15. Panzer Division in Africa

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15. Panzer Division in Africa

Postby Skarn » Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:24 am

Hi everybody,

An easy question for those who know the DAK as well as their pocket : when this division was sent in North Africa ?

AFAIK, the first elements of the division were in Libya in February 1941, but the division was not operational until April or May. Am I right ?

Additional question : did it exist a specific schema concerning the "African" armored divisions ? I mean : it seems that the 15. and 21. Panzer Divisionen had only a Schützen Regiment and didn't fit with the theoretical schema for an armored division 1941 : an armored regiment, two motorized regiments, an artillery regiment, etc. Could someone tell me more about this ?

Thank you very much by advance !
Very best regards,

Loïc
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Postby Leo Niehorster » Sat Aug 21, 2004 6:26 am

You're confusing the 15. PzDiv with the 5. leichte Div (mot). The 5. leiDiv(mot) started to arrive on 14 February 1941, although its 5. PzRgt did not disembark until 11 March 1941.

The first units of the 15. PzDiv started arriving in Tripoli on 5 April 1941, and were more or less ready to use upon arrival. It took until mid-June for all the units to get across to Africa.

The organization aspect is a bit involved.
The 5. leiDiv(mot) started out as an improvised unit, redesignated as the 21. PzDiv, but not organized like one until later.

The 15. PzDiv had two infantry regiments when it arrived in North Africa. It gave part of one of them to the 5. leiDiv(mot), which had had only had two MG battalions up to then. The two Panzer divisions then each had one regiment with three battalion (as opposed to the PzDiv in Europe which had two regiments with two battalions each).

The units that fought in the North African theater usually started out as regular organized units, but were modified to suit the situation. Some of the units had a so-called "Tropisch" tables of organization, meaning for use in the desert. This usually meant more transport for the logistics/service units than normal tables of organization.

Also, please note that there was no official "standard" Panzer division anywhere until 1943. Until then, (and even afterwards), there existed many variations and improvisations.

The OKH Organizational Department tried occasionally to regularize the units fighting in North Africa, but events usually overtook these efforts. North Africa was very much a war of Kampfgruppen, and this was reflected in the local organizations.

An attempt was made to make the two Panzer divisions conform to the European model in 1943, but as I mentioned in the Afrikakorps Panzer Division infantry OOB thread. below, it is uncertain if these changes were made before the capitulation in Tunisia.

Cheers
Leo
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Postby Skarn » Sat Aug 21, 2004 7:02 am

Thanks Leo for these informations.

I notice that the 15. Panzer Division began its arrival in Africa on April 5th 1941 and not before, and that there was not official schema for a Panzer Division until 1943.

Nevertheless, I thought that there was not a "standardization", at least a regularization of these scheme between fall 1940 and spring 1941. After this period, it seems that the Panzer Divisionen were organized with an armored regiment with two or three battalions and two motorized regiments of two battalions, whereas before, there were several types of units (1., 2., 3., 4., 5. and 10. Panzer Divisionen with two Panzer Regimenter, 5. Panzer Division with two Schützen Regimenter, etc).

Thanks again for your precious help,
Very best regards from France,

Loïc
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Postby Leo Niehorster » Sat Aug 21, 2004 9:31 am

Hi Loic,
Well, they tried, but there were still many differences.
    Pz Div Pz Brig Pz Rgt Pz Bn Pz Co/Bn Total Cos Notes
      1          1          1          2          3          6          –
      2          –          1          2          3          6          –
      3          1          1          3          3          9          –
      4          –          1          2          4          8          –
      5          –          1          2          3          6          –
      6          –          1          3          3          9          Czech tanks
      7          –          1          3          4        12         Czech tanks
      8          –          1          3          3          9          Czech tanks
      9          –          1          2          3          6          –
    10          1          1          2          4          8          –
    11          –          1          2          3          6          –
    12          –          1          3          3          9          Czech tanks
    13          –          1          2          3          6          –
    14          –          1          2          3          6          –
    15          –          1          2          3          6          –
    16          –          1          2          3          6          –
    17          –          1          3          3          9          –
    18          1          1          3          3          9          amphib. tanks
    19          –          1          3          3          9          Czech tanks
    20          –          1          3          3          9          Czech tanks
    21          –          1          2          3          6          –


Then there are the maintenance units: some had one tank maintenance company, some had one company and one independent platoon, and others had no companies but three independent platoons. The 21. PzDiv had two light tank platoons. And that's just the tank units.

