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Recruitment - The Gruppe
The Gruppe Ranks & Service Awards Costs Unit Policy on Politcal Activity

The Gruppe, from 1944, consisted of nine men:

MG gunner
MG number 2
MG number 3
4 x riflemen

There were 3 Gruppen in a Zug. Both an officer or senior sergeant led the Zug, and he had a squad of 5 to assist in his tasks. The total number of men allowed for a 1944 Infanterie Zug was 34.

There were 3 Zug to a Kompanie, (all identical in composition) and a heavy MG section along with a baggage train completed the Kompanie's order of battle. The total number of men in a 1944 Infanterie Kompanie was 142.

With this number in mind, it can be seen that we show only a fraction of the strength of a Kompanie, let alone when one considers that at it's peaks, the division had some 13,000 men on it's books. It can be seen why a soldier's home is his Kompanie. More specifically it was his Gruppe who were his immediate family, and he was likely to know most of the others within the Zug. Once the fighting began, however, the turn over of manpower soon disrupted the order of battles, and the constant need to fill rifle pits with men soon saw the rear troops being hastened to the HKL. This would be the beginning of the end for a Kompanie.

An Unteroffizier would normally lead a Gruppe. This rank was the first of the non-commissioned officer levels, as indicated by the transfer of rank from the arm to the epaulette. The reality was that there were never sufficient NCO's to fill the positions, and it often fell upon the shoulders of the Gruppe number two, the Stellvertretend Gruppenführer, to lead the Gruppe.

He was invariably an Obergefrieter. As a Gruppenf├╝hrer, it was his task to lead the Gruppe by example. He was responsible for his men's welfare. The Gruppenführer was to direct the fire of the MG42 while the Stellvertretend Gruppenführer took responsibility for the other Grenadiers. They were to carry out an assault supported by the MG, or to defend and supply the MG, as each occasion saw fit.

The MG42 was the backbone and basis of strength for the German infantrymen. The best man with the '42 became the 'richtschütze' or 'nummer eins', while his loader was simply called 'nummer zwo'. He carried spare barrels and ammunition for the MG, and was constantly alongside the weapon. A third man, 'nummer drei' was also responsible for reserve ammunition for the MG. Collectively they were known as the 'MG Trupp'.

The rest of the riflemen, known as the 'schützentrupp' would have also carried belts for the MG, and on investigation MG teams are often seen with a large spade, essential kit for digging in. To complete the Gruppe weapon capability, hand grenades and Panzerfaust were readily available.


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