Static (ersatz?) divisions

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Static (ersatz?) divisions

Postby ahmedvonmuneeb » Sat Apr 15, 2006 7:48 am

I'm sorry about making this post here, I simply couldn't find the sub-forum that said "Wehrmacht 1934 - 1945" anywhere on site. So here goes:

What exactly made the static divisions used by Germany "static." I can understand the lack of motorization, but wasn't that the same as other leg divisions in the Wehrmacht. Was there a difference of equipment and organization as well (less heavy weapons etc.). How were these divs moved around? I think the manpower for these divisions was substandard too, but I'd like someone to put it in black and white for me, or point me in the right direction. By the way, I live in Islamabad, so don't refer me to books that are not available here. Thank you.
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Static Divisions

Postby MarkD » Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:41 pm

These units were originally created for coastal defense in 1941. Since all motorized and even much of the horse-drawn transport was allocated to divisions participating in the invasion of Russia, there simply weren't very many vehicles left for the troops that had been assigned to occupation duty in France.

Germany had already commandeered the motorized transport had been used by the defeated French, Belgian and Dutch armies. With all of those trucks, it had managed to roughly double the number of its panzer and motorised divisions, plus raise dozens of additional (regular) infantry divisions. Furthermore, Hitler was trying to show the German people that the war would not interfere seriously with the production of civilian goods, so the German automotive factories continued to produce military transport pretty much at 1939 levels.

Obviously, something had to give. Although the threat of an English cross-channel attack was negligible in 1941, the German Army in France still needed to garrison the key ports and beaches. To that end, they raised their first series of "Standing Still" divisions of the 700 series during the summer of 1941. These 15 divisions were scattered into France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Greece and Yugoslavia. They had very little artillery and even heavy infantry weapons like mortars and machine guns were in short supply. By the end of 1941, most of them had received additional equipment (much of it captured). Their soldiers were generally older men who lacked the stamina for hard-fighting on the Russian front.

The transport of a Static Division (as the Allied Forces called them) was so limited that the artillery and the supply trains could not be moved at the same time. Since they were intended for coastal defense, military doctrine did not forsee moving their artillery batteries anyway. Some of these divisions had less than a dozen motor vehicles.

The 700 series divisions were understrength by the standards of a 1941 infantry division. They only had 6 infantry battalions which were organized into two infantry regiments. There was no recon battalion. Later in 1942-44, one or two "Ost" battalions were often attached to these units and some were re-organized as Type 44 divisions with three regiments of two infantry battalions each.

The 200 and 300 series of static divisions in 1942-43 generally had three regiments of 3 infantry battalions each, but like their predecessors they lacked even sufficient horse-drawn transport to move their artillery and supply trains. Many of their German rifle battalions were replaced with "Ost" battalions (the 266th had five such "Ost" battalions). Like many other German infantry units, their supply trains were also manned by "Hiwis" (Russians in German uniforms). During the first half of 1944, the Germans "upgraded" some of their Training Divisions into Static Divisions (47, 48, 49, 165) by adding personnel and equipment and they formed additional divisions (59, 64, 226, etc.) from older aged men which were deployed in coastal sectors where regular infantry divisions had been previously stationed.

Although transport was short, in the event of an emergency local civilian vehicles (motor and horse) were commandered to give these units more mobility. Then after the surrender of Italy in 1943, some of the captured Italian trucks were used to partially motorize some of these Static Divisions. The 243rd and 346th were partially motorized, being reduced to 6 infantry battalions each. The 265th and 266th in Brittany each had one regiment that was partially motorized along with a supporting artillery battalion (these kampgruppes would be detached for rapid reaction to an Allied invasion, which was what actually happened). In the Pas de Calais zone, the 19th Luftwaffe Field and 326th Divisions also received a compliment of motor vehicles with the former being sent to Italy at the end of May, 1944. The 715th Division was also fully motorized and sent to Italy.

Due to the nature of the partisan war in the Balkans, the 704, 714 and 717 Static Divisions were converted into "Jaeger" Divisions by the addition of horse-drawn transport.

Most Static divisions assigned to coastal defense were often co-located with a Coast Artillery Regiment which often consisted of completely immobile, casemated guns (often captured equipment). Thus, for defense against sea landings, these units often had a full compliment of artillery when compared to their Allied counterparts. However, the emplaced artillery was either overrun by advancing Allied soldiers or abandoned when German troops withdrew towards Germany in the fall of 1944.

Although never designated as "Static Divisions", many of the new infantry divisions that were left behind in France in 1941 (like the 305th) were also lacking in heavy equipment and transport. Many people have wondered why the Germans had so many "regular" divisions sitting idly in France in the late fall of 1941 when the German army in Russia was already running very short of infantry at the gates of Moscow. The simple answer is that these formations were still not adequately equipped for full-scale combat.

Mark D.
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Postby rommel_gaj » Mon Apr 24, 2006 2:17 pm

Due to the nature of the partisan war in the Balkans, the 704, 714 and 717 Static Divisions were converted into "Jaeger" Divisions by the addition of horse-drawn transport.