The infantry regiments also varied. Some had a self-propelled heavy infantry gun company, others did not. Some regiments did not even have a motorized infantry gun company. Some had motorcycle infantry platoons, others did not. Some had an SPW battalion and others only a SPW company. There were different types (T/O) of motorized infantry companies.

Some artillery regiments had headquarters batteries, others did not. Some had 10cm K and 15cm sFH in their third artillery battalions, some had only 15cm sFH. Some battalions had headquarters batteries, others did not.

The armored car companies in the reconnaissance battalions varied (none, one, or two), as did the nationality of the vehicles.

Some engineer battalions had two, others three engineer companies. Only some of these third companies were equipped with SPW, others were only motorized. Some one or two bridge columns. Only some had armored bridge launchers.

In the antitank companies, the types and numbers of ATG varied. Some had a light AA company, others did not.

Not to mention the plethora of makes, models, types, tonnage, and nationalities of the motor vehicles within the divisions.

All that one can say is that the intent was there, but was never realized.

Cheers
Leo
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Postby Skarn » Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:18 am

Leo,

I assume that the figures you gave in your message are those on June 22nd 1941, I am wrong ?

Otherwise, I notice what you said. Thank you for these, as always, precious informations.

Loïc
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Postby Roger Griffiths » Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:47 am

Oh Dear. It's very heartening to see so many people still showing an interest in these matters, but there's only one way to go about it.

Firstly get the basic reliable books.

Leo's Organizational Series

Das Deutsche Heer, Wolf Keilig

Das Heer 1933-1945, Burkhardt Mueller-Hillebrand

Verbaende und Truppen, Prof. G. Tessin

and then spend the next 20 years accumulating as many actual Zustandsberichte as possible.

I get the idea that some people think that if they ask enough questions on here they will learn everything. I'm afraid it is not so. This subject is very deep and requires dedicated and long study.

Roger
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More Detail

Postby Ron Klages » Sat Aug 21, 2004 2:41 pm

Here is a bit more detail on the arrival of the German units in North Africa at Tripoli in the beginning.

Convoy 1 on 11 February 1941:
Feldlazerett 4./572
kl.Kw. Kol. 800 und 804
kl.Kw. Kol. für Filtergerät
reifenstaffel 13

Convoy 2 on 14 February 1941:
Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 39
Aufklärung-Abteilung 3

Convoy 3 on 20 February 1941:
Stab, 1., 2. und 3. Batterie/I. Abteilung/Flak-Regiment 33

Convoy 4 on 25 February 1941:
4. und 5. Batterie/I. Abteilung/Flak-Regiment 33
le.Kol./I. Abteilung/Flak-Regiment 33
part of 2.(H))/14. Panzer
3./Nachrichten-Abteilung 39
Kw.Kol. 797 , 801, 803 und 822

Convoy 5 on 27 February 1941:
M.G. Bataillon 8
5. Pionier-Kompanie/ M.G. Bataillon 2
Vers.-Kdo./Panzer5-Regiment 5 [1/2 of the unit]
Stabsqu./5/ leichte Division

Convoy 6 on 3 March 1941:
Regiments-Stab z.b.V.200
Kw.Kol. 5/619

Convoy 7 o6 March 1941:
M.G. Bataillon 2
Kw.Kol. 6/619 und 662

Convoy 8 on 8 March 1941:
Regiments-Stab/ Panzer Regiment 5
II. Abteilung/ Panzer-Regiment 5

Convoy 9 on 10 March 1941:
I. Abteilung/ Panzer-Regiment 5

Convoy 10 not recorded

Convoy 11 and 12 on 18 March 1941:
Kurierstaffel
part of Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 605
I./Jagdgeschwader 27

Convoy 13 on 21 March 1941:
I. Abteilung/Artillerie-Regiment 75 [minus the 1. Batterie]
Stab und Funk-Kommpanie/Korps-Nachrichten-Abteilung
rest of Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 605
Kw.Kol. 1./533, 2./533, 1./686 und 3./686

