Military Organization > Nazi Germany > ​Schützenkompanie (May 1944)

Schützenkompanie (May 1944)

The following was the organization of the Schützenkompanie, the German Army's standard rifle company, from May 1944 to the end of World War II. This is based upon the organization laid out in KStN 131n published 1 May 1944.

Contents:

  1. Organization

    • 1 Company​ Troop

    • 1 Baggage Train

    • 3 Rifle Platoons

    • 1 Heavy Machine Gun Squad

  2. Discussion

    • Ammo Loads​

  3. Sources​

1943 - 1945 rifle platoon-01.png
 

Organization (May 1944 to May 1945)

  • Type: Infantry Company

  • Origin: German Army (Nazi Germany)

  • Time Frame: May 1944 to May 1945

  • Personnel: 2 Officers and 140 Enlisted

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  • 1× Company Commander (Kompanieführer), Hauptmann (OF-2) mounted on a saddle horse, armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun and 1 pistol

 

Company Troop (11 Enlisted)

  • 1× Company HQ Section Leader (Kompanietruppführer), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Unterfeldwebel (OR-6), armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun

  • 1× Vehicle Leader (Führer der Gefechtsfahrzeuge), Unteroffizier (OR-4) to Unterfeldwebel (OR-6), armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun

  • 1× Medical NCO (​Sanitätsunteroffizier), Unteroffizier (OR-4) mounted on a bicycle, armed with 1 pistol

  • 3× Messengers (Melder), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle each (1 mounted on a bicycle)

  • 4× Radio Operators (Funker), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle each

  • 1× Horse Leader (Pferdeführer), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

​→ Additional Equipment: Each company troop was allotted one light draft horse that hauled 2 infantry carts (infanteriekarren)

Baggage Train (13 Enlisted)

  • 1× ​Administrative First Sergeant (Hauptfeldwebel), Oberfeldwebel (OR-8) mounted on a bicycle, armed with 1 pistol

  • 1× ​Supply NCO (Gerätunteroffizier), Unteroffizier (OR-4), armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun

  • 1× Field Cook NCO (Feldkochunteroffizier), Unteroffizier (OR-4), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Writer/Machine Gunner (Schreiber/M.G.Schütze), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Armorer Assistant (Waffenmeistergehilfe), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Tailor (Schneider), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Cobbler (Schuhmacher), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Field Cook/Horse Driver (Feldkoch/Fahrer vom Bock), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 3× Horse Drivers (Fahrer vom Bock), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle each

→ Commissary Unit (Verpflegungsstaffel)

  • 1× Pay Clerk/Food Supply NCO (Verpflegungsunteroffizier), an Unteroffizier (OR-4), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Horse Driver (Fahrer vom Bock), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

→ Additional Equipment: Each baggage train had 4 wagons hauled by 2 light draft horses each. One was dedicated to the Verpflegungsstaffel and carried the food supply. An additional 4 light draft horses hauled the components of the field kitchen. There was also an MG-42 or MG-34 machine gun in the light role that would be used by the Schreiber.

3× Platoons (0-1 Officer and 32-33 Enlisted Each)

  • 1× Platoon Leader (Zugführer), a Leutnant to Oberleutnant (OF-1) in the 1st platoon or Feldwebel (OR-7) in the 2nd and 3rd platoons, armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun and 1 pistol
     

→ Platoon Troop (Zugtrupp)

  • 2× Messengers (Melder), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle each

  • 1× Stretcher Bearer (Krankenträger), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 pistol

  • 1× Horse Driver (Fahrer vom Bock), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Horse Leader (Pferdeführer), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

→ 3× Squads (Gruppen)

  • 1× Squad Leader (Gruppenführer), Unteroffizier (OR-4), armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun

  • 1× Deputy Squad Leader (Stellvertreter Gruppenführer), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun

  • 1× Machine Gunner (M.G.Schütze 1), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 MG42/MG34 machine gun and 1 pistol

  • 1× Assistant Machine Gunner (M.G.Schütze 2), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 5× Riflemen (Schützen), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle each

→ Additional Equipment: Each platoon had a wagon for carrying rucks and munitions drawn by 2 light draft horses and 2 infantry carts drawn by 1 draft horse. The wagon was driven by the Horse Driver while the horse drawing the infantry carts was led by the Horse Leader. Further, each platoon had 1 additional MG42 or MG34 general-purpose machine gun in reserve with the Zugtrupp.

1× Heavy Machine Gun Squad (18 Enlisted)

  • 1× Squad Leader (Gruppenführer), Unteroffizier (OR-4), armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun

  • 1× Messenger (Melder), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Armorer Assistant (Waffenmeistergehilfe), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

  • 1× Horse Driver (Fahrer vom Bock), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

→ 2× Heavy Machine Gun Teams

  • 1× Machine Gun Leader (M.G.Führer), Unteroffizier (OR-4), armed with 1 MP40 submachine gun

  • 1× Gunner, Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 MG42/MG34 machine gun (heavy role) and 1 pistol

  • 1× Assistant Gunner, Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 pistol

  • 3× Machine Gunners, Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle each

  • 1× Horse Leader (Pferdeführer), Grenadier (OR-1) to Obergefreiter (OR-3), armed with 1 Kar98k rifle

→ Additional Equipment: Heavy machine gun squad had 1 wagon drawn by 2 light draft horses. Each heavy machine gun team had 2 infantry carts hauled by 1 light draft horse.

