“To err is human, to buy my book divine!”
half-track and fully tracked vehicles
For those used to NATO-style map symbols, the myriad German tactical symbols used in organization charts (and maps) of the World War II era can seem to be a daunting task at ﬁrst.
Aufklärungs-Abteilung 373 of the 373. Infanterie-Division (kroat.) in September 1943. It was later to form two armored car companies out of captured Italian vehicle stocks.
had an armored car company, two armored reconnaissance companies (equipped with the Sd.Kfz. 250), and a heavy company.35
In the second instance, delete the second highlighted paragraph (the first one was already deleted in the print run):
• One armored reconnaissance company (Panzer-Aufklärungs-Kompanie (Krad), (Kettenkrad) or (VW)) (4th)
• Two armored reconnaissance companies (Panzer-Aufklärungs-Kompanien [gp]) (3rd and 4th), each equipped with the Sd.Kfz. 250 and armed with forty-nine light machine guns, three 7.5cm anti-tank guns, and two medium mortars
Page 118: Alert reader Paul from the UK has provided additional information for the section concerning “Higher Commands,” specifically the Fallschirm-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 12 and 11.
Both your narrative and the organizational diagram describes this unit as having 5 companies, one of Panzerspähwagen and three of SPW’s, plus a supply company.
This has always struck me as an odd organization for an airborne corps, in so much that Fallschirmjäger (excepting the HG Division of course) were fundamentally infantry, whereas the reconnaissance battalion as described is effectively an armored one and issued armored vehicles. It does not not add up, even though the diagram is German WWII and shows that situation.
As it happens, I have had some recent correspondence with a gentleman, who has researched this formation quite deeply and his research has yielded an entirely different unit structure and one that makes more sense, particularly with regard to the infantry versus armor comments above.
The data are compiled from US Army POW interrogations of personnel who had been assigned to Fallschirm-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 12 and had been captured in Normandy, they stated that the battalion had the following organization:
- Headquarters: 1x 6×6 Italian Armored Car, 3x Italian B4 tanks
- 1st Company (Rifle): 2x VW Kübelwagen, 8x trucks, 3x half-tracks (SPW?)
- 2nd Company (Rifle):As in the 1st Company
- 3rd Company (Rifle):As in the 1st Company
- 4th Company (Light Antiaircraft): 4x 2cm Flak (not verified)
- 5th Company (Heavy Weapons): 1x 12cm mortar, 2x Pak 40, 12x trucks
- 6th Company (Maintenance and Supply)
All company commanders are named in these reports, and it is also possible that the half-tracks mentioned might well be something like Kettenkräder for gun towing or something similar.
So, as you can see, there is no commonality between the diagram and your narrative that goes with it and these POW statements. As the airborne corps was essentially infantry, the POW descriptions make much more sense. Their poor levels of equipment do very much reflect units put together in 1944.
Various armored cars of the 1./Aufklärungs-Abteilung 20 (mot) move down a fog-shrouded road in this atmospheric scene.
The men of the König (“King”) wear a variety of early and late headgear and uniforms, with the vehicle commander wearing the field-gray version of the Panzer jacket. Of further interest is the “star” antenna, which indicated a command & control radio set had been installed in this vehicle. (This image comes from a photo album featuring Knight’s Cross recipient Oberfähnrich Erwin Krüger, which is featured later in the book.) JIM HALEY
This Sd.Kfz. 234/1, attributed to Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 4 of the 4. Panzer-Division, features a distinctive late-war three-tone camouflage pattern. Images of the Sd.Kfz. 234 series of vehicles are hard to find because comparatively so few were produced and the situation at the front rarely allowed time for luxuries such as photography.
Page 210: Alert reader Paul from the UK has provided additional information for several photographs. The Puma seen on this page is identified as belonging to the 1./Panzeraufklärungs-Abteilung 2 of the 2. Panzer-Division in Normandy.
Page 212: The Puma in the lower photo is identified as having been assigned to the Stabskompanie of SS-Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 1 of the 1. SS-Panzer-Division “Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler.”
Sd.Kfz 250/3 (Light Armored Communications Vehicle)
Sd.Kfz. 250/5 (Light Armored Observation Vehicle)
Sd.Kfz. 250/7 (Heavy Mortar or Mortar Ammunition Carrier)
Sd.Kfz. 250/8 (Light Armored Personnel Carrier with 7.5cm Main Gun)
Sd.Kfz. 250/9 (Light Scout Armored Personnel Carrier)
Sd.Kfz 250/10 (Light Armored Personnel carrier with 3.7cm Antitank Gun)
Sd.Kfz. 250/11 (Light Armored Personnel carrier with 2.8cm Antitank Rifle)
Sd.Kfz. 251/1 (Medium Armored Personnel Carrier)
Sd.Kfz. 251/3 (Medium Armored Communications Vehicle)
Sd.Kfz. 2 (Kettenkrad)
Page 262: Paul from the UK found another incorrect identification on this page. The vehicle identified as a Horch prime mover is actually a Krupp Protze.
Page 281: Alert reader Chris from France—known as “Derka” on many militaria forums—noticed that the bottom image was inaccurately captioned, since it states that the enlisted scout in the image is wearing a 1st-pattern reed-green special-purpose uniform for armored vehicle crewmen. In fact, the scout in question is simply wearing a reed-green HBT field uniform, with the tunic bottom tucked into his trousers. Thanks, Chris!
Page 285: Paul from the UK points out that the Puma seen on this page has the turret number 041, which would place it with Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 20 of the 20. Panzer-Division, a battalion also seen on Page 215.
…this action earned him the Knight’s Cross.
Notes: Originally a separate battalion, it was redesignated and a subordinate battalion of the short-lived Aufklärungs-Regiment 6 in 1938, only to be redesignated as Aufklärungs-Abteilung 8 (mot) in late 1938 and assigned to 5. Panzer-Division.
End of 1944—Headquarters (with armored car sections), 1st Armored Scout Company (half-track), 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track), and 3rd Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
April 1944—Headquarters (with armored car sections), 1st Armored Scout Company (Luchs), 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track), 3rd Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track), 4th Heavy Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
At that point, a vehicle from our patrol broke off and moved towards the VW at high speed.
July 1944—Headquarters (with armored car sections), 1st Armored Scout Company (Luchs), 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track), 3rd Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track), 4th Heavy Armored Reconnaissance Company (half-track)
Sometimes a bit of military sightseeing was in order, since soldiers of all armies enjoy looking at military equipment. In this instance, the scouts are looking at ex-British Mark IV tanks.
Unteroffizier August Roth, 3./Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 116 (20 January 1945);
Page 477: Paul from the UK identifies the trucks seen on this page as “ex-British Bedford 15 cwt MWD trucks, all in good order suggesting a Wehrmacht refurbishment after capture in France 1940, so very unlikely to be SS-Verfügungs-Division France 1940, more likely later in Russia.”
Nr. 20 (dated 15 October 1940, paragraph not listed), and Nr. 17 (dated 1 September 1942, paragraph 309).
An additional view of the jacket and some details of the insignia. Hain was one of the few personnel in the Panzertruppe who were also entitled to wear the Kreta cuff title, since he was in Kradschützen-Bataillon 55, which participated in the island invasion in 1940. Some of Hain’s other high awards and assignments can be gleaned from the job application seen here that he prepared to work for the Allies after the war.