TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — 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.]



1. Total Requirements

a. VARIABLES INVOLVED. The determination of the over-all requirements necessary to maintain German troops presents a number of difficulties. This is best shown by a review of the German supply expenditures in Russia in 1941. Armored divisions averaged some 30 tons daily when inactive and about 700 tons a day when engaged in heavy fighting; infantry divisions required 80 tons a day when inactive and some 1,100 tons during a day of heavy fighting. When engaged in defensive, mopping-up, or minor offensive activities, the divisions required supplies in amounts somewhere between the two extremes. By far the most important variable in this campaign was the amount of ammunition expended; requirements of fuel and equipment also varied considerably, while rations and clothing consumption remained relatively static. Expenditures depended upon the nature of the action involved, the types of units engaged, the zone of action, the season of the year, the amount of materiel available for consumption, and the facility with which supply movements could be made.

b. ESTIMATES OF TOTAL REQUIREMENTS. When the variables evident in the 1941 Russian campaign have become relatively constant, as is the case at present, the German supply requirements can be estimated with some degree of accuracy. Under present conditions the average total supply requirements per German soldier are estimated to vary as follows:

Character of fighting
in area
  Total pounds
per man
per day
Inactivity   . . . . .   5-10      
Mopping-up   . . . . .   15-20      
Defensive fighting (but not against a major Allied push)   . . . . .   20-25      
Heavy defensive fighting   . . . . .   25-50      
Offensive fighting   . . . . .   25-50      

2. Rations

a. HUMAN RATIONS SCALES. The daily ration quantity (Portionsatz) is the amount of food consumed by one man for one day. It consists of three meals, the noon meal amounting to one-half of the total, the evening meal to one-third, and the next morning's breakfast to one-sixth. The Armed Forces High Command has laid down an over-all plan specifying the maximum amount of any ration item that may be served. The amount depends upon two factors: the duty class of the man receiving the ration, and the component class of the particular item being served.

There are four main types of rations served to troops. Ration I (Verpflegungssatz I) is for troops committed to combat, for those that are recuperating from combat, and for troops stationed in Norway north of 66° N. Lat. Ration II is for occupation and line-of-communication troops. Ration III is for garrison troops within Germany. Ration IV goes to office workers and nurses within Germany. Hospital cases may fall within any of these classes depending on the seriousness of the cases.

Item Component Duty Class
  Class  Ration I   Ration II   Ration III   Ration IV 
Rye bread(a)700700700600
Fresh meat with bones(b)1361079056
Soy bean flour(b)7777
Headless fish(h)30303030
Fresh vegetables and fruits(c)250250250250
Pudding powder(d)20202020
Sweetened condensed skim milk(d)25252525
Other seasonings(e)3333
Fats and bread spreads(g)60504035
Supplementary allowances(l)2222
Total Maximum Ration in grams 1,6981,6541,6221,483
Total Maximum Ration in lbs 3.743.643.573.26
Wine (in summer) (quarts)(j).
Cigarettes (pieces)(k)7632

The most important items of the component classes are as follows: (a) bread; (b) meats, soy bean flour, cheese, fish, and eggs; (c) vegetables; (d) puddings and milk; (e) salt, mustard, vinegar, and other seasonings; (f) spices such as pepper, cinnamon, and cloves; (g) butter, lard, marmalades, fats, and bread spreads; (h) coffee and tea; (i) sugar; (j) spirits and wines; (k) tobacco.

Substitute issues may be made within a component class but not among different component classes. Thus the daily maximum allowance of vegetables for a soldier is 60 grams [In dealing with captured German documents, the American soldier will invariably find the rations allowances computed in grams or kilograms. A gram equals .0353 ounce or .0022 pound. A kilogram (1000 grams) equals 35.3 ounces or 2.2 pounds.] of dried vegetables, or 1200 grams of kidney beans, or 400 grams of salted vegetables, or equivalent quantities of any of about 30 other substitutes. It is not possible to predict which items will be served on any given day. The following chart, however, sets forth a likely breakdown of these maximum ration allowances.

b. SPECIAL TYPES OF HUMAN RATIONS. (1) March ration (Marschverpflegung). The march ration is a cold food ration issued for not more than three or four consecutive days to units in transit either on carrier or by foot. It consists of approximately 700 grams of bread, 200 grams of cold meat or cheese, 60 grams of bread spreads, 9 grams of coffee (or 4 grams of tea), 10 grams of sugar, and six cigarettes. Thus it has a total weight of about 980 grams.

