The German Motorized Infantry Battalion, 1942 to 1943
The Panzer Divisions were not the only motorized formations of the German Army. Shortly before the outbreak of war in 1939, a small number of Infantry Divisions were chosen to convert to the motorized role, replacing their normal allocation of horse drawn wagons with cars, trucks and lorries. Initially these Divisions retained the three Regiment format, but eventually were reduced to two Regiments, each of three Battalions.
During the mid-war period, these Motorized Divisions were converted to Panzer Grenadier Divisions. This saw them receive either an Assault Gun Battalion, equipped with the Stug self-propelled gun, or in certain formations a Panzer Battalion. Panzer Grenadier Divisions usually included the same Artillery Regiment as found in a Panzer Division, but had motorized rather than armoured Reconnaissance and Pioneer units.
As with many early war German units the KStN tables for the Motorized Infantry Battalion are seemingly lost. The below is based on the organization approved in November 1941, and I would suggest shared some commonalities with previous versions. In late 1943 the Motorized Infantry adopted the same structures as The Motorized Panzer Grenadier Battalion 1943 to 1944 featured elsewhere on the site.
The Motorized Infantry Battalion, circa 1942 to 1943
Battalion Headquarters (5 Officers, 15 men)
Communications Platoon (18 men)
Battle Train I (13 men)
Battle Train II (4 Officers, 32 men)
Rations Train (2 Officers, 7 men)
Baggage Train (4 men)
Machine Gun Company (5 Officers, 221 men)
Company HQ (1 Officer, 15 men)
Battle Train (10 men)
Maintenance Detachment (4 men)
Baggage Train (4 men)
Two Machine Gun Platoons, each (1 Officer, 47 men)
Mortar Platoon (1 Officer, 63 men)
Anti-tank Platoon (1 Officer, 31 men)
Three Rifle Companies (4 Officers, 205 men), each comprised of;
Company HQ (1 Officer, 16 men)
Battle Train (14 men)
Baggage Train (5 men)
Anti-tank Section (11 men)
Three Rifle Platoons, each comprised of;
Platoon HQ (1 Officer, 6 men)
Light Mortar Section (3 men)
Four Rifle Squads, each comprised of 11 men
Total Strength of 952 all ranks (28 Officers and 924 men)
Points of note
Prior to this reorganisation, the Machine Gun Battalion had no integral Anti-tank Platoon, and there would have probably been three Machine Gun Platoons each with four weapons. The Anti-tank Section of each Rifle Company was also likely smaller, perhaps seven men. These differences apart, the Battalions of early 1941 were probably very similar to the above.
The elements of the Battalion
Battalion Headquarters - consisted of the Battalion Commander, Adjutant, Ordnance Officer and two Medical Officers, and a small staff including drivers and motorcyclists.
Communications Platoon - maintained radio, wire and telephone communication between the Battalion and higher and parallel formations.
The Machine Gun Platoon - each Platoon had six MG34 general purpose machine guns, fitted out for the sustained fire role. The Platoon was intended to be deployed as a more normal four gun subunit, plus two weapons referred to as a 'reinforcement section'. This was probably as holdover from the previous Company organisation which appears to have had three Platoons of four guns. Rather than reduce their firepower, with the dissolution of the third Platoon the guns were redistributed out to the other two subunits. The Platoon had three 3-ton lorries and a light car for HQ.
The Mortar Platoon - had the standard six 8-cm weapons, each team with its own 3-ton lorry.
The Anti-tank Platoon - this element was added from the former Regimental Anti-tank Company. The Platoon had three 3.7-cm guns and five Kfz69 light trucks for towing and carrying munitions.
The Rifle Company - the Motorized Rifle Company mirrored the developments found in The German Infantry Battalion 1939 to 1942 including the move from a three to a four Squad Platoon during 1940.
In 1941 the Squad consisted of an NCO leader with an MP40, six riflemen and a three strong light machine gun team with an MG34. Two of the gun team were armed with pistols, the remainder of the Squad rifles. Completing the Squad was a driver with a rifle and a 3-ton lorry. Platoon HQ had an Officer, with pistol and MP40, a Platoon NCO and stretcher bearer each with a pistol, three messengers and one motorcyclist, all with rifles. The three-man Light Mortar Section had a rifle and two pistols and served the Platoon 5-cm mortar. Platoon HQ (less the motorcycle messenger) and Mortar Section personnel were carried across the transport of the four Rifle Squads.
Each Platoon also had two unallocated MG34 light machine guns, and this would appear to have been a development of late 1941. This gave the Motorized Rifle Company the same degree of firepower as found in a Motorized Panzer Grenadier which had eighteen MG34s in the light role.
The Anti-tank Section deployed two types of weapons. There were three teams, each of a gunner and loader for a 7.92-mm Panzerbusche anti-tank rifle as found in the normal Rifle Company. There was then a four strong detachment for a single towed schwere Panzerbusche 2.8-cm weapon. This must have required one of the Company HQ vehicles, which included a light car and 3-ton lorry, to act as its tractor, as the Anti-tank Section had no transport.
In many respects, the Motorized Infantry Battalion represents a more economical use of motor transport than the Motorized Panzer Grenadiers. Each Motorized Platoon was carried in four lorries, while the Panzer Grenadier equivalent required seven or eight light trucks, for no obvious tactical advantage while increasing requirements for fuel, spares and maintenance.
The Panzer Grenadiers officially moved to lorries as Squad transport in late 1943, though in reality the change was probably made before then, and it seems reasonable to assume that experience of the Motorized Infantry Battalion had some bearing in the matter.
The German Army
German Divisional Organisations