Originally the infantry regiment of most armies was a force of ten 100-man
companies, with a total firepower of about 1,000 muskets, capable of delivering
five volleys per minute with highly trained men. From this force the regiment
has developed into a miniature division. This is particularly true of the German
infantry regiment, which was to a considerable extent, the model of our own.
The underlying principle of German organization is that each infantry unit,
from the smallest (squad) to the largest regiment), must be so armed and equipped
as to be tactically self-sufficient in combat. The tactical self-sufficiency of the
German infantry regiment is best illustrated by comparison with the German
infantry division, as follows:
||Three Infantry Battalions
||Three Infantry Regiments|
||Infantry Howitzer Company
||Division Supply Force|
Note from the above that every unit shown under the infantry regiment
belongs to the regiment organically and is composed of infantrymen. Also that
the infantry regiment is but one of the three infantry regiments shown under the
b. Infantry Regiment
The regiment consists basically of regimental headquarters, headquarters
company (mounted, communication, and engineer platoons), three infantry battalions
as above, an infantry howitzer company, an antitank company and a light column.
Numbers and minor details are subject to constant change and to the circumstances
of war, altered requirements, and losses.
The mounted platoon and communication platoon of headquarters company
are armed with rifles and pistols. The engineer platoon of headquarters company
is armed with seven submachine guns and three light machine guns in addition
to rifles and pistols.
Weapons of infantry battalions are discussed hereafter.
The infantry howitzer (13th) company has six light 75-mm and two heavy
150-mm infantry howitzers. The personnel is armed with rifles and pistols. The
75-mm infantry howitzer fires a 12-pound, while 150-mm infantry howitzer fires
an 85-pound projectile.
The antitank company may have either 37-mm, 50-mm or 75-mm antitank
guns or mixtures of 37's and 50's or 50's and 75's. The 37-mm antitank gun
penetrates two inches of armor at 400 yards at 90-degree angle. Special
armor-piercing projectile "AP 40" penetrates 2 1/4 inches at same range. The 50-mm
antitank gun penetrates just over three inches of armor at 500 yards at a 90-degree
angle. 75-mm antitank gun penetrates 4 1/2 inches of armor at 500 yards at a
90 degree angle.
The light column personnel is armed with rifles and pistols. Two light
machine guns may be provided for local and antiaircraft protection.
c. Special Companies and Units
(1) Headquarters Company:
The German infantry regiment has gone even farther than ours in some
respects. Their headquarters company contains, like ours, a communication
platoon (telephone and radio) and a reconnaissance platoon (mounted platoon). Unlike
ours, the German reconnaissance platoon may be mounted on horses, or in some
regiments on bicycles or motorcycles. Although it consists of infantrymen, this
platoon is in effect, a platoon of cavalry.
Moreover there is a unit which the American regiment does not possess -- a
strong engineer platoon of one officer and 66 men (10 additional men for transportation).
(2) Howitzer Company:
The infantry howitzer company is the 13th company of the regiment. This
company consists of infantrymen and should not be confused with artillery even
though the company functions as artillery. Need for this type of company in the
infantry regiment was brought out in World War I. The company has six light
(75-mm) and two heavy (150-mm) infantry howitzers. This mixed company has
some advantage over our own 105's, particularly in difficult or forest-covered
country where ranges are relatively short. The 150-mm infantry howitzer
projectile has about three times the power of our 33-pound 105-mm projectile.
(Both German howitzers have a maximum elevation of over 70 degrees). In more
open country our motorized 105's would have the advantage due to their greater
range and mobility.
Normally, each battalion in the front line will be supported by two light
(75-mm) infantry howitzers. The remaining howitzers are used at points where
they can support the main effort in the attack or in the defense; they are placed
in positions where the main effort is anticipated.
(3) Antitank Company:
Originally the German antitank company, which is organically a part of the
infantry regiment, had 12, 37-mm antitank guns and four light machine guns. The
37-mm antitank gun has been the model on which our own 37-mm gun was based.
