German Squad Tactics

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AbollonPolweder
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by AbollonPolweder » 16 Feb 2019 23:15

Duncan_M wrote:
16 Feb 2019 22:14
It wasn't that successful.
...
So how important was the squad LMG compared to a good rifle? Less.
In short, you refute the Zimtstern's conclusion that " ... the germans were so effective and were most of the time only chrushed by numbers." Right? In my opinion, speaking about the effectiveness of the Germans, he is right.
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Duncan_M » 16 Feb 2019 23:49

AbollonPolweder wrote:
16 Feb 2019 23:15
Duncan_M wrote:
16 Feb 2019 22:14
It wasn't that successful.
...
So how important was the squad LMG compared to a good rifle? Less.
In short, you refute the Zimtstern's conclusion that " ... the germans were so effective and were most of the time only chrushed by numbers." Right? In my opinion, speaking about the effectiveness of the Germans, he is right.
I completely refute Germany was beaten by being crushed by numbers. That's a post war myth created when defeated German generals officers got to do the unusual, losers writing the official history, and were appointed by the US Army and British to write the history of the Eastern Front, which turned out to be little but lies. Germany lost because they were out fought. That includes their infantry squads, platoons, companies, battalions, regiments, and divisions.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Stugbit » 16 Feb 2019 23:58

Duncan_M wrote:
16 Feb 2019 23:49
AbollonPolweder wrote:
16 Feb 2019 23:15
Duncan_M wrote:
16 Feb 2019 22:14
It wasn't that successful.
...
So how important was the squad LMG compared to a good rifle? Less.
In short, you refute the Zimtstern's conclusion that " ... the germans were so effective and were most of the time only chrushed by numbers." Right? In my opinion, speaking about the effectiveness of the Germans, he is right.
I completely refute Germany was beaten by being crushed by numbers. That's a post war myth created when defeated German generals officers got to do the unusual, losers writing the official history, and were appointed by the US Army and British to write the history of the Eastern Front, which turned out to be little but lies. Germany lost because they were out fought. That includes their infantry squads, platoons, companies, battalions, regiments, and divisions.
But they did not lost all the war. There were battles on which they have won. Don`t you think you`re being a bit harsh on it? They certainly may have written many wrong stuff, and lied about, but it doesn`t mean that everything is a wrong, a lie or a failure. And as I`m understanding, you just have said that a machine-gun has less fire power than a rifle?

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Cult Icon » 17 Feb 2019 03:25

Look at user "Gary Kennedy"'s posts. He ran the "Bayonet Strength" website.

No, the German MG system was not a failure in the late war (a colorful account is in "Beyond the Beachhead"( 29th US Infantry division)- it was force multiplier in the defense although in the offense it was more problematic, which lead to the assault rifle designs and frequent ad hoc use of SMG equipped troops for close combat. This eventually lead to formal changes, such as assault platoons.

In reality the German division was rarely close or at full strength in WW2. A fresh division, yes, then it was quickly depleted in the defense or offense. The Infantry was usually way below authorized, more like 20%-50% as a ballpark figure. To stereotype it directly fighting German infantry was more like fighting machine-gun nest after machine-gun nest, with supporting counterattack reserves and firepower.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Duncan_M » 17 Feb 2019 04:15

Stugbit wrote:
16 Feb 2019 23:58
But they did not lost all the war. There were battles on which they have won. Don`t you think you`re being a bit harsh on it? They certainly may have written many wrong stuff, and lied about, but it doesn`t mean that everything is a wrong, a lie or a failure.
The narrative that Germany lost the war because they were "crushed by numbers" is false. Its a lie. Its a cop out. Its a complete fabrication. Where did it come from? It came from German WW2 veterans, the losers, giving their two cents as to why they lost, specifically against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front to an audience of absolutely ignorant Americans and Brits who had no clue what actually happened (until the Soviet Union collapsed), were foolish to trust the Germans and allow them to write the history, and who were so anti-Communist at the time they were willing to trust and respect the word of Nazis.
And as I`m understanding, you just have said that a machine-gun has less fire power than a rifle?
No. I wrote this "So how important was the squad LMG compared to a good rifle? Less."