(2) Iron ration (Eiserne Portion). An iron ration consists of 250 grams of biscuits, 200 grams of cold meat, 150 of preserved vegetables, 25 of coffee, and 25 of salt. Total weight is 650 grams without packing and 825 grams with packing. An iron half-ration is composed of 250 grams of biscuits and 200 grams of preserved meat; thus its total weight is 450 grams without packing and 535 grams with packing.

(3) Combat Package (Grosskampfpäcken) and Close Combat Package (Nahkampfpäcken). The Germans have begun to use these types of rations for troops engaged in combat. They include chocolate bars. fruit bars, candies, cigarettes, and possibly biscuits.

c. ANIMAL RATIONS, An animal ration is the amount of food consumed by one horse, draft ox, dog, or carrier pigeon for one day. The quantity of an animal ration allowance (Rationssatz) depends on the type of animal, the area in which he is serving, and the content of the ration he is being fed. Horses, for instance, are divided into four groups: draft horses of the heaviest breed, draft horses of heavy breed, saddle-horses and light draft horses, and small horses. On the Eastern front, draft horses of the heaviest breed receive a maximum ration allowance of 5650 grams of oats, 5300 grams of hay, and 5750 grams of straw (including 1500 grams of bedding straw). The allotments to other horse groups are proportionately less. On fronts other than the Eastern Front, the allotments for all horses are generally smaller. In addition, substitutes such as preserved forage, barley, corn, etc., may change the ration weight. If the horse is being fed an iron ration, he is given a single item such as oats or hay or straw.

d. RATIONS IN THE FIELD. Local stores obtained by purchase or confiscation play a greater part in the supply of rations in the field (Feldportionen for men and Feldrationen for animals) than is the case for any other class of supply. It is part of the German planning principle to live off the land as much as possible and to obtain only the remaining requirements from stocks procured through channels. The Germans fully appreciate the difficulty of employing such methods during periods of combat and do not count upon local stores during operative periods. Usually a normal reserve of about 10 days' rations for each man of an army is maintained within the army. The rations consist of full and iron rations, although the latter may be eaten only upon the receipt of special orders.

Rations carried in an army for each man:

   Full rations      Iron rations
With the man   . . . . .   -    1(half)
On a combat vehicle   . . . . .   -    1 
In the field kitchen   . . . . .   1    1 
In the unit ration train   . . . . .   2    - 
In the division train   . . . . .   1    - 
In the army dumps and train   . . . . .   a total of about 3

Ordinarily there are two full and two iron horse rations carried either on the horse or in unit supply columns. Other rations are carried by the army and the division.

For staff planning purposes, the weights of rations are computed by the Germans as follows:

Type of Rations  Weight
in grams
in pounds
Human rations:
Standard ration with packing   . . . . .   1,500 3.3  
Iron ration with packing   . . . . .   825 1.82
Iron half-ration with packing   . . . . .   535 1.18
Horse rations:
Standard ration   . . . . .   10,000 22.   
Iron oat ration   . . . . .   5,000 11.   
Iron hay ration   . . . . .   5,000 11.   
Iron straw ration   . . . . .   2,500 5.5 

3. Fuels and Lubricants

Distribution of fuel is calculated in the consumption unit (Verbrauchssatz) which is the amount of fuel that will move each vehicle in a formation 100 kilometers or 62 miles. The allowance of consumption units per formation is systematically replaced as it is expended. Under normal conditions it was standard for German formations to maintain three consumption units at army dumps: in addition, armored formations carried four units, reconnaissance elements carried six and a half units, and all other formations carried five units. Because of present fuel shortages, the allowances of consumption units are now determined by the amount of fuel which the General Staff believes is the minimum necessary for the desired tactical uses.

