German use of Artillery.

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tigre
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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by tigre » 28 Dec 2020 18:57

Hello to all :D; a little complement............by Guderian...........

Heavy Artillery Groups!

"Our limited resources in the sphere of motorisation were further squandered owing to various organisational errors committed by other arms of the service. For example, the Chief of the General Army Office, General Fromm, ordered that the 14th (anti-tank) Company of all Infantry Regiments be motorised. When I maintained that these companies, since they would be working with foot soldiers, would do better to remain horse-drawn, he replied 'The infantry's got to have a few cars too.' My request that, instead of the 14th Companies, the Heavy Artillery Battalions be motorised was turned down. The heavy guns remained horse-drawn, with unfortunate results during the war, particularly in Russia.

Source: Panzerleader. Heinz Guderian.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Feliz Año Nuevo - Happy New Year - feliz Ano Novo - gluckliches Neues Jahr - Bonne Année - Felice Anno Nuovo - Szczęśliwego nowego roku!! :thumbsup:

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Art » 01 Jan 2021 19:33

From the report on war experience of the German 46 Infantry Division (16.12.1941):
Question: Is the number of heavy horses provided by the wartime table of organization sufficient for towing batteries?
Answer: In the course of the Eastern Campaign - it wasn't. The light battery needs more than 16 heavy horses. For the heavy field howitzer, considering its weight, 8-10 horses are not sufficient.

Q. General observations.
A.: Based on the experience obtained we believe that motorization of the heavy field howitzer battalion of the infantry division is urgently needed. At least a team of 8-10 horses should be tried.
http://docs.historyrussia.org/ru/nodes/ ... e/7/zoom/4

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Erwinn » 06 Jan 2021 06:52

I believe people somewhere in their mind still compares it to German Empire artillery.

IMO German doctrine relied heavily on CAS to act as artillery in early war and when they started to face more and more enemy fighters and lost this perk, they failed to fill the gap with the amount of Artillery guns required.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by ghost1275 » 31 Jan 2021 20:42

Red Army artillery had huge number of tubes but lack in ammo. They were concentrated and spent during the initial phase of offensive breakthrough. Allied artillery had less pieces but ample supply of projectiles, a single gun/howitzer could fire many times of rounds than its German and Soviet counterparts. Allies also had superior spot and fires support coordination.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by tigre » 26 Mar 2023 19:23

Hello to all :D; a little more by Karl Thoholte, General der Artillerie...........

Field Artillery role in the defensive battles in the East (1942-44).

Beginning in 1943, in an ever increasing degree, the defensive operations in the war against Russia developed into battles of materiel. In view of the high degree of commitment of materiel, the costly large-scale battles (for example, on Lake Ladoga *) demanded that ways and means be found to reduce the loss of manpower to a bearable and replaceable amount. This question became more pressing for Germany than for Russia, for the former was not and the latter was in a position to make good indefinitely her personnel losses.

At the outset one must recognize that at the time under consideration the German air force was not strong enough to be a decisive factor in any battle. The Russian air force was still weaker, and therefore less capable of defensive action, than the German. Furthermore, German armored forces did not exist in sufficient strength to be able by their disposition to equalize the fire-power at all threatened points on the Eastern Front. This was true even though the Russians had not yet mastered tank tactics and failed to obtain the maximum efficiency from armored weapons.

While it is true that German air power was always superior to that of the Russians, the air arm alone—even in the strength in which it later appeared on the American side on the Western Front — was never in a position to influence the ground battle to such an extent that some other arm could be ignored or neglected. Meteorological conditions alone precluded daily commitment of the Luftwaffe. Similar conditions affected the armored forces. Armor plays a decisive role only if it comes into battle in a moving situation. Other arms have first to provide the basis for such a situation. In the main, the burden of defensive battle is borne by the infantry, and by the artillery which supports it.

Owing to the bloody losses and the uninterrupted, maximum psychological strain in the heavy defensive battles, each several weeks in duration, the German infantry continuously lost in combat power. More and more the defense depended upon the artillery. In many cases it decided the issue. It was estimated that the artillery bore from 60% to 80% of the combat burden. (The battles around Aachen in the winter of 1944 were of the same nature.)

