The organization of the German infantry division has remained fairly
constant since the conclusion of the Polish campaign. While individual
infantry divisions may differ from what is generally considered as
standard organization, this difference may be attributed to improvisations
due to losses, tactical considerations in specific theaters as dictated by
terrain, the availability of material, opposition, or simply experimental
shifts in organization.
The strength of the normal infantry division, counting the divisional
supply troops, is approximately 17,000 officers and men. This figure
can be considered as being maximum for the organic component parts of
the division. When in combat, a division up to full strength, with
added GHQ troops, will exceed this figure.
The infantry division relies mainly on animal transport for moving supplies
and equipment within the combat units. Units requiring mobility for tactical
reasons, such as the antitank battalion and infantry antitank companies, are
motorized. The supply troops are equipped with motor transport since the
hauling of supplies covers great distances when an attack moves forward. Often
the supply vehicles of the division are pressed into service as motor
transport for the main combat elements of the division if this does
not interfere with the primary duties of the vehicles.
b. Infantry Regiment
Three infantry regiments compose the infantry element of the division. Each infantry
regiment is composed of a headquarters, headquarters company, three infantry battalions, an
infantry howitzer company, an antitank company, and a light infantry column. There
are four companies in each battalion and they are consecutively numbered. Companies 1, 2, 3, 4, form
the first battalion; 5, 6, 7, 8 form the second battalion; 9, 10, 11, 12 form
the third battalion. The infantry howitzer company is the 13th company while the
antitank company is the 14th company.
(1) Headquarters Company
This consists of a headquarters, a communications platoon, a mounted platoon and an
engineer platoon. The usual trains (combat-ration-baggage) are included. The communications
platoon has a telephone and a radio section; the mounted platoon consists of three
squads of horse-mounted infantrymen for reconnaissance purposes; the engineer
platoon consists of three identical sections of two squads each, and has three
light machine guns for armament.
(2) Infantry Battalion
The battalion consists of a headquarters, a communications section, three
rifle companies, and a machine-gun company. Each rifle company consists of a
headquarters, antitank rifle section, three rifle platoons and the usual trains. A
fuller description of these trains will be found at the end of this article. The
antitank rifle section is armed with three antitank rifles (Panzerbüchse 39). Each
rifle platoon is composed of a headquarters, four rifle squads, and a light
mortar (50-mm) squad. In addition to the three antitank rifles in the rifle company
there are 12 light machine guns, one per rifle squad, (caliber .31 model 34 or 42), three
light (50-mm) mortars (model 36) one per rifle platoon, and 16 submachine
guns (Schmeisser 38 or 40), (.35 caliber), carried by the
four officers of the rifle company, and the 12 squad
leaders (Gruppenfuhrer). The battalion machine-gun company consists
of a headquarters, three heavy machine-gun platoons and a heavy mortar (81-mm)
platoon. The total weapons are 12 heavy machine guns and six heavy (81-mm) mortars. The
heavy machine gun is a light machine gun which has been mounted on a cradle-type tripod mount.
(3) Infantry Howitzer Company
The infantry howitzer company (13th company) consists of a headquarters, communications
section, three light (75-mm) infantry howitzer platoons and a heavy (150-mm) infantry
howitzer platoon. The company has six 75-mm infantry howitzers and two 150-mm infantry
howitzers. The howitzers are all horse-drawn.
(4) Antitank Company
The antitank company of the infantry regiment (14th company) varies frequently
insofar as weapons are concerned. The company originally consisted of a headquarters
and four antitank platoons of three antitank squads and a light machine-gun squad each. This
gave a total of twelve 37-mm antitank guns and four light machine guns. The general
organization appears at present to be as follows: The company has a headquarters, three
antitank platoons of three 37-mm AT guns and one light machine gun each and one platoon
of two 50-mm antitank guns and one light machine gun. One additional machine
gun is at company headquarters. Future organizational changes will probably
show additional 50-mm antitank guns and a decrease in the number of the less
effective 37-mm antitank guns.
(5) Light Infantry
The column carries the reserve of ammunition and supplies as well as
equipment, and, as a rule, consists of 39 two-horsed wagons with several motor
vehicles and motorcycles. Vehicles and wagons are often picked up in the combat
zone and theater of operations. The column operates between the division distribution
points, and battalion and company distribution points. The light infantry
column receives its supplies from the division transport columns (trains). The
organization varies considerably and is kept extremely flexible.
c. Artillery Regiment
The regimental commander commands the divisional artillery unless GHQ artillery
is attached. When GHQ artillery is allotted to a division, then a special commander
with his own staff usually is attached from Corps to take command of the entire
artillery within the division. A GHQ observation battalion is attached to each
infantry division and functions in conjunction with the artillery.
