German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

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Sheldrake
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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Sheldrake » 05 Dec 2019 14:40

I have questions wrote:
03 Dec 2019 04:29
that was fast....I was thinking a 12 man squad for the Germans and a 13 man squad for the USMC. As far as weapons are concerned, didn't M1s only become mainstream in 1942? Also, just for clarification, my intent here was to see who would win based on training, tactics, experience, etc. I understand it would be hard (or I dare say impossible) to know exactly what would happen, so this is more of a "best of" training, experience, and field abilities.
Fair enough. There are three components of fighting power: Physical, Conceptual and Moral.

The difference between individual squad weapons such as rifles, grenades and sub-machine guns is small. However the majority of the firepower is from the squad automatic weapon. The BAR is far inferior to the MG34 which would balance the firepower in favour of the Germans.

Probably no real difference in minor unit tactics- fire and manoeuvre - use terrain - win the fire fight and close with the enemy. It is mostly common sense and situational awareness.

Moral is an interesting factor. Was the strong USMC comparable to faith in the Fuhrer or the German soldier's destiny? Dunno. Most comments on unit cohesion reckon the soldiers fight for their comrades' respect. USMC might be considered an elite of self motivated soldiers, so perhaps a fair comparison might be with say German parachutists or the Gross Deutchland Regiment.

There is a difference between a 1941 German squad and a USMC squad. A German squad is likely to have experienced combat, while all but a tiny minority of USMC had not. Not every man who shines in peacetime performs well under the severe strain of combat. I don't know the percentage of junior leaders who failed their first test of battle in the USMC, but it was greater than zero.
A German squad which had served in Poland and France is likely to have weeded out those unsuited for combat, particularly from command appointments.

I would bet on a German squad led by a veteran of Poland and France to beat an inexperienced USMC unit. Bets are off if we were comparing 1944 squads.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Cult Icon » 05 Dec 2019 14:42

The MGs of the German army were hard enough for 1944/45 equipped squads to overcome in the attack, let alone in 1941 where marine squads were equipped with springfield bolt action rifles. The German MG gunner was not just a regular soldier- he was treated as somewhat of a "specialist" in the german army and selected from the best marksmen of the division. Then he was sent to MG course, which is more sophisticated than most would think and taught many skills. I encountered the details in Citno's "Path to Blitzkrieg". The whole MG -centric focus of the german army has a considerable history behind it.

There are almost no real life combat accounts of rifle grenades being effective in combat. Very, very few. The lack of commentary about it in memoirs/combat accounts are probably due to it being inaccurate

The comparison goes to the Germans pretty easily.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by T. A. Gardner » 05 Dec 2019 18:03

That would be a Marine advantage. Many Marine NCO's and officers had experience with actual field and combat operations like in Nicaragua and elsewhere. US Marine training also emphasized rifle marksmanship. So, in some ways it would be akin to the Germans going up against the British "Old Contemptables" in 1914.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by maltesefalcon » 05 Dec 2019 20:35

It's a very narrow and thus unlikely set of circumstances that would lead to this situation in the first place.

That being said, Germany's biggest strengths in the early war were training, coordination of air and artie support and on the grand scale, an experienced and motivated General Staff. Two of these would not be in play in a squad action.

Marines in 1941 were elite troops, also well trained and motivated. At that time they would not have as much access to vehicles, artie or air. But again this was moot based on the rules set up by OP.

The best contempory yet similar example I can think of is Stalingrad; which by fall 1942 was a series of small squad level engagements, but on a macro scale. Germany could not use its Blitzkreig tactics here. Both sides were fairly evenly matched and each gave as good as they got. The outcome was decided by major engagements on tbe outskirts.

So I imagine US Marines would fight just as hard as Soviets in a squad level engagement vs Wehrmacht. Its too close to call.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by I have questions » 06 Dec 2019 01:55

So it would appear the consensus is that it is just too close to call. Well, thank you all for your contribution to this interesting topic.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Cult Icon » 08 Dec 2019 20:37

T. A. Gardner wrote:
05 Dec 2019 18:03
That would be a Marine advantage. Many Marine NCO's and officers had experience with actual field and combat operations like in Nicaragua and elsewhere. US Marine training also emphasized rifle marksmanship. So, in some ways it would be akin to the Germans going up against the British "Old Contemptables" in 1914.
:lol: everytime I see one of your posts it makes me facepalm and encourages me to waste time responding to its falsehoods. This is why I avoid reading them. The USA is not superior in all things like the Navy told you.

