transport for 11,000 of it's 17,000 men so it was also short of transport. It's manpower was of no worse quality of the other mobile divisions.

9 SS : on 6 june on the East Front

True but it transfers to Normandy pretty rapidly deploying about 24th June and is in action by Epsom. Weak in Panzers with around 9 MkIV's 25 odd Panthers and 20 ish Stugs. About 16,000 men with under 2/3rds of authorised transport.

10 SS : idem

Similar to the above and moved together from the East. Around 20 MkIV's, 30 Panthers and less than 10 Stugs. About 2/3rds of it's transport with around 15,800 men.

12 SS : operational,but,its performances were not that brilliant

Operational, strong and by all accounts performs well in Normandy but never recovers after the crippling losses suffered. At the start of campaign it does have 98 Panzer IV's and 50 Panthers with about 17,000 men.

17 SS : was a motorized divisions without tanks

Yes but it has a full strength Stug Abt with 42 vehicles and 12 Marders. It had 17,000 men but was cripplingly short of transport.

2 PZ: very good

Yes and strong. 96 Mk IV's and 79 Panthers, 21 Jagdpanzer IV's and around 16,000 men fully motorised including 470 half tracks.

116 PZ : was only committed at the end of july

Agreed by which time it had around 75 MkIV's, 75 Panthers and 25 Stugs/PzJgrIV's. It had about 14,300 men and was rated 67% mobile.

PL: was operational,but its performances have been criticized

Staggeringly equipped, on 1 June it had, including the attached 316. Pz.Kp. (Fkl), 99 Panzer IV, 89 Panther, 31 JagdPz IV, 10 StuG III, 8 Tiger (five of them were Tiger II). This gave a total of 237 tanks and assault guns. It had all its four panzer grenadier battalions carried by armoured half tracks. Also the engineer battalion was in armoured half tracks. Altogether the division possessed 658 operational SPW and 35 in short term repair. Total manpower 14,600 odd.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby ljadw on 27 Feb 2013 06:39

On 15 may,2SS had 9000 recruits,and was that short on manpower that it had to use "malgré nous" from the Alsace.

The LSS had received "forced" volunteers from the LW.
It had no armored half trucks and only 38 Panther and 44 StuG III,less than an allied infantry division .
Only 3 PzD were operational on DDay :2Pz,PzL and HJ.

The 17 PzG was that weak that it would not be able to hold against an allied infantry division .

On 6 june,the 9,11 and 116 Pz were that weak,that the Germans had to send 2 PzD from Poland.
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby ljadw on 27 Feb 2013 06:49

canambridge wrote:Nearly half the German AFVs were located in the west (are you also including Italy in that total? 2 Pz & 4 PG divs & 2 FJ Divs) although a greater number of Panzer & Panzer Grenadier "divisions" (18 of 32 Pz, and 10 of 15 PG) were located in the east. But many the Ost front divisions were much reduced in strength (if not quality).
The Germans knew that an invasion of France was coming in the spring of 1944 and had been giving the West a priority in terms of replacements, men and material, as a result in the months before. I would also argue that the LW forces engaged in the defense of the Reich (including all that AAA) were indeed facing the Western Allies.
There can be no denying that the majority of the German troops were located in the east, but arguments about quality are highly subjective and a matter of opinion. I think it is a very broad (and incorrect) over generalization to say that the Werhmacht in the West was second class compared to the forces in the East.


They were both second class.Half of the ID in the west(22) were static divisions,without offensive capabilities,and only 3 mobile divisions were operational .
The West had not been given priority:the mobile reserves husbanded for DDay had been transferred to the east .Even on 6 june,the 2nd Pzbatallion of the PzL was going to the east .
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby ljadw on 27 Feb 2013 07:01

more about the PzL:
its Panther batallion was going eastwards:first train was in Magdeburg on 5 june,last still in Paris on 9 june,and was only committed in Normandy on 15 june,that means that the PzL had only 50 % of its tanks on 6 june.

About its Tiger II tanks :these were only prototypes with technical deficiencies,and never were committed;as there was no possibility to send them back to Germany,they were blobn up in Chateaudun.

Thus,on 6 june ,only 2 1/2 PzD were operational in the west .
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Re: the quality of german force in western front 1944?

Postby Kingfish on 27 Feb 2013 21:26

ljadw wrote:About its Tiger II tanks :these were only prototypes with technical deficiencies,and never were committed;


I believe this is incorrect. A few KTs fought in Normandy under 503rd schwere Pz Abt., and of course there is the famous photo of the KT rammed and disabled by a Guards Armored Sherman during Goodwood.
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