Rundstedt's central reserve

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 19 Jul 2021 14:48

Richard Anderson wrote:
15 Jul 2021 17:51
In the tumult of October, I doubt that more than a fraction of those units could escape a Soviet pursuit from the blocking positions on the isthmus and peninsula to any evacuation from Sevastopol or airfields. 17. AOK had just 42 operational Romanian 38 (t) by the end of October, plus a few StuG. There simply wasn't much there to do anything other than try to hold the blocking positions. By the end of December they only had 25 operational 38 (t).
Even if you are right, the Germans would have kept un the mainland the divisions which IOTL were sent to the Crimea in the first months of 1944.
Two problems were the weather and the relative weakness of the German forces. Yes,the December freeze restored the maneuverability of Germans, but it did the same for the Soviets. By that point, all of HG-A and HG-S, minus the 25 tanks with 17. AOK, had 741 operational tanks. 8. AOK had just 92 and 1. "Pz" AOK had only 35. At least 6. AOK on the lower Dnieper had 267, but nearly half were far to the north with 1. PzAOK, 347 of them.
But before the Third Battle of Kharkov Army Group South had even less operational tanks, 350 according to one source, and that didn't prevent It from achieving a victory (although I don't have the numbers of Soviet operational tanks, so If don't know the odds in each case).

By the way, you first say 1. Panzer Army had only 35 operational tanks, and then you say it had 347. Perhaps in one of those you meant 4. Panzer Army?
Such a general withdrawal might increase the relative German strength on a shorter line, but only assuming they can execute such a wholesale withdrawal unimpeded by the Soviets.
Can we know if the Soviets would have succeeded in preventing them to withdraw everything in order? I have the same question regarding the withdrawal from the Crimea. What does that depend on?
I do not see how such a maneuver guarantees the liberation of multiple, strong, Panzer forces for use in the West in June 1944.
If the Germans withdraw from the Dnieper bend to the Bug and Syniukha rivers, avoiding also the Korsun pocket, and manage to stop the Soviet Zhitomir-Berdichev offensive, they would have a shorter and more defensible front, and more forces to defend it. That would have made it more difficult for the Soviets to continue the offensive.

A less successful Soviet offensive means that Army Group South needs less reinforcements and it isn't necessary to weaken the West. That leaves OB West with two Panzer divisions, one infantry division, one heavy tank battalion and two assault gun brigades more than IOTL, according to Liedtke's Lost in the mud. It is also probable that other divisions which IOTL were sent to Army Group South from other fronts could have been sent to the West.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 26 Jul 2021 13:50

Juan G. C. wrote:
11 Jul 2021 20:01
Excuse me for restarting the discussion, but I've been rereading the thread and I think that many are underestimating the possibilities of the Germans in this scenario. At least, we have to try to assess all the factors which would have changed. I think that if we take all factors into account, the Germans could have formed a strong panzer reserve in the north of France.
To me the more interesting area to look at is how things could play out tactically. If it doesn't work tactically then it cannot work strategically. (Flipping the cliche that strategy trumps tactics)

According to Tilly-Sur-Suelles 1944 (Jaquet) the Pz Lehr division initially held a circular 17 KM (10 1/2 mile) arc. The situation with the 12.SS and the 21. Pz was similar. In the month of June the three divisions held the line and, on top of this, there was no defense in depth and few assault reserves available to counterattack or attack to improve their positions. So they grew weaker and weaker. The Kortenhaus history of the 21st says that the unit lost more attacks then won. The 12 SS won more than lost. The Pz Lehr division initially thrusted towards Bayeux, reached Ellon, but then was recalled as the British 8th Armored Brigade was attacking St. Piere. It was very close to the coast with this thrust and it was planned that the Lehr elements were to reinforced with 12 SS elements as they arrived.

This is what happened, and naturally the tactical situation would be very different if German combat strengths were twice or three times as strong, rivaling that of their opponent. The attack of the 8th Armored Brigade would not cancel the Bayeux offensive due to lack of forces from the start. The British-Canadians were incapable of a legitimate breakthrough so the defense front, with 3 divisions, was sufficient. A 100%, 200% increase in combat strength would form additional assault reserves, so the fighting would dramatically favor the Germans given no increase in the strength of their opponents.