4. Equipment and Clothing

The replacement of equipment and clothing is based upon the allowances authorized for units and individuals in the table of organization (Kriegsstärenachweisung), the table of basic allowances (Kriegsausrüstungnachweisung), and the various annexes (Anlagen) to these tables. When the materials allotted under the tables are destroyed, damaged, lost, or worn out, they are repaired or replaced as quickly as possible.

5. Ammunition

a. AMMUNITION ALLOWANCES. The initial issue (erste Ausstattung) of ammunition is the total ammunition carried by a formation in columns, in dumps, and with the troops. The initial issue is systematically replaced as it is expended, on the basis of reports of ammunition remaining on hand sent from the divisions through corps to army, except as operational conditions modify the system. The allowance per formation is based on the number of weapons called for in the table of organization of the unit. Each weapon, in turn, has a number of rounds which is allotted to it as an ammunition quota or unit of issue (Munitionsausstattung). Two units of issue for all weapons of the division are carried within the division, while another unit of issue for all weapons in the army is held on army columns or trains as an army reserve. Thus each army has three ammunition quotas or units of issue for all weapons of the army.

b. AMMUNITION ISSUES. Of the two ammunition units of issue that are found within the division, over one unit is found forward on the men, with the guns, and as company and battalion reserves, while less than one full unit of issue is retained as a division reserve in division columns and dumps. The exact quantity issued to each man is largely determined by the amount held by the battalion and company as their reserves. The following charts exemplify the units of issue found in infantry and artillery units of an army.

Ammunition Issues (Rounds) for a Volks Grenadier Division:

Weapon*    Forward
(Unit of
9-mm automatic pistol   . . . . .   18   16   17 
9-mm machine pistol   . . . . .   690   512   601 
7.92-mm machine pistol   . . . . .   720   540   630 
7.92-mm rifle   . . . . .   99   75   87 
7.92-mm rifle (for troops other
than infantry troops)
  . . . . .   25   20   22 
7.92-mm semi-auto rifle   . . . . .   159   135   147 
Rifle grenade launcher   . . . . .   75   70   70 
7.92-mm LMG   . . . . .   3450   2505   2977 
7.92-mm LMG (for arty and
AT troops)
  . . . . .   1350   1020   1185 
7.92-mm HvMG   . . . . .   6300   4750   5525 
88-mm bazooka   . . . . .      
81-mm mortar   . . . . .   150   126   138 
120-mm mortar   . . . . .   150   90   120 
37-mm AA   . . . . .   1200   none**  ?**
75-mm inf how   . . . . .   192   151   171 
75-mm AT (mtz)   . . . . .   150   100   125 
75-mm AT (SP)   . . . . .   255    
105-mm gun how   . . . . .   225   126   175 
150-mm how   . . . . .   150   60   105 
* Not included are 75-mm gun and flame thrower.
** AA ammunition reserves are usually kept by army and not by division.

Units of Issue for Artillery Units:

Weapon  Number of Rounds
37-mm AA   . . . . .   1,500   
75-mm AA   . . . . .   300 
88-mm AA   . . . . .   300 
105-mm gun   . . . . .   125 
150-mm how   . . . . .   125 
150-mm gun   . . . . .   75 
210-mm how   . . . . .   50 

c. AMMUNITION EXPENDITURE. The unit of issue of ammunition is not to be confused with the daily expenditure amount of ammunition. The latter does not arrive at any constant figure, but varies with the type of action, the area of fighting, and the other factors mentioned in paragraph 1. By analogy with the reserve amounts of other expendable supplies, however, it is possible that three units of fire are judged by the Germans to be sufficient to maintain an army for a period of roughly eight to ten days.


[Back] Back to Table of Contents

Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Contact:
Copyright 2003-2005, All Rights Reserved.