The expansion of the Grosstransportraum

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Jon G.
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The expansion of the Grosstransportraum

Post by Jon G. » 01 Oct 2006 14:22

Greetings all,

Prior to the outbreak of war the Germans had organized their higher echelon motor transport assets into three regiments, collectively referred to as the Grosstransportraum:

Regiment 602, which was the only active regiment in peacetime, was organized with staff company, field police section, and three battalions each with five companies, a repair platoon and an information (?) platoon. Regiment 602 had mainly four-ton trucks with four-ton trailers for transport vehicles. At full strength the regiment had 2200 vehicles and a load capacity of 4500 tons.

The two other Grosstransportraum regiments - 605 and 616 - were organized along similar lines as Regiment 602, but only their officers were active army ranks - all rank and file, drivers, mechanics etc. were civilians, and the vehicles on strength were 'conscripted' civilian trucks - i.e. not built to military specifications and with a great variety of truck types present in each regiment. Regiment 605 had a tonnage of 6000 tons while Regiment 616 had a tonnage of 9000 tons which implies that truck size, rather than geographical location, decided which regiment a civilian vehicle was conscripted to.

Combined, the tonnage of these three regiments corresponds reasonably well with the 20,000 figure which is usually given as Grosstransportraum size at the onset of the Polish campaign. It's also frequently stated (in van Creveld and elsewhere) that GTR losses during the campaign in Poland were a very serious 50% - losses caused, mostly, by wear and tear from poor roads.

I'm interested in knowing how these c. 50% losses were distributed among the three Grosstransportraum regiments; subsidiarily I am also interested in knowing how these losses were made good prior to the campaign in the west in 1940. Was the distribution still approx. 4500 tons' worth of military trucks in Regiment 602 vs. about 15,000 tons of tonnage in conscripted civilian trucks in regiments 605 and 616?

Just a few days into the 1940 campaign in the west the Germans were forced to conscript even more civilian vehicles due to losses suffered - or perhaps because the rapid progress of the campaign put additional strains on the GTR? When you consider that the 1940 campaign was fought in good weather over one of the densest road networks in the world, it's remarkable if large parts of the GTR had to be written off just after a few days of war.

The Grosstransportraum was expanded from 20,000 tons to 60,000 tons in preparation for the 1941 Barbarossa campaign. A great many trucks were confiscated from the occupied countries, mostly from the civilian economy - but at least some vehicles were taken from the defeated French army (eg. some US-built White 3-tonners), and there were also several thousand captured trucks from the Dunkirk war booty.

I'm interested in knowing how this expansion was handled - were the three original GTR regiments simply expanded three-fold, or were additional motor transport regiments raised? Did the Germans make any attempt at standardizing truck types into individual regiments/companies? What was the approximate proportion of military grade trucks (i.e. all-wheel drive types) to civilian trucks?

This subject has interested me for a while. All input is much appreciated.

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Post by Zebedee » 15 Jun 2007 15:40

The only information I can add is that pre-Barbarossa the GTR was sub-divided into 2 parts. This increased the 'lift' range from 150 miles to 300 miles (this being I believe, the maximum efficient range for the fleet of vehicles). This distance was coincidentally (or perhaps not) roughly the distance from the start line to the major rivers where the spearheads were meant to complete the encirclement of Soviet forces.

Not sure whether that was any use or not but perhaps a reply will encourage those with more knowledge than me on this intriguing subject to step forwards :)

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