Military Organization > Soviet Union > ​Soviet Rifle Company (1944-1945)

Soviet Rifle Company (1944-1945) 

By Brendan Matsuyama, Editor

The following was the organization of the Rifle Company (Стрелковая рота) of the Soviet Red Army from early to early 1944. This is the штат № 04/550 (Dec. 1942) organization with changes from early 1944. Among other minor changes, the major change that came in early 1944 was the conversion of 1 of 3 Rifle Platoons into a Submachine Gun Platoon. This organization was then superseded by штат № 05/40 in December 1944.

This is the organization that would have been used during the operations in 1944, including the Leningrad—Novgorod Offensive and Operation Bagration.

The next level up from this was the Rifle Battalion, which consisted of 1 Battalion HQ, 3 Rifle Companies (this), 1 Signals Platoon, 1 Machine Gun Company (Maxim/SG-43), 1 AT Rifle Platoon, 1 AT Gun (45mm) Platoon, 1 Mortar (82mm) Company, 1 Medical Platoon and the battalion trains.

Contents:

  1. Organization

    • 1 Company HQ​

    • 1 Medical Section

    • 2 Rifle Platoons

    • 1 Submachine Gun Platoon

    • 1 Machine Gun Section

    • 1 Mortar Platoon

  2. Discussion

  3. Ammo Loads

  4. Sources

rifle platoon graphic 1944-01.png
submachine gun platoon graphic 1944-01.p
 

Organization

  • Type: Infantry Company

  • Origin: Soviet Army (Soviet Union)

  • Time Frame: 1944 Offensives (including Operation Bagration)

  • Personnel: 4 Officers and 137 Enlisted

Company Headquarters (3 Officers and 2 Enlisted)

  • 1× Company Commander, Captain (OF-2), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun and 1 TT Pistol/Nagant Revolver

  • 1× Company Sergeant Major, Starshina (OR-8), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle

  • 1× Quartermaster-Clerk, Sr. Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle/Carbine

1× Medical Section (5 Enlisted)

  • 1× Medical Instructor, Senior Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle/Carbine

  • 4× MedicsPrivate (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle/Carbine

2× Rifle Platoons (1 Officer and 39 Enlisted each)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Jr. Lieutenant or Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun and 1 TT Pistol/Nagant Revolver

  • 1× Deputy Platoon Commander, Sr. Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle

  • 2× Snipers, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant PU Sniper Rifle

​→ 2× Light Rifle Sections (9 Enlisted each)*

  • 1× Section Commander, Jr. Sergeant (OR-5) or Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Deputy Section Commander (Senior Rifleman), Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant or SVT-40 Rifle**

  • 1× Light Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 DP-27 Light Machine Gun

  • 1× Assistant Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle or1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Rifleman, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 4× Riflemen, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle

​→ 2× Heavy Rifle Sections (9 Enlisted each)*

  • 1× Section Commander, Jr. Sergeant (OR-5) or Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Deputy Section Commander (Senior Rifleman), Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant or SVT-40 Rifle**

  • 2× Light Machine Gunners, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 DP-27 Light Machine Gun

  • 2× Assistant Machine Gunners, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle or1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Rifleman, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 2× Riflemen, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle

* Two Light Squads (1 DP each) and 2 Heavy Squads (2 DP each) were authorized on paper. In reality, the 4th Section likely wouldn't be included in practice. By 1944, platoons would be decreased to 4 sections of 6 men to deal with combat losses and allow for a greater number of deployable units.

** If SVT-40 rifles were available, they would likely go to the Senior Rifleman as they had the experience to best take advantage of the increased capability

1× Submachine Gun Platoon (1 Officer and 39 Enlisted each)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Jr. Lieutenant or Lieutenant (OF-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun and 1 TT Pistol/Nagant Revolver

  • 1× Deputy Platoon Commander, Sr. Sergeant (OR-7), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 2× Snipers, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant PU Sniper Rifle

​→ 2× Light Rifle Sections (9 Enlisted each)*

  • 1× Section Commander, Jr. Sergeant (OR-5) or Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Deputy Section Commander (Senior Rifleman), Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant or SVT-40 Rifle**

  • 1× Light Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 DP-27 Light Machine Gun

  • 1× Assistant Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 5× Riflemen, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

​→ 2× Heavy Rifle Sections (9 Enlisted each)*

  • 1× Section Commander, Jr. Sergeant (OR-5) or Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 1× Deputy Section Commander (Senior Rifleman), Yefreytor (OR-4), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 2× Light Machine Gunners, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 DP-27 Light Machine Gun

  • 2× Assistant Machine Gunners, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

  • 3× Riflemen, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 PPSh-41/PPS-43 Submachine Gun

* Two Light Squads (1 DP each) and 2 Heavy Squads (2 DP each) were authorized on paper. In reality, the 4th Section likely wouldn't be included in practice. By 1944, platoons would be decreased to 4 sections of 6 men to deal with combat losses and allow for a greater number of deployable units.

