Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

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Texas Jäger
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Texas Jäger » 18 Dec 2022 04:19

Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 01:52
Takao wrote:
13 Dec 2022 13:07
Stoat Coat wrote:
13 Dec 2022 04:34
I thought OP made a good case for the benefits of occupying Bear Island and Spitsbergen, and also how it could be I totally captured with ease. It’s wether or not Germany can hold them that is the question.
Given that German naval and air forces operating from mainland Norway could accomplish the same task, with less of a logistical tail...I don't see any benefit.

It is not like these are far flung islands in the Pacific covering dead ground.
FYI, Spitsbergen is 600 miles from mainland Norway. If it’s occupied earlier in the war, before all summer convoys ceased, Spitsbergen is much closer to the summer routes. Bear Island straddled both the winter and summer routes. The greater frequency and intensity of air attacks alone enabled by a significant LW presence is substantial; in fact for most of the air attacks on Allied convoys there was no air. escort for the German attack planes, the distances were too large. Obviously a major downside is that the anchorage can’t be used for the long winter period because of the ice cap.

FBA43857-ADAA-4C40-A0AB-EE70EA29E007.gif

Btw, I don’t think the Germans sending a more substantial force to occupy Svalbard is that much of a stretch, if for nothing other than Hitler’s obsession with defending Norway from an imagined Allied invasion, and the disproportionate forces committed to Norways defense reflect that, regardless of the real benefit of the Germans, a more ambitious and/or earlier version of Zitronella is easy to imagine and even accomplish. The real question, as I brought up earlier, is would the Allies care enough to re-occupy those islands so they couldn’t be used by the Luftwaffe? On the one hand: MacArthur had Nimitz launch the Palau islands campaign purely out of concern for possible flanking and air attacks by…a cut-off force defending an already wrecked airfield on Peleliu, so never doubt how inane a target may seem, but then again the Allies don’t seem to have ever seriously considered operations in Norway after 1940, unlike the Philippines. So I admit that part is very “what-if” material, although I suspect Special Boat Service commando raids is probable.

What I don’t understand is why some in this thread act like the Germans occupying Svalbard with more forces and earlier is some massive departure with reality. LOL. Yeah, German invasion of Svalbard….that could never have happend... :lol: https://www.criticalpast.com/video/6567 ... iegsmarine
One of the more entertaining ideas I've seen in awhile, and not really absurd, so I'll bite.

Any serious German attempt to defend the island of Spitzbergen would focus on the Nordenskiöld penninsula; its the one place there is enough reasonably flat land in the huge Mountain ravines to establish numerous air bases, and thats the area where Barentsburg and Longyearbyen are located anyways. Looking on google earth, it might make sense, if you are intending to place airfields in the interior basin, to place Gebirgsjager units for the defense, since the approaches are all guarded by huge mountains, but since we are talking about rather static defenses, you could honestly just give standard infantry some mountain and arctic equipment, along with some mountain guns, and they probably perform about as well.

Since the Germans landed a single fortress infantry battalion in '43, I can easily see them putting a force several times that size on the island, but thats with the caveat of knowing that force will be lost to any serious allied attempt to root out the German presence in the area. Don't think the Germans will be pulling a "Tokyo Express" Guadalcanal style either, the moment an invasion force lands the supplies they will have is whats been stockpiled.

Maybe a German force of at most four static battalions, maybe one or two Gebirgsjager battlions for a reserve would be used, and thats being generous. If this is late 1941, and the British are under serious pressure from Stalin to resume the convoys thereafter (and I'm going out on a limb by granting that German attacks on the convoy route would be much more effective than from Norway, and honestly I doubt that, but I don't know) then you'd probably see the Home Fleet and a land force consisting of the 49th West Riding Division pulled from Iceland assembled for the operation.

What then? They are going to lose the archipelago if the British really want it, regardless of its greater proximity to Norway the RN is too strong for the Kriegsmarine to challenge. The only caveat is that if this is really early, carriers are one thing the British can't assemble in mass thanks to their commitment in the Med against Italy, so maybe the air escort is weak enough for whatever German aircraft are based on the island to inflict serious damage on the invasion fleet. Otherwise, you're looking at a German Iwo Jima where the only thing plausible is inflicting large enough casualties on the enemy infantry advancing up those mountainous passes to the airfields that you can justify losing the whole force you stationed there.

Just my two cents.

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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Stoat Coat » 18 Dec 2022 04:33

Texas Jäger wrote:
18 Dec 2022 04:19
Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 01:52
Takao wrote:
13 Dec 2022 13:07
Stoat Coat wrote:
13 Dec 2022 04:34
I thought OP made a good case for the benefits of occupying Bear Island and Spitsbergen, and also how it could be I totally captured with ease. It’s wether or not Germany can hold them that is the question.
Given that German naval and air forces operating from mainland Norway could accomplish the same task, with less of a logistical tail...I don't see any benefit.

It is not like these are far flung islands in the Pacific covering dead ground.
FYI, Spitsbergen is 600 miles from mainland Norway. If it’s occupied earlier in the war, before all summer convoys ceased, Spitsbergen is much closer to the summer routes. Bear Island straddled both the winter and summer routes. The greater frequency and intensity of air attacks alone enabled by a significant LW presence is substantial; in fact for most of the air attacks on Allied convoys there was no air. escort for the German attack planes, the distances were too large. Obviously a major downside is that the anchorage can’t be used for the long winter period because of the ice cap.

