German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

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ClintHardware
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German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by ClintHardware » 19 Sep 2022 13:51

Agar-Hamilton quotes certain paragraphs from Feldzug in Nordafrika attributed to Oberst Rainer Kriebel.

I am quoting them here in case they are of interest to those wanting to examine what actually happened compared to tactical intentions during Crusader.

Oberst Rainer Kriebel Feldzug in Nordafrika
The operational lull during summer and autumn 1941 was used by the German division for preparations of all sorts and for intensive training. . . . The panzer divisions applied the lessons of the spring to bring their training in mobile warfare up to the desired standard. During the summer and during the autumn battle the divisions more particularly 15. Panzer Division, had developed battle tactics of an entirely new kind. In order to understand the operations between November 1941 and February 1941 it is essential to understand these new tactics. Unlike the European war theatre, the desert terrain permitted the use, almost everywhere, of vehicles of every imaginable kind. In the desert it was not necessary for large formations to move in columns which would them, when the necessity arose, proceed to take up battle formations with all the consequent delay. It was advisable to move in the kind of formation which would enable the full strength of a division to be brought to bear immediately. Where there were no roads to justify movement in columns at high speed, the divisions moved in Flaechenmarsch (plain formation), with the battle groups one behind the other, and in such a move the depth of each battle group was no more than about four times its width.

In desert warfare, operations against armoured units were more frequent than operations against entrenched infantry. It was therefore advisable to have the most important arm of the division, i.e. the panzer regiment, supported by all other units of the division, even if it was a question of operations against enemy armour. Tactics of this kind had thus far been customary only in operations against mixed formations of all weapons.

The most important support weapon was the heavy anti-aircraft battery of 8.8 cm. guns, which were able to penetrate the armour of the enemy’s heavy tanks at exceptionally long range. When the division was on the move, therefore, the guns were placed in the march column of the panzer regiment. These 8.8 cm guns, together with elements of the panzer regiment, engaged the enemy armoured formations, while the main body of the panzer regiment approached the enemy armour at top speed until they had brought their guns or their tanks within range.

Motorized artillery also proved a very valuable supporting weapon for armoured operations. It was the task of the motorized artillery to provide fire protection for their own armour as it attacked, to hold down enemy anti-tank artillery and armoured artillery observers, and also to lend flanking protection to the attacking forces by their fire. It became evident that enemy tanks were extremely vulnerable to concentric artillery fire. It was frequently possible to disperse a concentration of enemy tanks which had been assembled for the attack, or at least to delay attack. For this purpose the artillery in question moved dispersed at intervals through the panzer regiment. The armoured artillery observation vehicles travelled with the leading tanks. The staffs of artillery units usually travelled with the commanders of the armoured units. With the rear battle groups of the division on the move there was usually only one artillery unit which was responsible for flank protection.

The artillery soon learned to take up positions and open fire so rapidly that the tank attack suffered practically no delay at all.

It very soon became clear that enemy armoured formations frequently avoided the attack of a well-led and powerful German panzer division. Taking advantage of the higher speed of their tanks they tried to bring their armour to bear against the unprotected flanks and rear of the panzer division. Hence the Panzerjaegerabteilung (tank destroyer group) was charged with covering the flank of the division most open to enemy attacks, and also with anti-tank operations in the vicinity of the soft-skinned parts of the vision. There were, however, occasions when the tank-destroyer groups were used in pursuit, and also to strengthen and broaden the attack of their own armour. (The Sidi Rezeg Battles 1941)
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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by Urmel » 19 Sep 2022 23:31

Then Major Kriebel was Ia of 15. Panzer during CRUSADER. His report(s) were translated and later published by Bruce Gudmundsson as "Inside the Afrika Korps". It is a very good read.

Dr. Gudmundsson https://mobile.twitter.com/EvolvingWar/ ... 3539142658
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by Urmel » 19 Sep 2022 23:33

The application of this combined arms tactic was visible from day 1 of CRUSADER, when PR5 (as KG Stephan) had their rather less than impressive outing against 8 KRIH. See second article here: http://rommelsriposte.com/articles/
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by ClintHardware » 20 Sep 2022 19:44

I am sure you are right. It will be fascinating to compare what was reported by ground units on both sides rather than very senior British and Commonwealth officers.
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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by Urmel » 20 Sep 2022 21:17

That's exactly what the paper in the link does.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by ClintHardware » 22 Sep 2022 07:37

Providing a summary is fine but we need eye witness accounts that include reactions from the war diaries and veteran's accounts. So far everyone has summarised Crusader and cast opinions upon it. As far as I can I am not going to do that.
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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by Urmel » 22 Sep 2022 10:05

You obviously didn't read the paper.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by ClintHardware » 10 Oct 2022 17:24

Urmel wrote:
22 Sep 2022 10:05
You obviously didn't read the paper.
Yes I read it end to end. It read well and was very interesting. It did not include any quotes from war diaries of the combat units which could have pieced the fighting together. You could probably have added another 20 pages of combat detail giving the feel of the fighting from ground level.
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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by Urmel » 10 Oct 2022 22:44

It's an academic paper. The raw version which includes the quotes is also available. The point of the footnotes is to save that space, as simply repeating them is not going to add to the analysis.
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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Re: German development of tactics 1941 before Crusader

Post by Urmel » 11 Oct 2022 09:46

I noted that the old version was removed, so I have no added this as a separate file. It contains message logs and war diary entries as an appendix. http://rommelsriposte.com/articles/
The enemy had superiority in numbers, his tanks were more heavily armoured, they had larger calibre guns with nearly twice the effective range of ours, and their telescopes were superior. 5 RTR 19/11/41

The CRUSADER Project - The Winter Battle 1941/42

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