The Motorized Panzer Grenadier Battalion, 1941 to 1942

At the beginning of 1941, the Panzer Divisions underwent a major reorganisation with a series of new KStN tables issued for the Schutzen Battalions, of which only a fraction survive today.  The outline of the Battalion was standardised as a Headquarters, a Heavy Company, a Machine Gun Company and three Motorized Rifle Companies.  The Heavy Company consisted of an Anti-tank Platoon with three towed 3,7-cm guns, an Infantry Gun Platoon with two 7,5-cm weapons and a Pioneer Platoon of three Squads.  The Machine Gun Company had two Platoons, each with four MG34s operating in the sustained fire role, and a Platoon with six 8-cm mortars.  

Each Rifle Company had a Section with two tripod mounted MG34s and three Rifle Platoons.  There was now a single type of Rifle Platoon, with a HQ and a 5-cm mortar team, and three Squads each with two light machine guns.  In all likelihood, the Rifle Platoon was almost identical to that theorised in the previous section, but would have added a Platoon NCO and seen the issue of machine pistols to the Squad leaders.

At the end of 1941 the organisation was changed yet again, and for the first time a full set of the relevant KStN tables can be found to reconstruct in detail what the unit was intended to look like. 

The Panzer Grenadier Battalion, circa 1942

Battalion Headquarters (5 Officers, 16 men, later reduced to 12 men)

Communications Platoon (22 men)

Battle Train I (14 men, later increased to 15 men)

Battle Train II (4 Officers, 32 men, later reduced to 31 men)

Rations Train (2 Officers, 6 men; later reduced to 1 Officer, 5 men)

Baggage Train (4 men)

Heavy Company (5 Officers, 189 men)

Company HQ (1 Officer, 15 men, later reduced to 13 men)

Maintenance Detachment (4 men)

Battle Train (10 men)

Baggage Train (4 men)

Anti-tank Platoon (1 Officer, 37 men)

Two Infantry Gun Platoons, each (1 Officer, 24 men)

Pioneer Platoon (1 Officer, 52 men)

Anti-tank Rifle Group (21 men)

Three Rifle Companies (5 Officers, 221 men), each comprised of;

Company HQ (1 Officer, 10 men, later reduced to 9 men)

Maintenance Detachment (4 men)

Battle Train (10 men)

Baggage Train (4 men)

Heavy Platoon comprised of;

Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 5 men)

Mortar Section (18 men)

Two Heavy Machine Gun Sections, each (15 men)

Three Rifle Platoons, each comprised of;

Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 5 men) (later became 1 Officer or NCO and 5 men)

Three Rifle Squads, each comprised of 14 men

Total Strength of 971 all ranks (30 Officers and 941 men) (later became 24 Officers and 947 men)

Points of note

The Machine Gun Company was broken up, its 8-cm mortars and sustained fire MG34s being distributed out to the Rifle Companies.  In June 1942 the Schutzen were renamed Panzer Grenadiers.

The elements of the Battalion

Battalion Headquarters - comprised the command staff of the Battalion, which included the Commander, Adjutant, an Ordnance Officer, who doubled as the Communication Platoon commander, and two Medical Officers.

Communications Platoon - fulfilled the same role as that in the Infantry of maintaining radio and line communications within the Battalion.

Anti-tank Platoon - the German Army began its offensive in the East still largely reliant on the 3,7-cm Pak35/36.  It was completely useless in the face of Red Army tanks such as the KV1, and earned its derisory nickname of the 'door knocker' from the troops in the field.  Gradually the weapon was replaced by the more effective 5-cm Pak 38, which would continue in use until the end of the war.  The Platoon was issued with five SdKfz10 light halftrack tractors and a field car when operating three Pak 38s.

Infantry Gun Platoon - this remained largely as before with two 7.5-cm guns and four Kfz69 light trucks acting as towing vehicles and ammunition carriers.  In theory each Battalion was to have two such Platoons, however shortages of equipment meant a single Platoon was not unusual.

Pioneer Platoon - the Pioneer Platoon was altered to four ten man Squads, each provided with its own truck and light machine gun.  Platoon HQ added several more trucks for equipment, plus a field car and motorcycles. 

Heavy Anti-tank Rifle Group - this Platoon served three 2.8-cm weapons as in the Armoured Battalion, the weapons towed by Kfz70 trucks.  Each gun was provided with a light machine gun for defensive uses.

The Rifle Company - the basis of the Motorized Rifle Company was a large fourteen strong Squad. 

It comprised a leader and assistant, armed with a machine pistol and rifle respectively.  They commanded two light machine gun teams, each of a gunner and loader, and a group six riflemen.  The two gunners each carried an MG34 and pistol, their two assistants both pistols, the remaining six men each a rifle.  The Squad was carried in two Kfz70 light trucks, each with its own driver armed with a rifle.   

Three such Squads operated under a Platoon Headquarters comprised of a Platoon Commander, NCO, messenger, driver, stretcher bearer and motorcycle orderly.  Originally, all Platoons were commanded by Officers, but during 1942 only the first Platoon was commanded by an Officer, the second and third each by a senior NCO.  The Commander carried a machine pistol, the stretcher bearer and the NCO both pistols, the others all rifles.  An anti-tank rifle was also issued, though there was no specified operator.  The 5-cm mortar and crew present in earlier Motorized Rifle Companies was deleted in the reorganisation of November 1941.  (It is this Platoon organisation, along with that for the Motorcycle Schutzen, that has been used as the template for the attempted reconstruction of the 1939-1940 version.)

Each Company now had a fourth, Heavy Platoon.  This had two Sections, each with a pair of MG34s with sustained fire tripods, and a third Section with two 8-cm mortars.  Each HMG Section had two Kfz70 light trucks, and the Mortar Section three, with a light car and two motorcycles for Platoon HQ.

Company HQ provided the usual command functions, and administered the Company Train and maintenance crews.

Summary

On paper at least, the above Battalion organisation remained in use until the end of 1943.  In reality, it was no doubt subject to the same amendments and reductions found in the Infantry arm during this period of the war, especially in the area of transport.

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