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The German Armored Division
Military Intelligence Service, Information Bulletin No. 18, June 15, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the wartime U.S. War Department publication. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]

Chapter 14

169. Dependence for fighting strength upon the condition of vehicles, high gasoline consumption, and the rapidity with which supply bases are left behind are factors which have a decisive bearing upon employment of the division.

170. Supply services must anticipate tactical and strategical demands made upon the division. Elasticity and ability to improvise are required in order to meet the demands of a constantly changing situation.

Close cooperation between the tactical and supply sections of the division staff is indispensable. It is of primary importance that there should be reliable communications—usually by radio—from supply services to the tactical group, to supply services of the superior formation, and if possible, to the rear services.

171. Every endeavor should be made to insure that the division goes into action fully supplied. On the march, when contact with the enemy is not expected and road conditions permit, it is desirable to send forward strong parties from the rear services—at the very least, fuel supply columns and repair and ration units. By this means, time necessary for transition from route order to battle order is appreciably reduced.

172. If the situation does not permit service detachments to be sent forward, parts of the fuel supply columns, ammunition columns, medical services, and recovery platoons of workshop companies should be temporarily incorporated into march columns during long moves. Personnel of the services will not move from the rest area until the fighting troops are all clear of the area. They will then usually move behind in bounds.

173. During combat the rear services require a strong and forceful leadership. As far as the situation allows, they must maintain close contact with the fighting troops in order to spare the latter long marches for replenishment of supplies. This also relieves the problem of protection and prevents dislocation arising from the movements of other troops.

The division will frequently present long exposed flanks, and in a critical situation may be compelled to employ fighting troops to protect or even to bring up supplies. In addition, all unit transport and the services must be able to protect themselves against air and ground attacks.

174. In order to simplify command of the numerous services, it will be normal practice to group several units under energetic commanders. Composition of these groups will vary with the situation. The greater part of the smaller motor transport columns and the supply company will usually be under command of the division G-4, while the larger motor transport columns for fuel supplies will frequently be employed singly.

175. Not later than the beginning of the battle, motor transport columns will be formed, consisting primarily of ammunition columns. They may, however, also include parts of the larger motor transport columns. Columns with cross-country vehicles are particularly suited to this purpose.

176. If shortage of gasoline occurs during an attack with strategic objectives, or during pursuit, it may be advisable to allot all of the fuel available to those units which are to play a decisive role in the battle, even at the expense of other units of the division.

177. Because of its complete mechanization and great distances covered by the division, motor transport makes the greatest demands upon the supply system. Fuel must be replenished as soon as it is expended. The G-4 must at all times have a clear picture of the fuel situation, the condition of vehicles, and demands made upon the workshop company.

The workshop companies form a special group. They must be employed with foresight and according to a strict plan. Repair of vehicles on the march and during battle is primarily the responsibility of unit repair columns and repair sections. More difficult repairs are carried out by the workshop companies. The latter can work effectively only under comparatively settled conditions, and arrangements should therefore be made for their employment for several days in the same place.

178. Supply of artillery and tank ammunition is the main task of the ammunition supply services. Shortages of tank ammunition can, in extreme cases, be made good from tanks which have been put out of action. The loading of ammunition cranes must be adapted to the mission of the armored division and to the combat expected. Timely consideration is necessary.

179. Rapid progress of operations requires special arrangements to be made for employment of the medical services. Sections of the medical services (surgical group, first-aid section, ambulances) must be well forward with the fighting troops, and medical companies must be kept in close attendance. Close liaison between the division medical units and higher units is especially necessary in order that the former may have ready information of medical arrangements set up by corps and army for rapid evacuation of the wounded.

180. The armored division is well supplied with iron rations and can therefore bridge gaps in the normal ration supply. Frequently it will be separated by long distances from its field bakery. If the supply of bread is thereby endangered, the armored division will make early arrangements for bread to be drawn from a higher unit.

181. When particularly heavy strain is imposed upon the supply services and every inch of carrying space must be utilized, it will frequently be necessary to place the light columns of units either wholly or partly under divisional command, and to dispatch them directly to delivery points. They may be used also in conjunction with unit supply transport.

182. In view of the rigid organization of the armored division, detachment of men and vehicles to guard and evacuate prisoners is extremely inconvenient. As a general rule, therefore, the armored division will only collect prisoners, leaving troops following in rear to make arrangement for guarding and evacuating them.

183. In critical situations the armored division may temporarily be supplied by air.1 It must be borne in mind, however, that the number of aircraft required is out of all proportion to the volume of supplies carried. Provision of supplies by air must, therefore, be confined to those parts of the armored division which must be supplied without delay in order to carry out their tasks. Air transport requires very thorough preparation. Time and place at which supplies are to be dropped must be laid down accurately. Flat country which provides a clear view, open and easily identified from the air, is most suitable. Terrain permitting, it is preferable for aircraft to land rather than to drop their supplies from the air. Wounded should be evacuated on the return flight.

[Destroyed German Gotha 242 glider]

[Destroyed German Gotha 242 glider]

1. These photographs show a destroyed Gotha 242 glider of the type that has been used for air transport in Africa. It has the following characteristics: power, towed by JU 52's; capacity, 4,800 pounds plus pilots and equipment, or 23 men plus equipment; armament, positions for 8 machine guns but sometimes only 3 or 4 are carried; wing span, 79 feet; over-all length, 52 feet 6 inches; maximum towed speed, 144 miles per hour; approximate landing speed, 70 miles per hour.

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