In the attack, the marine squad would either get ambushed by the MG and quickly shot down by MG fire/forced to retreat or a meeting engagement would happen while the squad leader guides the MG to a favorite position, probably flanking and then proceed to shoot down the marines in a short period of time. Slightly better markman skills- real or imaginary- doesn't matter that much.

In the defense, the marine squad and BAR would initially outshoot the advancing rifleman until the MG gets into position with its firepower, then they would get suppressed as the rifle group leapfrogs to throw grenades at them and get peppered by a SMG.

Basically the only chance the Marines have is if they find a way to DESTROY the MG or somehow separate the german squad from the MG. The rest of the German squad is also trained with the MG.

Some people don't understand how good those MGs were in WW2, while the German army was falling apart this was typically the only thing holding them together.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by I have questions » 08 Dec 2019 23:06

Cult Icon wrote:
08 Dec 2019 20:37


:lol: everytime I see one of your posts it makes me facepalm and encourages me to waste time responding to its falsehoods. This is why I avoid reading them. The USA is not superior in all things like the Navy told you.

In the attack, the marine squad would either get ambushed by the MG and quickly shot down by MG fire/forced to retreat or a meeting engagement would happen while the squad leader guides the MG to a favorite position, probably flanking and then proceed to shoot down the marines in a short period of time. Slightly better markman skills- real or imaginary- doesn't matter that much.

In the defense, the marine squad and BAR would initially outshoot the advancing rifleman until the MG gets into position with its firepower, then they would get suppressed as the rifle group leapfrogs to throw grenades at them and get peppered by a SMG.

Basically the only chance the Marines have is if they find a way to DESTROY the MG or somehow separate the german squad from the MG. The rest of the German squad is also trained with the MG.

Some people don't understand how good those MGs were in WW2, while the German army was falling apart this was typically the only thing holding them together.
I was thinking the same. I don't know enough about the USMC back in 41' so I refrained from making an uninformed statement, but thank you. It is annoying to me how most of us Americans have this warped view of our military being the greatest ever and that no one has ever matched us :roll:

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Cult Icon » 09 Dec 2019 00:53

Like MOH Sgt. basilone from "The Pacific", the German MG gunner was also trained to fire the 34 from the hip by hitching the strap over the shoulder and grasping the bipod. The 50-round drums were issued in double cases to give the gunner the capability to fire it on his own. Standard issue was 5 x IIRC.

The marines don't need no squad, they're all clones of Sgt. York..

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by I have questions » 09 Dec 2019 02:24

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Dec 2019 00:53


The marines don't need no squad, they're all clones of Sgt. York..
:lol:

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Sheldrake » 09 Dec 2019 10:29

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Dec 2019 00:53
Like MOH Sgt. basilone from "The Pacific", the German MG gunner was also trained to fire the 34 from the hip by hitching the strap over the shoulder and grasping the bipod. The 50-round drums were issued in double cases to give the gunner the capability to fire it on his own. Standard issue was 5 x IIRC.

The marines don't need no squad, they're all clones of Sgt. York..
I don't think so. Sergeant C Alvin York was a soldier in 328th Infantry US Army. Chesty Puller, Daniel J Daley & Smedley Butler are the Marine Corps legends. However, in a squad v Squad battle US Army soldiers Alvin York or fellow soldier Audie Murphy might be more use.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by T. A. Gardner » 09 Dec 2019 10:56

I have questions wrote:
08 Dec 2019 23:06
I was thinking the same. I don't know enough about the USMC back in 41' so I refrained from making an uninformed statement, but thank you. It is annoying to me how most of us Americans have this warped view of our military being the greatest ever and that no one has ever matched us :roll:
The USMC at that time used Tactics and Technique of Infantry Basic and Advanced as their training manuals.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Kingfish » 09 Dec 2019 11:21

Cult Icon wrote:
08 Dec 2019 20:37
In the attack, the marine squad would either get ambushed by the MG and quickly shot down by MG fire/forced to retreat...