The divisional artillery regiment of the infantry division is horse-drawn. If a
battery of 105-mm guns is present, then this battery may be either horse-drawn
or motor-drawn. The regiment consists of a headquarters, headquarters battery, three
light artillery battalions and a medium artillery battalion.
(1) Headquarters Battery
Consists of a headquarters, a communication platoon, a meteorological section and a map printing section.
(2) Light Artillery Battalion
Consists of a headquarters, communications platoon, a survey section (these may be
incorporated into a Bn Hq Btry) and three firing batteries. Each firing battery has
four 105-mm gun howitzers and two light machine guns.
(3) Medium Artillery Battalion
The organization is identical with the light artillery battalion. In some cases
the first battery of the battalion will have 105-mm guns in place of the 150-mm
howitzers. This battery may be either horse or motor drawn. The three firing
batteries in the battalion have four 150-mm howitzers* and two light machine guns each.
(4) Motorized Ammunition Columns
For hauling artillery ammunition these columns are attached from the
division transport columns as soon as combat becomes imminent.
d. Reconnaissance Battalion
The reconnaissance battalion of the infantry division consists of a
headquarters, a communications platoon, a horse troop, a bicycle troop
and a heavy weapons company.
(1) Horse Troop
The horse troop consists of a headquarters, three platoons of three squads each and a heavy machine-gun section. Weapons are nine light machine guns and two heavy machine guns.
(2) Bicycle Troop
The bicycle troop is organized along the same lines as the horse troop. Weapons are
nine light machine guns, three light mortars and two heavy machine guns. The troop
contains a proportion of motorcycles.
(3) Heavy Weapons Company
The heavy weapons company consists of a headquarters, an antitank platoon of
three 37-mm (or 50-mm) antitank guns and one light machine gun, an engineer
platoon with three light machine guns, a heavy machine-gun platoon with four
heavy machine guns, an infantry howitzer platoon with two 75-mm infantry
howitzers and an armored car platoon with three light (Horch type)** armored
cars. A section of heavy mortars may be added (three 81-mm mortars).
The original reconnaissance battalions of the peace-time standing army were
organized from existing corps cavalry regiments upon mobilization.
In some cases the horse troop has been replaced by a bicycle troop.
e. Antitank Battalion
The antitank battalions have undergone frequent changes insofar as weapons are
concerned. The battalion consists of a headquarters, a communications platoon
and three antitank companies. Originally each antitank company had twelve 37-mm
antitank guns and four light machine guns. Subsequently, the organization of the
companies was changed to eight 37-mm antitank guns, three 50-mm antitank guns and
six light machine guns. The next reorganization saw six 50-mm antitank guns, four
37-mm. antitank guns and six light machine guns in each company. This seems to be
the most widely used organization at present. There are many battalions that have
variations in each company with at least one company equipped with nine 50-mm antitank
guns, six light machine guns and no 37-mm antitank guns. The trend is shifting towards
the company with nine 50-mm AT guns. The development of a stick-bomb which can be
fired from a 37-mm AT gun and is effective against heavier tanks has kept
the 37-mm from becoming totally obsolete.
A newer and heavier antitank gun is in existence, namely, the 75-mm (Pak 40) antitank
gun. This weapon has been used frequently but no table of allowances is known regarding
this weapon. A complete company of this type of antitank gun consists of seven to nine
guns; if motor-drawn, nine guns, if self propelled, seven. It is believed that these
weapons will be issued to armored divisions first and as more become available they
will appear in infantry divisions.
f. Engineer Battalion
The engineer battalion consists of a headquarters, a communications section, two partially
motorized companies, a heavy motorized company, a bridge column, and a light engineer
column. The bridge column is not always found organically but may be assigned from the
Army GHQ engineer pool.
(1) Partially Motorized Company
The partially motorized companies are organized into a headquarters, three
platoons of three squads each and their trains. Nine light machine guns are
found in each partially motorized company, as well as three AT rifles
and 13 sub-machine guns.
(2) Heavy Motorized Company
The heavy motorized company is organized the same way as the partially
motorized company but is fully motorized, and contains an organic motor-maintenance
section. The armament is the same as that of the partially motorized company.
