German Rifle Company



  • As there seems to be no place for general World War II conversation I hope I have not broke any rules by posting this here. I was trying to write out the basic strength of a German Rifle Company as it would have been in the early war period 39-41 and built it up as best i could. However I still think I have missed something and would like to know what so I thought there might be some people here who could say if I am dead on or what I am missing.

    The German Rifle Company (39)

    The typical German rifle (infantry) company (Schutzen Kompanie) that entered combat in Poland, Scandinavia, France and the Low countries in the early war period consisted of a HQ section and three rifle platoons (Schutzen Zug). Each of the four rifle platoons consisted of 4 rifle sections (Schutzen Gruppe) commanded by an NCO and 9 other ranks and a platoon headquarters. That is the simple textbook explanation, but some one playing an RPG or wargame needs some more information.

    Let’s start with the rifle sections, they each consisted of 9 riflemen (Schutzen) armed with one of the three variations of the model 98 rifle . The section leader may or may not have had a SMG instead of a rifle, this would have been either the Bergmann MP 28, MP 35, MP38 or later the MP40, with each bearer of the weapon given 2 SMG ammo pouches, each holding 9x 32 round magazines. It would was not till 1941 that SMGs became officially issued to infantry units. But perhaps the most important element of the rifle section was the Light or General Purpose Machine Gun (Maschinengewehr) team of Gunner and assistant gunner.

    The LMG which was considered the main firepower of the squad by the Germans and the single weapon to which all others in the section where assigned to provide support too. For most of the early and mid 1930’s this role was performed by the MG 13 Dreyse but this was replaced in wide scale use beginning in 1934 with the MG 34. After the Anschloss with Austria limited numbers of the Austrian MG 30 also entered German service until replaced by the MG 34. The last weapon of note, which a Section had in its armament, was the machine gunners P 38 pistol.

    A typical section leader (Unteroffizier) carried a flashlight and a pair of 6x30 binoculars in addition to his standard field equipment. The LMG gunner and assistant gunner carried a set of MG tools in a leather box attached to the right side in place of the standard 3 ammo rifle cartridge pouches. The gunner carried his pistol and the assistant carried a set of ammo pouches for his rifle on the left side. In addition the assistant gunner carried a spare barrel case strapped across his shoulder. The assistant gunners of the team carried two ammo cans with 250 rounds each (1,000 rounds total) or holders containing two 75 round drums each. In addition they may have had several 50 round belts laid over there shoulders and around there necks.

    So now lets put this all together, in 1939 a typical German rifle section consisted of a section leader usually armed with a rifle but perhaps a SMG, a LMG team of a gunner armed with a MG34 and P 38 pistol and 2 assistant gunners armed with a rifle each, and 6 riflemen (landser) armed with rifles. Now we can finish out the platoon in short order, there are four rifle sections, three two man anti tank rifle teams armed with either the Panzerbuschsen 38 or 39 anti tank rifles, their gunner and assistant gunner carried equipment similar to the MG gunners except for the spare barrel case. There was finally also a two man 50cm mortar team (gunner & loader, equipped as the above), sometimes referred to as a grenade launcher team due to the fact it could use the grenade as ammo. The four teams are some times referred to as a, heavy weapons or anti tank squad but this is in error as they were not a single unit but usually assigned to the various sections as needed. A Platoon sergeant (Feldwebel) and Platoon leader (Leutnant) led the whole of 50 men.

    Regular divisions at the out break of war had this basic 4 section organization while later divisions (most of those which served in France) had only three rifle sections each lowering the strength from 50 to 40 men. Later changes in 1941 included reducing the three man MG team to 2 (Gunner and assistant gunner) thus lowering the strength of the section from 10 to 9, however the loss of the rifle was made up with the official addition of one SMG to each section.

    The Company (Kompanie) usually consisted of just the three rifle platoons on paper which brought its basic rifle strength to anywhere from 150 to 120 men. Further each company had a hose transport section of 12 wagons (usually the HF7 or IF8 patterns assigned two or three per platoon) and included its portable field kitchens (1 per platoon). Each wagon usually had one driver and one assistant (who was also a specialist of some sort). These men were usually armed with only pistols or rifles and basic kit (bread bag, canteen, and gas mask can), the transport & support section thus had a round about strength of 24 men (including such mundane positions as cooks, vets and boot cobblers!) but these men were never considered apart of the field strength of the company and were kept with the regimental or division trains until needed… The headquarters section consisted of 6 to 10 men including the captain, company clerks, and runners (the infantry did not posses radio equipment yet). In the end the basic strength of a German Rifle Company circa 1939-41 was approximately 180 to 150 men.



  • nice post!

    The only weapons I’m familiar with that the Germans carried in 39-41 were the mausars* and the MP40.
    I did know of their support weapons though, the MG 34 and 42 are Classic.As well as the Panzerfaust and Panzerskrek*.



  • no i’m sorry you’re completely wrong
    all that time was wasted



  • @filel:

    no i’m sorry you’re completely wrong
    all that time was wasted

    Holy dink.
    why don’t you say he’s wrong and not post why.



  • @D-Day:

    The typical German rifle (infantry) company (Schutzen Kompanie) that entered combat in Poland, Scandinavia, France and the Low countries in the early war period consisted of a HQ section and three rifle platoons (Schutzen Zug). Each of the four rifle platoons consisted of 4 rifle sections (Schutzen Gruppe) commanded by an NCO and 9 other ranks and a platoon headquarters. That is the simple textbook explanation, but some one playing an RPG or wargame needs some more information.

    OK, what was it? An HQ section and 3 platoons or 4 platoons? WAs the HQ section just a weak platoon… I think so…

    Go on…



  • Actually it was three platoons, however since the other night when I worte this I have done a bit more research and found out that what I discribed was in actuality the organization used in 1941 and not 39-40. There was two standard OBs one with simply three platoons and HQ section (Commanding officer and three messengers) and another with three platoons, a half platoon with two MMGs, and the HQ section. I am reowrking this now and will have an updated version pretty soon before moving on to the other company OBs of the 39-41 period.



  • well im gonna list all the germans guns i know….(not inculding artillery pieces) …Mauser Karbiner 98,gewher-43,Mp-28,Mp-35,Mp-38,Mp-40,Mp-44,Mg-13,Mg-34 and offcoarse the Mg-42…did i miss anything?


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