FBA43857-ADAA-4C40-A0AB-EE70EA29E007.gif

Btw, I don’t think the Germans sending a more substantial force to occupy Svalbard is that much of a stretch, if for nothing other than Hitler’s obsession with defending Norway from an imagined Allied invasion, and the disproportionate forces committed to Norways defense reflect that, regardless of the real benefit of the Germans, a more ambitious and/or earlier version of Zitronella is easy to imagine and even accomplish. The real question, as I brought up earlier, is would the Allies care enough to re-occupy those islands so they couldn’t be used by the Luftwaffe? On the one hand: MacArthur had Nimitz launch the Palau islands campaign purely out of concern for possible flanking and air attacks by…a cut-off force defending an already wrecked airfield on Peleliu, so never doubt how inane a target may seem, but then again the Allies don’t seem to have ever seriously considered operations in Norway after 1940, unlike the Philippines. So I admit that part is very “what-if” material, although I suspect Special Boat Service commando raids is probable.

What I don’t understand is why some in this thread act like the Germans occupying Svalbard with more forces and earlier is some massive departure with reality. LOL. Yeah, German invasion of Svalbard….that could never have happend... :lol: https://www.criticalpast.com/video/6567 ... iegsmarine
One of the more entertaining ideas I've seen in awhile, and not really absurd, so I'll bite.

Any serious German attempt to defend the island of Spitzbergen would focus on the Nordenskiöld penninsula; its the one place there is enough reasonably flat land in the huge Mountain ravines to establish numerous air bases, and thats the area where Barentsburg and Longyearbyen are located anyways. Looking on google earth, it might make sense, if you are intending to place airfields in the interior basin, to place Gebirgsjager units for the defense, since the approaches are all guarded by huge mountains, but since we are talking about rather static defenses, you could honestly just give standard infantry some mountain and arctic equipment, along with some mountain guns, and they probably perform about as well.

Since the Germans landed a single fortress infantry battalion in '43, I can easily see them putting a force several times that size on the island, but thats with the caveat of knowing that force will be lost to any serious allied attempt to root out the German presence in the area. Don't think the Germans will be pulling a "Tokyo Express" Guadalcanal style either, the moment an invasion force lands the supplies they will have is whats been stockpiled.

Maybe a German force of at most four static battalions, maybe one or two Gebirgsjager battlions for a reserve would be used, and thats being generous. If this is late 1941, and the British are under serious pressure from Stalin to resume the convoys thereafter (and I'm going out on a limb by granting that German attacks on the convoy route would be much more effective than from Norway, and honestly I doubt that, but I don't know) then you'd probably see the Home Fleet and a land force consisting of the 49th West Riding Division pulled from Iceland assembled for the operation.

What then? They are going to lose the archipelago if the British really want it, regardless of its greater proximity to Norway the RN is too strong for the Kriegsmarine to challenge. The only caveat is that if this is really early, carriers are one thing the British can't assemble in mass thanks to their commitment in the Med against Italy, so maybe the air escort is weak enough for whatever German aircraft are based on the island to inflict serious damage on the invasion fleet. Otherwise, you're looking at a German Iwo Jima where the only thing plausible is inflicting large enough casualties on the enemy infantry advancing up those mountainous passes to the airfields that you can justify losing the whole force you stationed there.

Just my two cents.
Likely Allied counter invasion force if it’s summer 1941;

Naval wise two or three Revenge class battleships, maybe Nelson or Rodney, two or three Carriers and a smattering of cruisers and destroyers, plus whatever else to sustain this force.

Land force probably 49th Division, at least one commando detachment, and some Royal Marines.

Germans about 4-6 Infanterie battalions, two more Gebirgs, and a significant number of aircraft.

The airfields would indeed have to be inland to prevent just any allied naval bombardment force from putting them out of action. But I guarantee you any attempt to take back the area would be bloody. I do think it would be useless to garrison parts of the island not related to Barentsburg or the theoretical airfields, since the Brits would gladly let those rot.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Dec 2022 08:34

Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 00:44
Your first two sentences are a little unnecessary in the snark factor for my taste, but fine. I don’t want to gripe with you too much because I know you’re a nice guy who’s shared a lot of useful stuff with me, but I went back and checked the sources I have available.
Oh dear, snark bothers you? I'll try to keep it under control. Mind you, if I really wanted to be snarky I'd have speculated about the sanity of anyone suggesting stationing an Gebirgsjäger division, regiment, battalion, whatever on Svalbard would be a good thing. :D
Your numbers definitely seem high, Ian Baxter in his book on the Gebirgsjager, put the typical authorized strength for a Gebirgsjager Division during the invasion of Poland at 14,000 men, 1,500 horses, 4,300 pack animals, and 550 “mountain horses” (5,350 animals total), and 1,600 vehicles “which included many motorcycles and cross country cars and 600 horse drawn vehicles”. Horse drawn “vehicles” obviously don’t use gas, and it’s well known that deliberately lighter weight trucks were issued to the Gebirgs formations, although I’ll admit that it’s an assumption on my part that they burned less gas.
Oh, sorry, Ian Baxter. No, I was using the figures as derived from the authorized KSTN and KAN of 1. Gebirgsjäger-Division according to the mobilization planning of 1939/1940. Ian Baxter is using the task force organization of 2. and 3. Gebirgsjäger-Division for SILBERFUCHS, which are quite different. However, even then, the two divisions remained organized almost exactly as they were for the mobilization planning. 2. had two Gebirgs-Regimenter each comprised of three battalions - the 1941 battalion organization simply grouped the battalion support Züge into a Kompanie while adding a machinegun company to the battalion and a Gebirgs-Kolonne to the regiment, so was actually larger in 1941 than in 1939. BTW, its Artillerie-Regiment actually only had two battalions, each with two 7.5cm GebH and one 10.5cm GebH - it "saved" a Abteilungs-Stab. Otherwise, the division organization were nearly identical. In 1939, 2. was authorized 17,188 officers and men, 4,845 animals and 658 horse-drawn vehicles, 253 PKW, 618 LKW and SdKfz, and 521 motorcycles, still little different from the Infanterie-Divisionen of the 1.Welle.

Yes, horse-drawn vehicles don't use gas, but the thousands of horses burn fodder and produce a lot of gas. Fodder is heavy and bulky and horses eat a lot of it. Yes, the assumption that Gebirgs units would burn significantly less gas than other Infanterie units is incorrect.

BTW, I used the 1944-45 ammunition holding figures but again it just demonstrates there was not that much difference realistically between the Infanterie and Gebirgs divisions...nor for that matter the similar Jäger division. Yes, the howitzers were somewhat smaller in the one than the other but to the military mind that just means you need more of the lighter ammunition, which is nifty because you can carry it easier and, oh yeah, we can man pack it, even better but now we need to assign more men as human pack mules. :lol:
That being said, you make an awfully big assumption yourself by thinking that the Gebirgsjager Divisions used in Scandinavia historically, and theoretically in this scenario, are like the case samples you mention.
No, but it wasn't an assumption. They weren't as big as the mobilization planning for 1. Gebirgs-Division but it was different and about one-third bigger than 2. and 3. - three Gebirgs regiments of three battalions, four Artillerie battalions, and so on.

The problematic thing is that 2. and 3. were effectively little different in manpower or horsepower than the other Infanterie-Divisionen as well.
FYI as Nigel Askey mentioned(snip).
Gee, I wonder where Nigel sourced his information from?...(checks), oh, yeah same sources I use, the KSTN, KAN, and Gliederungen of the divisions.
And what German divisions exactly did have a “leaner logistics” tail than even a standard Mountain division other than static divisions, let alone the ones as organized for Arctic operations, and would have be used in a theoretical holding action on mountainous archipelago like Svalbard?
None of them did really. "Leaner logistics" is somewhat of an oxymoron. If you want to send a 1,000-man Gebirgs or Infanterie or Festungs unit to Svalbard the logistic "cost" of rations is going to be exactly the same. If you use horses to move things about for them it doesn't matter, you still have to feed the horses and ditto for fuel. You have to feed and fuel them. Ammunition? Well, you could make them logistically leaner by deploying them without any - it'll make it easier for them to surrender when they stop receiving food. Six hundred miles from Norway means in terms of logistics anything you put there might as well be on the moon. Hell, the Germans had a hard enough time moving supplies from Sicily to Libya at one-half to two-thirds the distance and they had the Italians helping and didn't have the British Home Fleet waiting to intercept whatever supply vessels can be cobbled together.

Which brings up another issue. How do you plan on getting the reinforced Gebirgs-Festungs whatever task force to Svalbard? I suspect that just the supposed battalion embarked for ZITRONELLA was a bit crowded.
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Stoat Coat
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Stoat Coat » 18 Dec 2022 14:20

Richard Anderson wrote:
18 Dec 2022 08:34

Oh dear, snark bothers you? I'll try to keep it under control. Mind you, if I really wanted to be snarky I'd have speculated about the sanity of anyone suggesting stationing an Gebirgsjäger division, regiment, battalion, whatever on Svalbard would be a good thing. :D
Ok do what you want, never said you can’t and wasn’t trying to patronize, I personally just save the snark for people who use it on me first like rn…so with that being said yes…Gebirgsjager, literal Mountain troops…known for operating well in dreadfully cold environments…deployed for defending a frosted mountainous island…what a shocking suggestion. :roll:
Oh, sorry, Ian Baxter. No, I was using the figures as derived from the authorized KSTN and KAN of 1. Gebirgsjäger-Division according to the mobilization planning of 1939/1940. Ian Baxter is using the task force organization of 2. and 3. Gebirgsjäger-Division for SILBERFUCHS, which are quite different. However, even then, the two divisions remained organized almost exactly as they were for the mobilization planning. 2. had two Gebirgs-Regimenter each comprised of three battalions - the 1941 battalion organization simply grouped the battalion support Züge into a Kompanie while adding a machinegun company to the battalion and a Gebirgs-Kolonne to the regiment, so was actually larger in 1941 than in 1939. BTW, its Artillerie-Regiment actually only had two battalions, each with two 7.5cm GebH and one 10.5cm GebH - it "saved" a Abteilungs-Stab. Otherwise, the division organization were nearly identical. In 1939, 2. was authorized 17,188 officers and men, 4,845 animals and 658 horse-drawn vehicles, 253 PKW, 618 LKW and SdKfz, and 521 motorcycles, still little different from the Infanterie-Divisionen of the 1.Welle.

