German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 14 Dec 2019 20:12

T. A. Gardner wrote:
13 Dec 2019 22:40
My point Carl was to show / ask If German infantry units are so awesome, why were they such failures in the offense? ....
Its a really good point. When you get up to regiment level the differences in firepower, communications, motorization, engineers, air support takes precedence over pure 'infantry' skill. The regiments of WWII were combined arms formations and the divisions more so. While German doctrine was decent in this respect a number of problems caught up with them. The average German 'infantry' div of 1943-1944 had a about half the combat power of the US or British division. At the corps level the disparity is even worse.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by T. A. Gardner » 16 Dec 2019 19:52

I have questions wrote:
14 Dec 2019 18:52
T. A. Gardner wrote:
13 Dec 2019 22:40
My point Carl was to show / ask If German infantry units are so awesome, why were they such failures in the offense? Of course, the answer is that the Germans concentrated their best into a handful of units--maybe 15 to 20% of the whole Wehrmacht-- while the rest of those divisions raised were really only good for defensive operations, garrison duty, or anti-partisan work, that sort of thing.

While this doesn't show up as readily at the squad level, it gets more obvious as you move up the scale of the unit(s) involved.
they were no failures. Comparing the two sides, the Germans were able to triumph in their first engagements, meanwhile, the Americans, when they first met the Germans in a serious battle (mind you the Americans were on defense) they were utterly destroyed, and this was 1943! German elite units were not the only good ones, to name a few regular units which proved extremely reliable and packed a serious punch: 1st ID, 83ID, 97th JD, 5th PD, 4th PD. Also note that none of these units were the ones which gave the Americans their first taste of the Wehrmacht. Perhaps you should consider this: Most quality German units were in the East and consequently didn't fight the Americans. The fact that the Germans held up the Americans for 7-8 months without their best units out there really reflects more about the quality of the American military than the Germans. Oh, and please don't bring up the Das Reich or LSSAH, they were only there for 2 months and were swiftly transferred back east. Also the German divisions were recruited based on geography, hence the Wehrkreis system. Sure, units in the Waffen-SS took from all over, and the GD was the only army unit which took from a variety of regions, the Germans didn't just pluck whoever and send them to this unit because they had proved themselves. That wasn't at all how it worked. If you proved your worth you would stay in your unit, maybe get a promotion, or some awards.


You obviously don't know that much about the Wehrmacht given your comment. Also this is extremely off topic. What does a 1944 operation have to do with 1941 German Infantry vs USMC Infantry?
Actually, the US Army in N. Africa suffered just one defeat, at Kasserine Pass. This was due far more to inept leadership at the top than the fighting qualities of the units involved. Beyond that, the Germans simply weren't that good on the whole. Easily 75%+ of their army was, putting it mildly, crap. By 1942 the quality of German recruits was in serious decline. They were taking manpower that the US, even Britain, would reject for service.
In the US, the standards for the draft weren't lowered as the war continued. In fact, about one in three draftees was rejected for service. In some parts of the US particularly large cities on the East Coast, and Deep South, upwards of half of all draftees were rejected.

The Germans in WW 2 raised something like 300 divisions. Of those you might call 30 to 40 really good. The rest were average to mediocre. Many of these divisions had hand-me-down or captured weapons. Even in 1941, the Germans couldn't have managed to get where they did in Russia without masses of captured, often indifferent quality, equipment to allow them to raise divisions for secondary duties filled with indifferent quality manpower.

I'd also say the squad v. squad comparison is really meaningless. Where WW 2 combat made a difference was between battalions, regiments, and divisions. The Germans simply get worse and worse as you go higher in the organization. That's true in 1941 and even more so in 1944.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by I have questions » 17 Dec 2019 03:50

T. A. Gardner wrote:
16 Dec 2019 19:52

Easily 75%+ of their army was, putting it mildly, crap.

In the US, the standards for the draft weren't lowered as the war continued. In fact, about one in three draftees was rejected for service. In some parts of the US particularly large cities on the East Coast, and Deep South, upwards of half of all draftees were rejected.

