What country had the best trained infantry in WWII?


  • What country had the best trained infantry in WWII?

  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    That’s probably hard to say, since there were different methods of training, and some countries didn’t have time for training (see Russia - here’s your gun, go shoot the Germans with it.  And they were lucky if they got a gun).

    Also, there are huge differences in the morale and beliefs, etc of various infantry.

    But if you’re just wanting to discuss training (isolating it), then wouldn’t it be the Japanese?  I don’t know, I’ve just seen some of the actual footage of their training sessions, and they were pretty intense.

    As for worst training (I know, you didn’t ask), probably the Russians (at certain times) and western Europeans (I’ve seen some of their training footage too, and it’s not impressive)


  • I fixed my post.(added country)

    Got distracted right in the middle of that by life.


  • I would say the Germans had the best trained infantry due to having the best trained officer corp.

    German officers offerercs understood the importance of a strick chain of command and the tried and true methods of fighting while also realising when the situation required that they take the inititive and act within a more flexible and creative construct.

    I dont really think their was ahole lot of difference in the training of infantry from nation to nation. Sure some like the Japanese were very motivated by rediculous beleifs and showed trumenodous courage, but i dont see any evidence that says it transalted into battlield victories.

    Also better training dosnt mean that the infantry were accualy better. a large factor is what kind of equipmend did the infantry use and an even more important factor is how well a nation infantry was supplied.

    If the question was changed to who had the best infantry, it would be the US because they were by far the best equiped and supplied.

  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    @Emperor_Taiki:

    I dont really think their was ahole lot of difference in the training of infantry from nation to nation. Sure some like the Japanese were very motivated by rediculous beleifs and showed trumenodous courage, but i dont see any evidence that says it transalted into battlield victories.

    Also better training dosnt mean that the infantry were accualy better. a large factor is what kind of equipmend did the infantry use and an even more important factor is how well a nation infantry was supplied.

    If the question was changed to who had the best infantry, it would be the US because they were by far the best equiped and supplied.

    Yes, I pretty much agree with Emperor.  Although, I think the Japanese did take an inordinate amount of American soldiers down with them.  Do you know how many Americans died on those otherwise insignificant Pacific islands?  Tens of thousands on some of them.  Yes, they were fanatics.  It took flamethrowers to get them out.  Some Jap soldiers on those Islands thought they were still at war years later.


  • Australia and Finland infantry should get some consideration. The average Finnish soldier was a precision marksman and unmatched in forest combat.

  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    @ABWorsham:

    Australia and Finland infantry should get some consideration. The average Finnish soldier was a precision marksman and unmatched in forest combat.

    Ahhh, good point.  The Fins successfully beat back the Russians, who had overwhelming numbers.


  • This question is even more difficult to answer because the situation was different for different nations.  The Russians were able to fight a defensive war and learn from their mistakes when they took the initiative.  The US had to learn on the job in Africa, but then had to fight an enemy that was on his own turf defending (which is usually a 3:1 advantage).  The British also were pretty green when things started and had to fight on someone else’s turf.  The Germans learned on the job early against modest opposition, and was able to fight for most of the war in a delaying operation on their own turf (or captured turf).  However, the Germans had to deal with the “underground.”  I’m no WWII scholar, but I’d have to say the Germans were the best trained going into WWII.  Another difficult question comes from the fact that the Germans often had the better equipment (e.g. Panther vs. Sherman).  Even with inferior equipment the US had some great victories in armor battles.

  • '15 Official Q&A '11 '10 Moderator

    @dinosaur:

    Even with inferior equipment the US had some great victories in armor battles.

    It helps when you run them out of gas.  8-)


  • I see no problem awarding this title to the German Infantry. I have always thought that Germany’s Infantry triumphs in WWII were overshaddowed by Panzers tracks.

    The Germans tratics of quick heavy bombardments, followed by shock units that worked into an enemy’s rear areas bypassing pockets of resistance, which were left behind for regular forces to mop up was developed on the Eastern Front in 1915-16. This style of warfare was brought to the Western Front were the Germans were able to break the British lines in one last gamble own as the Ludendorff Offensive.