If the discussion here concerns the defense for the most part, it is because Germany found herself on the defensive on almost all fronts. In the offensive situations (late 1942), conditions were much the same: artillery had also to lighten the burden of infantry and armor in the attack. Aside from a very few surprise actions, no Russian attack succeeded unless it was heavily prepared and supported.

(*) During and after the siege of Leningrad the Ladoga Campaign developed into a huge artillery duel. The Germans outnumbered the Russians 2:1 in total number of pieces, but the Russians had at least twice as many large caliber weapons (that is, larger than 220-mm). For the siege of Leningrad in early 1942 the Germans had accumulated approximately 220,000 tons (avoirdupois) of artillery ammunition; the Russians had anequal if not slightly larger amount. On the days of all-out German offensive their daily expenditure of ammunition in a corps sector 20 km in width was 3,300 to 3,800 tons. Even with these concentrations the Germans failed to gain superiority and their infantry could make no gains. Russian rocket-launched projectiles succeeded in interdicting almost every German infantry attack.

Source: A German Reflects Upon Artillery. Interrogation of Karl Thoholte, General der Artillerie. The Field Artillery Journal. December 1945

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Mar 2023 15:57

In simple terms ammunition supply was the largest weakness. There were exceptions, but holding them up as a counter argument ignores the overall disproportion in average rounds per cannon on the actual battle front. Comparing only factory output does not account for ammunition that could not be delivered to active battle fronts for lack of transportation, or that was destroyed by Allied air interdiction, or captured when depots were overrun.

Technically the German artillery could achieve accuracy and speed of fires execution comparable to the US or Brits for most of the war, but the ammunition available meant such frequent and large scale concentrations were not practical. Instead the German artillery commander relied on accuracy to improve the effect of smaller attacks.

A second weakness was the smaller number of cannon in the corps and army level artillery groups. The average number of cannon reinforcing the division artillery was smaller that what the British or US Artillery commander could expect. A german division commander could not depend on reinforcing fires from a corps artillery group. For a British division commander it was nearly a given he'd have a extra 16 to 24 cannon reinforcing his artillery.

The third aspect was the growing shortage of communications equipment as the war progressed. The Brits and US added comm equipment, and rapidly replaced losses. The Germans added less, and had larger problems replacing losses. This interfered with coordination and response.

In the last year or 18 months there was a actual decrease in skill among the battalion or larger artillery groups. The large losses of officers in 1943-1944 meant the replacements were not as well trained. Particualry in the new formations raised from mid 1944. In late 1944 the Germans were starting to resort to methods similar to the Red Army in latter 1941 to keep their artillery functioning. This effect was not across the board, and the formations retaining experience officers and NCOs kept up their skill levels.

The problem of lack of motorization was more important as a operational problem than tactical. One could write a chapter on this before getting past the primer level. Motorization was certainly not a panacea. ie: The French Army of 1940 had about 40% of its artillery motorized or mechanized. The German Army that year was less than 25%. The French had vast stocks of ammunition relative to the Germans, and a excellent control system in tactical terms. The German reports on the 1940 campaign remark on the unexpected size and speed of French artillery concentrations. But the French still lost the campaign. At the operational level defects in the French command system waived away any tactical or technical advantages. This proved much the same for the Germans from 1943. Technically and tactically they were still skilled, but operational and strategic aspect, like ammunition limits, lost them the campaigns.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by tigre » 02 Apr 2023 16:42

Hello to all :D; thanks for your points Carl :wink:. A little more...........

Field Artillery role in the defensive battles in the East (1942-44).

In general, it has been proved by practical experience on all fronts in this war (WWII) that the fire of the infantry of all armies of the world is no longer decisive, as it was in many battles in World War I. (In the present decade this statement applies to Poland, France, England, the United States, and Germany. At times Russia seems to be an exception, the reasons for which lie in other considerations.) One explanation for the lowered combat efficiency and ruggedness of the infantry is that the foot soldier, trying to keep pace with machines, sees in them an assistance which he desires to use to lighten his most onerous task, that of hand-to-hand combat.