The fourth 700-division in Yugoslavia,the 718. was also converted into the Jaeger division in April-May of 1943.The four became 104.,114.,117.,118. Jaeger.Main thing in the process of "converting" was adding younger personell to the ranks of the above mentioned formations.

Cheers,

Gaius
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Postby Lorenz » Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:22 pm

rommel_gaj wrote:
Due to the nature of the partisan war in the Balkans, the 704, 714 and 717 Static Divisions were converted into "Jaeger" Divisions by the addition of horse-drawn transport.

The fourth 700-division in Yugoslavia,the 718. was also converted into the Jaeger division in April-May of 1943.The four became 104.,114.,117.,118. Jaeger.Main thing in the process of "converting" was adding younger personell to the ranks of the above mentioned formations.
Cheers,
Gaius


Welcome to Feldgrau, Gaj!! I am happy to see an old friend from AHF come aboard!

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Postby rommel_gaj » Mon Apr 24, 2006 5:34 pm

Thank you Mr.Larry,

I sincerely look forward to meeting you more often here on Feldgrau,

Best,

Gaj
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Postby ahmedvonmuneeb » Mon Apr 24, 2006 10:57 pm

Wow, that's quite a comprehensive answer MarkD and rommel-gaj. Just a few more questions, would it also be common for these divisions to be equipped with obsolescent heavy weapons if any; such as Maxim 1910's and 50mm mortars? Also, I've often come across references to ost-truppen, but have always assumed that these were regular Wehrmacht who were unfit for duty on the Eastern Front, being as you indicated a difference between the two, are ost-truppen actually Ukrainian or Estonian auxiliaries rather than Wehrmacht?
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Postby Laurent Daniel » Tue Apr 25, 2006 2:34 am

Hi Ahmed,
ahmedvonmuneeb wrote:Also, I've often come across references to ost-truppen, but have always assumed that these were regular Wehrmacht who were unfit for duty on the Eastern Front, being as you indicated a difference between the two, are ost-truppen actually Ukrainian or Estonian auxiliaries rather than Wehrmacht?


Usually the term Osttruppen refers to national of Eastern countries that were in the Wehrmacht. Some were considered as "auxiliaries", especially at the beginning of the war. But further events turned them into full Wehrmacht combattant. I think that the saga of the Hiwis at Stalingrad was a turning point in those considerations.

Obviously, Hitler hated the idea to have "Slav untermenschen" in the Wehrmacht but necessity was stronger than ideology in their case.
Ukrainians, Russians, Balts, etc, even Asians from central Asia.

However they were not considered as top class troops, hence their participation in Static units in Western Europe.

A small question for MarkD. You wrote:
Germany had already commandeered the motorized transport had been used by the defeated French, Belgian and Dutch armies

They also had quite a bounty of British equipment left behind in Northern France, especialy Dunkerque (Dunkirk, sorry). Was it used also by the Germans ?
Regards
Daniel Laurent
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Postby Lorenz » Tue Apr 25, 2006 5:03 am

ahmedvonmuneeb -

If you go back to the Forum Menu, skip down to Branch Research and then go to Foreign Volunteers, Collaboration and Axis Allies, you will find lots and lots of interesting material on the Osttruppen and foreign volunteers.

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Postby Shadow » Thu Apr 27, 2006 12:20 pm

Good response "MarkD" - :D

For others interested in this subject, Dr. Walter Scott Dunn Jr. gives a pretty complete explanation in Chapter 9 ("A Comparison of Infantry Divisions") and Chapter 15 ("The German Order of Battle") in his book "Second Front NOW - 1943".

Best regards -
Signed: "The Shadow"
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Static Divisions

Postby MarkD » Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:08 pm

The Germans equipped their Static divisions with any usuable equipment and munitions that they could find. The 719th Static Division was referred to as an "artillery museum" due to the diversity of its equipment.

These units also became the dumping ground of relatively obsolete equipment, such as lighter anti-tank guns that could not penetrate Soviet tanks. Even such units as the 77th Grenadier Division (created from older reservists of the Replacement Army) would be issued such equipment.

It is ironic that Hitler though the "Eastern Legions" of peoples from the Soviet Union could be trusted to fight against the western Allies, but not the Russians. Many of the "Ost" battalions surrendered within hours of encountering US and British forces, even on the 6th of June in Normandy. The unreliable performance of Ost Battalions continued through the beginning of August, 1944. But then the British did a really stupid thing: they dropped leaflets on the Ost units and promised to repatriate them to Russia if they would surrender! Of course the Ost battalions began to fight hard after that, since they knew what Stalin would do to them. Yet, with such poor performance in June and July, Hitler began disbanding the Ost battalions in late August. Some were re-formed into the 30 SS Division, which gave a credible performance for about a week in upper Alsace against the French. Later, these troops were again formed into several RONA (Vlassov Russian) divisions and thrown at the Kustrin bridgehead in April of 1945.

Eastern (Ost) troops were better employed in auxiliary roles, like running the supply services of the combat divisions and corps. Being in the rear areas, they released reliable Germans to fight in the front lines. Soldiers in the rear areas providing service support were known as Hiwis. At Stalingrad alone, there were about 50,000 Hiwis among the 230000 surrounded (20000 were Rumanians, meaning only about 160000 Germans were caught in the pocket).
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