Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Every so often in going through the mountain of files on my hard drive I come across one that makes me smile inwardly, despite the serious subject matter. Most of the time it’s because I recognise over the distance of 70+ years that little has changed. Administrators and bureaucrats still like to get one over each other, and the mission seems to matter less than to make sure that your unit (or today department) comes off better than the other. Here’s one of those, and it makes you wonder who the enemy was!

Division z.b.V. Afrika

Divisional C.P. 1 November 1941

Dept. Ia Az III/2.

Re: Personnel strengths of Fortress Halfaya

Attention: D.A.K. Ia

1.) Division reports that I./S.R.104, since 30 October assigned to Fortress Halfway, only has a real (‘Ist’) strength of:

18 Officers, 1 Civilian Official, 136 NCOs, 683 ORs, compared to a theoretical (‘Soll’) strength of

26 Officers, 4 Civilian Officials, 176 NCOs, 969 ORs.

This means there is a gap of almost 30% across all categories.

2.) According to the report by the battalion, 21. Pz.Div. pulled a large number [of personnel] into various commands, through permanent (‘Kommandierter’) and temporary (‘Abstellungen’) assignments. Within the [21.Pz] division, only this battalion had to provide these.

This division considers the current real strength of I./S.R.104 a not acceptable weakening of the personell allocation to the Halfway Sector, and requests politely that 21. Pz.Div. is requested soonest to fill up the combat (‘Gefechts’) strength [of the battalion].

The other interesting information here is the considerable strength of Major Bach’s battalion, which at full strength would be able to field 1,171 men. This compares to about 830 men in a British motorised infantry battalion at the same time (see this link). So in fairness, even at the low ‘Ist’ strength being reported, the battalion still had the same size as its British equivalent.

I./S.R.104 (1st Battalion, Motorised Rifle Regiment 104) was the last German unit to surrender in the Bardia/Halfaya Sector. It was then under command of the Italian Savona Division under Major-General Fedele de Giorgis. The battalion was rebuilt from the dissolved MG Battalion 8 in April and May 1942.

The document can be found in the war diary appendices of 90th Light Division in NARA.

German Tank Arrivals in North Africa

Many thanks to user nmao on the AHF for putting all this information together in this thread. I have turned this into a more readable Excel table, and done some calculations and added some notes to the information. Hope people find this of interest. Sorry if the table is a bit difficult to read, but you can easily copy it out into Word or Excel and work with it.

German Tanks Sent to North Africa 1941 – 1943

Date

Type

Notes

Pz I

Pz II

Pz III

Pz IV

Tiger

Command Tanks

Small

large

10-11 March 41

25

45

61

17

0

3

4

PR 5
8-10 March 41

0

0

10

3

0

0

0

PR 5 – all burned in Naples
18 – 21 March 41

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

PzJg Abt. 605

10-May-41

25

0

0

0

0

0

0

PR 8
25 Apr – 6 May 41

0

45

71

20

0

4

6

PR 8
10 – 14 Apr 41

0

0

10

3

0

0

0

PR 5 – replacement for burned tanks.
July – August 41

0

0

15

5

0

0

0

PR 5 – assigned 4 June by Heereszeugamt, for initial losses
July – August 41

0

4

6

0

0

0

0

PR5 & PR 8 – assigned 30 June by Heereszeugamt for initial losses
July – August 41

0

0

4

0

0

0

0

PR5 & PR 8 – assigned 30 June by Heereszeugamt for initial losses

13-Dec-41

0

5

17

0

0

0

0

3./PR5 sunk on Carlo del Greco/Fabio Filzi

13-Dec-41

0

6

17

0

0

0

0

7./PR5 sunk on Carlo del Greco/Fabio Filzi

19-Dec-41

0

5

17

0

0

0

0

3./PR8 delivered on Ankara at Benghazi

19-Dec-41

0

6

17

0

0

0

0

7./PR8 delivered on Napoli at Tripoli
4 Mar 42Jan – May 42

0

0

3

20

2

211

0

49

0

0

0

0

0

4

Sunk on Marin Sanudo (not assigned)
PR 5 & 8 (incl. first Pz III w/long 50mm)
Jan – May 42

0

10

34

0

0

0

0

3. & 7./PR5 replacement for tanks lost 13 Dec 41

May-42

0

0

0

9

0

0

0

PR 5 – Pz IV equipped with the long 75mm gun

Jun-42

0

0

0

1

0

0

1

PR 5 & 8
Jul – Aug 42

0

0

76

0

0

0

0

PR 5 & 8
Jul – Aug 42

0

0

0

20

0

0

0

PR 5 & 8 Pz IV G with long 75mm gun

08-Nov-42

0

0

6

0

0

0

0

PzAbt 190 at Benghazi
12-22 nov 42

0

7

46

10

0

0

2

Pz Abt 190
23 Nov 42 – 24 Jan 43

0

0

25

0

20

0

0

sPzAbt 501 at Bizerte and Tunis (a few)- Pz III are M version with short 75mm
27 Nov 5 – Dec 42

