Discussion in 'General' started by von Poop, Apr 10, 2021.

  1. ltdan

    ltdan Nietenzähler

    A very telling example of a Kampfgruppe "in the bad column":

    Sept 11, 22:00: Receipt of telex, message Fsch. A.O.K. 1:
    85.I.D. does not exist as such, but only the reduced staff with small remnant splinter units, to which numerous other splinter units of the army and air force are attached.
    The division therefore asks to be allowed to use the designation Kampfgruppe Chill ( 85.I.D. ) in order not to create any false ideas.

    That's what I meant by fraudulent labelling, because actually the term "poorly armed bunch" would be more accurate. But the assessment was devastating enough as it was.
  2. Rabid Grandpa

    Rabid Grandpa Member

    Ther term "Kampfgruppe" was used for quickly arranged and often highly effective Battle Groups, as well as for "scratch" units, with everyone who could carry a rifle for a last stand. To be member of a "Kampfgruppe", could get you the iron cross or the birch cross.
    That's why you can't consider a "Kampfgruppe" as a sad bunch in any case. Even in the last 2 years of the war, there had been some highly effective "Kampfgruppen". The idea that a "Kampfgruppe" was doomed in any event, is simply wrong.
    When a "Kampfgruppe" is mentioned, you need to know the whole story. A "Kampfgruppe" can be a sign of great operational flexibiliy or as last ditch effort. "Kampgruppe" doesn't mean necessarily a sorry bunch of cooks and clerks.
    CL1 likes this.
  3. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    Were Kampfgruppen (battle groups to us: as Orwell wrote, never use a foreign word or phrase when a good English equivalent exists) good or bad? Like so many things in war, it depends.

    My own opinion, which is based mainly on my work with the British and Australian armies, is that battle groups worked best in a force which had a common doctrine and trained accordingly. The German Army had the first and did the latter and the use of battle groups was standard procedure. The British Army was different. The regimental tribalism of that army has often been remarked on, and there is little doubt that this parochialism hindered operations early in the war. Looking at both regular and TA units pre-war, I was struck by the rarity of large force and inter-arms exercises. Manuals of course existed, but the interpretation and application of same often varied from unit to unit and division to division. Now, this could allow forward-thinking units to innovate, but it could lead to problems when strange units had to work together. The unfamiliarity of the armor, infantry, and artillery branches with one another only made things worse. By 1918 the British Army had developed effective methods of all-arms warfare, but most of this was forgotten by 1939. Michael Carver was a great soldier but he was also an Echter tankie, and I was shocked when I read some of his contemptuous opinions of the British infantry. I also read of an artillery field regiment which was assigned to 50th Div during the Matruh period so suddenly that it had no time to learn 50th Div's movement drill, which was obviously different from the one it knew. The original Western Desert Force trained together for a long time before Italy declared war and this enabled it to combine units effectively, but that flexibility was lost in the expanded 8th Army. Many of that army's confusions and errors in May-July '42 were due to the causes enumerated above. On the other hand, most of 9th Australian Division's units had fought together in Tobruk and all had trained together in Syria post-Tobruk, and this made for both flexibility and uniformity of procedure at Alamein. Montgomery, bless him, had not forgotten the inter-arms lessons of 1916-18 but the Home Army's stiffness was still evident in the early phase in Normandy. This was soon shaken off, though. The 50th Division was an uneasy amalgam of old and new when it landed on GOLD, but by late July '44 it had learned how to combine units of different arms and varied background and experience at remarkably short notice. Guards Armoured was new to action in Normandy, but it soon learned how to combine infantry and armor in regimental groups. The division seems to have been the ideal level for developing common training and battle group co-operation. The 8th Armoured Brigade learned to work smoothly with 50th Division in Normandy, but griped when it had to move at short notice to support the unfamiliar 43rd and 49th. The US Army, like the British, had put much of its armor and other assets for infantry support in corps level pools, but when it reorganized after May 1945 for the assault on Japan many of these assets were devolved to divisional and even regimental level.
    Osborne2 likes this.
  4. Osborne2

    Osborne2 Well-Known Member

    TTH. I support your conclusions at #23. My work on divisional exercises in Western Command north west area 1940-42 shows that RAF air ground support was limited to one Lysander in 1942 dropping flour bombs on a column. It was not until 1942 any WC division had a LAA unit attached. Only one divisional exercise with tanks in the whole period, over three days. Problem in UK was as ever insufficient large training areas. Largest exercise was two divisions, one from WC and one from Northern, (attack/defence of Carlisle and Longtown) which was curtailed because of the August bank holiday rain. Rarely did whole divisions exercise, and some brigadiers were noticeably far less active than perhaps they should. It is no wonder that where possible D Day involved so many units being pulled back from the Mediterranean by both the UK and US.
    TTH likes this.

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