[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — 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.]
CHAPTER I. THE GERMAN MILITARY SYSTEM
Section VI. CONSCRIPTION, REPLACEMENT, AND TRAINING
3. Replacement Training System
a. BASIC PRINCIPLE. Every unit in the Field Army is affiliated for personnel replacement purposes with a specific unit of the Replacement Training Army, located in its own original Wehrkreis and known as an Ersatz unit. The function of the latter is to induct recruits, to provide for their training, and to see that they are held in readiness to be sent off to the field unit in batches or individually as required.
The normal location of the Ersatz unit is the home station of the affiliated field unit, to which the soldiers expect ultimately to return for their discharge or for reassignment. For example, a soldier who is wounded and goes to a reserve hospital in the Zone of the Interior will be sent, on leaving the hospital, to his affiliated Ersatz unit before being returned to the field.
Whenever feasible, trained replacements are sent by an Ersatz unit to a field unit with which it is affiliated. If, however, a man for any reason is diverted to a different field unit, or if he subsequently is transferred from one field unit to another, the affiliated Ersatz unit of his new field unit must be entered on Page 4 of his paybook under the heading "present competent Ersatz unit" (jetzt zuständiger Ersatztruppenteil).
In order to understand the intricacies of the present Ersatz system it is well to trace the successive stages of its development.
b. ORIGINAL OPERATION OF THE SYSTEM. Each infantry regiment which took to the field at the beginning of the war left behind at its home station a battalion cadre bearing its own number and known as its Ersatz battalion. The primary purpose of this battalion was to receive recruits, train them, and dispatch them as replacements to the field regiment. At any given time it included one or more of each of the following types of companies:
Reception companies (Stamnmkompanien), consisting of new recruits and cadre personnel.
Training companies (Ausbildungskompanien), also known as Rekruteneinheiten. These companies provided for the training of the inducted untrained volunteers. After the training was finished the recruits joined the transfer company, if they were not transferred to the Field Army immediately.
Transfer companies (Marschkompanien) which were pools of trained replacements ready to depart for the field unit.
Convalescent companies (Genesendenkompanien), consisting of men released from reserve hospitals who were being prepared for return to the field. All other replacement training units are organized in a corresponding manner.
c. ORIGINAL AFFILIATION SYSTEM. The three replacement training battalions corresponding to the three infantry regiments of a field division were controlled by an infantry replacement training regimental staff (Grenadier-Ersatz-Regiment—Gr.Ers.Rgt.) bearing the number of the division. Thus, the 2d, 23d, and 44th Infantry Regiments, belonging to the 11th Infantry Division, were represented by the 2d, 23d, and 44th Infantry Replacement Training Battalions controlled by the 11th Infantry Replacement Training Regimental Staff at Allenstein in Wehrkreis I, the home station of the division. Replacement training regimental staffs usually were commanded by colonels.
The replacement training regimental staff also controlled from three to five infantry specialist replacement training companies which provided the personnel for the infantry howitzer companies, antitank companies, signal sub-units, engineer platoons, and mounted platoons of the three infantry field regiments.
The other components of the field division—the artillery regiment, reconnaissance battalion, antitank battalion, engineer battalion, and signal battalion, were affiliated in a similar way with replacement training units of their respective arms back in the Wehrkreis from which they came.
All the artillery replacement training battalions in any Wehrkreis were controlled by two or more artillery replacement training regimental staffs bearing the numbers of artillery field regiments originally raised in that Wehrkreis. The replacement training battalions for the smaller divisional components likewise bore the numbers of some of the corresponding field units from the Wehrkreis, but usually one such replacement training battalion would provide replacements for the corresponding field battalions of several divisions. Altogether over 50 types of regular replacement training units existed.
d. CHAIN OF COMMAND IN THE REPLACEMENT ARMY. The replacement training units are subordinate to the Wehrkreis Headquarters (Wehrkreiskommandos) in their capacity as Deputy Corps Headquarters (Stellvertretende Generalkommandos, Stv.Gen.Kdo.) through the following intermediate staffs:
One or more Replacement Division Staffs (Division Nummer ...., Div. Nr. ....) controlling the replacement training units either directly, as in the case of independent units of the supporting arms and services (reconnaissance, engineer, supply troop replacement training battalions) or through several infantry and artillery replacement training regimental staffs (Grenadier-Ersatz-Regiment, Gr.Ers.Rgt. and Artillerie-Ersatz-Regiment, Art.Ers.Rgt.).