Of those you might call 30 to 40 really good
You just keep upping that percent don't you.

the Americans had the luxury of standards, the fact that the Germans were fighting on two fronts for three years, then three for two, and weren't obliterated sooner is far from un-impressive. Also America didn't deploy massive amounts of troops until 1943, they had a bigger pool of people to choose from, put simply, they weren't in a crisis like Germany. I guarantee you that if the roles were reversed, the Americans would have taken lower quality manpower.

read some unit histories, look at the performance of many German infantry units and you will find that they had a great deal of average and good divisions, perhaps not "elite" units which won every battle, but units which did their job well. The majority of the Wehrmacht was certainly not made up of sicherungs divisions (just read the German Order Of Battle Series). Your "75%+" statistic makes no sense whatsoever, if that were true, Germany would have lost far sooner. There were definitely more than 40 divisions which distinguished themselves or were effective. Wherever it is you get your "75+" stat is total BS.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by T. A. Gardner » 17 Dec 2019 20:21

I have questions wrote:
17 Dec 2019 03:50
You just keep upping that percent don't you.

the Americans had the luxury of standards, the fact that the Germans were fighting on two fronts for three years, then three for two, and weren't obliterated sooner is far from un-impressive. Also America didn't deploy massive amounts of troops until 1943, they had a bigger pool of people to choose from, put simply, they weren't in a crisis like Germany. I guarantee you that if the roles were reversed, the Americans would have taken lower quality manpower.
Except we're discussing the US Marine Corps here, not the US Army. The USMC in 1941 was composed entirely of volunteers, mostly long service career volunteers. That holds true into 1943 when the now expanded USMC-- still all volunteer as they weren't taking draftees-- started to be fielded. In 1941 through 1942, the USMC effectively had 2 divisions available along with some separate battalions and service units. The core of those two divisions, along with the smaller separate combat units, were mostly long service volunteers.
The closest example to what the USMC was in 1941 was Britain's "Old Contemptables" in 1914.

That's a far cry from the Wehrmacht in 1941. The Wehrmacht had had a number or rounds or Welle call ups of first reserves then of draftees that made up the bulk of the infantry divisions in existence. Most of the draftee divisions didn't see service in Poland but instead were put on the West Wall guarding against a French attack that never came. Those same draftee divisions often ended up in Poland or the East in occupation duties during the French campaign. It was the regular army and reserve divisions that mostly fought in France.
read some unit histories, look at the performance of many German infantry units and you will find that they had a great deal of average and good divisions, perhaps not "elite" units which won every battle, but units which did their job well. The majority of the Wehrmacht was certainly not made up of sicherungs divisions (just read the German Order Of Battle Series). Your "75%+" statistic makes no sense whatsoever, if that were true, Germany would have lost far sooner. There were definitely more than 40 divisions which distinguished themselves or were effective. Wherever it is you get your "75+" stat is total BS.
I have read a lot of them. Taking a random example from Selected German Army Operations on the Eastern Front vol VIIA on 2nd Panzer Army's early operations and the Bryansk encirclement (Sept 41 time period), there are two infantry corps assigned:

XXXIV Corps with 45th and 134th Infantry divisions
XXXV Corps with 95th, 262nd, 293rd, 296th, infantry and 1st Cavalry divisions assigned

The three panzer corps each with 2 panzer and one panzergrenadier division do the bulk of the fighting. The infantry divisions get only passing attention because they spend most of their time slogging forward to occupy ground the panzers took.
Looking at just one of the infantry divisions in a bit more detail, the 262nd, we find it was formed from rear area small units (Ergünzungs). That is it was made a division from a selection of miscellaneous local units like garrison defense battalions and such with indifferent quality manpower. There isn't much in the way of detailed history on the unit.
It was later ground up at Kursk.

So, in terms of this thread, if the 262nd had to supply the squad to go up against a USMC squad from say the 1st Marine Division which would perform better?

