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Looking for German River Assault Info


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Gents,

I'm trying to find out about various German river assaults. Specifically, what Eastern front rivers did the Germans cross using assault craft? When did they do so?

I'm sure I can find out Soviet OOB and TOE info if I'm given dates and locations.

Any pointers helping me out would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Ken

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Hi Ken,

A couple of snippets about the river assault along the River Muchaviec against the fortress at Brest-Litovsk (or rather the three bridges leading to it) can be found in the book War Without Garlands - Robert Kershaw - isbn: 0-7110-2734-X

Leutnant Kramer (who was in charge of the amphibious assault) had a tragic time of it though. Deploying with 9 boats 4 of them them were lost in seconds as "friendly" artillery landed on them. Continuing on another 2 got shot up from heavy machine gun fire coming from the citadel fortress near the first bridge objective. With the last three boats, and supported by a land force, he did manage to complete his objective of capturing all three bridges intact. Unfortunately, wanting to raise a swastika on the final bridge to show his mission was a success and as a tribute to his fallen men, he was killed with a single bullet in the head from a Russian sniper.

Hope that helps.

MG

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Thanks for the responses so far.

I'd forgotten about the run across the bay in the Crimea. Nice.

I do remember, vaguely, reading about that incident in the assault on Brest-Litovsk. I had not heard of the book you mentioned, MG-42. Thank you.

Now, with all the assualt boats available in the editor, does anyone else have any river assault information?

Thanks,

Ken

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21.ID did a river crossing near Pskov in summer 1941.

XXXXVIIII. AK (Gebirgs) undertook crossings of the Dnepr (IIRC) in summer 1941.

German mechanised forces crossed the Meuse at at least three different places in 1940.

Usually they seem to have used inflatable rubber dinghies (sp?), or special assault boats.

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c3k

That's just my point! I tested how long time it took to make a 90' turn for a boat in water and it was just as slow as the boat on land. But of course the boat in water moves with dubble speed straight forwards.

In my experience from the navy it was much easier to turn a boat in the water than it was on land :confused: smile.gif

With that turning rate it just takes a whole senario to ship a company equipped with 10-15 boats over a small (20m) river :mad:

It'a also a strange thing that the boat can't move in water without embarked troops. It does have a crew (1 man, and an engine), right?

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  • 2 weeks later...

The 464th Infantry Regiment of the 253 ID crossed the Volga using pneumatic floats on November 6, 1941 as part of the attack on Selizharovo. Once the regiment was across, a Pioneer Company from the 473rd Regiment constructed a bridge a little further downriver. I depicted the river crossing and the battle for Selizharovo in a CMBB Operation called "Crossing the Volga" available at the Scenario Depot.

Source: German Battle Tactics on the Russian Front 1941-1945 by Steven H. Newton

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To follow-up what MG-42 said. Assault boats were used in the Bug River crossings arount Brest on June 22. The bridges south of Brest Fortress were captued intact. North of the Brest Fortress, the infantry crossed the bug using assault boats, with bridges being constructed once the bridgeheads were secured. Once such bridgehead was at Kolodno. In Panzer Leader, Guderian describes that he crossed the bug in an assualt boat in the neighborhood of Kolodno. Guderian also describes that the lead tanks of 18th Panzer Division that were equipped with waterproofing that had been tested for Operation Sea Lion forded the bug. The waterproofing enabled them to move through 13 feet of water.

[ April 10, 2004, 11:09 PM: Message edited by: Tom Murphy ]

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  • 4 weeks later...

Not that it matters much, given the limitations of the game engine in this particular respect, but the divisional Pioneer battalion (of a German Division that is) was issued with 38 small dinghies, and 36 larger ones. In addition, the divisional bridging column (type B or "light") carried a further 20 and 24 respectively.

Small dinghies were 3 meters long and 1,15 wide, could carry 3-4 men. Weighed only 50 kilos unpumped and took only 5 minutes to pump up, frequently used in the coup-type crossings of the early war. They used them for improvised bridges too, connecting them and laying up to 24 meters of prepared planks (or simply ladders) as ad hoc bridges. Such could carry men with heavy weapons, but not motorcycles or heavier.