Yes, horse-drawn vehicles don't use gas, but the thousands of horses burn fodder and produce a lot of gas. Fodder is heavy and bulky and horses eat a lot of it. Yes, the assumption that Gebirgs units would burn significantly less gas than other Infanterie units is incorrect.

BTW, I used the 1944-45 ammunition holding figures but again it just demonstrates there was not that much difference realistically between the Infanterie and Gebirgs divisions...nor for that matter the similar Jäger division. Yes, the howitzers were somewhat smaller in the one than the other but to the military mind that just means you need more of the lighter ammunition, which is nifty because you can carry it easier and, oh yeah, we can man pack it, even better but now we need to assign more men as human pack mules. :lol:

No, but it wasn't an assumption. They weren't as big as the mobilization planning for 1. Gebirgs-Division but it was different and about one-third bigger than 2. and 3. - three Gebirgs regiments of three battalions, four Artillerie battalions, and so on.

"Leaner logistics" is somewhat of an oxymoron. If you want to send a 1,000-man Gebirgs or Infanterie or Festungs unit to Svalbard the logistic "cost" of rations is going to be exactly the same. If you use horses to move things about for them it doesn't matter, you still have to feed the horses and ditto for fuel. You have to feed and fuel them. Ammunition? Well, you could make them logistically leaner by deploying them without any - it'll make it easier for them to surrender when they stop receiving food.
It’s not an oxymoron if it is in fact “leaner”, having lower supplies requirements, regardless if that difference is in fact small or not. For the record, you’re simply wrong about fodder. The vast majority of animals in a Gebirgsjager division were “pack animals”, AKA Mules and Donkeys, and these animals in fact have far lower nutritional requirements than horses both in terms of quality and quantity, literally as low as one third as much for a mule compared to a same-size horse. So going based on your own argument that feed makes up a big part of supplies weight, that’s a big reduction compared to the overwhelmingly horse equipped Infanterie.

Basically what all this has amounted to is you telling me about how grossly off the mark I am about assumptions that aren’t in fact all that incorrect based on your own information, only that the difference is insignificant enough not to really matter. So be it, all of this is quite inane however given the original point was the inference by Peter89 that somehow it would have been more costly to use Gebirgsjager on Svalbard compared to regular infantry. Although it seems you think any German forces on Svalbard would be a waste. Certainly the assumption the taken by some that the would never use Gebirgsjager for garrison person is stupid. A large number of Gebirgsjager were present in the Aegean islands for precisely that purpose.
Six hundred miles from Norway means in terms of logistics anything you put there might as well be on the moon. Hell, the Germans had a hard enough time moving supplies from Sicily to Libya at one-half to two-thirds the distance and they had the Italians helping and didn't have the British Home Fleet waiting to intercept whatever supply vessels can be cobbled together.
Since the Germans did in fact have sufficient merchants and ships capable of reaching Spitsbergen and Bear Island, the only effect that the distance in itself has is the time for supply ships to reach there and back, effecting the frequency of resupply by a fraction. It’s the threat and/or actuality of interdiction that would put them “on the moon” as you say it. Unfortunately, you seem to be acting as if the nearest Allied bases were somehow not over 1,200 miles away at Hvalford, or even further away at Scapa Flow. How exactly is that “roaming Home Fleet” going be fielding a constant blockade force for any reasonable duration 1,200 miles from the nearest home port? It would need to based out of Murmansk on a permanent basis not just sailing there and back like for the PQ/JW for that to be even remotely plausible and under constant air attack, during a time (probably late 1941 in this case) when the British are about to be at war with Japan, they are having to maintain a large force against Italy, and still worrying about surface German raiders in the Atlantic. An awfully big tie down for what you seem to be dismissing as a back water.

Kind of ironic how you bring up the Med, you know…”Spitsbergen was completely useless guys, who cares that it and Bear Island straddled the Arctic routes” while bringing up a theatre where the German and Italian convoys were constantly being foiled thanks to the presence of an island named Malta playing the exact same role in relation to the routes to Benghazi and Tripoli. Are you now going to make the argument that the Arctic convoys were irrelevant to the war on the Eastern Front? Anyways as I’m sure you well know, the force in Africa you’re talking about reached two armies in size as opposed to a matter of battalions.