Convoy 14 on 23 March 1941:
1. Batterie/Artillerie-Regiment 75
Fernsprech-Kompanie/Nachrichten-Abteilung Libyen

Convoy 15 on 30 March 1941:
I. Abteilung/Flak-Regiment 18
part of Fla-M.G.-Bataillon 606
6./Kol. Abteilung 533
2. und 4./Kol.Abt. 686

sunk during the convoy were

30 men and equipment for the 2./Fla-M.G.-Bataillon 606
part of 6./M.G.-Bataillon 2
part of Panzerspähzug/Aufklärungs-Abteilung 3
7./Kol.Abteilung 686

Convoy 16 on 1 April 1941:
Panzer-Jäger-Abteilung 33

Convoy 17 on 5 April 1941:
Stab, 1., 2. und 3. Kompanie/Kradschützen-Bataillon 15
1., 2., 3. und 7./Kol. Abteilung 686

Convoy 18 on 10 April 1941:
4. und 5. Kompanie/Kradschützen-Bataillon 15
4., 5., 6. und 9. Kol. Abteilung 534
10. und 11./Kol. Abteilung 529

Convoy 19 on 14 April 1941:
1. Staffel, 1a, 1c und IIa Stab/ 15. Panzer-Division
Stab I. Bataillon, 1., 3., 4., 5., und 6. Kompanie/Schützen-Regiment 115
II. Abteilung/Artillerie-Regiment 33
2., 5., 6., 7., 9. und 10./Kol. Abteilung 33


Convoy 20 on 16 April 1941:
sunk in route with the loss of
28 officers and 315 men missing
part of Stab/ 15. Panzer-Division
Stab und 11. Geschütz-Kompanie/Schützen-Regiment 115
Stab und Stabs-Batterie/Artillerie-Regiment 33
part of Panzer-Nachrichten-Abteilung 33
part of Sanitäts-Kompanie 2./83
part of kl.Kw.Kol. 9/33 und 10/33 with all weapons, vehicles and equipment

Convoy 21 on 20 April 1941:
Panzer-Aufklärung-Abteilung 33
Stabs-Kompanie/Schützen-Regiment 115
Erkundungskommando Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 33
2. Staffel Qu./Stab 15. Panzer-Division
rest of Panzer-Nachrichten-Abteilung 33
Schlächtereizug
part of Bäckerie-Kompanie 33
part of Sanitäts-Kompanie 2./83

Convoy 22 on 24 April 1941:
Stab und Stabs-Kompanie/I. Abteilung und 1. Kompanie/Panzer-Regiment 8
7., 9., und 10. Kompanie/Schützen-Regiment 115
Horch-Kompanie 3./Nachrichten-Abteilung 56
7./Kol. Abteilung 533
part of Bäckerie-Kompanie 33

Convoy 23 on 2 May 1941:
Stab, 2., 3. und 5. Kom-anie, und le. Kol./Panzer-Regiment 8
Stab II. Abteilung, 2. und 8. Kompanie, und le. Kol./Schützen-Regiment 115
III. Abteilung/ Artillerie-Regiment 33
Lichtstaffel/Beobachtungs-Batterie 326
12./Kol. Abteilung 33
part of 1./Nachschub Kol. Abteilung 572

Convoy 24 on 6 May 1941:
Stab II. Abteilung, 6. und 7. Kompanie, und Werkstatt-Kompanie/Panzer-Regiment 8
one M.G. Kompanie, one M.G. Zug, one PaK Zug, and two s.Gr.W. Truppe as replacements for M.G. Bataillon 8
Schallstaffel/beobachtungs-Batterie 326
Vehicles for Stab 15. Schützen-Brigade, Stab und Stabskompanie, und 2., 3., 4., und 5. Komaponie/Sch¨tzen-regiment 104 und Stab und 1. Kompanie/Panzer-Pionier-Bataillon 33
le.Pz.Kol. 13./33

Convoy 25 on 13 May 1941:
Stab I., 1. und 2. Batterie/Artillerie-Regiment 33
Vehicles for 6., 7. und 9. Kompanie/Schützen-Regiment 104
1., 3. und 8./Kw.Kol. 33
Stab, 2., 3., 7. und 8./gr.Kw.Kol. 572

