Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

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Aida1
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Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 27 Feb 2021 19:35

' 20;pz div
Ia nr 257/44 secret Div command post 08.03.1944

Combat experiences from the last defensive fighting

General

It is the mission of a panzer division to stand ready at hotspots with concentrated firepower and shockforce, to clean up enemy break ins in counterattack or counterblow, or when the situation requires it, to be used as a massed unit at hotspots of the combat to also here conduct the fight actively with its panzer force. The use of the division in the last months has only seldomly taken into account this principle.
The danger of pulling apart and mixing of units that particularly in this heavy defensive fighting is to be taken very seriously, was even then not avoided when it concerned units that were refitted from replacements that still lack inner cohesion.The division was in no case used as attack reserve, it was never used en masse, often it was taken away the disposal of its tanks and since the setting up of the APC batallion also of this. The division was often used fragmented and divided up by batallion/Abteilung over several inf div. The division staff itself repeatedly commanded a unit composed of inf units , alarm kp.and remnants of the division.'

to be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 01 Mar 2021 19:24

'.….
II. Tactical experiences
1.Combat of the Panzergrenadiere
a)offensive activities have always shown that they succeed when there was enough time for reconnaissance and preparation.Modifying already started attacks costs unnecessary blood.
An attack off the cuff against an enemy prepared for defense should therefore never be demanded. Pressure from above on the tempo of the attack is always dengerous.Reconnaissance and briefing become superficial, the success is put into question or the combat will be costly.
The preparation must be thorough when the enemy sits in a strong position. Such attacks should best be conducted by troops that know the area , when possible know the positions.Fetching for this unfamiliar troops and deploy them to roll up the trench system under time pressure and without precise documentation on the positions is wrong.
The unfamiliar troops will too easily get lost in the maze of trenches and have no success.
The start of the attack can only be in the early morning , when the day objective is set far. It has been shown that an attack with a close objective is more successful shortly before darkness or in darkness.
Weapons which makes advancing during the day inpossible for the attacker from the flank or the front ,have no sight during darkness.
Furthermore, the soviet soldier feels himself not so supervised and runs away easier. The 'hurra' is to be profitably used in this. Specifically with difficult road conditions, for example snow, is it correct to conduct the attack at night.
In night attacks the wedgeformation with strong point has especially proven itself .The firing of all machineguns, machinepistols and rifles to the front and the flanks ,shatters the enemy again and again. It is important in this to keep close the heavy weapons like heavy mortars,light infantry guns and especially AT guns. The effect of these weapons contributes in making the enemy confused. The AT guns, preferably self propelled, have to keep close to intercept an enemy tank advance.A tank attack which surprises the Panzergrenadiere stilll without foxholes, inevitably leads to retreat, while the first killed enemy tank strongly lifts morale. Therefore it is to be strived to keep ready tank destroyer troops as reserve of the company commander and not use it for the infantry fight.However, the low combat strength often prevents this.'

to be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 02 Mar 2021 19:12

'Is the start of the attack linked to a certain pre-condition,for example that the neighbour has to have reached a certain objective to take out a strong flank threat, then the timing for the attack has to be left to the local commander. It cannot be made dependent on an external observation , the effect of which would be that the attack would be ordered prematurely by pressure from above. The direct impressions of the own local observation and reconnaissance are more precise. Influences from entities that are not directly take part in the combat cost blood.
The attack itself is to be conducted deeply staggered in depth. Bunching up is absolutely to be avoided. Replacements have to be trained in this sense and appropriately drilled.
It has always shown itself that an attack that is energetically carried forward does not have to worry too much about the flanks. The pre-condition is a forward-looking organisation of the flank protection by division or regiment through heavy weapons or moved up reserves.
A unit of which the batln commander has the confidence that what is necessary will be done from the rear for the flank protection, will also carry forward energetic attacks.
It is wrong to make the moving forward of reserves in the attack dependent on the effect of enemy weapons. The bringung forward is only dependent on the assesment of the situation and the point in time when the reserve will be needed at a certain place. The objection that the btln then has to go through an area covered with enemy artillery fire is short-sighted. A reserve that is brought forward too late can nullify the whole success of the day.
The supply with ammunition has special importance which by each unit for itself as company batln,etc.., has to be thoroughly organised, for example of hand grenades for rolling up trenches. If hangrenades are lacking halfway then the trenches have to be mostly cleared again.
To avoid losses of weapons and equipment,from each batallion a Kommando( weapons NCO with some men from the supply train)has to follow behind the attack to recover own equipment that remains lying and also secure loot.
It is to be ensured that wounded are not taken care of by 3-4 men. The unit commander that brings this before a courtmartial as cowardice before the enemy, will have a resounding success. It has in each case to be ordered by the unit,platoon or group commander who cares for the wounded.'
to be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 03 Mar 2021 20:34