I'm not claiming a good rifle (StG 44) has more firepower than a machine gun. I'm claiming that it was more important for the squad than the MG 34 or 42, in its light machine gun role.

Which isn't my opinion, its the Germans themselves. When they finally had access to a good rifle, an assault rifle specifically, with enough of them, plus magazines, and ammo, to arm entire units enough to create new Kstn for them, they did something else. They removed the squad light machine guns from the squad.

What that means was that super duper MG 42 that everyone raves about and thinks the Germans were 1) Unique 2) Brilliant for including in their squads, was removed because they didn't think it was necessary anymore once everyone had a better rifle. The sturm zug/assault platoon, instead of having one lMG per gruppes/squad, for a total of four in the entire zug/platoon, instead removed three lMGs from three squads, and gave the fourth squad three lMGs, which made it a weapons squad, with the lMGs designed not to fight together but to be used as the platoon leader saw fit, not the squad leaders.

Now one can argue whether this was a good choice or a bad, but it's purely opinion. Any armament is purely opinion, as any organization is going to have its pros and cons. But there is no right answer to this. There is only "Does it work in combat? Can it accomplish the mission?"

The reality is that by 1943, the answer to the standard German infantry squad organization, on the attack, which is the ONLY way to win wars, was no to both those questions. It did not work in combat. And it could not accomplish its mission.

Was it because of the squad's armament? Partially. But more so it was because of problems much large than the squad. Because in reality, the armament of the squad doesn't really matter all that much in the grander scheme of things.

Which is why I wrote earlier than combat isn't squad jousting. Its combined arms. The winner isn't the one with the best squad, or the best light machine gun. He's the one with the best army. The German Heer in the beginning of the war was the best army. That changed by '42.
Last edited by Duncan_M on 17 Feb 2019 04:47, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Duncan_M » 17 Feb 2019 04:32

Cult Icon wrote:
17 Feb 2019 03:25
Look at user "Gary Kennedy"'s posts. He ran the "Bayonet Strength" website.

No, the German MG system was not a failure in the late war (a colorful account is in "Beyond the Beachhead"( 29th US Infantry division)- it was force multiplier in the defense although in the offense it was more problematic, which lead to the assault rifle designs and frequent ad hoc use of SMG equipped troops for close combat. This eventually lead to formal changes, such as assault platoons.

In reality the German division was rarely close or at full strength in WW2. A fresh division, yes, then it was quickly depleted in the defense or offense. The Infantry was usually way below authorized, more like 20%-50% as a ballpark figure. To stereotype it directly fighting German infantry was more like fighting machine-gun nest after machine-gun nest, with supporting counterattack reserves and firepower.
Germany did absolutely nothing unique by including a light machine gun in its squad. There is one single major combatant of WW2 who didn't have a true LMG in its squad: the Americans, who took an automatic rifle and tried to convert it (unsuccessfully) into an LMG role. EVERYONE ELSE had an LMG in their squad. It wasn't belt fed, but that isn't at all a requirement for an LMG, and in fact the MG 34, in LMG role, was most commonly either using the 75 round double drum, or the snail drum with 50 round belt, when doing anything besides defensive fighting. The predecessor to the MG 34, the MG 13, which was fielded in 1930, was magazine fed and worked fine as a LMG. Its biggest problem was that it wasn't a universal machine gun, capable of performing EVERY role needed of a machine gun inside the Heer: Light, heavy, AA, panzer coax and hull MG, and fortress mount. Note: The MG 42 could only do the first three of those roles, because its barrel change feature meant it couldn't do the rest, which is why it never fully replaced the MG 34 besides inside infantry regiments.

German definitely believed in non-linear defensive positions dominated by machine guns. But that wasn't what their defenses were based on, just what the roles of the squads and platoons, who also possessed a role just as important, anti-tank defense (using magnetic mines, AT rifles, bundle grenades, satchel charges, molotov cocktails, and eventually the Panzerfaust). The actual defense was dominated by anti personnel and anti tank mines and other obstacles, covered by direct fire, supported by mortars (especially those very deadly 8.0cm mortars that they added to company kstn in '43), regimental guns, divisional artillery, corps or army artillery or rockets, SP assault guns, panzer jaegar, and the occasional bit of air support that the Luftwaffe might actually be able to provide. If German relied solely on its squad level machine guns, the war would have been over rather quickly. If anything, the best thing the German machine gun could do would suppress advancing unsupported infantry to cause them to go to ground, to stall their attack, while dropping mortars and arty on them. But any LMG can do that, and every enemy Germany fought had the ability to use squad level small arms to suppress an advancing German attack just as well.