The German gun, besides firing high explosive and armor piercing shells, also
fires a stick bomb with an armor-piercing hollow charge in the head of the bomb
and vanes at the end to guide the projectile. It is inaccurate at ranges over 150
yards. The stick bomb relies on hollow-charge, focused, blast effect for penetration
of armor rather than muzzle velocity.
At present the trend is toward 50-mm antitank guns and even 75-mm antitank
guns for the infantry. Therefore there are varied organizational differences
between antitank companies. Some companies have nine 37-mm antitank guns and
two 50-mm antitank guns while others have only the 50-mm antitank gun of which
there are nine in a company. Still other companies have a proportion of 50-mm
and 75-mm antitank guns on a basis of 6 and 3, or 3 and 6.
(4) Light Column:
Unlike the American regiment, the German regiment has its own organic,
mixed horse-drawn and/or motorized supply unit. This unit, known as the "light
infantry column" furnishes the regiment with all supplies except rations which
are carried by the ration trains II of the battalions. The light column carries a
reserve of all types of ammunition used by the regiment. The first reserve of
ammunition is carried within each company. Ammunition, equipment and supplies
are received by the light column from the transport columns of division (part of
the division supply force). The light column, after receiving ammunition, equipment
and supplies at distribution points, usually proceeds to designated points where
the transport of the individual companies will receive the ammunition, etc. Thus
the light column is the connecting link between the companies and division.
(5) Medical Service
The medical detachment comprises a force of about fifty enlisted men,
with a major or captain at regimental headquarters, a captain and a lieutenant,
or two lieutenants, with each battalion, and a medical NCO per rifle company,
assisted by one stretcher-bearer leader at company headquarters and one each with
the three rifle platoons. The medical organization of the special companies such
as the antitank, is not exactly known. Division ambulances go direct to battalion
One noticeable feature of the organization of the German infantry regiment
is the lack of an antiaircraft weapon like our .50 caliber machine gun. The German
have a 20-mm gun which serves both as an antiaircraft and antitank weapon and
can be used also as a heavy machine gun. However this weapon is not included
in the infantry regiment. For antiaircraft protection the Germans use their
machine guns. A special antiaircraft tripod is provided for the light machine guns
on the scale of three per rifle company and these offer good possibilities for
antiaircraft fire. Each machine gun company has three special mounts which are
set on wagons which take two machine guns each in a twin mount and thus serve as
a dual antiaircraft machine gun while on the march.
The Germans also do not have any weapon which approximates our
"bazooka" (rocket launcher AT). Wide use is made of antitank rifle grenades and
stick bombs may be fired from the 37-mm antitank gun. Both types of infantry
howitzers fire hollow-charge ammunition.
d. Infantry Battalion:
The infantry battalion consists of a battalion headquarters with communication
section, three rifle companies and one machine gun company as above. The
battalion has also the trains mentioned previously.
(1) General Description
Battalion receives support from the regimental units such as howitzer
company, antitank company, engineer platoon etc.
Each of the three infantry battalions within the infantry regiment is a
miniature regiment. The battalion is likewise organized on the principle of
tactical self sufficiency. It consists of a headquarters with communication section,
three rifle companies of three platoons each and a machine-gun company containing
12 machine guns on the heavy mount, together with six 81-mm mortars.
Each rifle company has 12 light machine guns, about 135 rifles, three
antitank rifles, three light (50-mm) mortars, 16 submachine guns and a number of
pistols. As mentioned previously, the company is composed of three platoons.
Each platoon has four rifle squads with one light machine gun each and a light
mortar squad with one 50-mm mortar. The antitank rifles are with the company
headquarters. One man in each squad is equipped with a rifle grenade discharger
which fires both anti-personnel and armor piercing grenades. Thus, in the platoon,
there are both flat-trajectory weapons (rifles and machine guns) and high-trajectory
weapons (light mortars and anti-personnel grenades fired from rifle-grenade
dischargers). Each squad leader, platoon leader and company commander
of rifle companies carries a submachine gun.