...In the defense, the marine squad and BAR would initially outshoot the advancing rifleman until the MG gets into position with its firepower, then they would get suppressed as the rifle group leapfrogs to throw grenades at them and get peppered by a SMG.
So if I understand this correctly the Marine attack would end up in a slaughter/rout while the Germans would only suffer a momentary delay until the MG joins the fun?

While there is no disputing the dominance the MG would have in certain circumstances I think it is a stretch to imply it alone can magically turn the tables on a full squad arrayed in defensive positions, especially when the better portion of the German squad's firepower has itself been shot to pieces.

BTW, the Marines also had grenades and SMGs.
The gods do not deduct from a man's allotted span the hours spent in fishing.
~Babylonian Proverb

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Cult Icon » 09 Dec 2019 15:56

The key behind a successful ambush would be to eliminate the gunner and separate the squad from the MG. BTW The poles in 1939 were equipped similarly to the Marines (bolt action rifles and BAR type weapon).

There is no reason to speculate further or invent theories with creative thinking to satisfy one's jingoism; hundreds of WW2 literature & critical mass of statistics (German, US, British, Soviet) contain reports or accounts that attest to the threat posed by these MGs. Luckily in the West front 44-45, Allied formations were heavily equipped with other arms that were far superior to the German forces that could destroy these MGs (3-10 x artillery and 20 x AFVs) with much lower infantry cost than against the more lightly equipped Soviets. Just order the Sherman over to shoot the muzzle flashes and then the infantry can advance.

The MG tactical doctrine was in effect a counter to the methods of other armies and was in development since the Seeckt era (early 1920s). It was designed to achieve superiority. In MOST circumstances it was superior and was a force multiplier. The point behind it was to quickly sweep away the opposition with superior firepower by using the right positioning and terrain exploitation. This situational awareness was covered in training. The squad leader was in charge of positioning the MG. In the attack the MG would suppress the defenders while the rifle group advances. The MG-34 was equipped with 1,150 rounds standard and fed with 150-round and 100-round belts, 50-round drums. The browning BAR either functioned as suppression or the squad leader's gunner to be used at his discretion. But it lacked firepower with its 20 round magazines and lack of barrel change mechanisms.

The capability of weak german formations to hold out against say, Allied or Soviet armored battlegroups or extremely large numbers of Soviet infantry has often been falsely attributed to the idea that 2.5 germans equal one russian or other such theories. This is contradicted by the low standard of German training and morale in the late war. It was mainly that machinegun that gave german infantry an otherwise incomprehensible amount of staying power that rifles and an automatic rifle could not provide.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Cult Icon » 09 Dec 2019 16:08

Sheldrake wrote:
09 Dec 2019 10:29
However, in a squad v Squad battle US Army soldiers Alvin York or fellow soldier Audie Murphy might be more use.
Missed the joke, it's just a bit about American recruits from the gun toting countryside having super-human marksmenship, like that hick Sgt. York.

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Re: German Infantry (1941) vs USMC Infantry (1941)

Post by Sheldrake » 10 Dec 2019 01:50

Cult Icon wrote:
09 Dec 2019 16:08
Sheldrake wrote:
09 Dec 2019 10:29
However, in a squad v Squad battle US Army soldiers Alvin York or fellow soldier Audie Murphy might be more use.
Missed the joke, it's just a bit about American recruits from the gun toting countryside having super-human marksmenship, like that hick Sgt. York.
Not really. The USMC fight their own battles. The OP didn't pit a bunch of GIs but wanted MARINES.

If you want a bunch of self reliant aggressive infantrymen I'd pick an Australian or New Zealand section. The whole AIF were living legends.
Bery Jacka, Edgar Towner, Stanley Macdougall. Any of these chaps would take on a whole German platoon on their own.
This episode of ANZACs is set five months' before Alvin York's stunt.

If you think this is an exaggeration check out
https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com ... 519183.PDF

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