A standard German infantry division on the line, by 1944, is going to get broken through rather quickly. That's the truth. Its the Panzer and Panzer Grenadier divisions, full of much better armed and supported panzer grenadier infantry, who had the most success. In fact, I never really understand the historical glorification and fascination with the average infantry division's squad, it was never that impressively equipped or structured. It was often incapable of handling many of the missions given to it. It didn't hold ground superbly well in the defense, and was often a complete failure conducting a attack, especially after 1943.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Hanny » 17 Feb 2019 12:02

Duncan_M wrote:
16 Feb 2019 06:29
German squad level organization and tactics were not designed to fight WW2, and were not designed to compare and contrast with the US Army's methods, it was a direct evolution of post-WW1 infantry doctrine of the Reichswehr, whose senior leadership, specifically von Seeckt, who rewrote much of the doctrine, took lessons of WW1, combined them with the limitations of the Reichswehr (in terms of size and armament stipulations) to create a more effective squad in the early 1920s time frame. This was a time when most squads were predominately armed with five shot bolt action rifles and maybe one unofficial squad support weapon in the form of some sort of light machine gun or automatic rifle.

When the Reichsheer first made these changes, the gruppe's light machine gun was not the MG 42, nor the MG 34, but was either an MG 08/15, or some other type like the Dreyse MG 10, the Bergmann 15 A, the Parabellum Model 1914, or the Danish Madsen gun. New specifications for light machine guns were initially written in the early 20s, it was these specifications that would lead to the MG 13 and the much more practical and universal MG 34, and eventually its semi-replacement, the MG 42 (which while superior in some roles could not, by design, fulfill other roles of the universal machine gun).

German infantry of the interwar years were a combined arms fighting force. A squad was no more responsible for winning a battle than a single battalion was, they were to fight as part of the larger team. The basic squad had the ability to support itself with its own organic light machine gun, while riflemen made the assault with rifle fire (accuracy was emphasized heavily during the interwar years, as was the use of the hand grenade). It could hold a defensive position likewise, though the Germans did not emphasize defensive tactics to the point that in WW2 they had to relearn them the hard way,especially on the Ostfront.

The Reichswehr lacked artillery and mortars, severely limited on both by the stipulations of the Versailles Treaty. So while the infantry was combined arms, it could not rely on supporting fires of high explosive weaponry to the point that competing nations could. So an infantry regiment made up for it with more heavy use of weapons organic to itself. Platoons of squads would also be augmented by heavy machine gun teams in the company level, as well as located in the heavy weapons company that could be detached as necessary and attached all the way down to the squad level for specific missions. Most fire support was planned with direct fire and lots of indirect (especially with the advent of the Lafette Tripod) could be done with heavy machine guns, while mortars would cover dead space that their fire couldn't reach. Artillery was considered an afterthought, as there so little of it and changing doctrine meant what they had would be massed and in support of the division's schwerpunkt, its main effort. What this meant is that all units that were not part of the main effort were essentially on their own, in theory and often in practice in WW2, and must provide their own fire support with their own organic weapons. The Germans thus emphasized machine guns.

The idea that the German squad's riflemen were all in support of the machine gun isn't entirely true. It came down to that more and more as WW2 progressed, as the skills and the ability of the German infantry as a whole declined, and especially when they fought on the defensive. But by doctrine, the lMG of the gruppe was supposed to support the attack of the squad. Typically that meant that the gruppe would advance independently from other gruppen within the zug, while all were being supported by hMG and mortar fire, possibly even artillery and even close air support once the Luftwaffe was included. At close range, when the supporting fires could no longer safely suppress the objective the squad's light machine gun team would break out of the file/chain and establish a base of fire position, while the rest of the squad continued the assault, culminating with the use of offensive (concussion) and defensive (fragmentation) grenades and close range fires, at which point the machine gun team would pick up and rejoin their squad and prepare for further operations, either setting up on another position to be taken, or to repel a counter attack.