Possibly one Panzer Replacement Division Staff (Panzer-Division Nummer ...., Pz.Div. Nr....) or a Commander of Panzer Troops (Kommandeur der Panzertruppen, Kdr.d.Pz.Tr.) of either brigade or regimental status, controlling the replacement training units either directly, as in the case of the independent battalions (tank, antitank, and Panzer reconnaissance replacement training battalions) or through one or two motorized infantry or Panzer Grenadier replacement training regimental staffs.
The Commander of Motor maintenance Units (Kommandeur der Kraftfahrparktruppe, Kdr.d.Kf.Pk.Tr.), controlling motor maintenance replacement training units.
The Commander of Signal Troops (Kommandeur der Nachrichtentruppe, Kdr.d.Nachr.Tr.), controlling signal replacement training battalions.
Wehrkreis Surgeon (Wehrkreisarzt in his capacity as Stellvertretender Korpsarzt), controlling medical replacement training units.
Wehrkreis Veterinarian (Wehrkreisveterinär in his capacity as Stellvertretender Korpsveterinär).
The Deputy Corps Commanders, who are not only the commanders of the replacement training units but also commanders in the Wehrkreis, are subordinate to the Commander of the Replacement Army (Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres). They have the right to shift the location of units of the Replacement Army within their areas but must notify the Commander of the Replacement Army.
The responsibility of the Commander of the Replacement Army and of his subordinate headquarters and offices for maintaining the Field Army on a wartime footing remains in effect when parts of the Replacement Army are located in the Theater of Operations.
The number of replacement division staffs in each Wehrkreis is regulated by the Army High Command. They are responsible for the uniformity of training in their subordinate replacement training units. They are to be kept free from all administrative duties. Regarding correspondence they are to participate only in what concerns the training, arming and equipment of replacement training units, as well as the maintenance of discipline (including proceedings of law) and the personal matters of their subordinate officers and officials. Should there be several replacement division staffs in one Wehrkreis, the deputy corps headquarters orders which replacement training units are subordinated to either one.
e. REQUISITIONING OF REPLACEMENTS. The field unit may request replacements if there is a deficiency of more than 10 per cent of their table of organization strength. Replacements for specialists, such as communication personnel or technicians, are to be requested as soon as their absence would hamper the efficiency of the field unit. Every independent field unit (regiment, independent battalion) sends its requests for replacements through channels to the division headquarters. The division forwards them direct to the competent deputy corps headquarters.
The deputy corps headquarters thereupon issues orders to the appropriate replacement units. The replacement division staffs usually are consulted only with regard to the state of training of the replacements before the deputy corps commander disposes of them. The commanders of the replacement training regimental staffs participate fully in this matter. If the records which every deputy corps headquarters has to keep show that the competent replacement training unit cannot provide all or any of the replacements, the deputy corps headquarters passes this order to another replacement training unit. If an adjustment is not possible within the competent area, the Commander of the Replacement Army is notified and orders another Wehrkreis to provide the replacements. The replacement training units have to notify the deputy corps headquarters at once on what date the replacements will be ready to leave.
Although the requisitions are strictly channelized, direct relations between the field unit and the competent training unit at home always were considered desirable, in order to strengthen the feeling of comradeship. This was achieved not only through the personal connections but also through circular letters and newspapers.
f. LATER MODIFICATIONS OF THE REPLACEMENT TRAINING SYSTEM, 1939-AUTUMN 1942. (1) Early change in the affiliation system. The system of numerical affiliation between replacement training units and field units, applying particularly to the infantry units, was valid in general for the four initial waves of divisions sent to the field by each Wehrkreis in the summer and autumn of 1939. These were the "active", or peacetime, divisions, numbered from 1 to 36, 44, 45 and 46; those raised from reservists, numbered 52 to 98; those raised from Landwehr personnel, from 205 to 246; and those formed from so-called Ergänzungs units (special "supplementary" peacetime units for short-term training of men in the intermediate classes 1901 to 1913), from 251 to 269.