Large dinghies were 5,5 meters long, 1,9 wide and could carry 12 men (6 employed with paddling) plus a pioneer acting pilot. Alternatively, they could jam a Pak with crew into it (it carried about 1,5 tonnes), but even 5cm Paks became a poroblem getting in and out. The pumps (there were 2 in the battalion) were rather noisy and took time, so these were usually prepared some way off from the crossing. As the rubber sides were sensitive, it took 8 men carrying it in handles (150 kg) to get it down to the shore.

With some generosity in interpretation, the CM generic assault boats will vaguely resemble these. And designing scenarios, one might consider that any German division would be able to set afloat 60 squads, or about a battalion of men, in such 'assault boats', even with rather short notice.

The battalion also had 6 Sturmboote, assault boats. These were wooden thingies with outboard engines, capable of carrying 6 men plus 2 crew. Rather fast, some 15 knots. They were mostly used for towing pontoons though.

There was also a M-Boot of course, which was more or less a floating workplace, not intended for assault but for working with bridges.

The division had 8 ferries/pontoons with 4 tonne lift capacity. These could be connected to increase capacity. Thus 4 such could form a ferry of 16 tonne capacity, and all 8 had around 20 tonne capacity if joined. These ferries could be used as pontoons, being 3,2 meters long and actually portable (by 20 men). If desired, sections could be partially waterfilled so the pontoons "swam" just beneath the surface, hiding the pontoon bridge from aerial recce, but making crossings cumbersome and risky for any non-terrain vehicles. Maximum length varied with desired lift capacity. If was normally built for 4 tonnes (135 meters max, able to carry IGs, Paks and such), 8 tonnes (85 meters max, able to carry light artillery and all non armoured vehicles of the division) or 16 tonnes (55 meter max, able to carry just about anything except tanks). That´s the regular light bridging column, Panzerdivisions had even greater capacity of course and at corps lever there were heavy bridging columns.

Took about 8 hours to finish a maximum length pontoon bridge, regardless of capacity. Getting a ferry operable took 1-3 hours depending on size. A bridgehead would normally have to hold such volumes of time before substantially reinforced, and in case of a ferry solution the reinforcemenets would only trickle in. Of course, enemy intervention would delay all efforts even further.

For larger jobs, e.g. the Meuse, concentrations of up to 15 such bridging columns were deployed, taken from many divisions and corps units.

In the beginning of the war the Germans were quick to replace pontoon bridges with solid ones, because they continually needed mobile bridges for the advance. During the years of retreat, they were less keen.

Cheerio

Dandelion

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Dandelion,

Excellent! I'd corresponded years ago with Dr. Leo Niehorster about the various permutations of German bridging columns but that information was lost through the dim mists of time....

Your information brings back fond memories of ASL's "Kleine Flossack" and "Grosse Flossack" counters.

My original question about crossing operations was due to the many rivers that the Germans had to cross in '41 in the Soviet Union. I know that they did not get to use bridges and fords at each location. I also think the local Soviet Army commanders were not totally incompetent and would at least put a recce element to watch over nearby rivers. Putting the terrain, the Soviet dispositions, German doctrine, and available German crossing equipment, I really thought there'd be many accounts of small units crossing rivers to establish footholds, despite the presence of nearby Soviet forces.

Regards,

Ken

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Originally posted by c3k:

Your information brings back fond memories of ASL's "Kleine Flossack" and "Grosse Flossack" counters.

smile.gif Exactly. Map No.7 of SL vintage wasn't it? Even ASL "cheated" a bit tho. Don't recall exactly how they explained it, but I do recall I had these "ferries" capable of shipping across tanks...