Which brings up another issue. How do you plan on getting the reinforced Gebirgs-Festungs whatever task force to Svalbard? I suspect that just the supposed battalion embarked for ZITRONELLA was a bit crowded.
What do you mean the “supposed battalion”? Do you doubt the Germans did in fact land a battalion of the 349th Grenadier regiment during Zitronella? We know for a fact that they used ten destroyers during Weserubung to land half of a Gebirgsjager regiment at Narvik, and a heavy cruiser and a destroyer carried a similar sized force to Trondheim. They did that with the Home Fleet based much closer to them and with Renown and 10 destroyers literally at sea conducting a mining operation nearby, or are you casting doubt on all of this too? Do you think that somehow the Home Fleet is going to sail and intercept an invasion force from over 1,200 miles away? Teleportation maybe? They’d have to find out and place a fleet in advance. ULTRA had the most difficulty with the German Naval codes and rarely predicted German sorties with that much foresight especially this early. In the Case of Rheinubung they wouldn’t have been able to locate Bismarck at Bergen and place a fleet off Iceland so quickly unless the chance encounter with the Swedish cruiser Gotland had happened and passed on the info. They relied on a lot on spikes of heavy radio traffic and other soft factors to indicate a sortie right before it happened. It certainly wouldn’t be the Soviets intercepting, at the time Murmansk had a few minesweepers and other smaller craft along with a fighter-only equipped airfield supplemented by a few Typhoons placed there by the RAF during Operation Benedict struggling to protect the area from the Luftwaffe. What exactly are they going to do to stop the Germans from sailing a large convoy of merchants with escort to occupy and land significant stockpiles on the island? The best you could hope to interdict an initial occupation is one of the lone RN subs operating in the area having a chance encounter.

All in good cheer Richard, but we can disagree.

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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Peter89 » 18 Dec 2022 15:17

Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 14:20

Basically what all this has amounted to is you lecturing me about how grossly off the mark I am about assumptions that aren’t in fact all that incorrect based on your own information, only that the difference is insignificant enough not to really matter. So be it, all of this is quite inane however given the original point was the inference by Peter89 that somehow it would have been more costly to use Gebirgsjager on Svalbard compared to regular infantry.
I said no such thing.

I asked you whether you are familiar with the supply needs of a GJD in Arctic conditions.

My next question would have been whether you are familiar with the sunshine hours of Bear Island / Spitsbergen between October and February, and in March and September.

Are you aware how many ground personnel per plane did a German aircraft require under Arctic conditions? Do you know how many was required to keep the same operational availability in Southern SU?

Do you realize that holding an Arctic island on its own meant nothing if there was no naval and aerial assets to exploit that strategic position?

What naval and aerial assets could the Germans divert to the Spitsbergen in order to interdict the PQ convoys, especially in 1941 and 1942?

Would they actually make that decision in light of what was going on in the SU and the MTO?

How would they supply their aircrafts? Are you familiar with the supply requirements of a naval aviation bomber unit?

After answering all these questions, would you authorize an occupation of the Spitsbergen? Especially in August 1941?
Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 14:20
Although it seems you think any German forces on Svalbard would be a waste.

That is the opinion I'd subscribe to.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Dec 2022 20:17

Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 14:20
Ok do what you want, never said you can’t and wasn’t trying to patronize, I personally just save the snark for people who use it on me first like rn…so with that being said yes…Gebirgsjager, literal Mountain troops…known for operating well in dreadfully cold environments…deployed for defending a frosted mountainous island…what a shocking suggestion. :roll:
No was I but you keep missing the point. Why is it a good idea to place any troops of any kind on Svalbard? The Germans might be able to get a battalion there because they supposedly could but getting a battalion there with what was required for them to stay is a bit of a different matter. What are they going to do? What are they going to eat? What are they going to construct defenses with? :roll: right back atcha. :lol:
It’s not an oxymoron if it is in fact “leaner”, having lower supplies requirements, regardless if that difference is in fact small or not. For the record, you’re simply wrong about fodder. The vast majority of animals in a Gebirgsjager division were “pack animals”, AKA Mules and Donkeys, and these animals in fact have far lower nutritional requirements than horses both in terms of quality and quantity, literally as low as one third as much for a mule compared to a same-size horse. So going based on your own argument that feed makes up a big part of supplies weight, that’s a big reduction compared to the overwhelmingly horse equipped Infanterie.
Um, the "mountain ponies" - mules and donkeys - were specifically intended to support the Hochgebirgsjäger, which were a small fraction of the division trained in high mountain warfare where supplies were transported by pack animals or manpower. IIRC that is why the 1. Gebirgsjäger-Division was so big - most all the Alpine specialists were concentrated in it while the rest were "ordinary" mountain troops. They were so specialized that in 1942 four separate battalions of Hochgebirgsjäger were formed to be attached to divisions as required. Now if you really want to send your specialists to wither on the vine at Svaldbard because they used pack animals rather than horses, then be my guest. :lol:

Otherwise, as has been repeatedly pointed out to you, the Gebirgsjäger were not really significantly "leaner" in logistical terms. They were, like the Jäger leaner in terms of mobility - the lightness of their organization meant they could go places regular infantry divisions as organizations had difficulty going but they still required the same levels of supplies that other divisions required to sustain operations and when they got into terrain they actually couldn't easily traverse - like in the high Arctic - they were barely able to operate better anyway.
Basically what all this has amounted to is you telling me about how grossly off the mark I am about assumptions that aren’t in fact all that incorrect based on your own information, only that the difference is insignificant enough not to really matter.
So a 1.4% difference in ammunition (probably the greatest single weight item) is significant enough to warrant stranding Gebirgsjäger on Svalbard because they are that "leaner"? Fascinating. The difference in fodder is probably nil as is the LKW and motorcycles. Saving 36% on PKW gasoline worth it?
So be it, all of this is quite inane however given the original point was the inference by Peter89 that somehow it would have been more costly to use Gebirgsjager on Svalbard compared to regular infantry. Although it seems you think any German forces on Svalbard would be a waste. Certainly the assumption the taken by some that the would never use Gebirgsjager for garrison person is stupid. A large number of Gebirgsjager were present in the Aegean islands for precisely that purpose.
Costly as in they were specialized troops so using them as a forlorn hope on Svalbard is a bit inane.

