A Dog’s Breakfast: The Weaponry of Second Rate German Divisions in France

The Germans produced the best weaponry in World War Two. They just couldn’t produce enough of it. A Tiger tank, for instance, took 300,000 man hours to build. No wonder they only built 500.

To make up for their constant shortages of weaponry, the Germans used equipment captured from different armies they had beaten all over Europe. But this resulted in newly created divisions having the strangest conglomeration of weapons imaginable.

On 1 May 1944, according to a report submitted by the German 709th Infantry Division to its command echelon, LXXXIV Corps, the division numbered 10,536 men of whom almost 2,000 were former Soviet POWs. These men volunteered to keep from starving. On the Eastern Front they fought well. On the Western front, they didn’t fight as hard and many such units shot their German officers and surrendered to the Allies.

The small amount of artillery the division had was of Czech origin and finding ammunition was difficult. The troops were equipped with 7800 German rifles, 1300 German pistols, 72 French Army mortars, 634 French rifles, 3 Russian pistols, 81 Russian rifles, 322 Czech rifles, 1,183 Polish pistols, 160 Belgian pistols, and a mixture of mounted and hand held German and Russian machine guns. All these weapons fired different calibers of ammunition.

The division had no motorized transport just horses and wagons and not many of those.

What is incredible, is the ferocious fight they put up against the Allied forces which came ashore on 6 June 1944.

[Images courtesy of Wikipedia.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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