1× Machine Gun Section (6 Enlisted)

  • 1× Section Commander, Jr. Sergeant (OR-5) to Sergeant (OR-6), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle

  • 1× Machine Gunner, Private (OR-1) armed with 1 M1910/30 Maxim Medium Machine Gun (later SG-43) and 1 TT Pistol/Nagant Revolver

  • 3× Ammunition Bearers, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle each

  • 1× Horse Driver, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle
     

​→ Additional Equipment

  • 1× Draft Horse and Cart

1× Mortar Platoon (7 Enlisted)

  • 1× Platoon Commander, Sr. Sergeant (OR-7) to Starshina (OR-8), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle

​→ 2× Mortar Sections

  • 1× Mortarman, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 RM-38 50mm Mortar and 1 TT Pistol/Nagant Revolver*

  • 2× Ammunition Bearers, Private (OR-1), armed with 1 Mosin-Nagant Rifle each

* Have have sometimes been substituted with a Submachine Gun in the field

 

Discussion

The Rifle Company (Стрелковая рота) was the close combat element of the Rifle Battalion (Стрелковый батальон), themselves the primary maneuver element of the Rifle Regiment of the Rifle Division/Guards Rifle Division. Although the Rifle Division and Guards Rifle Divisions had different organizations at higher levels, their Rifle Companies were identical. At this point (Early 1944 to Late 1944) the Rifle Company consisted of 1 Company HQ, 2 Rifle Platoons, 1 Submachine Gun Platoon, 1 Medical Section, 1 Mortar Platoon and 1 Machine Gun Section.

The most significant change from December 1942 was the conversion of 1 of the 3 Rifle Platoons to a Submachine Gun Platoon. This essentially quadrupled the company's allotment of submachine guns, although they were also strewed about the rifle platoons. 

Company Headquarters & Supporting Elements

The Company was led by the Company Commander—a Captain ideally, sometimes an experienced Lieutenant or Senior Lieutenant—who was armed with a pistol (the M1895 Nagant revolver or TT semi-automatic pistol) and a submachine gun (a 1944 addition). As of early 1944, the Deputy Company Commander (an Army Senior Lieutenant) and Deputy for Political Matters (a political officer equivalent to Senior Lieutenant) were removed from the organization. The reason is uncertain (and the political officer would be brought back during the Cold War) but our best guess is that reducing the number of officers a company needed made it easier to raise more companies. The leaning out of the rifle company was a common theme to increase the number that could be raised right up to the last months of the war with new TO&E changes.

The Company HQ was rounded out with the Company Sergeant Major (Старшина роты, or Company Starshina) and the Quartermaster of the rank of Senior Sergeant who handled supply and property.

In addition to the Company HQ, there was a Medical Section (5 men), Machine Gun Section (6 men), and Mortar Platoon (7 Men) in support. The Medical Section consisted of the Medical Instructor—an NCO and the Company's head medical personnel—and 4 orderlies equivalent to medics. Meanwhile, the Machine Gun Section was a new addition to the company, serving a Maxim Medium Machine Gun or SG-43 on a wheeled mount. The section had a Section Commander, Machine Gunner, 3 Ammunition Bearers and a driver for the horse-drawn cart.

The Mortar Platoon consisted of 2 Mortar Sections with a total of 2 50mm mortars. Each section served a 50mm Mortar and had a mortarman and 2 ammo bearers each. These would be removed in the December 1944 TO&E (likely implemented in early 1945).

Rifle Platoons

The Rifle Platoon consisted of a Platoon Headquarters and 4 Rifle Sections. The platoon was led by a Lieutenant Platoon Commander who was assisted by the Deputy Platoon Commander—ideally a Senior Sergeant. By early 1944, the Platoon Commander would have been armed with a submachine gun. There were 2 platoon-level snipers, equipped with the M1891/30 Mosin-Nagant with the PU scope. These snipers were intended to operate in pairs.

 

The Rifle Sections were asymmetric, with 2 Heavy Rifle Sections and 2 Light Rifle Sections on paper. In reality, it seems the 4th squad was often excluded and all squads adhered to something that looked more like the Light Rifle Section. Both variations had 9 enlisted personnel and were ideally led by a Junior Sergeant or Sergeant. Each section also had a Deputy Section Commander, who was presumably a Yefreytor or the most senior of the men. This position could also be considered the Senior Rifleman. If a limited number of SVT-40 semi-automatic rifles were available, it is likely that this man would be the first one to receive it as they would be the most experienced to take advantage of the capability. This assumption is based on correspondence with a Russian whose grandfather was a senior rifleman and carried an SVT throughout his service. Many sources, especially western ones, state the Section Commander would get it, although this is probably less likely as they were specifically designated as submachine gunners. By early 1944, one of the Riflemen would have also been armed with a submachine gun and would have been the man specialized in assaulting. Assistant machine gunners have have also been armed with submachine guns depending on availability and the unit.