So which Gebirgsjäager "were present in the Aegean islands" as garrisons? The remnants of 1. Gebirgs went to the Balkans in early 1943 to reconstitute and then became engaged in Partisankreig for most of 1943 and 1944 a role they were considered suitable for because the Balkans are mountainous and that is where the Partisans were hiding. 2., 3., 6., and 7. spent most of the war in Lappland. 4. was on the Ostfront for most of the war. 5. Gebirgs ended up on Crete in 1941 because it was used as an ersatz Luftlande division. It stayed until November 1941 when it returned to Germany to rebuild, then went to the Ostfront and finally Italy. 8. was in Italy for its short career as were 157. and 188. The two "9. Gebirgs"? Nope. So who?
Since the Germans did in fact have sufficient merchants and ships capable of reaching Spitsbergen and Bear Island,
They did? I am all ears. Which ones? Not from the Norwegian merchant marine, they were mostly in Allied hands and those in German hands were coasters hard at work keeping Armee Norwegan and Armee Lappland supplied. The German merchant marine was in worse shape, much of it was interned or trapped in the Med. The rest was busy in the Baltic and Denmark Straits supplying Armee Norwegan and HG-Nord. There were nine modern Hansa vessels that might have been useful since they had the size and speed (16 knots most others were 8-10 knots) necessary, the "Fels" ships.

Moltkefels - operating in the Baltic
Ehrenfels - in Goa, sunk 9 March 1943
Reichenfels - sunk 21 June 1942
Kandlefels (Pinguin) - sunk 8 May 1941
Kybfels - sunk 21 May 1941
Goldenfels (Atlantis) - sunk 22 November 1941
Hohenfels - in Bandar Shapour, sunk 25 August 1941
Tannenfels - damaged in Bordeaux (Operation FRANKTON) 10 December 1942 and no longer seaworthy
Neidenfels - operating in the Baltic

Do you notice a pattern?
the only effect that the distance in itself has is the time for supply ships to reach there and back, effecting the frequency of resupply by a fraction.
Yeah, time and a little thing called the Royal Navy, which was pretty good at tracking and intercepting convoys in the open sea.
It’s the threat and/or actuality of interdiction that would put them “on the moon” as you say it. Unfortunately, you seem to be acting as if the nearest Allied bases were somehow not over 1,200 miles away at Hvalford, or even further away at Scapa Flow. How exactly is that “roaming Home Fleet” going be fielding a constant blockade force for any reasonable duration 1,200 miles from the nearest home port?
There are these little thingies called submarines...and a lack of fast German transport vessels capable of making the dash, which leaves it to the KM.
Kind of ironic how you bring up the Med, you know…”Spitsbergen was completely useless guys, who cares that it and Bear Island straddled the Arctic routes” while bringing up a theatre where the German and Italian convoys were constantly being foiled thanks to the presence of an island named Malta playing the exact same role in relation to the routes to Benghazi and Tripoli. Are you now going to make the argument that the Arctic convoys were irrelevant to the war on the Eastern Front? Anyways as I’m sure you well know, the force in Africa you’re talking about reached two armies in size as opposed to a matter of battalions.
Adventdalen, where the Luftwaffe established an airstrip (by landing a Ju 52 in the field there) on 25 September 1941 is c. 825 kilometers to the nearest point of land in Norway. The air bases on Malta are c. 97 kilometers from the Sicilian coast and 352 kilometers from the Tripolitan coast. The air bases on Malta were permanent, hard service runways with expanding service facilities and defenses. Adventdalen was a field, soft enough that it is now most famous for the Ju 88 that wrecked there 14 June 1942, which is still there. There were zero service facilities and zero defenses.

Notice a difference?
What do you mean the “supposed battalion”? Do you doubt the Germans did in fact land a battalion of the 349th Grenadier regiment during Zitronella?
I have issues with Wiki and its posters knowledge of German operational records. It may well have been an entire battalion of Grenadier-Regiment 349 or more likely a task force under the command of the battalion. Surprisingly :lol: the Kriegsmarine KTB has little to say about the actual size and composition of the Heer troops they embarked but then they were more concerned about the fuel ZITRONELLA was expected to burn up.

"The fuel situation is still strained but it will just permit carrying out this operation which will require about 7,090 cbm. The fuel reserve, at present available in the area north of Stadlandet, will thus fall from 25,500 to 18,500 cbm. A further 4,000 cbm are on their way off the west coast of Norway. Naval Staff is of the opinion that, apart from the prospects of success held out and the knowledge that the operation will at least harass the enemy, the decisive factor should after all be the effect it will have on the morale of the crews."