The US Army's system was similar, in that it was planned to be used with combined arms. More so, it was really designed to fight the Germans, and had the advantage of being organized largely after WW2 had officially started. Plus better US production, logistics, etc.

Each rifle squad possessed riflemen with bolt action rifles and M1 rifles. The rifle company level had only two light machine guns present in the rifle company (M1919A4), but also contained 60mm mortars to provide support. As did the battalion's heavy weapons company, with 81mm mortars, plus M1917 Browning Machine Guns (which were heavy tripod operated and water cooled). Additionally, more responsive, accurate, and better supplied divisional artillery, augmented by corps and army level artillery battalions, plus enough separate tank battalions to support each infantry division, all meant the US Army's infantry squad was far better supported than a German squad.

Comparing just squad to squad, the US Army probably had the least impressive (though the semi auto rifles did give it advantages that the Germans and other nations didn't possess, and inability for individuals that weren't machine gunners to better control a sector of fire). But that doesn't matter anyway, modern combat is not infantry squad jousting. What matters is the total package, and in the end artillery beats light machine guns.
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by AbollonPolweder » 17 Feb 2019 13:02

Duncan_M wrote:
17 Feb 2019 04:15
...
Was it because of the squad's armament? Partially. But more so it was because of problems much large than the squad. Because in reality, the armament of the squad doesn't really matter all that much in the grander scheme of things.

Whis whych i I wrote earlier than combat isn't squad jousting. Its combined arms. The winner isn't the one with the best squad, or the best light machine gun. He's the one with the best army. The German Heer in the beginning of the war was the best army. That changed by '42.
1. Yes sir! You are right! A combat isn't squad jousting. I would dare to say that the fight is not only a duel of squads.The battle has many levels.But can you give an example of a battle, when all the squads lost the fight but, say, a regiment or division that consisted of those losing squads won the battle?
2.
'The winner isn't the one with the best squad, or the best light machine gun. He's the one with the best army.'
You can continue your sequence: ' ... the best army'. Do not forget to add, for example, better diplomacy or a better economy. Remember Liddell Hart's 'The indirect approach' '? :wink:
Here we are talking about squads if I'm not wrong.
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Stugbit » 17 Feb 2019 18:06

Germany did absolutely nothing unique by including a light machine gun in its squad. There is one single major combatant of WW2 who didn't have a true LMG in its squad: the Americans, who took an automatic rifle and tried to convert it (unsuccessfully) into an LMG role. EVERYONE ELSE had an LMG in their squad. It wasn't belt fed, but that isn't at all a requirement for an LMG, and in fact the MG 34, in LMG role, was most commonly either using the 75 round double drum, or the snail drum with 50 round belt, when doing anything besides defensive fighting.
Duncan, so you need to make a deep comparison between the MGs then. Because certainly a MG-34 is very different from their Bren, DP, counterparts. And different for better.

The quality of the equipment you`re using impacts on the tactical performance as well

Yes, Nazis are evil, but it`s not because a machine was made by Nazis that means it wouldn`t work properly. If you have said about a German tank perhaps, like a Panther, any aircraft, anything else, I would agree with you. But the German machine-guns of WWII were one of the best weapons they made in the war! How could that not have an impact? MG-34 people usually don`t say much about it, but it was a far better weapon than even MG-42 itself. Having in mind that the MG-42 is still in use today, as a slightly modified version.
No. I wrote this "So how important was the squad LMG compared to a good rifle? Less."

I'm not claiming a good rifle (StG 44) has more firepower than a machine gun. I'm claiming that it was more important for the squad than the MG 34 or 42, in its light machine gun role.
When it came to tactics, again, you`re comparing late war with early war, those are very different circumstances. And you have said Rifle! A Rifle is a completely different weapon than an Assault Rifle! With we consider Assault Rifles, I totally agree with you! Of course it is a better weapon than the MG for the purposes we`re talking about here. So it is, that the standard weapon of modern armies are ARs.