Propaganda in word, picture, and film has fostered this attitude. The long duration of the war, especially in Germany, contributed to it. Regardless of this indisputable fact it must be said that the infantry still has the final word in a decision, and this will probably continue to be true in the future. Terrain is taken and held only if the infantryman stands on it, even if the enemy force is destroyed before that time.

On occasions when the enemy's artillery was the principal factor behind his power to attack, counterbattery fire became a primary mission of all artillery. (That these missions could no longer be carried out in the later battles in the West was a primary reason for the German failure. They called for enormous amounts of ammunition, which at that time were unavailable.) On the Eastern Front in three or four months one German army knocked out 4,000 enemy batteries during the course of continuous and heavy defensive fighting. Many times, by timely defeat of the enemy artillery, German artillery succeeded in preventing the execution of planned attacks. At other times, by intensive barrage, so much force was taken from an attack that it could later be easily repulsed by the infantry. In the course of the war the Russians drew some conclusions from this: they never attacked at any point where the Germans were strong in artillery.

German artillery was never mobile enough to be able to move as an artillery strongpoint with sufficient speed. One of the most important lessons of the eastern campaigns is that reinforcement artillery must be kept as mobile as possible. It is self-evident that only completely motorized artillery capable of cross-country mobility should be considered as reinforcement artillery. Units to be used for this purpose must be so organized and equipped that they dispense absolutely with all superfluous weight, regardless of its origin, so that they have maximum fire-power with the minimum weight and volume. (In this the Russians were exemplary). Preparation for action and march order, service of the piece, and road marches were always subjects of much thought for higher artillery commanders. In order to serve the four pieces of a battery an exceedingly great amount of apparatus is required. Amount of equipment and motions of personnel could be decreased here and there by appropriate measures without detracting from the combat power of the unit.

At this point one must distinguish between division artillery and reinforcement artillery. The former finds itself fighting in a small area, and often independently. The battalion (and for most purposes the battery as well) must be so armed and equipped that it has at its disposal everything which it needs for an independent mission. Reinforcement artillery, on the other hand, fights only as part of a larger unit, and several smaller units can be concentrated into one group.

In the defensive actions against Russia the missions, in order of importance, were:
(1) to engage the enemy artillery as the principal factor in his power to attack;
(2) to break up concentrations of infantry and armor and prepared positions of the enemy before he could launch an attack; and
(3) to beat back enemy infantry when it was in the assault.

(NOTE: the term infantry assault is used here in the American sense). Secondary (but little less important), and in close collaboration with the air force, was the crippling of the enemy supply and transport system and the disturbance of his leadership and command by attack of headquarters and command posts.

Source: A German Reflects Upon Artillery. Interrogation of Karl Thoholte, General der Artillerie. The Field Artillery Journal. December 1945

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by tigre » 09 Apr 2023 14:43

Hello to all :D; a little more...........

Field Artillery role in the defensive battles in the East (1942-44).

Division artillery with three light and one medium battalions in each division could not fulfill its tasks when the infantry division had the very broad sector so common on the Eastern Front. When this situation obtained and when larger combat operations presented themselves, GHQ Pool Battalions* - 105-mm guns, 150-mm howitzers, 210-mm howitzers, or heavier calibers - were introduced and placed under the command of division, corps, or army artillery commanders. GHQ Pool Battalions were placed under division artillery where no Artillerie Kommandeur** was actually in a position of command. In other situations, where commitment was correctly handled, reinforcement artillery was placed without reservation under the artillery commander of a corps as a strongpoint weapon. In more extensive situations an unattached artillery regimental staff (Artillerie Regiments Stab z.b.V.) was introduced and committed to control directly the reinforcing battalions. These staffs, together with the units assigned to them, were always placed under the artillery commander.