Not so sure how well that bodes for a sustained effort to maintain a large force on Svalbard?
We know for a fact that they used ten destroyers during Weserubung to land half of a Gebirgsjager regiment at Narvik, and a heavy cruiser and a destroyer carried a similar sized force to Trondheim.
Yep, about 200 Jäger were on each, a total of c. 2,000 with the heaviest weapons consisting of 5cm and 8cm mortars and a few 2cm Flak. None of the three transports carrying heavy weapons and supplies made it.
All in good cheer Richard, but we can disagree.
:D
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Stoat Coat » 18 Dec 2022 20:26

Peter89 wrote:
18 Dec 2022 15:17
Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 14:20

Basically what all this has amounted to is you lecturing me about how grossly off the mark I am about assumptions that aren’t in fact all that incorrect based on your own information, only that the difference is insignificant enough not to really matter. So be it, all of this is quite inane however given the original point was the inference by Peter89 that somehow it would have been more costly to use Gebirgsjager on Svalbard compared to regular infantry.
I said no such thing.
Key word: inference.

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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Richard Anderson » 18 Dec 2022 22:26

Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 20:26
Peter89 wrote:
18 Dec 2022 15:17
Stoat Coat wrote:
18 Dec 2022 14:20

Basically what all this has amounted to is you lecturing me about how grossly off the mark I am about assumptions that aren’t in fact all that incorrect based on your own information, only that the difference is insignificant enough not to really matter. So be it, all of this is quite inane however given the original point was the inference by Peter89 that somehow it would have been more costly to use Gebirgsjager on Svalbard compared to regular infantry.
I said no such thing.
Key word: inference.
Yes but that was your inference rather than an inference by Peter, which is what you stated. However, what you should have inferred from Peter was that the logistical cost of supporting ANY such garrison - Infanterie, Gebirgs, Sicherungs, or whatever - was too high.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 20 Dec 2022 16:55

thaddeus_c wrote:
17 Dec 2022 14:14
Urmel wrote:
16 Dec 2022 08:47
I suspect it's hard to comment on things one doesn't understand, and to keep track of complex conversations. I had already dismissed the 1941 idea for other reasons, namely that it made zero strategic sense for Germany to commit forces to prevent fantasy future convoys that would never happen because the Soviet Union would have been defeated before 1942. But of course, if you are actually unaware of the German strategic thinking, as you obviously are, that's an easy mistake to make. No need to feel bad.
feel better after posting that?
Oh yeah.
thaddeus_c wrote:
17 Dec 2022 14:14
thought Hitler specifically mentioned the need to occupy "Polyarny" (Murmansk) so the anticipation was there for Allied (British at that point) convoys resupplying the Soviets?
My understanding is that it was an objective because of concern of an allied landing, like in 1919, which could just become a nuisance. As noted before, convoys would be a non-issue, as the Soviet Union would have been defeated by September 1941. So how could weakening the effort into Murmansk direction, by diverting resources away from it to the taking of Svalbard, possibly help the taking of Murmansk?
Screenshot 2022-12-20 at 4.41.40 PM.jpg
See also Ziemke's work on the subject.
Screenshot 2022-12-20 at 4.52.45 PM.jpg
This is indirectly confirmed by Halder's rant on 5 July:
Screenshot 2022-12-20 at 4.44.37 PM.jpg
That addresses 1941. Obviously, if the Germans had lived in reality, rather than in lala-land, when it came to their planning, they would have been able to consider the convoy situation. But then, they wouldn't have invaded the Soviet Union in the first instance. Scratch that, they wouldn't have started the war in 1939. But really, if your WI has as starting point something that was demonstrably not a concern at the point in time, you really have bigger issues than wondering whether the logistics of a bodenständige regiment would make it easier than those of a Gebirgsjäger regiment.

Convoys would obviously be a concern in 1942, but I do not see how that the case has been made that diverting effort and resources into Svalbard was going to make a substantial difference in that regard? There's no free lunch.

If you want a place to be an effective base, you have to resource it. Malta didn't just appear as a thorn in the Axis side, it had a massive head-start as it was an existing fleet base in 1940, with airfields, coastal batteries, a garrison, stores and everything else that comes with that. By comparison, the Germans would start on Svalbard from scratch, and every single last gram of something had to be brought there by ship or plane, and that includes the tarmac to make runways, bricks or concrete for buildings. Plus, once you have done all that, you can only use the place half-year anyway because the rest of the time is too dark and the islands are iced in. Attached is the March 1942 sea-ice extent from NOAA. Supply by sea not possible, but it has the advantage (I guess) that assault by sea is also impossible.
Screenshot 2022-12-20 at 4.22.37 PM.jpg
For 1943 see 1942.