But keep in mind that Assault Rifles in WWII were an exception which appeared in the late war! Few of them participated in the more balanced battles that took place the years before. I have seen people saying that the BAR is an Assault Rifle, I don`t think so, anyway that doesn`t mean it is a bad weapon. I heard many people saying good things about it.

When you have only bolt action rifles and a few SMGs, it`s quite obvious that having a LMG together would bring more firepower and this could help more, don`t you think? Even if the LMG couldn`t be suited for a direct assault, those squadron skirmishes often change conditions, and an apparent attack could from a moment to other became a defensive instance against a counter-attack, and so a LMG could provide some help.


I`m very curious to see how the German tactic system would compare to the French and British armies of 1940. During 41, 42 and even 43, they could at least survive with this system many times against the Soviet in offensive and defensive circumstances.

From what I have seen so far, the proportions were like, For the Germans: MG-34; Kar; MP-38/40 = 1;8;1 where the MG-34 had a high rate of fire but the Kars were slower and the MP-40 could only shot at very short ranges

The British were Bren and Enfield = 1;9 while the Bren rate of fire was slower but the Enfields were faster than the Kars. They also had sometimes the Thompson and Sten for close range

Russians Degtyarev and nagant or PPSh, or a mix of it, 1;9 as well. Many times with some sniper scope!

The narrative that Germany lost the war because they were "crushed by numbers" is false. Its a lie. Its a cop out. Its a complete fabrication. Where did it come from? It came from German WW2 veterans, the losers, giving their two cents as to why they lost, specifically against the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front to an audience of absolutely ignorant Americans and Brits who had no clue what actually happened (until the Soviet Union collapsed), were foolish to trust the Germans and allow them to write the history, and who were so anti-Communist at the time they were willing to trust and respect the word of Nazis.


We`re debating the squad tactics. Either way the true narrative was, it not necessarily mean that a squad tactic is bad or not. As you have said here many times, there are other weapons and military elements influencing.

I understand and agree that many wrong things and lies have been said from German officers after the war. Sometimes they just put the blame on Hitler or say that the war was invincible, they try to justify their mistakes. And there`s also war crimes as well. But in the terms of the numbers, as you mentioned, even if the Germans were crushed by large number in the late war, I don`t think that this would relief them from responsibilities in the strategic and tactical mistakes they committed. They could have done wrong things and have been crushed by numbers after.

The numerical disadvantage of the late war is quite obvious. Just look at the world map. The size of Russia and USA. The Germans were fighting a two front war, there`s no way they could fought it in numerical advantage. Again, this doesn`t redeem them from the very wrong decisions they committed. Wars can be fought in numerical disadvantages.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Duncan_M » 17 Feb 2019 20:25

AbollonPolweder wrote:
17 Feb 2019 13:02
1. Yes sir! You are right! A combat isn't squad jousting. I would dare to say that the fight is not only a duel of squads.The battle has many levels.But can you give an example of a battle, when all the squads lost the fight but, say, a regiment or division that consisted of those losing squads won the battle?
You're going on and on about infantry squads winning or losing and dictating a larger battle. You have already claimed German's success in early war hinged on its infantry squads.

What about panzers, does a platoon of Panzer III operate in squads? Did they matter in German success early war? How about artillery, are their guns organized in squads? What is the lowest tactical level of a panzer jaegar battalion? How come you're not focusing on any of them?

Why are you only focusing on the infantry, why only the squad? Why aren't you discussing the weapons held at the platoon level, like the early war 5cm mortar? Was it so inconsequential as to ignore it? What about the MG 34 and 42 set up on Lafette Tripods as heavy machine guns? There was an entire company in the infantry battalion literally named "Heavy Machine Gun Company" and you're ignoring it while ranting about the same machine guns used in LMG role in the squad. Why? Speaking of infantry, what about those the snub nosed lightweight, but accurate, 8cm mortars that German infantry company commanders had at their disposal? What is the kill radius of a 8cm HE round? A bit more than the width of the bullet fired from an MG 42 I suspect.