'b) the defense depends on the choice,strengthening and occupying of the position. Reverse slope positions have proven themselves repeatedly. However, during the night advance posts have to be pushed forward so that an approach of the enemy can be recognised at an early stage. The strengthening of the position can happen quickly if the soldier is pushed again and again to dig. The Landser does not like to dig so pressure!
Our main defense line is mostly occupied too strongly, that causes heavy losses through artillery fire.
A skillfully organised main battle zone can be thinly occupied in the first line. However, with our young company commanders, it is necessary that the batln commander personally instructs each machinegun position in the field.
Even with low combat strengths it will be possible to have reserves besides the indispensable depth of the main battle zone.
The strength of the defense is precisely in these(even smallest)local reserves besides the collaboration of all heavy weapons
Example A during the night broken through soviet regiment(strength around 300 men)is moved against by 30 men(3 groups)from different directions, is destroyed within an hour.145 counted enemy dead,80 prisoners. A captured captain says literally "if we had only known how weak you were".
The broken through enemy is mostly afraid of the own courage and goes soft when handled energetically.
Reserve batlns have to be used en masse. Each frittering away is wrong.It is better to throw back the enemy on one break in spot than try it on 3 places at the same time.
The defensive position has so to be chosen that the repellent effect of the heavy machineguns already starts before the enemy reaches the main defense line. It has to be so that not only from the front trench but from the depth of the main battle zone, all infantry weapons confront the advancing enemy at the same time. The 2 cm Flak has proven itself again and again. One should not be afraid to change a position one has taken over. Main defense lines often arise from the momentary local situation.It is wrong not to correct them. Each enemy attack has to be shot up In front of the main defense line and stay down.'

to be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 04 Mar 2021 18:14

'Machine guns and positionings should not be rigidly at the same place night after night Those are the posts that will be 'fetched'.
It has to be enforced that machineguns and positionings change their places . To deceive the enemy straw men are recomended.He can 'fetch' it and mostly be dealt with at close range by a handgrenade.
A bad habit is also a control walk through the trenches without protection.
A seamless observation is to be organised. It is the prerequisite for the detecting of enemy intentions, the identifying of enemy heavy weapons and their forward observers, the detecting of deployment areas( infiltration in groups, and the deploying of reconnaissance, as fetching prisoners). THe collaboration with the FO's of the artillery is very important. The artillery man does not first report to the artillery but to the sector commander. All reports come together with him and produce the enemy picture.
The pleasure in the single shot is to be raised more. The sharpshooter of the company does not take part in the small service.' He goes hunting'. This raises his status and fills him with special pride.
The combining of several sharpshooters in a group for concentrated deployment has always proven itself. A lot of ammunition is saved by correct use of sharpshooters and the enemy is also done a lot of harm.
In quiet situations the enemy can still be unsettled a lot and be imposed a feeling of being dominated despite strict ammunition quotas .Each weapon has a specific quota, with which it has to make do and chooses and fights enemy targets that present themselves.
Additionally, the company commander holds an ammunition reserve with which he suddenly covers especially important targets with fire.
A correct use of ammunition is one of the most important tactical measures.'

to be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 05 Mar 2021 18:46

' c)Tank combat

For attack and defense a thorough reconnaissance of the terrain is necessary. It caanot be demanded from the tank man to conduct an attack from which is to be expected beforehand that it is soon stuck in marsh. Even when the attack of the panzergrenadiere stalls, can the tanks be brought forward if the terrain is unfavourable. Thisy terraib inevitably leads to breakdown.
Often it is explained in comparison that the T 34 actually gets through. However, we cannot afford with our few available tanks that already at the beginning of an attack, the mass of the tanks stands stuck in marshy terrain and is hit.
The attack against a prepared enemy cannot happen with tanks in front. The Panzergrenadiere carry the fight and the tanks support them by firing them forward. Is it during the attack necessary for the tanks to drive forward, then enough tanks are to deployed for securing and overwatch.
Minesweeping troops have to be added.
When the attack of the Panzergreandiere breaks down in heavy artillery fire, then mostly the tanks will not be successfull either, because the russian will have deployed a multiplicity of AT guns where he has organised his defense.
So do not demand the impossible from the tank.
The word ' you are armored, therefore drive forward , is absurd . The tank will quickly attract the enemy fire and will faster be taken out as a Panzergrenadiere who adapts himself to the terrain,, makes himself invisible and takes cover.
In the preparation of the attack all details of the attack must be precisely discussed with the Panzergrenadiere. There always were successes where there was clarity and agreement.Good comradeship between tank men and Panzergrenadiere(and with the artillery) carriess success within itself.
After reaching the objective of the attack, the tanks should not stay forward, to be ready for counter attack .'

to be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by stg 44 » 06 Mar 2021 18:40

Thanks for posting all of this. Do you have a link to the original document?