Previously I also posted evidence about how the German generals/Pz commanders found that the Pz division's full functionality was greatly hampered in the Normandy fighting to the point of being a superfluous asset. This brings to mind the complaints of the German Pz divisions at Stalingrad and the Caucasus, that their divisions were being wasted in static warfare and mountain warfare. The many divisional histories regarding the Normandy campaign do hint that the vehicles were put in the rear for supply or stored/hidden, this brings to mind how a dramatic reorganization of resources could occur as they were not fighting a mobile war.

In the Eastern Front, the 78th Sturm division was used as an experimental organizational form. It was partially motorized but heavily armed. This was more appropriate for the Normandy fighting, and the excess equipment could be allocated to strengthen the infantry divisions, who were bereft of vehicles.

--

Now, I had considered on responding through PM but I will leave this first response on the thread. I think it would be better for you to continue this discussion through PM to avoid the allied biased who patrol this subforum 24-7 and pass the time off of the backs of others. To put my money where my mouth is, I will respond to Howling Wolf through PM instead of on this thread. Further, it would be better to set up a private forum, with certain individuals excluded, where discussions can flow freely without harassment and time wasting.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 26 Jul 2021 15:06

To add, it doesn't even need to be additional Pz divisions. A large pool of infantry and AFV replacements so that the three divisions could be continually reinforced and kept to strength, rather than a continuous withering away. In Stalingrad, some of the final offensives were developed by collecting engineer battalions, AFV units, shipping them into the theater, and assembling them as new assault force. The British 50th division fighting the Pz Lehr in June had an additional Inf brigade attached, among other assets, that raised its strength to some 38,000 men.

This is connected with how the Pz division was in an inappropriate tactical environment and didn't need the full functionality and its large fleet of vehicles. Infantry first, then with tank support.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Michael Kenny » 26 Jul 2021 16:09

Cult Icon wrote:
26 Jul 2021 13:50
The Pz Lehr division initially thrusted towards Bayeux, reached Ellon, but then was recalled as the British 8th Armored Brigade was attacking St. Piere.
The recce group reached Ellon. The tanks could not take it and were held to the south. They were way out on a limb and threatened by an attack (at St Pierre) in their rear.
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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Michael Kenny » 26 Jul 2021 16:22

Cult Icon wrote:
26 Jul 2021 13:50

According to Tilly-Sur-Suelles 1944 (Jaquet) the Pz Lehr division initially held a circular 17 KM (10 1/2 mile) arc.
An area full of empty space. The Allies had not advanced that far.

June 10th
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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Michael Kenny » 26 Jul 2021 21:59

Cult Icon wrote:
26 Jul 2021 13:50
The Pz Lehr division initially thrusted towards Bayeux, reached Ellon, but then was recalled as the British 8th Armored Brigade was attacking St. Piere. It was very close to the coast with this thrust
I guess you never bothered looking at an actual map? Ellon is 14km from the sea and in no way 'very close to the coast'
Screeccdnshot_268.jpg
In fact 12th SS were 'closer to the coast during their attack at Authie on 7/6/44. The managed to get 10km 'from the coast'.
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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Jul 2021 13:33

Juan G. C. wrote:
19 Jul 2021 14:48

If the Germans withdraw from the Dnieper bend to the Bug and Syniukha rivers, avoiding also the Korsun pocket, and manage to stop the Soviet Zhitomir-Berdichev offensive, they would have a shorter and more defensible front, and more forces to defend it. That would have made it more difficult for the Soviets to continue the offensive.

A less successful Soviet offensive means that Army Group South needs less reinforcements and it isn't necessary to weaken the West. That leaves OB West with two Panzer divisions, one infantry division, one heavy tank battalion and two assault gun brigades more than IOTL, according to Liedtke's Lost in the mud. It is also probable that other divisions which IOTL were sent to Army Group South from other fronts could have been sent to the West.
Obvious that more rational leadership of Army Group South in 43-44 would free up more formations, but whether or not these would be made West is conjecture. It also does not account for how Soviet strategy would change, however I do not know if the Soviets would end up with a better set of offensives up their sleeve. The idea of more forces being moved West and then supplementing the forces there, dramatically changing the tactical environment by increasing offensive power and defense-in-depth, and thus changing the character of the Normandy campaign is interesting on itself. The actual campaign itself shows that a deep and heavily armed defense of up to 10 miles was sufficient to stop even the most expensive of Allied offensives.

