Sunday, 28 February 2016

89. Infanteriedivision - a new army!

Hi folks. With my painting currently continuing to focus on the British and Canadian vehicles I had posted about last week, I have been spending a bit of time thinking about my German force.

Having received a great starting point from 'Lee, I've been looking at researching the opposition for my 51st HD Totalize force. I had long ago settled on a Heer list, with the obvious option being 89. Infanterie Division.




"Known as the "Horseshoe Division" from its unit symbol, this division was created in Troop Manoeuvre Area Berger (near Celle) on January 15, 1944, from personnel in the reinforced infantry regiments of the Replacement Army/ (Reinforced infantry regiments usually had an organic artillery battalion, in addition to their three infantry battalions). It training in Norway from March to June 1944, and returned to the European mainland about the time of the D-day invasion. Initially posted with the 15th Army in the Rouen-La Harve area, it was ordered to Normandy in June and immediately suffered heavy losses. At the same time, however, it added the 189th Fusilier Battalion, the 189th Field Replacement Battalion and a fourth artillery battalion. Near Falaise on August 8, it collapsed under the pressure of heavy British air and ground attacks and had to be taken out of line. It was encircled at Falaise (along with the bulk of 5th Panzer and 7th Armies) and broke out, but with heavy losses. Both its grenadier regiments were destroyed. The remnants of the division were withdrawn to the Netherlands."

The above text comes from "German Order of Battle, Volume One: 1st - 290th Infantry Divisions in WW2" by Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr.

From what I know of the division, this information isn't strictly true. Other sources state that the Division was activated on 31 July 1944 for transfer from Rouen-Le Havre sector to the Bretteville area, south of Caen. This was due to 84. Infanteriedivision being diverted to try and help stop the American breakout. In reacting to Operation Bluecoat and Cobra, and in attempting to re-establish a connection to 2. Fallshmijaegerkorps, 89. Infanteriedivision was placed in the line to allow 1. SS-Panzerdivisionen to be pulled back. Initially 1. SS-Panzer was to be used to help counter the Bluecoat and Cobra breakthroughs, but then came the great idea of the Mortain.

It should be noted that at the time the Totlaize operation was planned, the enemy divisions to be attacked were 12. SS-Panzer and 1. SS-Panzer.  These units had been replaced in the line by 89. Infanterie and 272. Infanterie divisions, and 12. SS-Panzer was established as 1. SS-Panzerkorps reserve. Allied intelligence therefor believed that the 2 SS-Panzer Divisions had been pulled back to form a 2nd line of defence - hence the belief that a 2nd wave of bombers would be required after the initial 'night attack' break in battle.

At the time they were deployed to the front on a line May-Sur-Orne to La Hogue (including the famous village of Tilly-la-Campagne, 89. Infanterie was a green division which had not seen any combat. Unfortunately 36 hours before the Totalize Operation, this division had just deployed across a front to be assaulted by 2nd Canadian, 51st Highland, 33 Armoured Brigade and 4th Canadian Armoured Brigade - along with several AGRAs, a major RAF night bombing raid and various other Corps level assets.

"No Holding Back" has the OOB on 7 August 1944 as:

Commander: Generalleutnant Konrad Heinrich

Grenadierregiment 1055
Commander: Oberst Rossman

I. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1055
II. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1055
III. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1055
13. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1055
14. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1055

Grenadierregiment 1056
Commander: Karl Roesler

I. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1056
II. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1056
III. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1056
13. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1056
14. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1056

Artillerieregiment 189
I. Bataillon Artillerieregiment 189 (two batteries)
II. Bataillon Artillerieregiment 189 (two batteries)
III. Bataillon Artillerieregiment 189 (two batteries)

Panzerjagerabteilung 189

Fusilierbataillon 189

Pionierbataillon 189 (two companies)

Attached:

Sturmpanzerabteilung 217 (13 Sturmpanzer IV 150mm self-propelled howitzers)
Artillerieabteilung 1151 (12 Russian 122mm Howitzers)
Artillerieabteilung 1193 (12 Italian 149mm Howitzers)
Werferbrigade 7
- Wereferregiment 83 (two bataillon 150mm, one bataillon 210mm)
- Wereferregiment 84 (two bataillon 150mm, one bataillon 300mm)"

And the text of the book itself mentions the following units were also supporting supporting:

III. Flakkorps (20mm, 37mm and 88mm anti-aircraft guns)
Sturmgeschutzabteilung 1344. (StuG III)

As can be seen, the OOB shows that the division had only two regiments of three battalions, rather than the usual 3 regiments with 2 battalions. I've also seen text which states that the StuG's were present, with several being destroyed in Tilly during the 'mopping up' fighting. 

