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"German Motorized Infantry Division (Panzer Grenadier Division)" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A U.S. intelligence report on the organization and tactics of the German Panzer Grenadier Division in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 39, December 2, 1943.

[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.]

(Panzer Grenadier Division)

German organizations have consistently shown a trend toward conversion of infantry divisions into motorized infantry divisions (Panzer Grenadier Divisions) which in turn have been converted into armored divisions (Panzer Divisions). The German motorized infantry division represents a definite step in the direction of the armored division as shown by its organization:

  Approximately 15,000 officers and enlisted men.
  Division headquarters
  Armored reconnaissance battalion
  Signal battalion
  Panzer battalion, including 4 tank companies.
  Two motorized infantry regiments.
  Divisional artillery regiment
  Antitank battalion
  Engineer battalion
  Divisional services

It is apparent that the German panzer grenadier division is extremely mobile and flexible.

Each weapon is employed to the fullest advantage while maintaining the maximum mobility. The motorized infantry is particularly strong in the attack because of its mobility, high fire power and armor protection. It is able to carry out independent tasks because of the high allotment of heavy weapons. Its main roles are: cooperation with tank units in quick mopping up and consolidation of terrain penetrated by the tanks, supporting the tank attack by overcoming nests of enemy resistance, removing obstacles, establishing bridgeheads, and protecting assembly and bivouac areas.

a. Training

(1) Without Motor Transport

Troops must be trained in endurance by systematic marches up to 25 miles (at night, through woods, in all weather and with equipment and ammunition) and in winter bivouac conditions. Six men from each company will be given a short course as radio operators for use at company headquarters.

(2) With Motor Transport

In every section 3 men will be thoroughly trained as drivers. Others will be trained as drivers if there is sufficient time and fuel allowance. All must be competent to carry out motor transport maintenance. Drivers must be able to withdraw quickly from enemy fire and to find good fire positions. All types of firing from the vehicle at halt and on the move must be practiced, especially at targets of opportunity. The sections consist of 12 men with the following weapons:

3 LMGs -- one mounted.
2 Submachine guns.
7 Rifles

b. Approaching the Enemy

All weapons are to be ready to fire and men detailed for all around observation. When under rifle or machine gun fire move forward, when in an area under artillery and mortar fire make a detour if possible, otherwise continue at normal speed.

c. Fighting from the Armored Personnel Carrier*

The chief weapon of the section in fighting from the vehicle is the fixed machine gun. This will generally be fired when the vehicle is at halt. Halts for firing should not be longer than 15 to 25 seconds.

d. Fighting Dismounted

The fixed machine gun will be used to cover the section as it dismounts. The vehicle must be kept ready under cover. If the enemy offers strong resistance and when support from adjacent sections or heavy weapons is lacking, strong machine-gun fire is necessary to allow the rest of the section to move forward.

e. Patrols

The armored vehicle is useful for reconnaissance tasks with limited objectives, but in view of its insufficient radio equipment it is not suitable for long-range operations. A patrol is usually organized as follows: commander and 3 riflemen with 37-mm antitank gun in one vehicle and a section, including riflemen trained in gas detection and engineering, in another vehicle, together with 1 or 2 messengers.

Unnecessary fighting is to be avoided but a weaker force may be destroyed if this does not interfere with the original mission. If the enemy is in force, contact should be quickly broken. Smoke can also be used in these circumstances.

When taking up a position for observation two alternative positions must be chosen; one for the night and another for occupying before daylight. The vehicles must be off the road, under cover, but kept in readiness for battle. Reports should be made on all mined areas marked by the enemy. If the patrol does not have time to remove mines, the area must be marked and a detour made. Ground reconnaissance is always to be linked with the main reconnaissance. A detour should be made of inhabited places unless the execution of the order makes driving through them absolutely necessary.

If the enemy is presumed to be present, a part of the patrol must go forward on foot under cover of the weapons on the vehicles. When making a reconnaissance of a river sector an approach with the vehicle right up to the river must not be made. Speed should be reduced and the vehicle driven off the road to avoid causing dust clouds and noise. When used as a point, messengers will be allotted.

f. Assault Troops

When used as assault troops and also in wood fighting the weapons carried should consist mostly of submachine guns, plenty of hand grenades, smoke grenades and demolition charges. Often only one machine gun will be taken but plenty of ammunition distributed among several riflemen. The latter can, instead of taking their rifles, be given submachine guns.

g. Division Organization

In the German Panzer Grenadier Division, each of the 2 panzer grenadier regiments is composed of the following units:

Regimental headquarters
Headquarters company
3 panzer grenadier battalions
13th company (infantry howitzer)
14th company (antitank)
Light infantry column

The panzer grenadier battalion, according to previous information, consists of:

  Battalion headquarters, with communication section
  3 rifle companies
  1 machine gun company and the battalion trains.
The rifle company breaks down into:
  Company headquarters
  3 platoons
  Antitank rifle section
Each platoon breaks down into:
  Platoon headquarters
  4 squads
  1 light mortar section, each squad having:
  1 light machine gun
The machine gun company breaks down into:
  3 machine gun platoons
  1 medium platoon

Each machine gun platoon has 2 sections of 2 heavy machine guns each, the medium mortar platoon having 3 sections of two 81-mm mortars each.

New reports indicate a trend within the organization of the panzer grenadier battalion of the panzer grenadier division toward that of the panzer grenadier battalion of the panzer division. According to these reports each panzer grenadier battalion would break down into 3 to 4 companies, each of 3 light platoons and 1 heavy platoon. Each light platoon is reported to consist of 3 squads, each armed with 2 light machine guns; in the heavy platoon, 2 heavy machine gun sections, each with 2 heavy machine guns and 1 heavy mortar section of two 81-mm mortars.

h. March

Over level country, average speed of 15 miles per hour can be maintained. Maximum speed under favorable conditions is 18 to 22 miles per hour. An average of 94 to 125 miles can be covered in a day if there is no contact with the enemy.

Intervals between the point squad and support platoon are generally one minute and between the support platoon and the company, 2 minutes. If the company has under command a heavy antitank weapon it should be placed forward. Other heavy weapons are normally placed in the rear. The company commander with commanders of allotted heavy weapons and artillery observers normally travel together behind the support platoon. Each platoon will detail observers to watch the flanks.

When contact is made the command must decide quickly whether the enemy can be attacked on the move or whether the company has to take cover and prepare for the attack. Obstacles covered by antitank weapons will necessitate an attack dismounted, if a detour cannot be made to take the enemy in the flank or rear.

i. Halts

Twenty-minute halts every 2 hours should be made if the situation allows. These halts must be utilized for making small repairs and refuelling vehicles. Rests are normally taken every 4 to 5 hours. If a meal is taken during this period the full time allowed should be 2 to 3 hours. All available sheds, barns, farm buildings, etc., must be used. Vehicles must be backed in so that they can resume the march quickly without having to turn around.

*The number of armored vehicles per unit is unknown. Where fighting from vehicles is mentioned above, it is presumed that it is from armored personnel carriers.


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