Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Freikorps, Reichswehr, Austrian Bundesheer, Heer, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Fallschirmjäger and the other Luftwaffe ground forces. Hosted by Christoph Awender.
User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3187
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by stg 44 » 01 May 2021 15:06

Hi all,
I was trying to find the strength of the 96th infantry division during Operation Konrad I in Hungary on January 1st 1945 and per the book 'Drama Between Budapest and Vienna' it was a chart listing battalion strengths of every division participating. However it doesn't give numbers, just combat ratings. 3 battalions were listed in an unlabeled category between strong and average, while the rest, 5 including the march battalion, is listed as 'weak'. There are notes that describe the terms, but I don't have access to the book and notes section, just the chart. So what does weak mean? Is it in terms of manpower, training, equipment levels, or a combo of the above? It is implied it has to do with numbers, but I guess my question is what qualifies as weak in terms of numbers? I found a website dedicated to the 96th division which indicates they were topped off by replacements of poor quality before being committed to Hungary, but no indication of numbers just that they were performing well as a division around this period:
https://web.archive.org/web/20130510175 ... /index.php

Any help would be appreciated.

User avatar
AETIUS 1980
Member
Posts: 50
Joined: 16 Mar 2021 15:42
Location: France

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by AETIUS 1980 » 01 May 2021 15:17

Hi, according to Niklas Zetterling,
Starkes bataillon (strong) : kampfstarke more than 400 men
Mittelstarkes Bataillon (medium strength) : 300 up to 400 men
Durchschnittliches (average) bataillon : 200 up to 300 men
Schwaches (weak) bataillon : 100 up to 200 men
Abgekampftes (worn out) Bataillon : less than 100 men
Regards

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3187
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by stg 44 » 01 May 2021 15:54

AETIUS 1980 wrote:
01 May 2021 15:17
Hi, according to Niklas Zetterling,
Starkes bataillon (strong) : kampfstarke more than 400 men
Mittelstarkes Bataillon (medium strength) : 300 up to 400 men
Durchschnittliches (average) bataillon : 200 up to 300 men
Schwaches (weak) bataillon : 100 up to 200 men
Abgekampftes (worn out) Bataillon : less than 100 men
Regards
Thank you!

User avatar
Cult Icon
Member
Posts: 1952
Joined: 08 Apr 2014 19:00

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by Cult Icon » 01 May 2021 16:53

They used the same categorization method in 1943 as well. I don't quite understand the reasoning behind it.

A "strong" battalion is 400 men or approx. half of starting strength of a fresh battalion.

Reduce the personnel by over 100 and it is "average".

Now I had speculated that it had to do with the much higher proportion of MGs, mortars, heavy weapons to men but having seen so many strength status updates from many divisions on the Eastern Front this was often not the case at all. Many MGs and other equipment were lost as well once a battalion was rated "medium strength".

User avatar
stg 44
Member
Posts: 3187
Joined: 03 Dec 2002 01:42
Location: illinois

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by stg 44 » 01 May 2021 16:58

Cult Icon wrote:
01 May 2021 16:53
They used the same categorization method in 1943 as well. I don't quite understand the reasoning behind it.

A "strong" battalion is 400 men or approx. half of starting strength of a fresh battalion.

Reduce the personnel by over 100 and it is "average".

Now I had speculated that it had to do with the much higher proportion of MGs, mortars, heavy weapons to men but having seen so many strength status updates from many divisions on the Eastern Front this was often not the case at all. Many MGs and other equipment were lost as well once a battalion was rated "medium strength".
I think by 1943 a reduced battalion establishment was finally recognized as the reality of the vast majority of divisions (same with the reduced number of battalions per division), much the same way the Soviets continually reduced the size of their divisions since they couldn't keep them up to their theoretical TOE strength.

400 or so seems to have been a full sized battalion by 1944:
https://www.feldgrau.com/WW2-German-Org ... or-Combat/
Besides lopping off three battalions, the new division pruned out the rifle squad and company while at the same time increasing the proportion of automatic weapons. The basic unit, the Rifle Company, was cut to 140 enlisted men and 2 officers, as compared with the U.S. Company of 187 enlisted men and 6 officers. Rifle strength in the German division was about 1,200 less than in the American but the total division firepower was superior. About equal in artillery, the German division enjoyed a slight preponderance in infantry howitzers and a heavy superiority in automatic weapons.
That of course excludes the heavy company.
Last edited by stg 44 on 01 May 2021 17:08, edited 1 time in total.

Art
Forum Staff
Posts: 6021
Joined: 04 Jun 2004 19:49
Location: Moscow, Russia

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by Art » 01 May 2021 17:04

IIRC it was based entirely on the battalion combat strength. The battalion with less than 100 men strength was called "fought out", 100-200 men - "weak" etc.
UPD: The same is said in the second message.

Dokis79
Member
Posts: 43
Joined: 16 May 2020 15:21
Location: France

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by Dokis79 » 01 May 2021 20:19

Cult Icon wrote:
01 May 2021 16:53
They used the same categorization method in 1943 as well. I don't quite understand the reasoning behind it.

A "strong" battalion is 400 men or approx. half of starting strength of a fresh battalion.

Reduce the personnel by over 100 and it is "average".

Now I had speculated that it had to do with the much higher proportion of MGs, mortars, heavy weapons to men but having seen so many strength status updates from many divisions on the Eastern Front this was often not the case at all. Many MGs and other equipment were lost as well once a battalion was rated "medium strength".
Keep in mind this rating was based on the Gefechtsstärke, aka combat strength of the battalion. It did not count the trains, and as such the maximum theoretical combat strength for an infantry battalion was about 700 in 1943 and 600 in 1944, rather than 800.

I'm still surprised they did not add higher ratings to take into account battalions that were at full strength, or battalions that were simply larger (e.g. Gebirgsjäger battalions could have a combat strength of around 1000), though.

Edit: based on a 1944 order I've found, it seems at that time they used Kampfstärke, which was lower than Gefechtsstärke. Iirc it did not count vehicle drivers, and maybe not HQ staff either.

User avatar
Christian Ankerstjerne
Forum Staff
Posts: 13734
Joined: 10 Mar 2002 14:07
Location: Denmark

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 01 May 2021 20:42

Dokis79 wrote:
01 May 2021 20:19
Edit: based on a 1944 order I've found, it seems at that time they used Kampfstärke, which was lower than Gefechtsstärke. Iirc it did not count vehicle drivers, and maybe not HQ staff either.
Staff companies were included, but several others were not:
https://panzerworld.com/german-unit-str ... ampfstarke

RandJS
Member
Posts: 267
Joined: 04 Oct 2008 11:36

Re: Definition of a 'weak' battalion in 1945

Post by RandJS » 04 May 2021 22:53

Wonderful addition to your Website, Christian. Well though out, well presented, as usual. Nice work.

Return to “Heer, Waffen-SS & Fallschirmjäger”