Convoy 26 on 21 May 1941:
3. Batterie/Artillerie-Regiment 33
Gr.Kw.Kol. 4/572
Werkstatt-Kompanie 1./33
Panzer-Ersatzteile-Kol. 33
Vehicles for 8. Kompanie/Schützen-Regiment 104

Convoy 27 on 25 May 1941:
Panzer-Jäger-Kompanie and Krad-M.G. Zug for M.G. Bataillon 8

Convoy 28 on 28 May 1941:
1. Batterie/Küsten-Artillerie-Abteilung 533
4. und 11./Kol. Abteilung 33

Convoy 29 Had no new units aboard

Convoy 30 on 22 June 1941
parts of:
1.Kompanie/Pionier-Bataillon 33
Pionier-Bataillon 900
3. Batterie/ Artillerie-Abteilung 408
9. Batterie/Flak-Regiment 25

Convoy 31 on 28 June 1941:
III. Bataillon/Infanterie-Regiment 258
III. Bataillon/Infanterie-Regiment 241
Bau-Bataillon 85


This data comes from T. Jentz's book TANK COMBAT IN NORTH AFRICA

best regards,
Ron Klages
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Postby Skarn » Sat Aug 21, 2004 3:31 pm

Ron,

A huge thank you for these informations !
I think I have here all the datas I needed about the arrival of DAK in Africa ;-)

I have some questions about them :
1) does anyone have additional informations about Infanterie Regiment zbV 200 ? When was it created ? From which unit ? For what purposes ?
2) The last convoy had a battalion of Infanterie Regiment 241 and another of Infanterie Regiment 258. But these units are listed as regiments depending of 106. and 112. Infanterie Divisionen, which were never sent in Africa. Could someone tell me why these two battalions were there at this time ? And what were their respective fate ?

Thanks again Ron,
Very best regards,

Loïc
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Postby Leo Niehorster » Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:19 pm

Many thanks Ron The listing is the first complete one I have seen. (I don't have the 1st Jentz North Africa book.) Does the list continue after Convoy 31?

Besides the convoys, does it list the air transfers? Such as the Staff of the 5. leiDiv(mot) on 21 Feb 41; or the I./SchtzRgt 104 and 33. PionBtl on 27 April 41? Does it list anything else besides the units? Such as fuel tonnage, ammunition, replacement tanks, etc.? <Pant, pant>

Note these are arrival dates of the convoys in North Africa. Disembarkation dates were not always the same, in some cases a day later.

The entry for Convoy 1 of 11.02.41 is missing the Entladestab 681. Note that these units were not part of the 5. leiDiv(mot), but non-divisional units, (Heerestruppen), part of the DAK. (Rommel)

The entry for Convoy 2 of 14.02.41 should read 1.Kp/PzAufkl 33, the first unit to arrive of the 5. leiDiv(mot). (Streich)

Cheers
Leo
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Postby David W » Sat Aug 21, 2004 6:19 pm

Ron, I hope you don't mind me butting in :wink:

I too have a copy of Jentz's excellent book & I owe Leo about 50 favours :!: So I will endevour to answer his queries.


Leo, no sadly the list does not continue after convoy 31. I am sure it will do so in the next volume.

YES :!: It does list the air transfers from 27/04/41 - 11/06/41. I will post them at the end of this post.

Sadly no tonnage and next to nothing on replacement tanks (shame).

AIR TRANSPORTS TO LIBYA 1941

Benina 27/4/41 Stab 15 Schuetzen Brigade.
Stab I Battalion 3 & 4 Kompanie.
Schuetzen Regiment 104.

Benina 28/4/41 Stab 1 & 2 Kompanie Pioneer Battalion 33.

Benina 29/4/41 1,2,5 & 6 Kompanie & Stab II Battalion Schuetzen Regiment 104.

Benina 2/5/41 Stab Schuetzen Regiment 104.

Benina 3/5/41 7,8 & 9 Kompanie Schuetzen Regiment 104.

Tripoli 4/5/41 Stabs Kompanie 10 & 11 Geschuetz Kompanie, Schuetzen Regiment 104.
6 & 10 Oasen Kompanie.