Discussion

The rifle company, with a fairly substantial baggage train, support personnel, and potential for reinforcement from the Grenadier Battalion's 12cm  mortars, 8cm mortars, and/or heavy machine guns, could reasonably operate by on its own. The rifle platoon was the lowest level where fire and maneuver could practically take place. Although there was provision for fire and maneuver in the rifle squads (the lowest tactical unit), with the machine gun team supporting riflemen in an assault, more often than not (especially in the defense) the riflemen would essentially act as protection for the machine gun. The riflemen themselves were not competent at covering a maneuvering machine gun. If a squad were to lose its machine gun, those personnel were typically redistributed to squads that still had one.

There were no revolutionary changes to the standard German rifle company throughout the war, although minor, more incremental changes did occur. From the last organization change published December 1943 to this one published May 1944, these were the changes that occured:

  • The company's mortar squad (Granatwerfergruppe) that served 2 Gr.W.34 8cm mortars was dissolved and replaced by the heavy machine gun squad which served 2 general-purpose machine guns in the heavy role (i.e. from tripods).

  • The rifle platoons' 2 reserve general-purpose machine guns in the light role (i.e. from bipods) were reduced to 1 in reserve. The number of infantry carts per platoon was also reduced from 3 carts to 2 carts.

  • In the company's baggage train, the horse-related billets were reduced from 5 drivers from the buck and 1 driver from the sattle to just 4 drivers from the buck. The field cook was then given double-duty of a horse driver from the buck.

As far as the rifle platoons were concerned, there were no major changes since the last organizaitonal change. However, they did look different from the rifle platoons at the start of the war. In 1941, each rifle platoon had 4 rifle squads (10 men each) and a light mortar troop. Mind this was also after a reduction in manpower. The German Army would have been rolling with 13-man rifle squads during the invasion of Poland in 1939. Over the course of the war, the platoon was reduced in size to just 3 rifle squads, with each rifle squad being reduced in size to 9 men. This was almost certainly done to lean out the rifle companies to cope with an increasingly desperate manpower situation. It would stay at this size on paper until the end of the war, although in practice it could drop to fewer than 6 men as long as it still had a machine gun. Not to mention the early-war rifle company anti-tank rifle sections were removed, although this was probably offset by the introduction of superior man-portable anti-tank weapons.

Aside from the practical changes, the title of German infantry was also changed to "Grenadier" — an appeal to old Prussian military tradition. This should not be confused with the Grenadierkompanie, which were intended to be assault rifle-equipped companies within the Volksgrenadiers that ascribed to a completely different set of tactics, organization and equipment.

Ammo Loads

A brief overview of ammunition carriage:

  • Personnel authorized submachine guns had a standard ammunition carriage of 6x 32-round magazines (192 rounds) carried in 2 3-cell ammunition pouches.

  • Personnel authorized pistols had a standard ammunition carriage of 2x 8-round magazines (16 rounds) with 1 in the gun and 1 in the holster.

  • Personnel authorized Kar98k rifles had an ammunition load of 9x 5-round clips (45 rounds) on the march and 12x 5-round clips (60 rounds) in combat.

  • Each rifle squad had 1,150 rounds of ammunition for its machine gun. The machine gunner carried a 50-round belt drum loaded for quick reaction to contact. The assistant machine gunner carried 4 additional 50-round belt drums as the first-line ammo load and a 300-round ammo box. Two additional 300-round ammo boxes were carried by the riflemen. Before 1943, these 2 boxes would have been carried by an ammunition bearer (a third member for the LMG Team). Unlike in the U.S. Army and British Army, there were no special pouches or bags for carrying ammo for squad-level auomatic weapons or machine gun belts. Thus, the ammo boxes would be carried by hand.

  • In combat, up to 2 grenades (Model 24 stick or Model 39 hand grenades) could be carried by each member of a rifle squad.

Although not included in the KStN, disposable anti-tank weapons (Panzerfausts) were intended to be issued as part of a company's ammunition scales. Unlike the Panzershreck, which was considered a weapon, the Panzerfaust was considered a munition. Approximately 36 Panzerfausts were meant to be available to each rifle company to be distributed as needed depending on the situation. This would mean about 12 Panzerfausts per rifle platoon if distributed equally, or 4 per squad. This obviously varied and it could be expected under normal circumstances, Panzerfausts would be hauled in the platoon or company wagons when not needed. We've found numbers ranging from 30 to 50 per platoon as well, but it should be noted that the supply of Panzerfausts is often listed in divisional numbers (as part of the divisional ammo supply) and that the supply situation at the end of the war would have affected the numbers available unit to unit.

 
 

Sources

"The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious."

      - Marcus Aurelius

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