There is no battle won at the divisional level but lost at all the squad because its one force. Its one unit. A squad is just a subunit, the smallest tactical infantry unit of an infantry division. If one wants to discuss small unit organization and doctrine, one MUST include the larger unit in that discussion.
Remember Liddell Hart's 'The indirect approach' '? :wink:
Unfortunately, Liddell Hart was a conman, who greatly manipulated the historiography of WW2 by conspiring with well known German ex-generals and field marshals, having them give him historical credit for the German Interwar panzer doctrine, while he made them sound like military geniuses who only lost the war because Allied numbers and equipment, and of course the lie that Hitler refused to listen to them.

So I'd advise everyone to take caution when reading his works.

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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Duncan_M » 17 Feb 2019 20:59

Stugbit wrote:
17 Feb 2019 18:06
Duncan, so you need to make a deep comparison between the MGs then. Because certainly a MG-34 is very different from their Bren, DP, counterparts. And different for better.
I don't though. A LMG is an LMG. A small difference that the MG 34 had the ability to fire for slightly longer time between reloads is rather immaterial in the larger scheme of doctrine and practicality. At no point was a fight between a British squad (or Soviet, or American) vs a German gruppe ever truly dependent on the LMG. There are tons of other factors way more important. Terrain. Units involved. Morale. Whether one attacks at 0400 vs 0900 makes a hell of a lot more difference than whether one had a belt fed LMG and the other had a magazine fed, which is the only real difference.
Yes, Nazis are evil, but it`s not because a machine was made by Nazis that means it wouldn`t work properly. If you have said about a German tank perhaps, like a Panther, any aircraft, anything else, I would agree with you. But the German machine-guns of WWII were one of the best weapons they made in the war! How could that not have an impact? MG-34 people usually don`t say much about it, but it was a far better weapon than even MG-42 itself. Having in mind that the MG-42 is still in use today, as a slightly modified version.
The MG 34 was not a better weapon than the MG 42. It was not truly reliant in rough combat conditions. Dirt, sand, and ice all made it jam like crazy.

The MG 42 is used today by Arabs who use anybodies old trash, and by...Germans. Oh, Austrians too, sorry.

Notice nobody else uses any part of the MG 42 besides its feed cover and feed mechanism? Because that was the only novel thing about it worth copying...
When it came to tactics, again, you`re comparing late war with early war, those are very different circumstances. And you have said Rifle! A Rifle is a completely different weapon than an Assault Rifle! With we consider Assault Rifles, I totally agree with you! Of course it is a better weapon than the MG for the purposes we`re talking about here. So it is, that the standard weapon of modern armies are ARs.
A rifle is a class of firearm. An assault rifle is a type of rifle.

An AR15 is considered either a rifle or carbine depending on barrel length and whether it has a collapsible stock. Its not classed as an assault rifle unless it matches all of these specifications: Fires intermediate cartridge, large capacity magazine, lightweight, select fire. That last capability turns a rifle into an assault rifle, it cannot be classified as one without automatic fire capability. It doesn't change what it is, it just adds a specification to an existing lightweight rifle that fires an intermediate caliber from a large magazine.

The Germans didn't NEED the full auto capability of the StG44. It was nice, but even semi auto only it was a huge improvement over being issued a 98k, or even a G 43. What they needed was a rifle that didn't recoil a lot, allowing faster follow up shots, with a large magazine capacity.
But keep in mind that Assault Rifles in WWII were an exception which appeared in the late war! Few of them participated in the more balanced battles that took place the years before. I have seen people saying that the BAR is an Assault Rifle, I don`t think so, anyway that doesn`t mean it is a bad weapon. I heard many people saying good things about it.
The BAR was a bad weapon not because it was neither fish nor fowl, but because its features were stupidly chosen and it was known to not be especially reliable, especially with corrosive ammunition or in adverse conditions.
When you have only bolt action rifles and a few SMGs, it`s quite obvious that having a LMG together would bring more firepower and this could help more, don`t you think? Even if the LMG couldn`t be suited for a direct assault, those squadron skirmishes often change conditions, and an apparent attack could from a moment to other became a defensive instance against a counter-attack, and so a LMG could provide some help.
I'm not claiming LMGs don't help, especially in an age when most everyone had a 5-10 shot bolt action rifle. But,