    The German post World War 1, 100,000 man officer corp army kept these valiable learnt lessons in mind. By the time Poland is invaded, Germany had added tanks, moble artillery, ground attack aircraft, and paratroopers to this already proven style of agressive warfare.


  • yeah, I was thinking Germany as well, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the superior weapons.


  • @Brain:

    yeah, I was thinking Germany as well, but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the superior weapons.

    Better weapons (in some cases)
    Better training
    Highly motivated
    And in the pre-war years the Germans had been training their Citizens in worker camps which taught them basic Infantry doctrines and discipline. The German infantry had been training for years before they were even enlisted, who said experience doesn’t pay off.


  • I agree the Germans had the best infantry because they took their own decisions, were motivated, had the best equipment,….
    But the high officers were often afraid to take a tactical decision that was against Hitlers plans. Von Paulus he followed Hilter’s plans and ended up in a surrounded Stalingrad altough there were several attempts to liberate him, he never gave the order to break out.


  • I agree with the fact that the Germans Infantry were better trained.  I mean look at what they did to Russia.  7.5 million Russian military dead.


  • @Historybuff:

    I agree with the fact that the Germans Infantry were better trained.  I mean look at what they did to Russia.  7.5 million Russian military dead.

    The losses the Russians took at the hands of the Germans were high for several reasons, first was the Soviets lack of concern for human life. The Soviets lost more men in the Battle for Stalingrad than the United States did during the war.

  • '17 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    Japan had the best trained soldiers individually, but Germany had the most effective troopers as per military doctrine ( in battlefield conditions). So for results with given equipment which was usually meager,the Germans faired best.

    AS far as having logistical support and many tools to fight, the American soldier had the best of everything and was the most effective with what he actually had, ( which was alot more than the German or Japanese).

    Soviets were not great fighters, but had some great commanders.


  • @Imperious:

    Japan had the best trained soldiers individually, but Germany had the most effective troopers as per military doctrine ( in battlefield conditions). So for results with given equipment which was usually meager,the Germans faired best.

    AS far as having logistical support and many tools to fight, the American soldier had the best of everything and was the most effective with what he actually had, ( which was alot more than the German or Japanese).

    Soviets were not great fighters, but had some great commanders.

    Soviet infantry’s best fighting quality was the individual adaptness to hardship. A Soviet soldier could live off practically nothing and survive. Soviet citizens in the 1930’s lived in very primitive conditions. While the Soviets were great in defending, they were the poor in offensive capabilities.


  • Well if you’re looking at infantry training at levels higher than individual fieldcraft and marksmanship, then: Germany.

    Their use of auftrages tactics and mission-oriented leadership effectively kept them in the fight no matter what came at them.  More than 60 years later, we’re still studying and applying their doctrine and considering it innovative.


  • Hmm… no mention on Canadian troops? Perhaps I’m simply biased, but they were really decent troops, definitely the best in WWI, and I think that carried over to WWII.


  • @Historybuff:

    I agree with the fact that the Germans Infantry were better trained.  I mean look at what they did to Russia.  7.5 million Russian military dead.

    Not being afraid but more chain of command. Orders are Orders, like in any nation. If in a modern army a soldier is issued an order to man a post he wont start discussing the merrits of him being in that location he will man that post. As long as it are legal orders. And well not retreating is a legal order in every country.


  • Germans, no doubt IMO.

    Honourable mention for Finnish, Australian, Canadian and Norwegians.

    Best navymen British, followed by US?

    Best pilots Germans, followed by US.

    Al just my opinion, of course.


  • I would have to side with Imperial Japanese Army…when u are trained to fight till your last breath…that has got to be some serious brainwashing…BANZAI!!!


  • Japan had the best trained soldiers individually, but Germany had the most effective troopers as per military doctrine ( in battlefield conditions). So for results with given equipment which was usually meager,the Germans faired best.