In addition to all this, after some internet digging I found some additional info on the division - in German. A German speaking friend kindly translated for me (thanks Ed!). Tying this info together gives:


89. Infanterie Division 
- Command/division staff with cartography office & military police unit
- Intelligence battalion with 2 companies (reduced) 
- Field reserve battalion with 5 companies 
- Supply troops

Grenadierregiment 1055

Staff Company with:
- Communications, Pioneer and Bicycle platoon
I. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1055
II. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1055
III. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1055
 - Each Battalion with 3 rifle companies each. Every rifle company with 13 light machine guns, 1 company with 6 light machine guns and 4 medium mortars.

13. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1055
- Infantry gun company with 2 heavy (15cm) and 6 light (7,5cm) infantry guns
14. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1055
- Anti-tank company with 3 pak40 and 36 'Stovepipes' (Panzershreks)

Grenadierregiment 1056

Staff Company with:- Communications, Pioneer and Bicycle platoon
I. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1056
II. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1056
III. Bataillon Grenadierregiment 1056
 - Each Battalion with 3 rifle companies each. Every rifle company with 13 light machine guns, 1 company with 6 light machine guns and 4 medium mortars.

13. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1056
- Infantry gun company with 2 heavy (15cm) and 6 light (7,5cm) infantry guns
14. Kompanie Grenadierregiment 1056
- Anti-tank company with 3 Pak40 and 36 'Stovepipes' (Panzershreks)
Artillerieregiment 189
- Artillery Staff company 
I. Bataillon Artillerieregiment 189 (two batteries)
Each with 6 light field howitzers (LeFH 10,5cm)
II. Bataillon Artillerieregiment 189 (two batteries)
Each with 6 light field howitzers (LeFH 10,5cm)
III. Bataillon Artillerieregiment 189 (three batteries)
89 and 91 divisions had 8.8cm anti-tank guns/anti-air guns equipped (Possibly Flak36, possibly Pak 43/41, possibly a mix of types).

Panzerjagerabteilung 189
- 12 heavy anti-tank guns, motorised. Probably Pak40's but possibly Pak43/41 88mm guns. Definitely no StuGs!

Fusilierbataillon 189
 - same setup as the Grenadier Battalions - troops may have been equipped with bicycles

Pionierbataillon 189 
- Two/Three companies. Sources vary on this number.

The presence of those larger anti-tank guns (the Pak43/41's) might be indicated by one of the battlefield pictures that's quite famous:


For my own army I will be focusing on the forces involved during the night attack of 7/8 August 1944 and the daytime battle and German counter attacks on 8 August.

As the III. Bataillon/1055 Grenadier Regiment was the one immediately opposing the 7th Argyle and Sutherland/144 RAC Column, I will be focusing on these guys - along with support. Below is the Divisions deployment prior to Totalize - the box denotes the artillery target for the night attack.

Map from "No Holding Back" - used without permission
And along side that, the 51st Highland Divisions columns and objectives.

 
Map from "No Holding Back" - used without permission
As well as this, if I'm considering the fighting on the following day that means that forces from 12. SS-Panzerdivision would also be involved. I'm not keen on having SS units or armies - which is something I have discussed quite a bit on various paint and chats. I don't regard the SS units with any sort of great esteem. Generally they are over represented in wargaming circles (and historically) and their fighting qualities are way over rated. In Normandy they were forced back, and back, and back again by 'normal' units such as the 2nd and 3rd Canadian Infantry Divisions and the various British Infantry Divisions - even when provided with a much larger pool of support units and artillery support than that found on the Eastern front. However the gift of German units from Lee included two Tiger Tanks - which I may as well use. It also included a couple of single vehicles which I could expand upon to increase my German army should I desire. The following shows some of the units that were involved in the German counter attacks on the 8th of August - which included 'Whitman's last charge'.