My original question about crossing operations was due to the many rivers that the Germans had to cross in '41 in the Soviet Union. I know that they did not get to use bridges and fords at each location. I also think the local Soviet Army commanders were not totally incompetent and would at least put a recce element to watch over nearby rivers. Putting the terrain, the Soviet dispositions, German doctrine, and available German crossing equipment, I really thought there'd be many accounts of small units crossing rivers to establish footholds, despite the presence of nearby Soviet forces.

Regards,

Ken

I most certainly agree. And a pontoonbridge created during the rapid advance of 41-42 was normally preceded by the securing of a bridgehead, meaning a crossing in dinghies, opposed or unopposed. The number of such must be completely staggering.

In the divisional history of Infanterie-Division 6, there is an episode concerning the crossing of the Düna, in which a the writer takes a moment to reflect on the many rivers crossed in the campaign that far. Forgive the rotten translation:

In the evening of july 16th, 5./IR18 crossed the Düna in rubberdinghies. Under the protection of this tiny and contested bridgehead the Pi.Btl.6, with attached 3./Pi.Btl.129, built a 154 meter long pontoonbridge, which in the surprisingly short time to 0330 a.m. on july 18th was fully capable of carrying all categories of vehicles.

The Pi.Btl.6 has, in the time between june 22 to july 31, built a total of 80 bridges for the division, including smaller crossings and the repair of damaged captured crossings. The Pioniere have thereby been suffering serious casualties. On December 28, companies 2 and 3 counted only one officer and 25 men each.

Brutal casualty rates were common even before the Pioniere were mainly used as infantry, i.e. 43 and on. KTB ID61 notes in the spring of 42 that the entire (divisional) Pi.Btl.161 consists of 1 officer, 3 NCOs and 33 men. Crossings and bridging operations were apparently extremely dangerous undertakings.

Another paragraph concerning a contested crossing, albeit again from the view of the Pioniere, is provided by an article in the KTB AOK 11 describing large bridging operations.

Note from Armee-Pionierregiment 690. Headline "Brückenschlag" (Bridging operation), across the Dnjepr near Berislaw. Night between September 2 and 3 1941.

The regiment had at it's disposal (for the task) the Pi.Btlne. 46 and 40, the Geb.Pi.Btl.54 and a Romanian Pioniercompany, as well as eight bridgingcolumns with 116 German pontoons of type B and 22 Romanian pontoons, from which 43 ferries were created. In spite of storm, waves and strong currents the bridging operation was commenced at 1700 hours September 2nd. A bridgehead had been established by assault on the opposite bank, still contested and under heavy combat. In spite of enemy nightbombers and instances of indirect fire from Soviet 21cm batteries, work was continued through the night. At 0330 hours on September 3rd, the last bridgeparts (pontoons) were set afloat and by 0400 the 450 meter long 8t Kriegsbrücke was open to vehicles. At 0420 hours the first artillerybattalions went across. This bridge was used to transport two armies across the Dnjepr. There were several enemy air attacks, which destroyed parts of the bridge several times and caused 25 casualties among the Pioniere, but damaged parts were replaced and the bridge was maintained operational.

And in a rather irregular note to AOK 6, the VO of ID 56 writes what amounts to a celebration of the divisional engineers:

The Pi.Btl. of the division has, in the first weeks of the campaign, lent invaluable help to the troops. Constantly in the forward line, they have bridged countless rivers, named [in the previous report] are only Styr, Horyn and Slucz. Because of the marshy riverbanks here most of these bridges have had considerable lengths, e.g. the Horyn bridge near Horodziec of 600 meter length. Of those, 400 meters were marsh. Even when intact bridges were captured, these have generally been in such a bad shape that our Pioniere have been forced to replace them. This is generally achieved within five hours, because of good organisation and the initiative of the Pioniere of all ranks, and the POW volounteer helpers. Apart from this, countless "Bachübergänge" [bach is a very small river] have had to be erected or reinforced, so that they at least could carry heavy artillerypieces. And on top of this, they have had frequent mineclearing- and laying tasks.

Are you doing research in general, or are you working on a scenario?

Cheerio

Dandelion

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