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German Army units composition


armourersergeant
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I am studying in depth the action at Shelter Wood on 2nd July and I am trying to get an idea on German formations.

I am not familiar with the composition of German divisions and brigades/regiments. Could a kind sole please give a short run down. I have looked at jack Sheldon's book on the Somme and have some info on the regts that fought around 2nd July at Shelter Wood, mainly 186th,23rd, 109/110/111th regiments. It also has some info on command.

Would I assume that for instance a German regiment was the equivilent of a British brigade, or not?

regards

Arm

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According to The World War One Sourcebook by Philip Haythornwaite, a German infantry regiment consisted of a regimental machine gun company & 3 battalions each of 4 companies. He says on p. 195 that 'usually (but not invariably) all three battalions served together; thus a German regiment was roughly equivalent to a British Brigade.'

In 1914 each infantry company had 5 officers & 259 men. The MG company had 6 guns & 99 men with 4 officers; Haythornwaite is unclear on whether the 4 officers are additional to or included in the 99. By 1916, each MG company had 15 guns & during the war personnel was reduced; in March 1917, the official strength of a battalion was reduced to 750 men but each company was given 2 light manchine guns, which was increased to 6 in February 1918. By early 1918, a German division had 358 MGs compared with 24 in 1914.

Regimental pioneer companies were formed from 1915-6, with their duties later being taken over by specialist units. The first mention that he makes of trench mortars is in February 1917, when each battalion was authorised to have 8 Grantenwerfer and 4 light Minenwerfer.

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Thanks Martin,

Much as I thought but was best to check

Arm

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The organisation of the German Army in WWI is an extraordinarily complicated subject. The two great sources of confusion are, firstly, a wide variety of structures for infantry divisions and (2) a confusing system for designating units and formations.

For those who don't want to make a special study of this subject, the important things to remember are:

1. Battalions, which were the rough equivalents of their British counterparts, were the standard unit of account for infantry.

2. Most infantry divisions had either nine or twelve infantry battalions.

3. Infantry regiments, which usually consisted of three battalions, were usually employed as intact units.

4. Infantry brigades consisted either of two regiments (six battalions) or three regiments (nine battalions).

5. Reserve, Landwehr, and Ersatz organisations were often numbered in their own series. Thus, there was a "1st Infantry Division", a "1st Reserve Infantry Division" and a "1st Landwehr Infantry Division". Bavarian organisations of the above types were also numbered in their own series. Thus, we have the "6th Bavarian Division" and the "6th Bavarian Reserve Division."

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PS: Please note that, while German infantry regiments did not form Minenwerfer companies until 1917, trench mortars were serving with the German Army from the very start of the war.

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Thanks for that Bruce.

regards

Arm

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