(3) Bridge Column
The bridge column carries the necessary bridging equipment. This includes the
pontons, decking, motorboats, etc.
The battalion has approximately 72 pneumatic boats, 15 pontons, 2 motorboats, etc. A
platoon of assault boats may be added. The bridge column as previously noted may be
withdrawn to GHQ if the division is engaged in terrain where its special equipment
would not be necessary.
g. Signal Battalion
The signal battalion consists of a headquarters, a telephone company and a
radio company. The battalion has the duty of laying a communications network
to the headquarters of the various regiments and battalions within the division
and also with the division on the right flank. The battalion has 4 light machine guns.
h. Division Supply Troops
The division supply troops consist of the administrative troops, division supply
columns (trains), medical battalion, veterinary company, military police and the
postal service (field post office).
(1) Administrative Troops
These consist of a bakery company and a slaughter platoon plus the administrative
personnel to handle all administrative matters pertaining to supply. The motor
transport of this unit is used to haul rations to distribution points.
(2) Division Supply Columns (Trains)
The trains consist of 8 motor transport columns each with a capacity
of 30 tons. In addition there is a motor repair shop and workshop which
does the necessary repair work on wagons, vehicles and arms. A supply
company, and a light and a heavy fuel and oil column are also included. The
supply company furnishes the personnel necessary for loading and reloading
(3) Medical Battalion
This consists of a horse-drawn and a motorized medical company, a field
hospital and two ambulance platoons, and is equivalent to about a battalion in strength.
(4) Veterinary Company
This is approximately a company in strength, responsible for evacuation and
care of animals, and keeps a number of extra horses on hand for immediate replacement.
(5) Military Police
This is approximately the size of a large platoon, equipped with
motorcycles for traffic supervision in the combat zone and the
theater of operations.
(6) Field Post Office
Handles mail for division.
NOTES ON THE COMPANY TRAINS
a. Supply Wagons
The German trains (Trosse) usually consist of three parts, namely the
Gefechtstross (combat train), Verpflegungstross (ration train)
and Gepacktross (baggage train).
These three units are found in organizations of company, battery or troop strength. The
transportation of these three trains belongs organically to the company. Taking the
normal German rifle company as an example we find the
Combat train: Two wagons, each drawn by two horses
One field kitchen drawn by four horses
Ration train: One wagon drawn by two horses
Baggage train: One truck usually three-ton
b. Combat Wagons
In addition to the three trains there are combat wagons which stay with the company in combat while
the trains are normally in rear positions. The combat wagons
or Gefechtsfahrzeuge consist of three platoon carts and one
company wagon for ammunition. Each platoon cart is drawn by one horse
and consists of two infantry carts coupled together. These carts carry
the machine guns and mortar of the platoon when combat is not
imminent. Ammunition, tools and camouflage equipment axe also
carried. The company wagon for ammunition carries a reserve of
ammunition, explosives, grenades, wire, camouflage material, the
antitank rifles etc.
c. Load Distribution
The wagons in the trains carry the following:
Two wagons of combat train carry packs of the men, reserve ammunition which
may be on hand; oats for horses may be carried. The field kitchen of the combat
train carries iron rations and current rations. The ration wagon of the ration
train carries rations and reserve iron rations. The baggage truck of baggage
train carries spare baggage of company.
d. Chain of Supply
Normally the trains receive ammunition and equipment from the light infantry column
of the regiment. The ration train receives rations from ration train II of the battalion.
The light infantry column of the regiment and ration train II of the battalion
receive their supplies from division (the division trains and the butchery and
Units other than foot infantry, such as motorized company trains
are the same (combat, ration and baggage) but have motorized
vehicles. Some companies which are motorized, as is the case
in the engineers, have a combined ration and baggage train (1 truck).
In general, it may be said that companies which engage in combat
will have the three-part trains and the necessary combat wagons
to accompany the troops.
The senior NCO of the company (Hauptfeldwebel) is responsible
for the wagons of the trains. There is also a leader of the combat
wagons and a leader of the combat train.
*When marching, these guns are broken down into two parts. This will be noted in the
schematic drawing of the German infantry division, where the barrel and recoil mechanism
are shown in two parts, each part drawn separately by its own gun team.
**The standard German light armored car Sd.Kfz 222, three ton, 4-wheel drive and
mounting one 20-mm, and one 7.92 MG coaxially.