The component units of divisions formed subsequent to the initial mobilization period, on the other hand, usually were not given new replacement training units of their own, but were assigned, through the corresponding Deputy Corps Headquarters, an affiliation with existing replacement training units of their respective arms. Thus each infantry replacement training battalion eventually had to feed replacements to several field regiments, only one of which bore its own number. Similarly, when the infantry component in the Panzer divisions was increased from one regiment to two in 1940, the second regiment usually was affiliated with the existing replacement training battalion of the original regiment. Some replacement training units were converted outright into field units; on the other hand some field units were later dissolved. These changes tended to upset the principle of numerical affiliation, which underwent further changes in the following years.
It was the practice from the very beginning to collect groups of trained replacements of the various arms in the Wehrkreis and assemble them into loosely organized special personnel transfer battalions known later as Marschbataillone for the purpose of conducting them to the combat zone. Originally each such transfer unit normally was destined for a particular division, and often carried the number of that division, preceded by the Roman numeral of the Wehrkreis and followed by a serial number. Such battalions usually were attached to the rear echelon of the division in the field, and from there the personnel was filtered into the various divisional components as needed, or they filled up field replacement pools.
After the start of the Russian campaign, it was found expedient, in view of the long distances involved, to draw on these field replacement pools in some cases without regard to their Wehrkreis of origin or the division for which they originally were intended. Thus a division which had suffered particularly heavy losses might receive a large portion of the personnel which had been trained and dispatched to the field for a different division in an adjacent and less active sector. In other cases, all the divisions under a given corps or in a particular area would share a single field replacement battalion. In the African theater, for a time at least, there was only one field replacement battalion for all the divisions of the Africa Corps, although they came from different Wehrkreise. In the middle of 1941, moreover, all units in Africa were assigned affiliations with replacement training units in Wehrkreise III and XII, regardless of the location of their previous replacement training units; this was done in order to concentrate the specialized training which the men required for operations in the desert.
All such measures resulted in a further breaking down of the system of numerical affiliation and in some cases even a departure from the rule that the great majority of men in a given unit should come from the same Wehrkreis. It must be borne in mind, however, that all these, as well as all subsequent modifications up to the beginning of 1945 in the detailed operations of the replacement training systems, never have violated its basic principle: namely, that every field unit at all times must be affiliated with a specified replacement training unit to which all men leaving the Field Army are automatically sent.
(2) Early movements of replacement training units. Despite the fact that the original replacement training units were intended to remain at the home stations of their corresponding field units, acting more or less as the rear echelon of the latter, there have been numerous shifts of units in the Replacement Army from one part of Germany to another and from Germany into occupied countries and back again for varying reasons. From 1939 to 1941, when Germany still had neighbors to be attacked, the replacement training units were withdrawn from the border regions several months before an offensive was to commence in order to free the barrack space and other military facilities for the assembling of field forces. After the area was no longer being used for this purpose, the replacement training units generally returned to their home stations.
Replacement training units, with their controlling replacement division staffs temporarily thus transferred to another Wehrkreis, are subordinate to the deputy corps headquarters of this Wehrkreis for administrative purposes as well as for the general supervision of their training; the replacement division staffs, however, are the direct recipients of requisitions of replacements from the field units in this case, and at the same time the contact with the home Wehrkreis was not completely broken off. New conscripts, normally given orders by their local recruiting sub-area headquarters to report to a replacement training unit not far from their home town, were sent in these cases either individually, or in small groups, on long train journeys before induction or were assembled in special collecting points known as Wehrkreis-Ersatz-Depots. The latter were also used for receiving men who returned from the field as convalescents or for any other reason. After the units returned to the Wehrkreis these depots were dissolved.
All these moves and a number of others, concurrent with or subsequent to them, served the additional purpose of garrisoning the annexed or conquered areas adjacent to Germany proper and thus relieved the field forces of this responsibility. At the same time barracks and training grounds in Germany were freed for the formation of new units for the constantly expanding German Army, and the recruits were given training away from home and under conditions more like those in the field. All these moves prior to the autumn of 1942 (except those whose primary motive was the evacuation of assembly areas) were by units in border Wehrkreise into adjacent occupied or annexed territory immediately across the border. The movements thus amounted to a slight extension of the German Zone of the Interior in all directions.
g. REORGANIZATION OF THE REPLACEMENT ARMY IN THE AUTUMN OF 1942. (1) Principle. The most far reaching change in the replacement training system took place on or about 1 October 1942 when all basic replacement training units were broken up into their two elements—one to handle induction and replacement and the other to handle training. The induction and replacement unit retained the designation Ersatz. But henceforth it was concerned only with receipt of recruits from the conscription offices; issue of their personal equipment and their paybooks; short military indoctrination of recruits; forwarding of recruits as speedily as possible to its sister training unit; receipt of convalescents and sending them back to a field unit; and with the processing of men from its affiliated field units who for any reason were to be discharged. The newly created training unit (Ausbildungseinheit) bore the same number as the Ersatz unit and was to receive the men from the Ersatz unit, give them their training, and then dispatch them to an affiliated field unit.
