The following is an extract from a document prepared by a rifle company of a
German armored reconnaissance battalion. While the reconnaissance battalion is no
longer included in the German armored division, its functions having been taken
over by a division motorcycle battalion, this document is felt to be of interest in
that it shows how the principle of decentralization, visible throughout the entire
German army, is given emphasis. Furthermore, German tactical groupings
organized along lines essentially similar to both the units discussed below may
well be encountered. The document has reference to operations in North Africa
against the British during the early summer of 1942. The extract therefrom
* * *
a. Present Organization, Equipment, and Functions
(1) Organization and Equipment
The organization and equipment of the company consists of:
Three light platoons, each with seven armored half-track personnel
carriers, and one 37-mm antitank gun on an armored half-track.
One heavy platoon with nine armored half-track personnel carriers,
and two armored half-tracks with heavy mortars.
In all there are 37 half-tracks, of which 32 are armed with machine guns.
(2) Missions and Operations
The company, as such, was fought as a unit. It performed combat tasks
and security missions. Reconnaissance missions were not assigned the company.
However, individual platoons, reinforced with armored cars, antitank guns, and
a captured 25-pounder (British 3.45-in field artillery piece), were used for
reconnaissance in force.
The following types of operations were performed by the company:
Attack against hostile forward positions and counterreconnaissance
Breaking through hostile motorized elements to eliminate flank
Attack on enemy positions;
Blocking hostile attempts at penetration;
Defense against attacks by enemy armored vehicles;
b. Suggested Reorganization
(1) Changes in Organization
It is suggested that the number of half-tracks in the three light platoons and
the heavy platoon remain the same, but that the weapons be as follows:
Light platoons--each to have two (instead of one) 37-mm antitank guns
Heavy platoon--four half-tracks with 75-mm guns, two with heavy
mortars, and four with 28/20*-mm, or French 25-mm,** antitank guns.
(2) Advantages to be Gained
The offensive power of the company would be considerably increased by
the incorporation of the additional weapons. Machine guns and 37-mm antitank
guns remain indispensable for ranges below 2,000 yards. With the 75-mm gun,
fire superiority can be quickly obtained at longer ranges, especially in attacks on
the move; at short ranges they constitute a superior weapon against enemy
positions, dug-in antitank guns, etc. The antitank section with four guns should
supplement the 37-mm antitank guns, which are not effective against armored targets
at long ranges.
The existing heavy platoon organization with its two heavy mortars and
six machine guns is not sufficient for the tasks of the platoon in Africa. Even
support from the artillery battery, which is usually available, is not sufficient.
As the platoon which must support the company attack, provide the main weight
of fire and establish fire superiority, the heavy platoon must be more generously
equipped with heavy weapons. For the most part, it is this platoon, which has to
deal with enemy self-propelled guns, armored cars, tanks, and dug-in antitank
guns. The 75-mm gun, the mounting of which on half-track personnel carriers
has been successfully tried out, is the weapon needed. Against enemy tanks the
company requires a reliable antitank weapon. The 28/20-mm antitank gun or the
French 25-mm gun mounted on a half-track is suitable. The above reorganization
of the heavy platoon is required in the African Theater. On its own initiative the
company has already created a heavy platoon with two 75-mm infantry guns and
four 25-mm antitank guns mounted on personnel carriers.
*Choked bore--tapering from 28 mm to 20 mm.
**This is a dual-purpose AA/AT gun.