    AS far as having logistical support and many tools to fight, the American soldier had the best of everything and was the most effective with what he actually had, ( which was alot more than the German or Japanese).

    Soviets were not great fighters, but had some great commanders.

    I have to totally agree with IL here.
    As far as Pilots, Japan, Germany, Britain,and even Russia had very good pilots.  I think that the United States made the most of their pilots, the Japanese, Russians, and Germans flew their pilots to death.  This is really stupid because (although the pilots hated it) they can be better used back off the line to train the next generation of pilots.  Even if you have a great pilot (Red Barron/Richthoven is a great example) his number could be up anytime, any day.  Its better to pull off great pilots and make them instructors before they get killed.  I believe the Brits and other Allied nations also adhered to this principle.

  • 2021 2020 '19 '18 '17 '16

    I have to totally agree with IL here.
    As far as Pilots, Japan, Germany, Britain,and even Russia had very good pilots.  I think that the United States made the most of their pilots, the Japanese, Russians, and Germans flew their pilots to death.  This is really stupid because (although the pilots hated it) they can be better used back off the line to train the next generation of pilots.  Even if you have a great pilot (Red Barron/Richthoven is a great example) his number could be up anytime, any day.  Its better to pull off great pilots and make them instructors before they get killed.  I believe the Brits and other Allied nations also adhered to this principle.

    I think you meant the German Rammjaeger wich was a Sonderkommando to delay or stop the USAAF of Daylight bombingraids but it was not a success…most of those NAPOLA fighters were shot down before they even could land a hit, some of them rammed their target and around 50 planes came back safe…that is as far as I know the only time where German Pilots on purpose tried to some degree pull off a “Kamikazee”…Lack of fuel and the closing Enemy and the Nazi cult drove them to desperate meassures…but still 50 people refused to do an insane stunt like that…
    I’ve never heard about Soviet Kamikazees ,only that they shot ambulances and red cross b/c the Soviets have not been in the Geneva Convention…

    My Grandpa used to say that the Japanese was the best soldier b/c he would go and fight everywhere for a bowl of rice, and he was dead serious about that!!..


  • Spectre04 wrote: As far as Pilots, Japan, Germany, Britain,and even Russia had very good pilots.

    This link gives you a list of WWII aces, sorted by number of victories. The top non-German ace on that list is Ilmari Juutilainen of Finland, with 94 victories. Juutilainen is pilot #122 on that list: there are 121 Germans in front of him. The top 200 contains four non-Germans: two pilots from Finland (including Juutilainen) and two from Japan.

    To return to the subject of the OP: one way of measuring infantry training levels is combat effectiveness. According to a study done by the U.S. military, American infantry were 80 - 100% as combat-effective as their German counterparts. Another study performed by the U.S. military suggests that may have been an overestimate; and that American infantry were no more effective than British infantry. The latter were 50% as combat-effective as the Germans. Soviet infantry were 20 - 33% as combat-effective as the Germans, with the higher number being the more likely. The study suggested that Italian infantry may have been less combat-effective than the Soviets, but did not go into detail. Unfortunately, the study did not examine the combat-effectiveness of Finnish, Canadian, Australian, or Japanese infantry.

    The U.S. typically achieved a 2:1 - 4:1 exchange ratio in its land battles against Japan. A large part of that was undoubtedly due to America’s superior industrial strength. For example, Japan produced 7,000 artillery pieces during WWII, compared to 257,000 artillery pieces for the U.S.. But those favorable (for the Americans) exchange ratios may not have been based on industrial production alone. Japanese banzai attacks were very similar in philosophy and execution to French “elan” style bayonet attacks used in 1914. During WWI, the French painfully learned that it does not make sense to issue bayonets to your own soldiers, and ask them to charge enemy machine guns. The Japanese use of such tactics during WWII suggests they were less advanced in their understanding of land war (and hence, probably had less advanced training techniques) than most other major powers of the era. Japanese understanding of land war became more sophisticated as the war progressed.

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