(2) Movements following the reorganization. The purpose of this measure apparently was to facilitate a shift of most training activities farther into the occupied countries, particularly in the west, without seriously affecting the efficiency of the induction and replacement procedure back in the Wehrkreise.
The disadvantages of the earlier removal of the replacement training units from their home stations, from the administrative point of view, were almost sufficient to outweigh the advantages. For this reason, none of the earlier moves except those dictated by military necessity were very far from home, and the practice of garrisoning more distant occupied territories with replacement training units never was resorted to under the old system. It was probably these considerations, as much as it was the growing shortage of manpower, which caused the German authorities, in September 1942, to divide all the basic replacement training units into their two parts, even though in some cases they were reunited under a new name. This made it possible for the replacement units to occupy their home stations, and for the training units to enjoy complete freedom of movement. The latter henceforth were used in large numbers to occupy different parts of France, the Low Countries, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, the Soviet Union, and northern Italy in the form of reserve divisions. Combined training thus could be carried on under more realistic conditions, and numerous fully organized field divisions were released for service on active fighting fronts. In most cases the units from a given Wehrkreis went to the country nearest them. In the case of the basic infantry training units, approximately two-thirds moved out in this way, and only one-third remained within greater Germany.
(3) Changes at battalion level. Under the original system each infantry replacement training battalion, as already indicated, normally contained a reception company, four training companies, and one or more convalescent and transfer companies. At the time of the reorganization the training companies were withdrawn under the battalion staff, and a new replacement battalion staff was created to control the remaining components having purely replacement functions. In some cases, apparently, the new training battalion established a transfer company of its own as a pool for trained men awaiting transfer to the Field Army, while in other cases it seemed to send them to the transfer company of the replacement battalion.
In practice, the change took place in either one or the other of the following ways: In the case of replacement training units which were already in newly acquired or occupied territories in the autumn of 1942, the replacement elements in some cases returned to their home stations to resume their normal induction and replacement functions and retained the name Grenadier-Ersatz-Bataillon, etc. The training elements then usually were incorporated into reserve divisions and moved farther afield, receiving the name reserve battalion (Reserve-Bataillon), etc.; if they remained in Greater Germany they were called training battalions (Ausbildungs-Bataillone), etc. In other cases (both in Germany and in adjacent occupied or annexed territory) both elements remained in the same area and took the form of combined replacement and training battalions (Ersatz- und Ausbildungsbataillone).
The above remarks apply to the various other arms as well as to the infantry. Most of the service troops remained at their home stations as combined replacement and training battalions.
(4) Changes at regimental level. Many of their replacement training regimental staffs became staffs of reserve regiments (Reserve-Regiment) in occupied territory. The only regimental staffs remaining in the Wehrkreise after the reorganization were combined replacement and training regimental staffs (Ersatz- und Ausbildungs-Regimenter). These controlled combined replacement and training battalions and specialists companies remaining in the Wehrkreise. In addition, new infantry replacement regimental staffs (Grenadier-Ersatz-Regimenter) were created to control replacement battalions and specialist replacement companies whose training elements had become reserve units. These new regimental staffs received new numbers mostly in the 500 series, and had no affiliation with a field division bearing the same number. However, some of the companies controlled by these new staffs retained their original numbers. Thus the original numerical affiliation system had almost disappeared at regimental level.
In the artillery the original regimental staffs that remained in the Wehrkreis took over the functions of those which went out to reserve divisions.