Another odd and irrational aspect of the German (and Soviet) military was how it continually made new formations, (especially SS and LW ones) despite lacking the means to reinforce them properly. This was a great waste in manpower and loss of potential combat power. The Normandy campaign was characterized by a poor reinforcement rate, with continuously shrinking formations and ever growing shortages, with personnel gaps eventually moving past the 100,000 mark. This characteristic of the German army also weakened their forces in the East, making their defense efforts look somewhat similar. In the great many Panzer division unit histories and operational histories they show the same thing over and over again: the fresh Pz division come into the line, used in a big local counterattack and lose most of their capabilities in 1-2 weeks of combat. In Normandy, the 12 SS remained strong by the end of June (largely due to its larger structure and lack of use) but the Pz Lehr and 21.Pz were very reduced, not suitable for sustained offense.

The Allies (US and UK) disbanded formations into replacements as needed and maintained comparably few formations. Breaking down many rump German formations and converting them into infantry replacements was an obvious option that somehow wasn't done enough (Bureacratic/institutional fossilization??). This was a quick way to strengthen formations, converting them back into assault-capable units.

Also, besides certain SS and LW divisions, the Army divisions were relatively small in the late war era. In the early war you can see them highly reinforced with specialists and additional equipment. This leads one to suspect some organizational politics being at play here, with too many resources siphoned to the LW and the SS, besides too many units being maintained by the German army.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Aber » 28 Jul 2021 13:55

Cult Icon wrote:
28 Jul 2021 13:33
Breaking down many rump German formations and converting them into infantry replacements was an obvious option that somehow wasn't done enough (Bureacratic/institutional fossilization??). This was a quick way to strengthen formations, converting them back into assault-capable units.
IIRC that was done to some extent in Normandy - 352nd Division was reinforced with multiple infantry regiments before it dissolved at St Lo.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Jul 2021 14:07

So eg. making the Pz division in the West June 6th having double-triple the infantry component available with a portion withheld by the commanding Corps (even without any increase in artillery and AFV support in corps and divisional levels) would make the tactical employment very different and increase the offensive value in the short term.

The actions of the Allies in this regard have hints on what could have happened on the German side: with plentiful infantry and numerical superiority, combat battalions were actually rotated, rested & refitted rather than having everything desperately fighting on the line with weak reserves. Then when assaulting objectives, comfortable numerical superiority could be obtained increasing chances of success, such as routinely attacking small objectives held by the equivalent of one German infantry company with an overwhelming 2-3 infantry battalions at once.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Jul 2021 15:18

In the battle of Stalingrad, one of the key tactics (a core feature of Soviet defense doctrine) was to constantly attack even though they were on the "defensive" to the point where it was unclear who was side performing the offensive. So the Germans had air superiority over Stalingrad but the Germans were also attacked so much by fixing attacks that their offensive operations and gains in the city slowed down to a crawl. The Soviets fixed two German corps North of the city during that fall, preventing them from making a main attack into the city. This required great sacrifices in infantry, IIRC in the tens of thousands of losses.

In the battle of Smolensk 1941 a similar strategy of aggressive and costly fixing attacks was employed to the point where it looked unclear who was the attacker and who was the defender, severly damaging Germany's progress in Barbarossa.

By nature a pursuit of this type of operation would require a strong emphasis on infantry reinforcements/maximizing infantry numbers and huge short term losses. The German army also did fixing attacks but never anywhere near the extent of the Soviets. The idea of this short-term strategy of all-out aggression, in a gambler's sense, being employed by the German army in Normandy by their high command is interesting to ponder, instead of a prolonged campaign where their armies were gradually and systematically shot to pieces by artillery, Allied short attacks aiming at seizing hills & villages/towns and efforts in containing allied offensives.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Michael Kenny » 28 Jul 2021 15:45

Cult Icon wrote:
28 Jul 2021 13:33
In Normandy, the 12 SS remained strong by the end of June (largely due to its larger structure and lack of use) but the Pz Lehr and 21.Pz were very reduced, not suitable for sustained offense.

Incorrect.