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 07 Mar 2021 15:22

stg 44 wrote:
06 Mar 2021 18:40
Thanks for posting all of this. Do you have a link to the original document?
I could transfer the images to an emailadress

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 07 Mar 2021 16:16

'That is not always possible.Our mostly weak btlns are after heavy offensive fighting, exposed to the danger of being beaten back by a numerically superior enemy in counterattack.
The organisation of the defense after reaching the objective of the attack , takes a certain time. Enmy counteratttacks that start immediately are therefore extremely dangerous.The tanks have to stay forward on the centers of gravity of the defense to back the tired Panzergrenadiere to defeat enemy break-ins immediately in counterattack.
Only when the defense is thoroughlY organised, the AT defense and the artillery are ready for defense, can the tanks be withdrawn in their deployment areas.
Because of the low infanttry strengths and the lack of maneuverable AT guns(sfl) , in the recent fighting,often tanks had to be deployed as compensation. Thereby, a division in small groups(2-3 vehicles) could often not be avoided. It has been shown that even such small groups can be certainly efficient. Only, it cannot be demanded from them that they conduct useless attacks.Such demands are to be decisively opposed. Firepower and mass effect are lacking.
In favourable terrain conditions, attacks by night have shown many times a resounding success.The russian is very sensitive to tank sounds by night. The defense from his numerous AT guns and antitank rifles is ineffective in the abscence of sight.
In an enemy attack with tank support, the infantry and artillery must direct their defense against the enemy infantry, AT guns and tanks have only to deal with enemy tanks.
It has been shown again and again that german tanks are superior to russian tanks, even outnumbered, when they are used correctly; because the russian still blindly drives forward, for example with mounted infantry in terrain where he can easily be seen and already has been beaten back several times.Repeatedly, the russian also showed already well organised tank attacks(fire and movement).
It is practical to distribute the newssheet for the panzer troop also to the infantry, at least to infantry division commmanders.'

to be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 18 Sep 2022 18:22

"3)Artillery combat
The past heavy fighting has clearly shown that the efeect of the artillery is more than ever important.
The support by massed artillery fire in the attack is the prerequisite for the success. The weaker the infantry power is., the more effective artillery support must be.
It is however wrong to believe that the russian can by blown out of his positions (stronghold, town) by artillery only. Even the highest use of ammo did not bring this success. In the attack only the coopération of all parts is successful. Just because of the low strength of the btlns close cooperation with the artillery is to be precisely organized.
For this a thorough combat reconnaissance is necessary. The concentrated fire of the artillery must lie on the actual targets, not only a height or in a village but really on the pockets of resistance. The missions of the heavy inf weapons inclusively pak and artillery must be clearly emphasized in the fire plan.
The well prepared fire like this means half the success.
It has proven to be practical to make the timing of the triggering of the fire before the break in, not dependent on a specific time, rather the firing has to be triggered by the local commander. It can then not happen that the artillery fires while the tanks-Grenadiere are not even near the break in through unforeseen obstacles(for example terrain difficulties).
With reasonably favourable terrain circonstances for approaching to the deployment, the break in will always succeed when it can happen with effective exploitation of the last massed artillery fire. There were also not many losses then. "

To be continued

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Re: Experiences 20 Pnzer division in defensive fighting 1944

Post by Aida1 » 19 Sep 2022 15:37

"The Panzergrenadiere have to keep close the own artilleryfire and already storm forward with the last shots. The Panzergrenadiere need to know the duration of the firing. The artillery man must pay attention that not a few shots spill behind, otherwise the panzergrenadiere begins to wonder, the momentum of the attack is inhibited.
Essential is that the artillery support is concentrated. Therefore the artillery should only be given so many missions as can be done in combined fire with the available amounts of ammo.
Dissipated fire remains ineffective and is of no use to the attack.
The same basic principle is valid for the defense. Here also each dissipation of the fires is wrong. It is even better to break up an attack fully with all available ammo at one spot and allow a break-in at another spot at the same time which can then be cleared up again with the support of the whole artillery.
The successes of the last defensive fighting was besides the steadfastness of the Panzer Grenadiere and the penetration power of the tanks, mainly to be attributed to the artillery. For this, agility in changing around the concentrated fire of all barrels is the first precondition. Each quiet day must therefore be used by the commanders to increase this decisively important agility to the highest perfection. To this belongs also the fast regrouping within the artillery and -almost as most important- the fast regrouping of the forward observers and A. V. Ko. To makes this possible, the objectives of the division have to be made known with foresight to the artillery commander. "

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