Formations getting wiped out? - Page 3

April 27th, 2006  
Poacher63....Yes you are quite correct, funnily enough there was a story about this battle in the following days paper, along with names names the regular Australian Army called the men that fought there.
April 29th, 2006  

Topic: Maiwand

A total destruction of an infantry Bn took part in the second Afghan war, when the sepoy unit 'The jacobs Rifles broke and then left the 66th of Foot (The Berkshires) right flank hanging in the air. The only option for the unit was to pull back through the village to the rear Maiwand. However the enemy had infiltrated behind them in a coolie which meant they where under fire from 3 sides and they started taking steady losses till only 50 where left to hold off 4000 Afghan soldiers. Eventually there where 11 left and they where out of ammunition, knowing the colours could not be saved they chose death before dishonour, fixed bayonets and charged the enemy hoard. The counter attack drove back the Afghans who elected to pick them off from a safe distance. Eventally they where all killed,however the Afghans refused to go near the bodies of the dead 'Fighting Deamons' for another 2hours before they were satisfide that they where all truly dead.
April 29th, 2006  
Originally Posted by Ted
Where do the stories of scrap regiments fit in? They would lose their proper name and scratched of the list. However they were stil fighting forces which plugged many holes on the eastern front. I am not really into the subject, but reading Guy Sajer's book (which has been finally been taken to be true, just a little while back).... you get a picture of how it must have looked like.
Well I haven't read "The Forgotten Soldier" myself but there still seems to be some doubt as to how accurate the details in the book are.

Scrap regiments certainly played a role in WW2, especially on the Eastern Front. The number of POWs taken, particularly by the Germans in 1941/42, was far beyond the ability of their captors to adequately deal with them. In the night for example, thousands of them simply melted away into the forests and fought on as partisan troops. They had disappeared from the Soviet OOB, but still made a sizeable contribution to the Soviet cause. They caused no end of trouble and tied up literally thousands of Wehrmacht 2nd line troops and SS Auxiliaries who had to deal with logistical and communication lines being disrupted and replacements on the way to the front line being ambushed.
April 30th, 2006  
the Israeli 188th armored brigade was written off by the IDF in 1973 as it sustained tank casualties considred beyond repair. The brigade lost about 90% of its tanks. Lost the brigade commander, second in command and Operations officer. Also lost most officers and tank commanders. Non the less several crews under the leadership of surviving officers continued to fight under the 7th armored brigade.
May 3rd, 2006  
Ollie Garchy
Originally Posted by Doppleganger
Hi Ollie.

You make an important point regarding divisional make-up which isn't realised by most people not into this subject. However, the ideal make-up of a division on paper did not often match what was its make-up in practice. This certainly would have been the case for German formations, particularly as the war went on. Indeed, the make-up of a German panzer division itself changed several times due to various reasons, chief among them being not having the tank crews or even panzers to continue to have the panzer regiment strength that existed say in a 1940 panzer division. The massive expansion of the Panzerwaffe in 1941 for Operation Barbarossa (from 10 to 21 Panzer divisions) is a prime example. On paper, this would seem like a massive increase in combat power but one has to also realise that the average strength of a Panzer division had dropped from 258 to 196 tanks as a result, because of the lack of crews and equipment.

Futhermore, in very heavy fighting, if specialist components of a division were wiped out, then the division itself would change. This was especially true on the Eastern Front but also happened on other fronts. For example, if 12 SS Panzer Division lost its panzer/panzergrenadier regiments it would end up acting as an ad-hoc infantry division. So whilst the wiping out of aforementioned regiments would destroy its combat power on paper, the reality would be somewhat different. Of course, and especially in an armoured division, the loss of tank regiments would be a serious blow, the division would still be somewhat combat capable. Every specialist knows how to pick up a gun and shoot and whilst (in most cases) they are probably not as effective as regular infantry they can still perform a worthwhile role. Look at Fallschirmjäger and Luftwaffe troops being used as infantry in 1944/1945 as an example.

