On a Bicycle Built For....War

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.
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sylvieK4
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On a Bicycle Built For....War

Post by sylvieK4 » 03 Aug 2002 21:56

Does anyone have any photos of bicycle troops, posed or in action?

How often were bicycle troops utilized by the German military? Could they be found in the SS as well as the Heer? What was their primary function in the field?

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Erich
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Post by Erich » 03 Aug 2002 22:37

Sylvie :

I have pics Of lusftwaffe ground crewmen defending their airbase and actually in retreat equipped with what appears/resembles 3 speed bikes. A panzerfaust on either side of the bike, fist upward. Pics going to be used in our book.......sorry

E

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Christoph Awender
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bicycles...

Post by Christoph Awender » 04 Aug 2002 04:59

Hello Sylvie!

A very nice question!!
My oppinion is that the majority of the people thinks that the Wehrmacht was a very motorized modern Army but many units depended on horses AND bikes! Bicycles were used in all branches of the Wehrmacht and they were simply issued to enhance speed of the unit.

The bikes were produced at Puch-Werke, Steirische Fahrradwerke <Junior> Graz Puntigam, Assmann Leibnitz, Radom-works of Steyr-Daimler Puch, Expreß-Werke in Neumarkt/Oberpfalz, Brennabor Werke AG, Opel-Werke, Adler-Werke, NSU Fahrräder.
It is not known how many bikes were produced during the war but between 1943 and 1944 it were 1.2 millions. Of course many, many bikes were captured from enemy units or confiscated inofficially from civilians.

Here is an example of a Truppenfahrrad with a protection-case for machinegun-barrels and ammo-box. There were also versions for machineguns, mortars and so on.
Image

Bicycles were mainly used in Infanterie-Aufklärungsabteilungen Radfahrschwadronen (in several units), several independend units, messenger-, liaison-service and so on.

These are independend bicycle units I know of:
Radf.Jäger Brig.10 Heerestruppe
Radf.Abt.1 - 1.Kav.Brig./1.Kav.Div.
Radf.Btl.402 Heerestruppe
Radf.Btl.403 Heerestruppe
"Radf.Aufkl.Rgt."Norwegen" Heerestruppe
Radf.Abt.5 - 5.Jäg.Div.
Radf.Btl.68 - 3.Geb.Div.
Radf.Schwadron 160 - 60.Inf.Div.
Radf.Btl. 233 - 196.Inf.Div.
Radf.Abt.600 - 600.Inf.Div. Wlassow-Russen
Radf.Abt.650 - 650.Inf.Div. Wlassow-Russen
Radf.Abt.684 Wlassow-Russen
Radf.Aufkl.Abt.1599 -599.Gren.Brig. Wlassow-Russen partly on horses
Radf.Aufkl.Abt.1600 -600.Inf.Div. Wlassow-Russen
Radf.Aufkl.Abt.1650 -650.Inf.Div. Wlassow-Russen

And here are three fotos:
Radfahrschwadron in Belgien 1940
Image

Radfahrschwadron in Russia beside the busy road:
Image

Winter in russia:
Image

hope this helps,
Christoph

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sylvieK4
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Post by sylvieK4 » 04 Aug 2002 13:21

Thank you, Christoph, for that helpful reply and the photos. :D

Bicycle troops and their use is a topic I have not seen discussed in great detail before. Occasionally, I would find the odd photograph in a history text showing a few soldiers with bicycles, and periodically a brief mention of men dispatched somewhere on them, but not much more information.

When you mentioned that many people seem to think of the German military as highly mechanized, it made me remember the book Soldat. This was an autobiographical account of Siegfried Knappe, a Heer recruit who signed on hoping to work with state-of-the-art tanks, but found himself assigned to a horse unit.

For all the vaunted mechanization of the day - depending on the situation -the old stand-bys were sometimes still the more efficient.

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Paul Timms
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Horses

Post by Paul Timms » 04 Aug 2002 14:36

The Wehrmact was very reliant on the horse. Most Infantry units had large numbers of horses. Can any one answer this ? does it take more supplies to horse or truck pull a battery of say 105's.

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 04 Aug 2002 16:12

Interesting info and photos on that forgotten aspect of the Wehrmacht, thanks for sharing it.

/Marcus

Bret van Sant
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Post by Bret van Sant » 04 Aug 2002 16:46

HERE ARE A FEW. RAD BIKERS
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Bret van Sant
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Post by Bret van Sant » 04 Aug 2002 16:51

I SAW A ALBUM THIS PAST SPRING IT WAS 250$ U.S. IT HAD 2 RAD GUYS ON A RECUMBANT BIKE. THEY WERE SEATED SIDE BY SIDE.I PASSED THAT WAS A BIT HIGH DOLLAR. BUT A COOL IMAGE NONE THE LESS.

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sylvieK4
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Post by sylvieK4 » 04 Aug 2002 23:04

Great photos, Bret! Thanks for sharing them. :D

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Post by Panzermahn » 05 Aug 2002 03:52

It's a very interesting post..thanks Christoph...Never knew that the Wehrmacht utilize bicycles in large numbers for their troops..