1) squad armament is almost NEVER the decisive factor in victory or defeat.
2) And when the whole squad is better armed than bolt action rifles, the LMG isn't as necessary, to the point that even the Germans removed them from three out of four squads in the assault platoon kstn.
I`m very curious to see how the German tactic system would compare to the French and British armies of 1940. During 41, 42 and even 43, they could at least survive with this system many times against the Soviet in offensive and defensive circumstances.
The weapons were more equal than different. What did an MG 34, with a clumsy 75 round drum mag, or a 50 round belt in a complicated snail drum fixed to the weapon, have over British, French, or Red Army squad level LMGs? Not much. It wasn't that big of a deal. German success had far more to do with things larger than the squad. And when the squad was a factor, superior leadership, training, flexibility, initiative, spirit were almost always a much larger factor than who brought the belt fed machine gun.
From what I have seen so far, the proportions were like, For the Germans: MG-34; Kar; MP-38/40 = 1;8;1 where the MG-34 had a high rate of fire but the Kars were slower and the MP-40 could only shot at very short ranges
The MP 40 was only supposed to be carried by officers and NCOs who are not supposed to be firing their weapons unless in close quarters emergency settings, while leading, which means an SMG works well for them. Mass issue of SMGs was not pushed by the Germans until '42, after encountering the high level of SMGs and other firepower by the Red Army, whose infantry regiments were (on paper at least) possessing much more firepower than a German regiment. But the Red Army had training woes, organizational problems, major supply problems, incompetent leadership, political commissar intrusion into the chain of command, close to non-existent planning, and almost no combined arms coordination. Which is why it didn't matter how much firepower the Red Army had in '41 and even '42. They were going to get mauled in a fight because the Germans fought better.

"A bad carpenter blames his tools"
The British were Bren and Enfield = 1;9 while the Bren rate of fire was slower but the Enfields were faster than the Kars. They also had sometimes the Thompson and Sten for close range
Speed of fire doesn't matter, battle isn't a statistical mathematical problem to be decided by cyclic rate or anything else. Could the Bren do its job? British veterans of the war said YES!

While the Sten wasn't loved that was largely because of its poor construction and safety issues. A weapon that fires when dropped, regardless of its safety engaged, that is also crude and loose, is never going to be well loved by the troops who carry it.
Russians Degtyarev and nagant or PPSh, or a mix of it, 1;9 as well. Many times with some sniper scope!
The Soviets, impressed by what had happened to them by precision rifle fire in the Finnish Winter War, pushed "snipers", or what are more accurately described as designated marksman, down to the platoon and even sometimes squad level. Another force multiplier often not spoken of, as scoped bolt action rifles can provide nearly as effective suppressive fire as a light machine gun can, with about 1/10th the ammo consumption.

I think one of the best lessons of the war was ignored by all but the British, the force multiplying factor of optics. The only post war nation who was exuberant to include a combat optic on its service rifle was the British, with the proposed EM-1 and -2 bullpups. None of the other major powers pushed daylight optics for a very long time, to the detriment of its personnel, with volume of fire doctrine being the big lesson pushed after WW2.
We`re debating the squad tactics. Either way the true narrative was, it not necessarily mean that a squad tactic is bad or not. As you have said here many times, there are other weapons and military elements influencing.
You're debating squad tactics. I'm trying to tell you to stop, because it doesn't lead anywhere productive. Its not actually going to teach anyone properly about warfare, it only confuses people into not focusing on the bigger picture and instead being laser focused on the smallest tactical level of only one branch of the ground combat forces, which itself is only one service in the larger military of a nation.
I understand and agree that many wrong things and lies have been said from German officers after the war. Sometimes they just put the blame on Hitler or say that the war was invincible, they try to justify their mistakes. And there`s also war crimes as well. But in the terms of the numbers, as you mentioned, even if the Germans were crushed by large number in the late war, I don`t think that this would relief them from responsibilities in the strategic and tactical mistakes they committed. They could have done wrong things and have been crushed by numbers after.
The "crushed by numbers" was a post war apologetic argument created by Germans to explain their failures. Along with "If only Hitler had followed the advice of his generals," its just bogus. Its not true. Its a fabrication. There is a bit of truth to it, but most of the greatest lies are based on a small bit of truth.
The numerical disadvantage of the late war is quite obvious. Just look at the world map. The size of Russia and USA. The Germans were fighting a two front war, there`s no way they could fought it in numerical advantage. Again, this doesn`t redeem them from the very wrong decisions they committed. Wars can be fought in numerical disadvantages.
At the tactical and operational level, early, mid, and late war, countless times the Germans showed up with more local forces than their opponents and still managed to do poorly, repeatedly, to the point they lost the war.