Map from "No Holding Back" - used without permission
 Army wise, the following is what I have come up with:


This army list is based on a number of factors. What was (or could have been) present, what were the 'trademark' German weapons in Normandy, What was included in the models I was given and what would give a good game against my Highlanders.

As of yesterday I have all the various assets on order or sitting in my 'to be completed' tray. An old copy of Open Fire provided me with 2 Stugs. Lee provided the Company Command and HQ mortars along with one Grenadier Platoon, HMG Platoon and 2 x Tigers. The York wargames show provided the figures for the other two infantry platoons (£10 spent). Ebay has provided a Mortar Platoon, Tank Hunters blister (for the HQ A/T section), Pak40's, the 3rd StuG and Nebelwerfers. Unfortunately I had to turn to Wayland Games (sigh) for the Flak36's, Pioneers and a pack of Snipers - hopefully they will turn up some time this year...

Left to get are the mine fields (I'm thinking of doing my own via 'warbases' or something) and HMG nests, which I can do myself.

So between the Nebs, Snipers, Mortars and artillery capable 88mm guns I should have lots to pin those Reluctant Veteran Highlanders. Lots of Anti Tank capability for fighting my Armoured Squadron and still a lot of the flavour of the German unit I'm trying to represent. There are also options to expand with Pak43/41 guns, Panzer IV H's, Jagdpanzers and Sturmpanzers (both of which I have a tank each of, thanks to Lee).

Thoughts, comments, suggestions or other sources on info on this unit would be more than welcome!

13 comments:

  1. I remember getting very frustrated playing against 'always defends' forces with my infantry company. I suspect this force has the rule, but there is the possibility you will have to attack at some point against a force like that. You might consider what you have to crack somethign like your own force.....smoke seemed important, and I really missed having a bunker buster attack.

    Looking merely on it's own merits, I think you have a lot of machine guns.......too many probably. With that many infantry groups you probably don't need the HMG nests AND a machine gun platoon. Similarly, 3 snipers seems like a lot when you have 3 artillery groups that can create pin checks.

    I'd consider adding some size to the STUGs or pak40's. Maybe flame throwers to the pioneers?

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    1. Thanks for the input Dave. I'm really not worried about how the list performs - the main thing for me is that it's true to the operation I'm focasing on and that its a 'stereotypical' representation of German weapons in Normandy. I'm likely to play some non standard solo games I think, given my situation currently. So I've included stuff that will be useful to have with that in mind. Yes, for a 1750 point game I'd probably drop some stuff - but it's my style to remain true to the theme of the army. Even if that makes the army 'non competitive'. Mortars, Nebs, snipers and 88's were all common Normandy fears. As was the Tiger. The paks and stugs are full strength platoons already anyway.

      I doubt, given the historical focus, I would field a 'perfect' German Normandy force. I don't believe there was any such thing by summer 1944!

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  2. Amazing write up and research you have done, very inspiring!

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  3. I enjoyed reading through that, as said above you have really done your homework!

    On the subject of Germans, it occurred to me that you could soak those infantry off the MDF bases for rebasing to match your Brits James? I find standing in a few mils of hot water for half an hour or so allows the figures to be easily removed.

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    1. Thanks Lee - it IS all your fault!!! Those models you sent have been a great starting point for me and gave the the little seed of a whole new project!

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  4. Good stuff James! This sort of research is brilliant, a true historical gamer. Well done!

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    1. Thanks Ivor, I appreciate that very much!

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  5. Up to your usual standard of research and detail mate, very thoughtfully done. Excited to see your painting!

    I think playwise (From my experience of Flames of War that is.) this force will prove to be quite a slow slog of an opponent for your Highlanders. So make sure you've got the time for a drawn out infantry-save-fest of a game!

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    1. You might have to wait a while painting wise!!!

      I'm hoping this list, or army concept, will be a good counter to my highlanders. Need to stop thinking about doing Poles as well!!!

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  6. I'm reading DeLaForce's history of the Polar Bears at the minute and the contemporary account from the Brits involve an awful lot of mention of snipers. Now we might suspect that this was simply a reaction to a lot of sporadic rifle fire, but this might inform a flufftastic list....

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    1. Thanks! I don't think I've got that one myself, but I'll keep my eye out. Snipers do seem to have been an ever present danger so I was keen to include some. I'll be interested to see how they play on the table.

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  7. Well done with the reserve jamster, a yolly good read as Mark would say 😉

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