July 1st tanks 'fit' :

12th SS................36/22= 58 Combat Worth Rating 27/6/44 = II
Lehr...................32/36= 68 Combat Worth Rating 1/7/44 = I
21st Pz Div...........61 Combat Worth Rating 1/7/44 = I

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Juan G. C. » 28 Jul 2021 16:45

Cult Icon wrote:
28 Jul 2021 13:33
Obvious that more rational leadership of Army Group South in 43-44 would free up more formations, but whether or not these would be made West is conjecture. It also does not account for how Soviet strategy would change, however I do not know if the Soviets would end up with a better set of offensives up their sleeve.
That is an important question, buy I presume it is hard to know what would the Soviets have done next in this scenario. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of the Soviets and the Soviet Dnieper-Carpathian offensive than me can answer that.
The idea of more forces being moved West and then supplementing the forces there, dramatically changing the tactical environment by increasing offensive power and defense-in-depth, and thus changing the character of the Normandy campaign is interesting on itself. The actual campaign itself shows that a deep and heavily armed defense of up to 10 miles was sufficient to stop even the most expensive of Allied offensives.

Another odd and irrational aspect of the German (and Soviet) military was how it continually made new formations, (especially SS and LW ones) despite lacking the means to reinforce them properly. This was a great waste in manpower and loss of potential combat power. The Normandy campaign was characterized by a poor reinforcement rate, with continuously shrinking formations and ever growing shortages, with personnel gaps eventually moving past the 100,000 mark. This characteristic of the German army also weakened their forces in the East, making their defense efforts look somewhat similar. In the great many Panzer division unit histories and operational histories they show the same thing over and over again: the fresh Pz division come into the line, used in a big local counterattack and lose most of their capabilities in 1-2 weeks of combat. In Normandy, the 12 SS remained strong by the end of June (largely due to its larger structure and lack of use) but the Pz Lehr and 21.Pz were very reduced, not suitable for sustained offense.

The Allies (US and UK) disbanded formations into replacements as needed and maintained comparably few formations. Breaking down many rump German formations and converting them into infantry replacements was an obvious option that somehow wasn't done enough (Bureacratic/institutional fossilization??). This was a quick way to strengthen formations, converting them back into assault-capable units.

Also, besides certain SS and LW divisions, the Army divisions were relatively small in the late war era. In the early war you can see them highly reinforced with specialists and additional equipment. This leads one to suspect some organizational politics being at play here, with too many resources siphoned to the LW and the SS, besides too many units being maintained by the German army.
So does it matter whether the troops are divided in many small understrength units or concentrated in fewer strong ones? Could that have made a difference?

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Cult Icon » 28 Jul 2021 17:21

Juan G. C. wrote:
28 Jul 2021 16:45

So does it matter whether the troops are divided in many small understrength units or concentrated in fewer strong ones? Could that have made a difference?

If you don't know the answer to this it is time to get your answers from studying more tactical material and not asking queries.

Finally, this comes to the question I've been waiting to ask: what you are trying to do with this thread and where you want it to lead to, other than draw people out to make time-consuming responses to your proposals? This is starting to get repetitive, your point that more Pz divisions could have been shipped West has been made and also floating the (interesting) ideas of a stronger counterattack June 7th etc.

I am pretty confident that a more offensive-oriented German Normandy campaign could have been conducted. Whether or not it would have been successful is not my concern. That's enough for me.

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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Richard Anderson » 28 Jul 2021 18:09

Sorry to be so late responding.
Juan G. C. wrote:
19 Jul 2021 14:48
Even if you are right, the Germans would have kept un the mainland the divisions which IOTL were sent to the Crimea in the first months of 1944.
I doubt seriously that the three German divisions sent to reinforce the Crimea would have made a decisive difference to the fortunes of HG-S or HG-A in the winter of 1943/1944 and spring of 1944.
But before the Third Battle of Kharkov Army Group South had even less operational tanks, 350 according to one source, and that didn't prevent It from achieving a victory (although I don't have the numbers of Soviet operational tanks, so If don't know the odds in each case).
Indeed, because the Soviets were at the far end of an unconstrained pursuit following the breakthrough battles of late November 1942. Hausser's SS-Korps was fresh, newly re-equipped, and ready to go. What comparable force was there ready to stop the Soviets in December 1943?
By the way, you first say 1. Panzer Army had only 35 operational tanks, and then you say it had 347. Perhaps in one of those you meant 4. Panzer Army?
Yes, my bad.
Can we know if the Soviets would have succeeded in preventing them to withdraw everything in order?
No, but considering the disarray in HG-S and HG-A, and the relative strength of the Soviets, it is not an unreasonable assumption.
I have the same question regarding the withdrawal from the Crimea. What does that depend on?
Starting the withdrawal before the Kerch land route was cut, providing considerably more motor transport to evacuate the troops, and attempting a Dunkirk. At best, remnants of one German and seven Romanian divisions are "saved" if successful. Again a force unlike to shift the fortions of the Axis on the mainland.
If the Germans withdraw from the Dnieper bend to the Bug and Syniukha rivers, avoiding also the Korsun pocket, and manage to stop the Soviet Zhitomir-Berdichev offensive, they would have a shorter and more defensible front, and more forces to defend it. That would have made it more difficult for the Soviets to continue the offensive.
That is quite a string of ifs.
A less successful Soviet offensive means that Army Group South needs less reinforcements and it isn't necessary to weaken the West. That leaves OB West with two Panzer divisions, one infantry division, one heavy tank battalion and two assault gun brigades more than IOTL, according to Liedtke's Lost in the mud. It is also probable that other divisions which IOTL were sent to Army Group South from other fronts could have been sent to the West.
The reinforcement from the West was sent at the end of March 1944 and had little real effect in changing the events in the East. As a;ready mentioned that likely would result in a single division ready for the Normandy front.