The division of labor between division artillery and concentrated GHQ artillery was this: the former undertook without reservation the direct support of the infantry—e.g., preparation for attack, interdiction of enemy attack, and fire upon any suitable target coming under observation; the latter undertook all targets at great range, including counterbattery. Often in defensive situations there was no difference in the mission: both kinds of artillery under the same ARKO undertook the same task.

The terrain, the situation, and the possibilities of ammunition supply conditioned the extent of introduction and use of GHQ artillery. In the battles on Lake Ladoga, for example, so much of this arm was committed on the German side that space did not permit bringing in more even though it was available. In that swampy terrain every possible battery position was occupied, and in addition supply was so strained that no more ammunition-gobbling tubes could be allowed. It follows that an increase in the effect of the artillery could be accomplished only by a very flexible leadership; that is, the commanders had to strive for the maximum effect of each piece already in use. In a certain respect there existed for the artillery no boundaries of division, corps, and army sectors: regardless of boundaries, each tube had to shoot where its greatest effect could be obtained, so that fire superiority would be gained as often as possible and at as many points as ossible. This, incidentally, is the vital point in modern artillery leadership.

The multiplicity of artillery missions and the lack of manpower for them demanded not only a very flexible leadership but a flexible unit as well. Only if the unit can rapidly execute commands for fire and shifts of fire can the artillery leader bring his unit to its maximum fire effect. The unassigned regimental staffs which went from one front to another were always confronted with strange GHQ battalions under their control. And from the point of view of those battalions, after every change of higher command they had to learn the procedures and idiosyncrasies of the new staff. It is obvious that a closely-knit organization which has a standing operating procedure and whose components know each other's capabilities is better for certain tasks than is a loosely connected group of GHQ battalions. On the basis of these conclusions and of the knowledge that only massed artillery could cause a decisive effect, the first German artillery division was established as an experiment. (At this time the Russians already had a large number of artillery divisions, with various tables of organization.)

* The term "GHQ Pool Artillery" is the accepted translation of Heeres Artillerie.
** Artillerie Kommandeur (abbreviated ARKO) is the name applied to a defined group of artillery officers of the rank of Oberst of higher. It is not necessarily a generic term for "artillery commander." Each ARKO had a permanent serial number between 1 and 200, which be retained whether he was assigned with a divisional or a corps staff.
Hoherer Artillerie Kommandeur (abbreviated HARKO) is the name applied to a defined group of artillery officers of general grade. It should not be translated merely as "higher artillery commander." Each HARKO had a permanent serial number, usually in the 300 or 400 series. Both ARKOS and HARKOS were organic only with the Army High Command, and not with any unit.

Source: A German Reflects Upon Artillery. Interrogation of Karl Thoholte, General der Artillerie. The Field Artillery Journal. December 1945

It's all. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

FELICES PASCUAS - HAPPY EASTER - FROHE OSTERN - JOYEUSES PÂQUES - FELIZ PÁSCOA - BUONA PASQUA! :thumbsup:

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Cult Icon » 24 Dec 2023 07:09

Thoholte's comments on the 18th Artillery Division is the most revealing commentary on this experimental (and short-lived) unit I've ever seen.

This extremely heavily equipped formation with a mix of tubes was meant to be an evolution in the use of German artillery and technique with the best organization and equipment. It was a response to the weaknesses and coordination problems with ad-hoc ARKO HQ's that the German forces used. On the Eastern front they often faced Soviet Artillery Divisions and Artillery corps.

18th Artillery division was designed to be as mobile as a Panzer division and be able to create a powerful, rapid, and accurate artillery preparation- something that the Germans really struggled with.

In some of the operational histories it supported some of the German counterstrikes after the Zhitomir-Berdichev offensive. In Balck's memoirs he trashes this formation as being bulky and not worth the resources.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by T. A. Gardner » 02 Jan 2024 03:09

Most German divisional and below artillery was horse drawn. Tractor drawn was less common, and self-propelled a rarity. Let's assume for this example there are three six-gun batteries with identical pieces in them as far as their range, effectiveness, etc. On the basis of speed of movement when displacing into a new battery position and the time it takes to put the gun in action, what you will find is that if the horse drawn battery were a value of 1 then the tractor drawn battery is about a 3 to 4, and the self-propelled battery somewhere around a 5 to 7.