0

19

89

8

0

0

6

PR7 at Tunis

03-Dec-42

0

2

16

12

0

0

3

PR7 – sunk

15-Jan-43

0

0

21

17

0

0

0

PzAbt Gruen (later I./PR5)
12 Mar – 16 Apr 43

0

0

19

0

11

0

0

sPzAbt 504 at Tunis and Bizerte – Pz III are M version with short 75mm
early Apr 43

0

0

2

8

0

0

0

3./PR Hermann Goering
Nov 42 – May 43

0

0

31

97

0

0

0

Unclear
Nov 42 – May 43

0

0

16

28

0

0

0

Unclear – Sunk
Total sent

54

177

839

307

31

7

26

Total Pz III & IV sent    1,146
Total Lost in Transit

0

16

78

43

0

0

3

Total Received

54

161

761

264

31

7

23

Total Pz III & IV Received    1,025

Sources:

User nmao on Axis History Forum
Will Phelbs Panzer IV Universe

German Firing Trials against the Matilda II

I have previously posted some views on the Matilda II at this link.
While going through the appendices to the war diary of 21. Panzerdivision, courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, I came across the results of firing trials with various German guns against the Matilda II, which show quite nicely how the one-time  queen ofthe battlefield have moved towards obsolescence.

Some notes to help interpretation:

  • Indication (Anzeige) I interpret as ‘success’
  • Pz.Gr. is a tank round
  • I presume that the writer of the memo made errors in the tank/anti-tank round designations
  • Gr.40 (should be 39) is the standard model round for tank guns and anti-tank guns. It contained a small amount of HE filler for better after-armour effect.
  • Gr.41 (should be 40) is a tungsten-core round with better effect but no HE filler.
  • Pz.Gr.38 normal (should be Rot/red) is the standard anti-tank round of the short 7.5cm tank gun, capped and with HE filler.
  • Pz.Gr.38 red (should be HL for Hohladung) is a hollow charge round only available for the short 7.5cm tank gun in the Panzer IV at the time
  • l.F.H.18 is a light field howitzer, and was the standard artillery piece of the Wehrmacht. Comparable to the US 105mm or the British 25-pdr.
  • ‘Special ammunition’ for this gun was hollow-charge. This was not allowed to be used during Operation CRUSADER by order of Hitler.
  • Panzerbuechse 41 is a heavy anti-tank rifle.

STARTS

Trial Firing on Mark II
on 19.3.42 on the firing range of I./Panzerregiment 8

1.) Assembly and explanation of types of ammunition

2.) Firing at 600m with target at acute angle

5cm tank gun with Pz.Gr.41 on turret, also on wheel assembly

5cm tank gun with Pz.Gr.40 on turret

Potential indication

7.5cm Pz.Gr. normal on turret

7.5cm Pz.Gr. 38 red on turret

Panzerbuechse 41 on turret and lower hull

Indication

5cm anti-tank Gr.40 on turret, also on wheel assembly

5cm anti-tank Gr.41 on turret

7.5cm HE round on tracks

Indication

l.F.H.18 HE round on tracks

l.F.H.18 Pz.Gr. on turret

l.F.H.18 with special ammunition on turret

Indication

Turn the Mark II facing frontally.

Against the front all weapons that had indication from the side.

3.) Following this advance of all weapons to 400m

Fire on the front turret by all weapons in the same order as before. After this advance of all weapons with no indication to 200m.

At this range also indication by 2cm tank gun with Pz.Gr.40 and 41.

The original document is attached below. Comments and corrections more than welcome.

German report on firing trials results against Matilda II, 19 March 1942

Annual Report 1941 – 21. Panzerdivision

Annual reports are well known from the corporate world.  Until I went through my files tonight I did not know that German divisions also had them.  They were a bit different though, no foreword by the Chief Exec, no glossy pictures, or endless business prose about the competitive position of the company.  In their case, a single page sufficed.  Below I give the info contained in the Appendices to the War Diary of the division. It covers the time of fighting in North Africa.

The whole list would be too long to reproduce here, so I just restrict myself to two units of the division:

Unit: Machinegun Battalion 8

Tanks and armoured vehicles

Destroyed: 16

Captured: 0

Motor Vehicles

Destroyed: 60

Captured: 45

Artillery pieces

Destroyed: 0

Captured: 0

POW: 200

Unit: Reconnaissance Battalion 3

Tanks and armoured vehicles

Destroyed: 29

Captured: 17

Motor Vehicles

Destroyed: 125

Captured: 0

Artillery pieces

Destroyed: 5

Captured: 7

POW: 500