The main difference between the Heavy and the Light Rifle Sections was that the Heavy Rifle Sections were to have 2 DP-27 light machine gun teams while the Light Sections were to have 1. As the Soviets at this time were mostly applying fire and maneuver at the platoon level and higher, the Heavy Section could be thought of as the fire support section of the platoon while the Light Sections would be the maneuver sections. It should be noted that in the first "reduced strength" TO&E introduced after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa only 2 of the Rifle Platoon's 4 sections were authorized 1 light machine gun each. This implies that the fire and maneuver was intended to be at the platoon-level as the sections without the machine guns would need support from the machine gun-laden sections to maneuver. However, as typically only 188 rounds were carried per gun (1 magazine in the gun and 3 magazines carried by the assistant) it seems there was much less emphasis on the section's own integral firepower (potentially mitigated by firepower higher up the chain and company-level submachine guns and medium machine guns).

Submachine Gun Platoons

The Submachine Gun Platoon was a new addition, essentially sharing the organization of the Rifle Platoon (with 2 Heavy Sections and 1 Light Section) but with all rifle-armed personnel (except the snipers) being rearmed with submachine guns. This differed from a Submachine Gun Platoon as it existed in the Regimental Submachine Gun Company(ies) in that the ones in the Rifle Company retained the DP machine gun as a squad automatic weapon.

The inclusion of the Submachine Gun Platoon significantly increased the automatic firepower of the Rifle Company at short ranges (although not medium or long range as the number of light and medium machine guns and snipers remained the same). This change, in addition to the increase in the Rifle Platoons' basic allotment of submachine guns from 4 to 9 increased the company's from 12 to 51. This was later reduced to 41 submachine guns by early 1945 due to the downsizing of the Submachine Gun and Rifle Platoons to 28 men each.

The inclusion of the Submachine Gun Platoon at this level was indicative of the shift in Soviet doctrine at the time. Earlier in the war, submachine guns were typically used as machine gun replacements for when there weren't enough DP-27s to go around. However, later on, the Soviets made far greater use of submachine guns than any other power during World War II. The United States primarily issued them to vehicle crews and had taken them out of the regular rifle company by the mid-war. Submachine guns were often unofficially concentrated with the paratroopers, but this was the exception rather than the rule (and the M1 Garand was still their most prevalent arm in the rifle company). In the German rifle company, they were only issued to officers and squad leadership, although they did something similar to the Submachine Gun Platoon in the form of the Sturmgewehr-armed Sturmzug (although at a much smaller scale). By the end of the war, it had become evident to the Soviets how useful subguns were in the assault. This informed the Soviet's early adoption of the AK in 1949, employing it much in the way it employed submachine guns prior, while western powers typically adopted them much later in the way they used rifles. A good example of this parallel was with the East German Mot.-Schützen who, at their conception in the 1950s, primarily used PPSh-41 submachine guns before eventually adopting a domestically produced variant of the AK.

Ammo Loads

The following are the typical ammo loads by weapon:

 

For the M1891/30 Mosin-Nagant Rifle:

  • 40 rounds (ready)—8× Clips (5 rd) held in 4 leather pouches mounted on the front of belt

  • 30 rounds (reserve)—6× Clips (5 rd) held in 1 canvas reserve pouch on center back of belt

  • 70 rounds (extra/situational)—14× Clips (5 rd) held in cloth bandolier

For the SVT-40 Rifle:

  • 40 rounds (ready)—2× Magazines (10rd) held in leather pouch; 4× clips of 5 rounds held in 2 leather pouches on other side of belt

  • 30 rounds (reserve)—6× Clips (5 rd) held in 1 canvas reserve pouch on center back of belt

  • 70 rounds (extra/situational)—14× Clips (5 rd) held in cloth bandolier

For the DP-27 Light Machine Gun (Section Load):

  • 47 rounds (on Machine Gunner)—1× Pan Magazine (47 rd) in gun

  • 141 rounds (on Assistant Machine Gunner)—3× Pan Magazines (47 rd) carried in metal ammo can

For the PPSh-41 Submachine Gun (Prior to 1944):*

  • 71 rounds (in gun)—1× Drum Magazine (71 rd) in gun

  • 71 rounds (ready)—1× Drum Magazine (71 rd) in pouch

For the PPSh-41 Submachine Gun (Prior to 1944):*

  • 71 rounds (in gun)—1× Drum Magazine (71 rd) in gun

  • 176 rounds (ready)—1× Drum Magazine (71 rd) in pouch and 3× Magazines (35 rd) in 3-cell pouch

For the PPS-43 Submachine Gun (Prior to 1944):*

  • 105 rounds (ready)—3× Magazines (35 rd) in 3-cell pouch

For the Grenades:

  • 1× F1 Fragmentation Grenade in pouch or;

  • 3× RG-42 Fragmentation Grenade in pouch or;

  • 2× RGD-33 Fragmentation Grenade in pouch

*After introduction of PPS-43, the PPSh-41 was usually issued to the regimental Submachine Gun Companies while the infantry used both the PPSh-41 and PPS-43. Issue varied, however, depending on the unit and operation.

 
 

Sources

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

      - Marcus Aurelius

Social

© 2019 Battle Order