That is, using horse drawn artillery reduces the effectiveness of the guns except in set piece actions where mobility isn't an issue. Trucks and tractors can move faster than horses. They also usually have some capacity to assist in emplacing the guns replacing sheer manpower to do it. Self-propelled guns are about as fast as trucks or tractors but emplacement is nearly instantaneous.
The same goes for battery communications and fire controls. In different terms, it is more likely that the self-propelled battery will be where it is needed to be than a truck or tractor drawn battery, and both are more likely to be where needed to be effective than a horse drawn battery. Motor vehicles become a force multiplier.

Communications and fire control likewise are force multipliers. For the Germans, having a radio or telephone at company level for an infantry unit was not the norm. Yes, they could be issued, but given the shortages of such equipment, it was more normal that runners had to be used. The whole of the German artillery system was less effective simply because communications lag was present far more than for the Western allies. Against the Russians, the difference was more one of quantity than quality. The Russians had what was easily the least effective artillery fire control systems of the major combatants in Europe and got around that mostly by using more direct fire and simply having more tubes available.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Art » 03 Jan 2024 12:40

T. A. Gardner wrote:
02 Jan 2024 03:09
That is, using horse drawn artillery reduces the effectiveness of the guns except in set piece actions where mobility isn't an issue. Trucks and tractors can move faster than horses. They also usually have some capacity to assist in emplacing the guns replacing sheer manpower to do it. Self-propelled guns are about as fast as trucks or tractors but emplacement is nearly instantaneous.
Infantry divisions generally didn't awfully need batteries that marched faster than foot soldiers, so horse-drawn artillery was acceptable (although horse traction had some shortcomings other than speed alone). All mobilie division had their artillery fully motorized and even (toward the end of the war) partly self-propelled. Also the German army had virtually all anti-tank guns motorized (as opposed to some other militaries) which was arguably more urgent.
For the Germans, having a radio or telephone at company level for an infantry unit was not the norm.
Actually, it was toward the end of the war. Radiotelephone type b was a standard issue to rifle companies:
https://www.bayonetstrength.uk/GermanAr ... 938-45.pdf
The whole of the German artillery system was less effective simply because communications lag was present far more than for the Western allies. Against the Russians, the difference was more one of quantity than quality. The Russians had what was easily the least effective artillery fire control systems of the major combatants in Europe and got around that mostly by using more direct fire and simply having more tubes available.
"Effectiveness" is a vague concept when no clear criteria are present. I would say in terms of casualties inflicted per a round of ammunition the German artillery in Normandy was seemingly more effective then allied. And in general superiority of Western Allies in ammunition expenditure should be constantly kept in mind. Still they needed super-heavy aerial bombing to undertake breakthrough like in "Cobra", which indicates that artillery strength was deemed insifficient somewhat.

Direct fire couldn't and didn't solve all artillery tasks and in a similar vein "effectiveness" doesn't fully substitute numbers.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Sheldrake » 03 Jan 2024 12:56

tigre wrote:
28 Dec 2020 18:57
Hello to all :D; a little complement............by Guderian...........

Heavy Artillery Groups!

"Our limited resources in the sphere of motorisation were further squandered owing to various organisational errors committed by other arms of the service. For example, the Chief of the General Army Office, General Fromm, ordered that the 14th (anti-tank) Company of all Infantry Regiments be motorised. When I maintained that these companies, since they would be working with foot soldiers, would do better to remain horse-drawn, he replied 'The infantry's got to have a few cars too.' My request that, instead of the 14th Companies, the Heavy Artillery Battalions be motorised was turned down. The heavy guns remained horse-drawn, with unfortunate results during the war, particularly in Russia.

Source: Panzerleader. Heinz Guderian.

Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

Feliz Año Nuevo - Happy New Year - feliz Ano Novo - gluckliches Neues Jahr - Bonne Année - Felice Anno Nuovo - Szczęśliwego nowego roku!! :thumbsup:
I used to agree with Guderian's comment. However, i changed my opinion after reading the excellent "The History of the Panzerjäger: Volume 1: Origins and Evolution 1939–42 Hardcover – 23 Aug. 2018 by Thomas Anderson https://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Panzer ... 7583&psc=1

Anderson makes the point that in order to motorize the 14th Companies of Infantry Regiments and the Infantry Panzer Jaeger Abteilung for Op Barbarossa, the Germans had to draw on stocks of captured British and French trucks as gun tractors for the 3.7 cm Pak. These were light trucks around 15cwt. You can't yoke two 15 cwt trucks to make one 3 ton gun tractor. I doubt that the Germans had enough heavy trucks to motorise their 15 cm guns and howitzers. They had enough problems with the mobility and serviceability of their light gun tractors.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by tigre » 03 Jan 2024 14:50

Thanks for your interesting comments :wink:. Cheers. Raúl M 8-).

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Cult Icon » 03 Jan 2024 15:19

Art wrote:
03 Jan 2024 12:40

"Effectiveness" is a vague concept when no clear criteria are present. I would say in terms of casualties inflicted per a round of ammunition the German artillery in Normandy was seemingly more effective then allied. And in general superiority of Western Allies in ammunition expenditure should be constantly kept in mind. Still they needed super-heavy aerial bombing to undertake breakthrough like in "Cobra", which indicates that artillery strength was deemed insifficient somewhat.
Notable given the casualty ratio in normandy was just 1.5 to 1 in favor of the Allied, while German reports & postwar FMS talk of "10 to 1" superiority of shells. It would seem that the casualty ratio should have been closer to the ratio of shell-fire.

US accounts tend to focus on the effect of German mortars, as they were not easy to target with counter-battery fire. The counter-battery fire was directed at German guns. So it seems likely that German mortars inflicted more casualties on the Allies than German Artillery.

I recall Thoholte also comments that the Allies were wasteful of shells, shooting at nothing. A possibility is that it was overabundance of shells combined with inexperience, and then bad habits reinforced this practice. This sentiment also appears among other German officers but they note at the incredible and paralyzing effect of suppressive and destructive fire missions.

As far as operational fires go, the massive work of German Air Fleets and Air Corps on the Eastern Front substituted for this, but were not available in Normandy as half of the few hundred sorties would fail as they launched as they would get intercepted by Allied fighters.

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Re: German use of Artillery.

Post by Kurt_S » 04 Jan 2024 01:58

A few points/hypotheses/questions:

1. As most here probably know, the Ostheer's shell supply far exceeded RKKA's.

2. As many know, Germany outproduced the US in art'y ammo in every full year of the war.

3. The US Army had a serious shell crisis during the NWE campaign, owing first to logistics (post-breakout) then to insufficient production (from around October 1944).

4. Given 1-3, I'd hypothesize that much of the German commentary on the supposedly enormous US shell supply reflects the fact that Germany's main ground opponent (RKKA) was shell-poor while the US was better supplied (though not nearly as well supplied as they should have been). Germans were not used to facing artillery support that was akin to their own (in terms of ratio of shells/man). I also recall it being mentioned (can't remember where) that the Germans eventually figured out that US was having a shell shortage. Anecdotal reports by troops are unreliable because (a) any amount of shelling is terrifying for those who haven't faced it (b) those who faced it faced Red Army shelling.

5. Re "effectiveness", do the medical records tell what percentage of casualties were from art'y for each side? If German casualties were more art'y-heavy than US/UK's, this would be relevant to assessing relative effectiveness of US/UK infantry vs. art'y. I wouldn't be surprised if US art'y was more combat effective than German, but that this disparity covered an even greater disparity between respective infantry effectiveness.

Does anybody have summary stats on shell supply to NWE and to OB West, btw? I have archival data on Ostheer ammo supply but not Westheer.

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