The heavy machine guns of the machine-gun company are the same caliber
as the light machine guns of the rifle companies. The guns are identical except
that a bipod mount is used with the light machine gun whereas a tripod mount is
used with the heavy machine gun. Thus the machine gun company is the supporting
unit of the infantry battalion. Each rifle company receives heavy machine gun and
mortar support from the machine gun company.
The communication section with the battalion has telephones, radios and
The battalion, as well as the companies within the battalion, has trains
which form the supply units of the battalion and companies. Thus the battalion
has a combat train, ration train I, ration train II and a baggage train whereas the
companies have the same trains with the exception of ration train II. The company
combat train always has the field kitchen and several other wagons for equipment,
etc. The ration trains (except ration train II) haul rations for the field kitchens
of the battalion, headquarters personnel and the companies. The ration train II
hauls rations from a division distribution point and distributes these rations to
the ration train I and the ration trains of the companies. The baggage trains of
the battalion and companies haul the extra baggage of these units. This means
such extra baggage as clothing, extra individual equipment, administrative equipment, etc.
The battalion discussed is one of the three battalions in the regiment. The
first battalion consists of companies 1 - 2 - 3 and 4. The second consists of
companies 5 - 6 - 7 and 8 while the third battalion consists of companies 9 - 10 - 11
and 12. Companies 4, 8 and 12 are the machine-gun companies with the other
nine companies being rifle companies.
(2) Rifle Company:
The rifle company consists of a company headquarters, three rifle platoons
and antitank rifle section and the combat, ration and baggage trains.
The company commander is armed with submachine gun. The total armament
includes 16 submachine guns, 12 light machine guns, three light mortars and
three AT rifles in the company.
The antitank-rifle section has three antitank rifles (.31 caliber) capable
of penetrating 1.3 inches of hardened armor at 100 yards. The new, modified
antitank rifle is a grenade-firing rifle which fires both armor-piercing and
anti-personnel grenades. Heavy AP grenade will penetrate 2 inches of armor.
The combat train contains a field kitchen and two wagons for the men's packs,
etc. The ration train consists of one ration wagon while the baggage train consists
of one truck.
(3) Rifle Platoon:
This platoon has four squads as above, and a light mortar squad as well as
a platoon headquarters. The platoon leader is armed with submachine gun. The
light mortar squad has one light (50-mm) mortar firing two-pound projectiles
to a maximum range of 550 yards. The platoon is served by one wagon (composed
of two carts) for transportating heavier weapons and equipment on the march.
(4) Rifle Squad:
The basic weapon of the rifle squad is one light machine gun (.31 caliber).
The squad leader is armed with a submachine gun (.35 caliber) while the other
men are armed with rifles or pistols. (The rifle is .31 caliber; the pistol, .35
caliber). One man per squad has a rifle-grenade discharger firing both
anti-personnel and armor-piercing grenades. Hand grenades are issued when necessary
(egg type, standard potato-masher type and smoke hand grenade).
(5) Machine Gun Company
This consists of a company headquarters, three heavy machine-gun platoons
(four heavy machine guns each) and a mortar platoon (six 81-mm mortars) as well
as a combat and ration train. The baggage is hauled by battalion baggage train.
The heavy machine gun is same caliber as light machine gun, with a high
cyclic rate of fire (900 rpm with model 34 and 1,150 rpm with model 42). Because
it is air cooled, the practical rate of fire is 300 to 350 rounds per minute.
The heavy mortar fires a 7.75-pound projectile, HE or smoke.
The machine gun company supports three rifle companies. Heavy machine
guns are attached to rifle companies by platoons (four guns) or sections (two guns).
Heavy mortars are attached to rifle companies by sections (two mortars).