Divisional Structure

A "Division" is an organizational unit that provides all services to maintain a fighting force in the field (including transport, supply, medical care, pay, and legal services). A division usually has between 10,000 and 18,000 men.

Western Style (Germany, UK, France, USA)

A typical full strength infantry division would consist of roughly 17,000 men. Prior to 1944 a German infantry division would include over 5,000 horses and almost 950 motor vehicles. A division of this size would need 53 tons of hay and oats, 54 tons of food, 20 tons of petrol, one ton of lubricants, ten tons of ordinance and another 12 tons of miscellaneous supplies plus ammunition and baggage (approx 150 tons total per day).

A Panzer or Armored Division would be roughly 14,000 men. Usually there would be over 3,000 vehicles. One armored division required eighty trains of fifty five cars to transport it. "This gigantic movement occupied the full capacity of a railway for four whole days and nights."1 Moving via road a panzer division would stretch seventy miles and crept along at two and a half miles per hour.

The supply requirement for an average of motorized, mechanized and panzer divisions has been stated as approximately 300 tons per day.

Supply requirement for a German armored division is given as 30 tons per day when inactive and 700 tons a day when in heavy fighting. German Infantry divisions required 80 tons per day when inactive and 1,100 tons a day in heavy fighting. (in Russia) (Source: "German Tanks at War" by Bob Carruthers).

The Oxford Companion to WWII (page 695 "logistics") states that supply usage depends on the length of the supply lines and gives an example of by 1944 the Allied divisions needed 650 tons of supply per day while the German divisional needs had reduced to 200 tons per day.

US Army division supply (from "US Army Handbook 1939-1945" by George Forty) is stated as 1,600 tons a day to support a "division slice" plus two air wings (total of about 500,000 men):

This was broken down as:

According to Forty's book, individual supply was 66.81 lbs per day per man in Europe (67.4 lbs in the Pacific):

American forces were considered "over equipped".

The French integrated tanks into their infantry divisions to provide support for the infantry rather than to act as an independent armored unit. By 1940 the French had reorganized their calvary to create three "Division Legere Mecanique" (the world's first armored division) but these were used for reconnaissance and screening. French armor had no training to operate in any manner other than infantry support.

A division was expected to cover roughly a ten kilometer front.

General Rough Structure:

Corps (Lt. General) = two or more divisions

Division (Major. General) = three Brigades + Divisional HQ (10,000 to 18,000 men)

Brigade (Brigadier General) = three Battalions + Brigade HQ

Regiment (Colonel) = two or more Battalions

Brigade & Regiment are nearly equal (Brigade generally being larger than a regiment)

Battalion (Major) = three Companies (700 men)

Company (Captain) = three Platoons & HQ Section (111 men)

Platoon (Lieutenant) = three Squads & HQ (33 men) - a Tank Platoon is 3 to 5 tanks.

Squad (Sergeant) = ten men (10 men)

A regiment is usually smaller than a brigade and is usually organized as two or more battalions. A brigade is bigger and can have two or more regiments as its composition. A brigade can also be made up of just battalions with no intermediate organization between brigade HQ and battalion HQ. Brigades often operate independent of a division structure, as in the British army. Divisions are organized in either a brigade or regimental structure depending on the army.

Development of the German Panzer Division - a discussion of the evolution of the German Panzer Division from 1934 through the war.

Breakdown (TOE) of USA Infantry Divisions - detailed counts of men and equipment

Russian / Soviet Style

The Russians re-organized their division structures many times. Russian infantry division TOE dropped from 14,483 men in 1941 to 9,380 men in 1943.

Transport / Supply

German logistical transport was organized in several organizations. Kleinkolonnenraum (attached to the troops) used for transport within the zone of operations and Grosstransportraum to deliver supplies from the railheads to the divisions.

In 1939 the Grosstransportraum consisted of three motor transport regiments with a total of 9,000 men and 6,600 vehicles (twenty percent were expected to be undergoing repair at any one time) giving a capacity of 19,500 tons.2 For Barbarossa, reorganizing transport allowed the Germans to put an average of 20,000 tons of Grosstransportraum behind each of the three army groups (to accomplish this, vehicles were taken from seventy five infantry divisions and replaced by "panje" wagons, these were a form of peasant cart).

For the army (Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine supply was under separate command), all rail and inland waterway transport was under General Gercke at OKH. Motor transport in the zone of communications was under General Wagner (quartermaster general at OKH).

The allies used 69,400 tons of motor transport in France in 1944 to supply 47 divisions and still suffered from "grave shortages".2

 

References

1 - "Blitzkrieg" by Len Deighton 2000 Edition © 1979, page 154.

2 - "Supplying War" by Martin van Creveld © 1997, page 144