I agree the point is valid for all things military during combat. Plans, formations, doctrines, etc. all burn in the fires of war. While I understand that signals officers or doctors or mechanics can use weapons, I am sure you would agree that the formation suffers tremendously without communications or a medical staff or repairs. There is something "Volkssturm-ish" about 1944/45 German operational history. I am sure that the generals would have preferred to stick to standard doctrine.

By the way, the changes in German tank strength also reflected certain battlefield lessons. That is, more infantry was needed to protect the increasingly bigger tanks from infantry assault. Had the Germans also reversed this notion and equipped infantry divisions with more armour, the poor Landser would have had a longer life expectancy. Your point is of course more important than mine.

[Fallschirmjäger were "specialized" infantry divisions and the other luftwaffe ground force divisions were still formed according to more traditional German patterns and principles. Nevertheless, the latter policy reflected Göring's power in Nazi-Germany more than just desperation.]
May 19th, 2006  
bush musketeer
getting wiped out seems to be pretty regular occurence.
a few well known ones for aussie forces are:
kakoda-buna-gona series of battles
august 16th 1942
2/14 battalion 24 officers and 577 other ranks
2/16 battalion 600 other ranks
2/27 battalion 28 officers and 560 other ranks
39th millitia battalion 300 men
december 9th when gona fell.
2/14 battalion 21 other ranks
2/16 battalion 8 officers and 48 other ranks
2/27 battalion 3 officers and 67 other ranks
39th millitia battalion 7 officers and 25 other ranks

1st world war 59th battalion at fluerbaix was reduced from 1000 men to 80 in a matter of minutes. that same night the 60th battalion had 56 men come back from there 1000 men that entered the battle.
the 5th Aussie divison as a whole lost 5533 out of its 6000 men.

at gallipoli the british collingwood battalion fought for 30 minutes in what was its first and last battle of the war. They returned from there fighting with 1 officer and 18 men.
May 20th, 2006  
In the American Civil War (1860's) there are several instances of companies, battalions, regiments, and at least one whole division losing combat effectiveness. I remember reading about a battalion of Union troops that fought in the Battle of the Wilderness being reduced to 3 men. And of course Gen. Pickett's division was utterly annilhated at the Battle of Gettysburg.
May 22nd, 2006  
Originally Posted by ghost457
In the American Civil War (1860's) there are several instances of companies, battalions, regiments, and at least one whole division losing combat effectiveness. I remember reading about a battalion of Union troops that fought in the Battle of the Wilderness being reduced to 3 men. And of course Gen. Pickett's division was utterly annilhated at the Battle of Gettysburg.
No offense, but Picketts division was not annilhated, certainly they had enormous losses -about 54% casualties- (that's actually when combined with Trimble and Pettigrew's men) but the use of the word "annilhated" suggests that they were totally wiped out. Many units during the ACW appeared to be destroyed due to the rudimentry battlefield communication only to surface later more or less intact. During the battle of Gettysburg, the 1st Minnesota suffered the greatest casualty rate for a Union regiment during the war, 215 out of 262 (about 82%) were killed or wounded. I am not familiar with the story of the Wilderness that you referenced - any more information?

Here is a link specific to the Pickett's Charge:
May 27th, 2006  
I remember reading about it in a book. Perhaps I can find it, but I believed it was called "Maps of the Civil War" or "Battlefields of the Civil War." And I am sorry, I thought that Pickett's division was totally destroyed as a division.

And isn't the 1st Minnesota the unit that assaulted a whole Rebel brigade to plug a hole in the line? I believe that it was General Hancock that asked the leader of this unit, "Do you see those colors? (pointing to Rebel flags) Then take them!" And that battalion commander ordered the charge.
May 27th, 2006  
It really depends on the size of the war. On the Eastern Front in WWII divisions were destroyed all the time. However in a war like the one being fought in Iraq it would be a big deal to lose a squad or even a fire team.