The notion that divisions sent to HG-S and HG-A to stabilize the situation in October-December 1943 and January 1944 would be sent West if the situation "stabilized" through a massive withdrawal of the two HG is a curious one. Why? Those divisions from "other fronts" included 16. Panzer-Division sent East in December 1943 from Italy, but otherwise were drawn from HG-N and HG-M. I seriously doubt that any of them would have been sent West, but more likely would have been returned to their own unstable fronts in spring 1944. In late December 1943, HG-M had just 206 operational Panzers, while HG-N had all of 58.
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Re: Rundstedt's central reserve

Post by Richard Anderson » 28 Jul 2021 18:38

Cult Icon wrote:
28 Jul 2021 13:33
The actual campaign itself shows that a deep and heavily armed defense of up to 10 miles was sufficient to stop even the most expensive of Allied offensives.
Where pray tell did the Germans deploy a ten-mile deep defense in Normandy?
Another odd and irrational aspect of the German (and Soviet) military was how it continually made new formations, (especially SS and LW ones) despite lacking the means to reinforce them properly.
It is neither odd nor irrational, it was a consequence of expanding requirements far outstripping existing capabilities.
This was a great waste in manpower and loss of potential combat power. The Normandy campaign was characterized by a poor reinforcement rate, with continuously shrinking formations and ever growing shortages, with personnel gaps eventually moving past the 100,000 mark. This characteristic of the German army also weakened their forces in the East, making their defense efforts look somewhat similar.
Um, the Normandy campaign was not "characterized" by that. The entire German war effort was. BARBAROSSA consumed all the planned reinforcements available, Feldersatz and replacements, three months into the campaign. From then on, it was catch as catch can, robbing Peter to pay Paul.
In the great many Panzer division unit histories and operational histories they show the same thing over and over again: the fresh Pz division come into the line, used in a big local counterattack and lose most of their capabilities in 1-2 weeks of combat. In Normandy, the 12 SS remained strong by the end of June (largely due to its larger structure and lack of use) but the Pz Lehr and 21.Pz were very reduced, not suitable for sustained offense.
German replacement policy required reconstitution by unit, rather than - with some exceptions - individual replacement. It effectively failed as a policy circa September 1941.
The Allies (US and UK) disbanded formations into replacements as needed and maintained comparably few formations.
What American formations would those be? The sole division "disbanded" was the 2d Cavalry. Some combat support units - mostly AAA - were disbanded to free personnel for retraining as infantry replacements, and service support units were also stripped of personnel for individual replacements, but that is very different.

The British did break up divisions, but their replacement system, due to their reliance on regimental traditions, was different still.
Breaking down many rump German formations and converting them into infantry replacements was an obvious option that somehow wasn't done enough (Bureacratic/institutional fossilization??). This was a quick way to strengthen formations, converting them back into assault-capable units.
Really? Divisionen A, B, C, D, E, Korps-Abteilungen A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and other similar formations were exactly that, combing rump formations into a single new formation. The alternative, in the German system, was to break up existing divisions and reform them as new ones, which was also done repeatedly.
Also, besides certain SS and LW divisions, the Army divisions were relatively small in the late war era. In the early war you can see them highly reinforced with specialists and additional equipment. This leads one to suspect some organizational politics being at play here, with too many resources siphoned to the LW and the SS, besides too many units being maintained by the German army.
This hoary shibboleth again?
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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