Tripoli 6/5/41 2 Oasen Kompanie.

Tripoli 21/5/41 Two Zuege Pioneer Battalion 900.

Tripoli 24/5/41 2 Kompanie Pioneer Battalion 900.

Tripoli 25/5/41 Stab Pioneer Battalion 900.

Benina 26/5/41 1 Kompanie Pioneer Battalion 900.

Tripoli 31/5/41 13 Oasen kompanie.

Tripoli 10/6/41 64 personnel for Panzer Nachrichten Abteilung 78.

Tripoli 11/6/41 Personnel for Panzer Nachrichten Abteilung 78 & 3 Batterie Artillerie Regiment 408.




The pleasure was all mine.

All the very best to Ron Skarn & Leo.

From David.
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Postby Ron Klages » Sat Aug 21, 2004 8:54 pm

Loïc,

III./Inf.Rgt. 241 was initially part of the 106. Inf.Div. and was sent to Africa but on 14 September 1941 it was renamed as I./Schützen-Rgt. 155 of the 90. light Afrika-Division

and

III./Inf.Rgt. 258 was initially part of the 112. Inf.Div. and was sent to Africa but on 21 September 1941 it was renamed as II./Schützen-Rgt. 155 of the 90. light Afrika-Division

and

III./Inf.Rgt. 258 was initially part of the 113. Inf.Div. and was sent to Africa in May 1942 but on 21 September 1942 it was renamed as III./Schützen-Rgt. 155 of the 90. light Afrika-Division.


Regimensstab z.b.V. 200 was established on 27 January 1941 in Wehrkreis III for the Afrika-Einsatz in Sperrverband Libyan. It was to serve as the Stab for M.G. Bataillons 2 and 8.


David,

No problems on "butting" in. We all owe Leo for his excellent research in all matters that have to do with organization.


I have another excellent book, THE WAR AGANIST ROMMEL'S SUPPLY LINES 1942-12943 by Alan J. Levine that gives a great deal of information on supplying the African theater. I will get it out and see if I can add to the data posted so far. Keep out an eye for a posting on what I come up with.

Leo,

I noticed you have sent your next two books to the publisher and I am on their trail. If you readers oput there have not acquired any of Leo,s excellent works, then get with it. If organization is your thing then Leo is the author.

Also thank you for the correction of the Convoy 2 information.

best to all,

Ron
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Postby Skarn » Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:10 am

Hey !

Thanks all for these excellent informations. Feldgrau is really the best forum about WWII I've ever seen ;-)

David, your datas about air transport are very appreciated.

Ron, thank you for your additional informations about 106., 112. and 113. Infanterie Divisionen. Nevertheless, I think there is a typo when you said "III./Inf.Rgt. 258 was initially part of the 113. Inf.Div. and was sent to Africa in May 1942 but on 21 September 1942 it was renamed as III./Schützen-Rgt. 155 of the 90. light Afrika-Division". I guess you would tell III./Inf. Rgt. 268, am I wrong ? Is it also the good year, 1942, and not 1941 ?

Don't worry concerning Leo's books. Here in France, it is quite difficult to obtain good American books, but I do my best every time :D
Leo, when your publisher would accept to introduce massively your books in Europe ? ;-)

All the best !

Loïc[/b]
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Postby Leo Niehorster » Sun Aug 22, 2004 2:50 am

Last time I met Jentz (and Doyle) they told me that they were going to visit the archives in Italy, (ostensibly looking for information about Italian vehicles used by the Germans), but this could be an unexpected find. Really amazing. Of course, Tom Jentz's first love always has been and is North Africa... I look forward to any further data.


Ron & Dave - many thanks for the lists.
Have waited many years for this stuff.


Loïc -
- the books are available directly from the publisher, The Military Press, which is located in the United Kingdom,
- he sends them anywhere in the world,
- the price always includes postage.
See The Military Press at
http://www.militarypress.co.uk/
As far as I know, he speaks French (spends all his holidays there, anyway) :D
- He is not HTML capable, so his web site is done by someone else. It takes weeks to update. So ask. At the least he will advise you when books are available.

Cheers
Leo
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Postby Ron Klages » Sun Aug 22, 2004 10:32 am

Loïc,

You are correct regarding III./I.R. 268 becoming III./I.R. 155 on 21 September 1941 and not 1942.

