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B grade German troops in South of France ?


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Not sure if this should be on the CMBO forum ( mods feel free to move )I was reading a couple of accounts of the Dragoon landings and the general impression I got was that German troops in that theatre were second line troops ie: lots of foreign troops ( Ukrainians etc ) with in some cases a rather ragbag assortment of equipment.

For example the Czech ZB lmg's seem to have been fairly common, I've seen pictures of what appear to be old Austrian Schwarlose mmg's and even what looks like a Madsen lmg. Artillery also seems to have been hodge podge.

Basically can someone point me in the direction of a good book/site that goes into the whole equipment issue in some depth, or perhaps offer some thoughts on the subject themselves ?

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This site doesn't get into the details of equipment or training, but does show which formations were present for both sides.

I wouldn't be surprised if there were lower grade troops in the south of France. Such was the case with most of the divisions deployed in Normandy and Brittany, where so-called 'static' divisions made up the majority of the 7th army. These tended to be smaller and less well equipped than the regular field divisions.

A good comparison is the German 352nd and 716th Infantry divisions, which were responsible for the coast from Omaha to Sword. The former was a field division with over 12,000 men, while the latter was a static division of only +7,000 men, a third of which were Ost battalions.

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Zetterlings Normandy book (and website) might be a useful start-point. Obviously his focus is on the other ned of the country, but quite a few units and KGs were formed from units in the SoF, and he goes into those in his usual amount of detail. That should give you a fair impression of the state of the rest of the forces there.

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I'm wrapping up a book on the 6th Army Group and can add this. As of 15 August, German forces defending nearly 350 miles of southern French coast included, from west to east:

-- General der Flieger Erich Petersen’s IV Luftwaffe Field Corps, controlling the 716th Infantry, 198th Infantry, and 189th Reserve divisions.

-- Generalleutnant Baptist Kniess’ LXXXV Corps in the Rhône valley—incorporating the 338th, 244th, and 242d Infantry divisions—and the 148th Reserve Division, which was subordinated to General der Infanterie Ferdinand Neuling’s LXII Reserve Corps.

-- To the rear, the 11th Panzer Division near Bordeaux and 157th Reserve Division in the Grenoble area.

Some of these divisions were far from peak condition. The 11th Panzer Division had arrived near Bordeaux in June to reconstitute after its near destruction on the Eastern front and had sent one of its two tank battalions to Normandy, also the destination for four infantry battalions from the 338th Infantry Division. The 157th Reserve Division was scattered around the mountains fighting the Maquis, while the 716th Infantry Division had lost so many men in Normandy that it was incapable of offensive operations. The third regiment of the 148th Reserve Division was just organizing and had a cadre strength of only about two hundred men. Excluding the 338th Infantry Division (50 percent strength), the divisions had on average about 80 percent of their authorized manpower. They lacked assault gun battalions, which were often attached elsewhere, and 37mm antiaircraft and mobile mortar companies typically fielded on other fronts. Many troops were ethnic Germans from occupied areas who were considered on average less reliable, and many of commanders were older men no longer fit for duty on the Eastern front. Grenadier regiments often had a fourth battalion attached consisting of Osttruppen.

All that said, German commanders did not later point to poor equipment as a meaningful factor in their inability to stop the DRAGOON forces. Their troops were so strung out that given the nearly complete lack of reserves, they had no chance at all of stopping the landings at the shore.

Cheers,

Harry

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Have a look here for "Five Years, Four Fronts: The War Years of Georg Grossjohann". The book has been mentioned here before, which was the reason I picked it up. It might not the best book ever written (although I think it's quite interesting), but it gives a nice acccount of the problems that the Germans faced in trying to block the Allies from comming up through France from the south. It also deals with the actions in the Vosges mountains.

Mies

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Originally posted by Agentorange:

Not sure if this should be on the CMBO forum ( mods feel free to move )I was reading a couple of accounts of the Dragoon landings and the general impression I got was that German troops in that theatre were second line troops ie: lots of foreign troops ( Ukrainians etc ) with in some cases a rather ragbag assortment of equipment.

For example the Czech ZB lmg's seem to have been fairly common, I've seen pictures of what appear to be old Austrian Schwarlose mmg's and even what looks like a Madsen lmg. Artillery also seems to have been hodge podge.

Basically can someone point me in the direction of a good book/site that goes into the whole equipment issue in some depth, or perhaps offer some thoughts on the subject themselves ?

Agent

I think Harry adressed the issue of equipment and importance of the same in the scope of the Dragoon operation.

Generally speaking, the field army did not make use of captured weapons (we know of notable exceptions, such as the Soviet 76mm etc). The Waffen SS did, police units did, and the Ersatzheer did. The Ersatzheer provided the rear area troops (among many other tasks). They also trained units for the field army. You'll thus find tonnes of captured equipment in any static unit, security unit, fortress unit, training units and similar. But typically nothing such in field army divisions.