For 1944 this was all irrelevant anyway.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 20 Dec 2022 18:23

The idea that mules require 'as low as 1/3rd' of horse fodder seems completely wrong too. While true that they require less food and carry more on a per-kg-of-bodyweight by comparison to horses, they aren't magic wonderbeasts. This article assumes that you roughly feed them the same. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... pSbwzzK-ZX While this book assumes they can get by on 3/4 of the fodder weight of a horse: https://books.google.it/books?id=bfgwDQ ... nt&f=false

The bottom-line is, you save some (but not 2/3rds per animal) on fodder weight, you need considerably more animals. There is no free lunch, not even for mules.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 20 Dec 2022 19:34

Urmel wrote:
20 Dec 2022 18:23
The idea that mules require 'as low as 1/3rd' of horse fodder seems completely wrong too. While true that they require less food and carry more on a per-kg-of-bodyweight by comparison to horses, they aren't magic wonderbeasts. This article assumes that you roughly feed them the same. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... pSbwzzK-ZX While this book assumes they can get by on 3/4 of the fodder weight of a horse: https://books.google.it/books?id=bfgwDQ ... nt&f=false

The bottom-line is, you save some (but not 2/3rds per animal) on fodder weight, you need considerably more animals. There is no free lunch, not even for mules.
Drawing on some wisdom passed down from my farmer ancestors and 1960s Ag classes in school; Mules can get by on less fodder on the average, but when dong the same work as a horse the requirement is closer. Also: Horses can be persuaded to over work longer than mules. The latter are quicker to baulk & refuse which includes if underfed for for the work/calorie requirement. A final point might be that Mules are not as well adapted to arctic or ordinary cold weather. Wisconsin farmers found them less useful than horses than Alabama or Indiana farmers. An example can be drawn from a 1980s program to provide Mules to the Afghan resistance. The high cold mountain environment required extra care the Mules were not provided. Their health failed faster than the Donkeys and local ponies they were to replace.

The canard about Mules being lost cost high performance draft animals reminds me of that of grazing working horses as a substitute for feed. It is correct a Horse can sustain itself grazing. Of course that is grazing a properly balanced pastureland & not some random roadside patch of grass. Its also a fact that the horse or other Ungulant spends its day largely grazing to sustain itself that way. You cant work a artillery team 16, 12, 0r 10 hours and expect them to graze enough in the hours the artillery is not moving to keep up the needed performance. In horse terms they are doing high demand athletics for many hours, something they don't do pottering about on the free range. Keeping up the energy level and health for the long haul requires a vitamin & mineral packed concentrated protein diet. Oats and appropriate roughage are the thing.

& while we are on the subject. Horses, or Mules, Oxen, Donkeys, Reindeer, Camels, Elefnats, ect.. as draft animals have a extra Human overhead. The ratio of dedicated Farriers & horse handlers/groomer to artillery teams was higher than the ratio of mechanics & driver operators in the same four cannon artillery batter or battalion. A cannon crewman, battery clerk, wireman, supply Sgt, radio operator can double as a driver & check flip levels or change a tire without cutting deeply into his regular duties. Not so for horses. The Farriers & the rest spend a higher ratio of hours cleaning hooves, grooming, feeding, maintaining harness, & assisting the Veterinary. Siegfried Knappe of the German 84th Division artillery described the conversion from Horses to captured Italian automotive transport in October 1943. His battery lost 60+ Fahrers with the horses & gained between ten & fifteen drivers/ mechanics.

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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 20 Dec 2022 20:17

It's indeed all pretty obvious once you think it through.

Also, if mules are so great in Russian winters, why did the Russians use Panje horses (smaller, resilient breed quickly adopted by the Germans)?
Wisconsin farmers found them less useful than horses than Alabama or Indiana farmers. An example can be drawn from a 1980s program to provide Mules to the Afghan resistance. The high cold mountain environment required extra care the Mules were not provided. Their health failed faster than the Donkeys and local ponies they were to replace.
Fascinating information.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Urmel » 21 Dec 2022 00:12

Richard Anderson wrote:
18 Dec 2022 20:17
It may well have been an entire battalion of Grenadier-Regiment 349 or more likely a task force under the command of the battalion.
Ziemke says it was 600 men.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Richard Anderson » 21 Dec 2022 01:12

Urmel wrote:
21 Dec 2022 00:12
Richard Anderson wrote:
18 Dec 2022 20:17
It may well have been an entire battalion of Grenadier-Regiment 349 or more likely a task force under the command of the battalion.
Ziemke says it was 600 men.
Which it easily could have been at c. 150 per destroyer. Just like Narvik...minimal supplies, zero heavy weapons, but without the prospect of reinforcements ever arriving cross-country.
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Re: Arctic/Atlantic island hopping?

Post by Geoffrey Cooke » 21 Dec 2022 06:20

Urmel wrote:
20 Dec 2022 18:23
The idea that mules require 'as low as 1/3rd' of horse fodder seems completely wrong too. While true that they require less food and carry more on a per-kg-of-bodyweight by comparison to horses, they aren't magic wonderbeasts. This article assumes that you roughly feed them the same. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q ... pSbwzzK-ZX While this book assumes they can get by on 3/4 of the fodder weight of a horse: https://books.google.it/books?id=bfgwDQ ... nt&f=false

The bottom-line is, you save some (but not 2/3rds per animal) on fodder weight, you need considerably more animals. There is no free lunch, not even for mules.
Most of the agricultural websites I’m seeing on the web recommend 1.5% of the body weight of feed for Mules, 3% for Horses, so about twice as much but not thrice.

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