(5) Changes at division level. For occupational and defensive purposes, as well as for the conduct of combined training exercises, the reserve units in occupied territory were organized into a new type of training division known as a reserve division (Reservedivision) which still remained part of the Replacement Army. This was done in all cases except one by the conversion of one of the former replacement division staffs in the Wehrkreise. If not enough staffs remained in a Wehrkreis to supervise the induction and replacement activities of replacement units as well as the training of combined replacement and training units, a new staff was created, sometimes taking a number 300 higher than that of the departed reserve division. Other new replacement division staffs were created by conversions of special administrative division staffs (Divisionskommando z.b.V., Div. Kdo. z.b.V.) As a result the number of the replacement division staffs was only slightly diminished from 34 in September, 1942 to 29 in 1943. Each reserve division controlled a group of reserve regiments and supporting units from its own Wehrkreis, but the allotment of battalions within the regiment no longer followed the original pattern based on the subordination of infantry regiments to the field division of the same number. Sometimes the battalions took the numbers I, II, and III, and the regimental number, with or without addition of their own original numbers. In other respects, also, the reserve divisions took on the character of defensive field divisions. For instance, some of them received divisional rear service units, numbered 900 plus the reserve division number. These services were part of the Field Army. This system of reserve divisions was developed steadily throughout 1943. After the summer of 1943 new reserve divisions also were formed from Panzer and motorized training units (Reserve-Panzer-Divisionen) which until then had been stationed in the Zone of the Interior.
(6) Reserve corps. To control the replacement functions of reserve divisions (i.e., the dispatch of trained replacements to the Field Army) a number of reserve corps (Reservekorps) and one or more reserve Panzer corps (Reserve-Panzerkorps) were formed. Orders issued to deputy corps headquarters relating to these functions were now also addressed to the reserve corps, indicating that they acted as channels for replacement requisitions in the same manner as deputy corps headquarters. However, at least some reserve corps controlled one or more defensive infantry divisions of the Field Army as well as their reserve divisions.
h. THE ULTIMATE FATE OF THE RESERVE DIVISIONS. Altogether, the training units of the different Wehrkreise formed 26 reserve divisions in 1942 and 1943, four of which were reserve Panzer divisions. Thirteen were in the West, seven in the East, three in Denmark, two in Croatia, and one in Italy. From this large number it is evident that field divisions were relieved from defensive and occupational duties to an appreciable extent. In 1943, even before the last reserve divisions were formed, a number of them were converted into divisions of the Field Army. Two of them in the East became field training divisions (Feldausbildungsdivisionen, Feld-Ausb. Div.), which, although retaining training functions in addition to their line of communication duties, no longer formed part of the replacement and training structure of their Wehrkreise. A third reserve division in Croatia was converted into a light (Jäger) division, and three other reserve divisions received the designation static (bodenständige) divisions.
Thus by the end of 1943, 23 reserve divisions were in existence including the three static divisions. During 1943 several of these divisions were engaged against partisans while others became firmly established along the Channel coast.
During 1944 the reserve divisions rapidly disintegrated. Of the five reserve divisions in the East, two were destroyed or disbanded, and three went into combat. The remaining reserve division in Croatia apparently was disbanded early in the year. All the 13 reserve divisions in the West disappeared. Three reserve Panzer divisions were merged with remnants of Panzer or Panzer Grenadier field divisions and lost their identity. Three reserve divisions on the Channel coast were converted to field divisions in February, 1944. Two others were disbanded in July and August, after giving up most of their personnel to divisions that had suffered heavy losses in the Invasion. The five reserve divisions in southern France and on the Biscay coast were engaged against the Allied landing in southern France and upgraded to field divisions. The reserve mountain division in Italy also may have been upgraded to a field division during the year. Of the three reserve divisions in Denmark, two appear to have remained intact during 1944, while the third was in the process of being converted. Thus by the end of 1944, a maximum of six to seven reserve divisions remained, of which perhaps only two were able to fulfill the functions for which they were originally created.
The reserve divisions had definite disadvantages as well as advantages. They were good for training and garrison functions during the winter of 1942-43 and for the greater part of 1943. But when they received definite defense assignments, especially on the Channel coast, they no longer could concern themselves with training. Neither could they afford to send trained replacements to field divisions and to replace them with untrained recruits and thereby imperil their combat effectiveness.
The seriousness of the situation was intensified by the fact that during 1942-43 two-thirds of the "training" had been moved out of Germany to take place in these reserve divisions. As a result, at a critical period the continuity of training had to be interrupted, and a new start made in the Wehrkreise within Germany.
i. RESUMPTION OF TRAINING WITHIN GERMANY. New training facilities had to be provided as one reserve division after another ceased its training functions. For a time, some of the reserve divisions had training battalions (Ausbildungs-Bataillone) which could train personnel without interfering with the new defense responsibilities of the reserve divisions. But following the Invasion in June 1944, recruits no longer were sent to the reserve divisions in the West.