It was late and I was in a rush and the fingers did not follow directions from the mind.............

As I noted I spent some time going over the book THE WAR AGANIST ROMMEL'S SUPPLY LINES, 1942-1943 and I found little else regarding the initial transports of troops to North Africa via convoys in 1941. What I did find was the following:
In January, February and March 1941 the Allies sank 10 supply ships bound for North Africa. In April and May 1941, 26 ships were sunk.

Convoy 20 on 16 April 1941 was intercepted by 4 British destroyers and they sunk 5 transports and 2 escourt ships with the loss of a single destroyer in the engagement.

After that the book jumps to the 1942 and on period in the theater.

I have always found logistics to be a very interesting aspect of fighting a war. Since it is generally not a glamorous aspect, little is written on the subject. Logistics can be the Achilles Heel of any theater of operations and when you cannot supply via surface methods, then the re-supply can be the determining factor. The African campaign was an excellent example of trying to supply a theter of operations in an unfriendly sea.

First, and I never realized this, the ability of the ports in North Africa to handle the incoming supplies was always limited in their capacities.

Tripoli could only handle 45,000 tons a month and it was a long way from the front which meant that from Tripoli to El Alamein, the German trucks expended a large amount of fuel just to re-supply the front line.

Benghgazi could only handle 2700 tons a month and Tobruk could only handle 2000 tons a month.

As a point of reference, the Allies at Normandy planned for 359,950 tons to come ashore in the first 25 days and they were able to bring ashore 289,827 tons, or 5.8 times more then all the ports in North Africa could handle for the Germans in 30 days.

The Allies could accomplish this because they planned. The Germans and the Italians never did the homework to effectively supply Rommel in North Africa. The Allies controlled the water and the air for the Normandy campaign but the Axis never did control either the air over the Mediterranean or the water of the Mediterranean.

Some other interesting figures are:
In August 1942 Rommel lost 33% of the supplies sent to him and 41% of the fuel to ships being lost. In September 1942 he lost 20% of the supplies and in October 44%. This was just prior to the El Alamein battles. No wonder he was doomed.

Once the conflict had shifted to Tunisia in late 1942, the Germans used destroyers to transport troops to the theater with 155 runs taking 52,000 men to Tunisia in November and December 1942.

Airlift in November 1942 delivered 15,273 men while sea transport only delivered 1900 men.

Airlift in December 1942 delivered 26,495 men.

Airlift in January 1943 delivered 14,250 men while sea transport delivered 15,000 men.

Airlift in February 1943 delivered 12,800 men.

Airlift from November 1942 to May 1943 delivered a total of 137,149 men and 31,686 tons of supplies.

In March and April 1943 the Axis lost 41.5% of their supplies in route. In May they lost 77%. In the Tunisian campaign the Axis lost a total of 506 ships of which 170 were over 500 tons.

The Axis in Africa was, I believe, doomed from the start since there was never a serious commitment to keep the forces supplied. I am amazed that the Germans were able to do as well as they did and to last as long as they did in a secondary theater with little to no higher level support. It is a true testiment to the ability of the German soldier and his immediate commanders to nearly accomplish the impossible via their professionalism.

I highly recommend THE WAR AGANIST ROMMEL'S SUPPLY LINES, 1942-1943 by Alan J. Levine, ISBN 0-275-96521-X for those interested in this aspect of a war.

best regards to all,

Ron Klages
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Postby David W » Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:46 am

Thanks Ron,

A very interesting post.

I had seen the 45.000 tonnes a month quoted before for Tripoli.

But also 24,000 tonnes a month for Benghasi & 18,000 for Tobruk. I had always suspected the latter figures to be too high. By ten-fold it would seem.

To put your figures into perspective; I have read that a typical Battalion in North Africa needed 700 Tonnes of supplies per month. Presumably this figure was considerably higher if the unit was expected to be in action for the entire month.

When you consider how many Battalions Germany had in this theatre, and add to it the Italian army, it is no wonder it was "a quartermasters hell". Supply must have been continually outstripped by demand.

Alan Levine's book sounds very interesting & informative indeed.

Take care all.......... Dave.
David W
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