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Stugbit
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Stugbit » 18 Feb 2019 03:42

I understand, Duncan. Thanks for clarifying those points.

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AbollonPolweder
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by AbollonPolweder » 18 Feb 2019 07:38

Duncan_M wrote:
17 Feb 2019 20:25
...
You're going on and on about infantry squads winning or losing and dictating a larger battle. You have already claimed German's success in early war hinged on its infantry squads.
...
I suggest that we first deal with the topic that Zimtstern stated. This is all for now. If you want to compare divisions, please do it. I have nothing against. :milwink:
https://sites.google.com/site/krieg1941undnarod/
Better to lose with a clever than with a fool to find

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Sheldrake
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Sheldrake » 18 Feb 2019 10:26

Let me put 2 p in.

This paper presented by Captain Liddell Hart in 1920 at RUSI on the infantry tac tics has answers to the question posed by the OP http://regimentalrogue.com/misc/liddell ... _dark.html

Three points

#1 Liddell hart answers the question posed by the OP about the merits of distributed fire by riflemen. Se Link and scroll to the bit about section formations " The extended line is not a formation of security; it is not under the instant control and direction of the section commander, and thus it prevents full advantage being taken of covered approaches and reduces the power of manoeuvre. The very idea of a line presupposes a wasteful frontal attack instead of a manoeuvre combat. Hence it should be abandoned in favour of a formation such as arrowhead,"
Note the German section formations ion my earlier post have the machine gun at the front under control of the Section Commander with the infantrymen following. The Germans were thinking along the same lines as Liddell Hart. i.e. the geometry is less important than exercising command and control over frightened men in a confused battle.

#2 in the context of the 1920 debate, this thread is largely irrelevant. The aim is not to pit one section against another, but to fix an enemy with sections so that others can manouvre. In the bigger tactical picture it is irrelevant if your section behaves as rifle group and gun group or a big gun group. What does matter is the initiative, situational awareness and and aggression of the section commanders.


#3 Note the remarks by Brigadier Dugan. The armies started the war thinking that the key was to pack the firing line (That includes the 1918 AEF) But a packed firing line just created more targets especially for artillery fire. The reality is of infantry combat fought by who ever was left after the barrage and DFs had done their worst.

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Cult Icon
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Re: German Squad Tactics

Post by Cult Icon » 18 Feb 2019 15:18

The typical (late war, resource constrained) pattern was a new division arrives to the front, and the Army commander immediately deploys it to a threatened area or in a counterstrike. Counterattacking activities wear down the infantry battalions far more quickly than usual until the unit is approx. half strength or less. Then it reverts to a more passive mode- typical of other long-standing formations of holding the line with combat assets more like a brigade.

Forget about riflemen- the ratio of riflemen to machineguns (and to support weapons) has radically shifted in favor of the MGs and the support weapons. Much of the suriviving "riflemen" were, per typical practice, pulled out from the front and organized in ad-hoc "sturmtruppes" or other such name as counterattack reserves. "Sturmkompanies" and smaller were usually heavily equipped with automatic small arms, grenades, etc. and were generally the better fighters of the division.

Unlike the Soviet and Allied combatants German units had very little in terms of replacements as they were the smaller and weaker party. A division may have a replacement battalion supporting it (an elite division like G.D. had an entire brigade) but these were more like an emergency reserve to save their bacon at the 11th hour. The way the German forces rejuvenated the front was to ship in new formations,not repair damaged ones on the spot.

When their enemies attacked, the MG teams would open fire, and try to suppress and waste as much time as possible (then the mortars and artillery and other support weapons would do their work) while the counterattack reserves tried to reduce or eliminate the breach, based on prepared attack plans and understanding of their environment.

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