I only knew that Japanese troops utilize bicycles in large numbers during their conquest of asia

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Post by Ovidius » 05 Aug 2002 07:28

panzermahn wrote:It's a very interesting post..thanks Christoph...Never knew that the Wehrmacht utilize bicycles in large numbers for their troops..

I only knew that Japanese troops utilize bicycles in large numbers during their conquest of asia


You forgot the Italian Bersaglieri, one of the few Italian ground units to perform well in WWII...

Bersaglieri, literally sharpshooters, were riflemen in the Sardinian army. The Sardinian bersaglieri fought in all the wars of independence from 1849 to 1870 and were frequently in the forefront of the fighting. The real burst of popular enthusiasm for this type of troops was due do a group of volunteers. The Lombardians formed a volunteer unit equipped, uniformed, and trained like the Sardinian bersaglieri. These volunteers, fought in Lombardy against the Austrians in 1848 and after the Sardinian defeat there they went to Rome. They distinguished themselves in all the campaigns of independence and particularly in the assault on Rome in 1870. Due to these exploits the bersaglieri became the elite of the Italian infantry, exceeding even the royal guard regiment, the Granatieri di Sardegna. They also specialized in what was to become a distinctive Italian method of mobility, the bicycle.

The bicycle had arrived as a military item in the 1880s and 1890s. Britain had an Army Cyclist Corps and other armies used them to varying degrees, but the Italians raised the use of the military bicycle to its highest level. The bicycle troops were essentially a mounted infantry unit without a requirement for forage. They could also be used as couriers, scouts, or in other traditional cavalry roles. The Italian army had introduced a cyclist company in one bersaglieri regiment in 1891. By the beginning of the First World War, one of the three battalions in each bersaglieri regiment was cyclist.

The cyclist units were used as ready reaction forces, mobile infantry, and even in the Alps during the First World War. The Italians prided themselves of the speed with which bersaglieri could move on their bicycles. In the interwar period, the bersaglieri-ciclisti became almost a cult. In the late 1930s and early 1940s the bicycle, on the basis of its World War I record, was competing with armored vehicles as battlefield transportation.

Another innovation in the Italian Army during the First World War also involved the bersaglieri. The Italians found a need for specially trained assault troops for the most dangerous missions. This was very important in mountainous terrain, where a quiet approach often involved extremely difficult climbing. These assaults required more skill and motivation than could be found in draftees of the average regiment, so units of volunteers had to be formed. In the Italian army these shock troops were called arditi and belonged to units called reparti d'assalto, or assault detachments. (Arditi means fearless, daring, courageous.) They were carefully selected from volunteers and specially trained in assault tactics.


Source: http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/2891/ebersagl.htm

Rommel noticed the lack and the disparity of the combat equipment of the bersaglieri if compared with his soldiers of the Africa Korps and said:
"The German soldier astonished the world; the bersagliere astonished the German soldier".


~Ovidius

Tapani K.
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Post by Tapani K. » 05 Aug 2002 09:16

The Finns, too, used the bicycle in light infantry battalions for much the same reasons that the Japanese and Italians. Also, when I was in the Finnish army doing my conscription service, I was in a Jaeger battalion and we used bicycles quite extensively. But that was twenty years ago and I am not quite sure as to how much the bicycle is used in present-day Finnish army.

regards
Tapani K.

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kobold
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Post by kobold » 05 Aug 2002 09:27

Theres a pic here for auction entitled
"6x7 cm Fallschirmjäger kurz nach der Landung auf Kreta !"
with a german para on a bicycle.

Dave


http://www.militariaweb.com/d/lot.cfm?lotID=627134


I have had a lot of trouble with accessing this site recently - esp. the english pages which always generate an error or me.
so here is the pic incase the site is down for you:

http://www.walkerboyz.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/military/19593741017_af12a.jpg

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Christoph Awender
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Fallschirmjäger bikes

Post by Christoph Awender » 05 Aug 2002 12:13

There was also the air-drop version for Fallschirmjäger. The bikes improved the speed of the unit when landed.
It was packed in a transport case with an attached parachute so that it is not damaged when dropped.
Not very often used but very interesting.
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Harri
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Post by Harri » 05 Aug 2002 13:34

Tapani K. wrote: Also, when I was in the Finnish army doing my conscription service, I was in a Jaeger battalion and we used bicycles quite extensively.


Tapani, I was in the Finnish Air Forces and we too used bikes once in the 1980's! :roll:

Finnish "Armoured Division" (1942 - 1944) was composed of one armoured (tank) and one bicycle (Jäger) brigades. All of its other elements were fully motorized. More accurate name to this units would have been "Jäger Division" or "Tank Division".

Most German infantry division in Finland had bicycle companies and battalions (for reconnaissance?).
Last edited by Harri on 06 Aug 2002 11:23, edited 1 time in total.

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