Training gradually was resumed within Germany. At first some Wehrkreise dispatched recruits to existing training or combined replacement and training units of their own Wehrkreise within Greater Germany, and in one case even to the training units of a neighboring Wehrkreis. Subsequently first one and then other training companies were added within the different Wehrkreise, and replacement units were expanded into combined replacement and training units. By the late summer of 1944, virtually all replacement units in some Wehrkreise had regained their training functions and had become combined replacement and training units. This was especially the case with the replacement units of the former reserve Panzer divisions in the West. Other Wehrkreise did not start expanding their training facilities until late in 1944. In some cases the reforming of artillery training units preceded the reforming of infantry training units. In some instances, to help control combined replacement and training battalions in the infantry and facilitate their possible employment in the field, the old ratio of three replacement and training battalions to one staff was restored through a new wave of combined replacement and training regimental staffs.
The resumption of training was aided by the fact that pure replacement battalions had always maintained a skeleton force of instructors and cadre personnel to provide a minimum of training in the reception, transfer, and convalescent companies. Also many reserve divisions returned their instructors and cadres to their Wehrkreis when they were converted or disbanded.
j. DEVELOPMENTS DURING THE SUMMER AND AUTUMN OF 1944. In the summer of 1944, when the Reichsführer-SS took over the command of the Replacement Army, a number of trends became emphasized. Training hours were lengthened, and the training period was reduced to an average of 6 weeks. Air Force and Navy personnel were retained for the Army, and the Volkssturm was created. Paper work was simplified, and Wehrkreis borders were adjusted. Economy and simplification were achieved through:
(1) Changes in the affiliation system. A basic change of the affiliation system for infantry regiments occurred. A single infantry replacement battalion became the competent replacement unit for all the infantry regiments of one infantry division or two static or security divisions. As a result, infantry regiments no longer had a replacement battalion carrying their own number, and the traditional relationship that originally existed between the old units of the Replacement Army and the Field Army thereby practically was abolished.
(2) Economy measures. Several infantry specialist replacement and training companies were combined, as were also some infantry specialist replacement and training battalions. A number of replacement and training battalions for service troops, especially for veterinary units, were disbanded.
(3) New methods of transferring replacements to the Field Army. New methods for requesting and transferring men from the Replacement Army to the Field Army were established in the first half of 1944. The manpower problem did not permit an even distribution of replacements (with the exception of specialists), but demanded a concentrated supply of men to units with the highest priority. To achieve this purpose army groups and independent army headquarters were charged with the allocation of replacements. The transfer of men from the units of the Replacement Army no longer took place by means of loosely organized groups but in one of the following principal ways: In combat transfer battalions (Kampfmarschbataillone) having a strength of about 900 men with better armament and larger cadre personnel than before; in transfer battalions of 700 to 1000 men; or in transfer companies of 100 to 250 men. The combat transfer battalion was newly created, whereas the transfer battalion for infantry and Panzer troops received the table of organization of the field replacement battalion. Convalescents were returned to the field in convalescent transfer companies (Genesenen-Marschkompanien) of 100 to 250 men. In general, however, the importance of the transfer battalion was diminished, in part because of the rapidly changing situation in the west. The name "combat transfer battalion" indicates that the battalion as such is considered a fighting unit.
k. REPLACEMENT ARMY UNITS IN COMBAT. In the first years of the war, replacement and training units as such took part in combat only in isolated instances. Yet during the Allied advance through France and Belgium in August 1944, and at the time of the Allied airborne landing in Holland, five or more replacement division staffs from the four western Wehrkreise were transferred to the Western Front with the combat elements of their subordinate units.
The untrained recruits, unfit convalescents, and cadre personnel necessary for maintaining the replacement and training schedule remained behind. In some instances, a "reserve" staff probably stayed at the home station to control replacement elements and rebuild the training structure. These hastily collected divisions received a variety of names, of which "combat divisions" (Kampfdivision, also Div. Nr. .... (K)) seems to have been the most common. Five such divisions were actually in line, and a sixth was in charge of fortification work. The subordinate units originally kept the numbers they had in the Replacement Army, but later were renumbered as organic field units. Four of the former replacement division staffs were upgraded to field divisions, and a fifth was dissolved. In addition, the border Wehrkreis furnished numerous independent battle groups, block units (Sperrverbände), and other units, which eventually were absorbed by various field units at the front. Local defense duties of the replacement and training units are fulfilled by alarm units (Alarmeinheiten).
l. STRENGTH AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE REPLACEMENT ARMY AT THE END OF 1944. The accompanying table (Figure 10) shows by Wehrkreise the distribution of replacement battalions for combat troops and affiliated field divisions at the end of 1944.