An exception to this rule, relevant here, was the MG26(t), which was the German name for the Czech Kolumet vz 26 (in the West often called ZB26 after the Zbrojovka Brno production facility). This was issued in large numbers and in the early war it did reach field units. As the war progressed, it successively became the main weapon of the Feldgendarmerie and police units instead, as well as the lmg of several SS divisions. The Germans liked it. Later models, 27, 28 and 30, were all issued to the Feldgendarmerie and Polizei units. A variant of the 30 was used by the Navy and coastal artillery as AA mg. Captured "Bren" guns were issued the same way.

Several types of Madsens were used by the German army. The MG157(f) were actually the Madsens captured from the French (FM Madsen Mle 22). The MG158(d) and 159(d) were the M1903/24 and M1924 Madsen models as captured from the Danes and also produced in Denmark for the Germans until 1942. Mostly issued to troops in Denmark and Dane Schupos. The MG Madsen was the specially designed model that Dansk Rekyt-Riffel Syndikat A/S Madsen made for the Germans (the model was never used by tha Danes). It was used as a Bordwaffe by the Germans, i.e. aircraft machinegun.

There were Madsen submachineguns too. The MPi746(d) was actually the Soumi M42, built for the Danish army and used by German rear area troops in Denmark.

There are at least seven models of machineguns looking highly similar to the Schwarzlose serving in German units in WWII, Andreas mentions one above. They used the Schwarzlose too, it was called MG241(h) (or 242(h), 243(h)) in WWII parlance. These were taken from Dutch stocks. They were issued to rear services, occupational (security) troops and to the Volkssturm. There was also the smaller model K-MG244(h) which was mounted on captured UK tripods and issued to security units in Europe.

And so on - but sticking to the main rule of German troops holding captured weapons on photo's generally meaning they are either Waffen SS or rear area Security forces of one kind or other - rather than Field units - will get you on track in 99 cases out of 100.

As for artillery, stationary artillery was practically exclusively captured stock. Anything defending any coast or fortress is highly likely to be captured barrels.

Hope that adds a piece to the puzzle.

Cheers

Dandelion

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Thanks for all your responses chaps ( especially Harry and Dandelions fulsome comments )from what folks are saying it would seem that the pictures I've seen were almost certainly SS or some kind of security troops. Another thing to ask the guys at Battlefront to include in the next edition of CM..... :D

I've always been kind of interested in the use of captured weapons etc. It's only when you start delving into it that you realise just how much stuff was actually used - like I said it'd be nice to see that reflected in future editions of the game somehow.

Couple of interesting looking books there, alas I got rather carried away on the book front at the War and Peace show this year ( including a fine new book about operation Dragoon from Histoire et Collections )so may have to wait a couple of months.. :(

EDIT Given that most coastal artillery was captured barrels etc, would the same hold true for bunker mg's etc. That is would you see Schwarzlose, MG 08's and similiar weapons deployed as part of defensive complexes, either in their own right or as part of the garrisons for the coastal artillery. Also were all coastal artillery pieces manned by the army ( I know the Kriegsmarine were responsible for some anti ship batteries, but what about beach defense batteries etc ) Would naval and luftwaffe units ( local defence for flak sites ? ) have been issued standard army small arms or their own equipment ?

[ July 27, 2005, 04:06 PM: Message edited by: Agentorange ]

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While on the subject of captured weapons used by the Germans... I have been doing some research for some early war scenarios. While researching the Polish campaign I was reading that the primary pre-war Polish SAW was a licensed copy of the BAR while their primary medium mg was a license copy of the 1917 Browning water cooled mg, both of which were in 7.92mm (the Poles used the Kar 98 as well).

The Germans must have captured a decent amount of these weapons but I have never seen a photo of either of these weapons in use by them (seen photos of Czheck, Austrian, French, Russian, etc. weapons employed). Considering that many of these other weapons are in different calibers or needed stripper clips or odd parts and accesories, can't imagine why I have not seen these Polish guns in German service (especially as Browning weapons are highly reliable)?

Can anyone shed some light on this one :confused:

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According to my trusty "World War II Fact File" volume on MG's:

The BAR in Polish service was the Reczy karabin maszynowy wz.28, and was taken into German service as the 7.9mm leMG 154(p)

The Belgians made a licenced versian too - Fusil-Mitrailleur 1930, which the Germans called the 7.65mm le MG 127. The Belgians also made export versions in 7, 7.65 and 7.92mm, and had a tripod for it that could be used in ground or AA roles... :D

Polish BARs captured by the Russians were designated Rutschnoj pulemet Browning obr. 1928

The Polish and Belgian BAR's look different in that they have a different hand-grip at the bolt end of the gas cylinder to the US ones.

Polish M1917 Brownings were designated as Ciezki karabin maszynowy wz.30, by the Germans as 7.9mm sMG 249(p) or MG 30(p) (I don't know why there might've been 2 designations), and by the Russians as CMK wz.30 but they apparently didn't use them much.

The Belgians also produced some M1917's mainly for export to Sth America.

Madsen LMGs were mentiooned above - there were many different versions of them, and the Germans had designations for at least 3 Danish versions, 2 Norwegian versoins, and the ones they bought themselves before the war.

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