Or, take the 333rd Infantry Division assigned to southern France on the Atlantic coast. This is a static division intended for occupation duties. It was formed from a cadre of the 76th and 293rd ID's along with receiving draftees. It formed in mid 1941 and had been in existence for a short period of time. Basically, for the scenario here, the unit would have just finished training and that'd be it. How would they do against Marines?

There are far more infantry divisions like these in existence in the Wehrmacht than panzer or panzergrenadier divisions.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by I have questions » 18 Dec 2019 01:41

T. A. Gardner wrote:
17 Dec 2019 20:21


There are far more infantry divisions like these in existence in the Wehrmacht than panzer or panzergrenadier divisions.
the balance of rear area to frontline divisions in the Wehrmacht (or just the heer in this case) was relatively even. The sicherungs divisions were also not always crap, namely the 281st Sicherungs Division at Kholm in 1942 was able (with help from some random formations of mediocre quality) to hold its perimeter for months under intense pressure, more or less completely isolated with only a thin stream of air-resupply.

Then there were the units which were able to consistently perform well in combat, and the minority of divisions which were exceptional (GD etc). The war proved that the German military was (at the time of course) the best at assembling a defense out of thin air, typically achieved with the security divisions when the infantry was wrecked and unable to fight anymore. Just because the unit was a sicherungs division or a rear area formation doesn't mean that it wouldn't have been able to put up effective resistance.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by T. A. Gardner » 18 Dec 2019 05:27

The 262nd wasn't "rear area," it was a frontline division in 1941. The 333rd was defending the French coast from roughly St. Nazaire to the border with Spain. It was a garrison / coast defense division and if the US had pursued Round Up in 1942 it would be the division getting creamed on the beaches of this earlier D-Day.

Neither division I mentioned was a "sicherungs" division. Both were conventional infantry divisions and filled out as such. That is, three infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, etc. They are typical of German infantry divisions in 1941. They aren't elite. They are run of the mill units and would be very typical for grabbing a squad from for this scenario.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by I have questions » 18 Dec 2019 23:36

T. A. Gardner wrote:
18 Dec 2019 05:27
The 262nd wasn't "rear area," it was a frontline division in 1941. The 333rd was defending the French coast from roughly St. Nazaire to the border with Spain. It was a garrison / coast defense division and if the US had pursued Round Up in 1942 it would be the division getting creamed on the beaches of this earlier D-Day.

Neither division I mentioned was a "sicherungs" division. Both were conventional infantry divisions and filled out as such. That is, three infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, etc. They are typical of German infantry divisions in 1941. They aren't elite. They are run of the mill units and would be very typical for grabbing a squad from for this scenario.
and who is to say that they couldn't perform well? Later the remains of the 262nd would form the core of the 352nd ID on Omaha Beach. By the end of June 6th, Omaha had made the smallest headway, the 916th Grenadier Regiment was even briefly able to re-take the beaches that night!

I am not one to say the Wehrmacht was perfect, it wasn't. I guess I missed what you were saying, I do agree that the majority were regular, unimpressive units, but they had potential and saying that they were crap is not true.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by T. A. Gardner » 23 Dec 2019 21:53

I have questions wrote:
18 Dec 2019 23:36
T. A. Gardner wrote:
18 Dec 2019 05:27
The 262nd wasn't "rear area," it was a frontline division in 1941. The 333rd was defending the French coast from roughly St. Nazaire to the border with Spain. It was a garrison / coast defense division and if the US had pursued Round Up in 1942 it would be the division getting creamed on the beaches of this earlier D-Day.

Neither division I mentioned was a "sicherungs" division. Both were conventional infantry divisions and filled out as such. That is, three infantry regiments, an artillery regiment, etc. They are typical of German infantry divisions in 1941. They aren't elite. They are run of the mill units and would be very typical for grabbing a squad from for this scenario.
and who is to say that they couldn't perform well? Later the remains of the 262nd would form the core of the 352nd ID on Omaha Beach. By the end of June 6th, Omaha had made the smallest headway, the 916th Grenadier Regiment was even briefly able to re-take the beaches that night!

