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"German Infantry Division Cut to Meet Manpower Shortage" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A WWII U.S. intelligence report on the reorganization of the German infantry division in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51, October 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


A large percentage of German infantry divisions have been reorganized within the past year with their strength reduced but with virtually the same, or even increased, firepower. Two new types of six-battalion divisions have been encountered. One of them has two three-battalion regiments, and the other, a more common type, has three two-battalion regiments. Significant differences of both new types from the normal infantry division of 1943 are summarized below:

1. Total personnel is reduced from about 17,200, normal 1943 strength, to a maximum of about 12,400.

2. Infantry reduced to six battalions—either two regiments of three battalions each, or, more commonly, three regiments of two battalions each.

3. Infantry platoons usually reduced from four to three squads.

4. Reduction in personnel of supply columns and medical units.

5. General economy in use of personnel throughout the division, either by elimination or by doubling-up of duties.

6. Reconnaissance battalion replaced by a divisional Füsilier battalion, with an organization identical with that of the usual infantry battalion, but with more mobility given by extensive use of bicycles. With the change from offensive to defensive warfare, and the shortage of manpower, this mobile reserve takes the place of the reconnaissance unit.

7. Bridge column in the engineer battalion withdrawn to GHQ.

8. Firepower maintained, and even increased in some components.

9. Increase in caliber, though decrease in total number, of mortars and antitank guns, some of the latter being self-propelled.

10. Increase in number of 20-mm dual-purpose guns provides strengthened organic antiaircraft defense.

Details of strength and weapons in the new-type division with three two-battalion regiments are shown in tables II and III.

In all types of German units, the trend has been to supplement German manpower to an increasing extent by the use of a substantial minority of foreign auxiliaries (Hilfswilligen). These are usually Italian or Soviet prisoners of war.

There will be considerable differences, of course, in the strength and equipment of the various divisions. These differences will increase with shortages of matériel and personnel and with the consequent need for improvisation.

TABLE I.—Differences in old and new German divisions
 Weapons    Old Type  
Inf Div,
  New Type  
Inf Div*,
not over
LMGs527 643 
HvMGs116 62 
20-mm AA/AT Guns11 40 
50-mm, 75-mm, 76.2-mm, or 88-mm AT Guns  75 --- 
75-mm, 76.2-mm, or 88-mm AT Guns  --- 48 
75-mm, 76.2-mm, or 88-mm AT Guns (all SP)  --- 14 
50-mm84 --- 
81-mm58 48 
120-mm--- 28 
Inf Hows:
75-mm20 18 
105-mm Hows36 36 
105-mm Guns--- 
150-mm Hows12 
Flamethrowers20 20 

TABLE II.—Organization of a new-type German division (with 2-battalion regiments).
[TABLE II - Organization of a new-type German division (with 2-battalion regiments).]

TABLE III.—New-type German infantry division: strength and weapons (with three 2-battalion regiments)
MGs, Lt 2511211111111169323161591
MGs, Hv -8-161616--6-62
AT guns, 75, 76.2, or 88-mm  ---121212-12--48
AA/AT guns, 20-mm -4-888-12--40
AT, SP guns, 75, 76.2, or 88-mm  -------14--14
Mortars, 81-mm -6-121212--6-48
Mortars, 120-mm -4-888----28
Inf. How, 75-mm ---666----18
Inf. How, 150-mm ---222----6
F. Hows, 105-mm ------36---36
F. Hows, 150-mm ------12---36
Flame-thrower --------20-20

*Three two-battalion regiment type only.


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