This long term report, and the tactical issues regarding working with Tanks, shows that StuGs are not tanks. And the foot soldiers appreciated it.
Excerpts from a report by the Stu.Gesch.Abt.232
During the period of the last operations the following experiences have been made:
Except for a few occasions, the commander has not had the possibility to lead his Battalion in combat jointly from his vehicle. Unfortunately it has also been a great exception that a Battery has operated jointly under the direction of its boss. The ideal type of operations is naturally one in which the Battalion or at least one Battery operates jointly on the ground. Due to the subordination of the Battalion to the 7. Panzer-Division and the fact that the Division has reserved decision-making capacity over the operations of each of the vehicles at all times, on many occasions it has happened that a single vehicle has operated in isolation, an unsustainable situation and that of repeatedly but unsuccessfully it has been challenged. Yet this demonstrates the combat value attached to our assault guns, even when they have operated in isolation. The loss of this lonely vehicle, partly due to trifles, is normal. Assault gun operations have almost always been ordered directly from the Division and without the Battalion's knowledge. For this reason, in many occasions the Battalion has completely unknown where and in which unit its vehicles were located.
The Battalion differentiates between the different types of operations:
operations with grenadiers on foot, operations with grenadiers in half-track vehicles and operations with combat tanks.
Assault gun operations with grenadiers on foot .
After a short period of time, the coordination between the two has been perfect. This type of operation has been very successful for assault guns at the cost of very low casualties among the grenadiers. Also the losses between the assault guns have been very low, not suffering any total loss so far. The only total losses the Battalion has suffered have been when they have operated within an armored group.
This is valid to a greater extent only for grenadiers who have fought on foot with assault cannons, since the leaders of these grenadiers compared to those already known to them as Battery or Platoon leaders have always shown a great understanding of the way they operate. operate our Weapon.
Assault gun operations with half-track vehicles
It has been a disadvantage for us. The grenadiers have almost never abandoned their vehicles; the speed of half-track vehicles, also in combat, has always been much higher than that of assault guns, which is why 1) we have suffered vehicle breakdowns and 2) our vehicles have not had the necessary protection and have They have often been knocked out of action from their flanks as they cannot, like half-tracks, overcome nests of resistance at full speed.
Cooperation with tanks
These operations have the following disadvantages:
It can be said that there is a general opinion that our assault guns are operationally positioned at the same level as battle tanks. Assault gun operations have hitherto generally been carried out on the basis of this thinking. Slowly it seems that we are managing to convince the relevant bodies that assault guns, both in their driving style and in their way of operating, differ from battle tanks.
A major disadvantage is the fact that communication with the tanks can only be carried out through a single assault cannon in the Battalion, as our assault cannons use a different frequency than the tanks. Because the Division has employed isolated assault guns, these vehicles were also generally isolated from the communication of the armored unit.
During the attack we were unable to maintain the speed of the tanks due to the greater frontal load of our assault guns. Due to their good frontal armor, our assault guns have sometimes been used as a shield far ahead of tanks, which greatly increases the risk of being attacked from the flanks. The battle tanks usually fire during the march so our assault guns have also suffered the threat of being hit by our battle tanks. When crossing enemy lines of infantry without the support of the grenadiers, our assault guns have been overtaken by the tanks, which has always posed a great threat (casualties among the vehicle leaders). As the enemy is flanked, the battle tanks advance at high speed and direct their cannon towards the enemy. Assault guns have to advance unprotected from their flanks, which has led to impact losses on their sides.
When colliding with strong nests of enemy resistance, the tanks usually withdraw without communicating it to the assault guns, leaving these isolated and exposed to the fire of all kinds of anti-tank weapons. Total losses have been suffered for this reason.
During the attack on urban areas, the assault guns have almost always been sent in the front line, followed by tanks that have fired in all directions. Once the assault cannons have broken the main resistance, the tanks have overtaken our cannons at full speed, so they have not again had the necessary protection of their flanks, so necessary in urban combat (casualties among the vehicle bosses by snipers and grenades).
These experiences show that the operations of assault guns with tanks as well as in many cases with half-track vehicles have not been successful, since:
There has never been an understanding of how assault guns operate.
Assault guns have been used as battle tanks.
Many have occurred due to breakdowns caused by the high speed of the battle tanks.
Very high losses have been suffered caused by resistance nests and firing from the flanks. The tanks have not offered the necessary flank protection and in fact at no time have they thought it necessary to assume that responsibility.
Tank operations have resulted in high casualties and total losses in exchange for a minimum and in many cases no success.
Finally, it should be mentioned that all the total losses have only occurred in operations with armored groups. In cooperation with the grenadiers, they have always alerted the assault guns to sources of resistance (antitank rifles, antitank guns, antiaircraft guns, battle tanks, etc.), thus being able to put them out of action. 90% of the enemy battle tanks and anti-tank guns destroyed by the Battalion occurred in the framework of operations alongside the grenadiers.
The full recognition and praise of the assault gun crews by the grenadier chiefs is a testament to the great support they have been offered as well as the exemplary behavior they have shown on the battlefield.
As a result of these experiences, any platoon or vehicle leader tries to avoid cooperation with the tanks and instead tries by all means to enter into combat alongside the grenadiers.
Night operations and during darkness must be considered, in the best of cases, as a moral strengthening of the troop. Only on rare occasions have practical effects and successes been achieved in relation to enemy combat. Yet assault guns have been employed almost always at night for protection purposes, rather than keeping them ready behind the front line as a reserve force.
Night reconnaissance operations have been carried out frequently, operations in which we have rejoiced every time the assault gun has returned unscathed. The many night marches, marches that due to the situation at the front have actually been necessary on occasions, the technical condition of the assault guns has suffered a lot, especially the engines, because due to the poor visibility, the drivers have had to drive in a very abrupt way; Due to the bad conditions of the terrain the assault guns have been continuously immobilized. In one case, during a night march, an assault gun was totally lost when it fell down a slope.
Battalion successes between 7.1. and 12.3.1943
24 heavy anti-tank guns
109 light anti-tank guns
27 grenade launchers
130 machine guns
16 vehicles with trailers
61 anti-tank rifles
11 armored reconnaissance vehicles
salvage guns 2 artillery observation vehicles 1 tugboat
Dead Wounded Sick
Officers 3 4 two
Non-commissioned officers 6 16 4
Troop 14 2. 3 twenty
12 assault guns
8 motorcycles with sidecar
1 motorcycle without sidecar