I am not one to say the Wehrmacht was perfect, it wasn't. I guess I missed what you were saying, I do agree that the majority were regular, unimpressive units, but they had potential and saying that they were crap is not true.
Some were, and this got worse as the war went on. For example, the 416th VG Division in late 1944 (yes, this is later in the war) was derisively known as the "Schlagsahne Division," or "Whipped Cream Division." It had overaged, unfit men assigned. Of course, probably the worst of the bunch was the SS Brigade - Division Dirlewanger composed of serious criminals, cashiered officers, and other human dregs.

But, even in 1941 many units had soldiers that would have been denied for service in peacetime filling their ranks. This might include men who were overweight, in poor physical condition, or who had some medical condition. Of course, these were units typically assigned to occupation duties and other less strenuous tasks. The frontline units really didn't start to degrade until 1944.

On the other hand, the USMC in 1941 had some smaller very elite units themselves such as the Marine Raider and Parachute battalions. Interestingly, the Marine Parachute battalion was the first such unit to see combat (Tulagi Island Guadalcanal invasion), although it didn't parachute into it.

In the end, I squad against squad is hardly a good measure of infantry unit's worth, so...

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by I have questions » 23 Dec 2019 23:58

T. A. Gardner wrote:
23 Dec 2019 21:53

Some were, and this got worse as the war went on. For example, the 416th VG Division in late 1944 (yes, this is later in the war) was derisively known as the "Schlagsahne Division," or "Whipped Cream Division." It had overaged, unfit men assigned. Of course, probably the worst of the bunch was the SS Brigade - Division Dirlewanger composed of serious criminals, cashiered officers, and other human dregs.

But, even in 1941 many units had soldiers that would have been denied for service in peacetime filling their ranks. This might include men who were overweight, in poor physical condition, or who had some medical condition. Of course, these were units typically assigned to occupation duties and other less strenuous tasks. The frontline units really didn't start to degrade until 1944.

On the other hand, the USMC in 1941 had some smaller very elite units themselves such as the Marine Raider and Parachute battalions. Interestingly, the Marine Parachute battalion was the first such unit to see combat (Tulagi Island Guadalcanal invasion), although it didn't parachute into it.

In the end, I squad against squad is hardly a good measure of infantry unit's worth, so...
I wouldn't necessarily say Dirlewanger was a real 'frontline' unit. It spent most of its time as a security brigade, and at the end of the war it was totally creamed by the Soviets when it was posted to frontline duty.

The scenario is also hampered by the fact that the Heer was far larger than the USMC, this means that generally speaking the Heer couldn't be as selective with its candidates. The USMC had also just barely entered the war.

To finally put this thread to rest, if the USMC went against a landwehr, security, or coastal defense division, they would most certainly win in both the offense and defense. If the USMC went up against a good infantry division, it's anybody's guess if the Germans are on the defense, and a slight advantage to the Germans if they are on the offense. If the USMC engaged an elite unit (GD) then it would likely spell victory for the Germans in both offense and defense.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by T. A. Gardner » 24 Dec 2019 18:57

Well, if it's elite v. elite, the Germans get creamed. I'd hold up the 1941 Marine Raider Battalion squad as the Marine elite. This would be a 10 man squad organized into 3 fire teams and a squad leader. Each fire team would have a BAR, an M-1 rifle, and a Thompson SMG. They were trained as "commandos," and the fire teams would operate in rushes using mutual support.

Even though the BAR isn't as good as the MG 34 as a "machinegun," the BAR is equally mobile and as good offensively (the Germans would have to use the 50 round snail drums to match it for mobility on the offensive). The Thompson has much better firepower than the MP 38 and the M-1 is better than the Mauser.

But, the big difference is the Marines have three fire teams while the Germans are limited to one team of riflemen moving forward supported by the machinegun, or displacing the machinegun forward while the riflemen cover the movement.

The Raider concept emphasized small unit tactics whereas the German infantry squad was designed to be integrated into a larger operational plan of companies, battalions, and regimental movement.

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