Each of the 15 Wehrkreise existing at the outbreak of the war has, in addition to the replacement battalions for combat troops, one to three replacement division staffs, and two to five infantry replacement regimental staffs. Most of the latter control three to four infantry specialist replacement companies. Each of these Wehrkreise (except I and XVIII) also has one to two Panzer Grenadier or motorized replacement regimental staffs, containing two or three specialist replacement companies and one to two artillery replacement regimental staffs. The infantry replacement battalions of both these arms contain reconnaissance battalions. In addition, there are two chemical warfare replacement regimental staffs in Wehrkreis X. The many other replacement units—mostly of service troops, such as supply troops, motor maintenance troops, and medical troops—are not represented in the table since there is generally only one in each Wehrkreis.
Also not represented are the four important replacement and training brigades for the Grossdeutschland, Feldherrnhalle, Croatian, and "999" units, which are outside the regular series of replacement units.
Wehrkreis XVIII has mostly mountain troops. Wehrkreis XX, XXI, Böhmen und Mähren, and Generalgouvernement are omitted, since they control only a very few units. Since units in Wehrkreise XX and XXI are connected with Wehrkreis II, and units in Wehrkreis Böhmen und Mähren properly belong to Wehrkreise XIII and XVII, they are listed under Wehrkreise II, XIII, and XVII, respectively. In general, units are listed under the Wehrkreis that controls them, and not necesarily under the Wehrkreis in which they are located. Although the units in the table have been designated simply as replacement units most of them are actually combined replacement and training units.
The strength of battalions will fluctuate greatly, depending upon whether they have just received new recruits or convalescents or depleted their organization by sending replacements to the field. Thus some battalions in the table may have a strength of 500 men and others over 1500.
Affiliated field divisions are given to permit a comparison between the replacement units and "their" field units. General Headquarters troops and disbanded or destroyed field divisions are not included, and converted field divisions could not be attributed to a specific Wehrkreis. The present affiliation is the controlling one, even though the division was mobilized in another Wehrkreis.
Demonstration regiments and battalions and the many military schools contain additional reserves of manpower. With the latter, however, attached "kommandiert" personnel is carried by the old unit and not by the school.
At the end of 1943 there were possibly 2,000,000 men in the Replacement Army; at the end of 1944 there were probably considerably less. On the whole, units of the Replacement Army were remarkably stable during the 5 years of war, with regard to type, number, and in some cases also with regard to the location of the replacement elements.
However, major changes did occur in the replacement division staffs, regimental staffs, and specialist companies in the years 1942 to 1944. Most of the units dissolved were in the artillery battalion series. Additional units or new types of units were created whenever necessary, often preceding developments in the Field Army, as witnessed by the formation of assault gun, and Panzer howitzer replacement and training battalions, mortar training companies, and replacement and training battalions for troops with stomach and ear ailments.
m. EXAMPLE OF AFFILIATION BETWEEN A FIELD DIVISION AND ITS REPLACEMENT AND TRAINING UNITS. The table above shows how the replacement training system, although greatly modified, is worked out to the smallest detail. The table was valid for a Volks Grenadier division as late as November 1944. The replacement units shown are mostly of the combined replacement and training type, even though they are designated as replacement units.
n. RECENT DEVELOPMENTS. After the Allied advance through France in August 1944, most of the replacement and training units from the outlying areas of the western Wehrkreise were withdrawn farther east within the Wehrkreise. Evidently efforts were being made to preserve the replacement and training structure within the Wehrkreise, even though they were part of the Theater of Operations. A similar attempt was made in Wehrkreis I on the Eastern Front. In some instances, replacement units were moved to another Wehrkreis, but then only to locations just across the boundary.
Late in 1944, Wehrkreis XII, the middle one of the western Wehrkreise, moved some of its replacements far inland into the central Wehrkreise. These units, however, still remain at the disposal of Wehrkreis XII.
Early in 1945 affiliation between replacement units and field units was still valid as affiliation from the field unit to the replacement unit, but generally not in the other direction.
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