Fierce Fighting As Allies Stall!
The Allied war machine, all hot air and shiny toys, has ground to a halt as our fearsome Grenadiers face them down at ever turn in the Bocage of the French countryside! While every battle is as hard-fought as we expected, the steel will of the German armed forces and conspicuous valour of every grenadier in France has held firm and the Allies have found their campaign in France to be no mean feat.
An Example to the Men
Our ranks swell with heroes as every day our boys achieve their battlefield objectives and grind down the enemy will to continue. One such hero who has acquitted himself not only with honour and distinction, but with inspirational success, is Generalleutenant Nagten (at the time of writing, Oberst Nagten).
Generalleutenant Nagten is renown for his undefeated battle record in France, having bested the enemy in many separate clashes, and fought them to a standstill in others. When not facing the enemy in a head-to-head clash on the field of battle, Generalleutenant Nagten devotes his time to running wargames and training missions with fellow German Divisions to keep them honed and ready for combat.
To give you, the warriors of the Reich, a better understanding of the Generalleutenant, and to inspire you to live up to his heroic example, we sent long-time front line Signal reporter Hauptmann Aleksandyr (15. Pz. Div Wehrmacht) to catch up with the Generalleutenant at his command outside Villers-Bocage to ask a few questions…
Hauptmann Aleksandyr for Signal Magazine
b. 1895, Swabisch Halle
1914, enlisted, promoted Gefreiter, wound stripe, IC 2nd Class
1915, recuperation, Truppenschule, appointed infantry officer, Eastern Front
1916, Hauptman, Eastern Front, wounded, IC 1st Class, recuperation, abbreviated KREIGSCHULE
1917, General Stabt, Italian Front, Maior
1918, General Stabt, Western Front
1919, demobilized, Family business
recalled to active duty, 1937, in last grade served. Completed Kreigschule. Stabt of 3rd Infantry Division
1939, promoted Oberstleutenat, staff of 16th Division
1939-40, commanded battalion of 16th Division
1941, Stabt of 16th Panzer Division
1942, Stabt of 16th Motosiert Division. Wounded and evacuated.
1943, promoted Oberst, staff of Panzergruppe West
1944, attached as liasion to 116th Panzer
Signal: Without question, the panzers provided to us by the German people are the best in the world, but given equal terms, would you prefer to command a kampfgruppe of Panzerkampfwagen IV, Panzerkampfwagen V Panther, or Panzerkampfwagen VI Tiger?
Nagten: You must first understand that it is not the equipment that makes the soldier, but the soldier that makes the equipment. It is the German soldier (veteran or recruit, machts nichts) that makes our equipment the best in the world. Just yesterday soldiers of Panzer Abteilung 100 (Ausbildings) defeated the Americans with four year old obsolete equipment. That being said, I prefer the Panzer Mark IV and StuG III over the Panther and Tiger. The logistics of battle under our current strategic circumstances make it difficult to bring numbers of the Panther and Tiger to battle. The fuel necessary to move a platoon of Tigers can move a company of Mark IV tanks. As the Amis and Tommies have yet to field a tank that absolutely requires the additional fire power of these wonderful vehicles, the Mark IV is absolutely recommended for offensive operations and the StuG III is perfect for supporting Grenadiers.
Nagten: The number one lesson of the Ostfront is to strike the enemy without giving him an opportunity to strike back. We can ill-afford to trade the Allies tank for tank, so the opening shots of an engagement must afford an equal opportunity to withdraw to cover before the enemy can react. Plan to escape his return fire and strike again. A well-executed large ambush followed by Shoot and Scoot and then a repeat at the next opportunity can deliver three unanswered shots.
Signal: Some veterans of the Ostfront have stated that the Soviet tank is superior to ours. However, given your experience in fighting both the Soviet T-34 and the American M4, which tank is the biggest threat to our own?
Nagten: The T-34 is not superior to the MK IV when both are placed in the hands of well-trained men. The most formidable arm of the Russian Army, in my opinion, is their artillery. A new development of the T-34 with an 85mm gun is impressive, but is not overwhelmingly so. Their heavy tanks so far have proved undergunned, although rumors of a combination of their 85mm cannon with the KV chassis and even a 100mm gun persist, they seem to be concentrated, like our Tigers, in small units at front and Army level. It is the nature of technology compelled by national survival in war that evolutionary weapon systems will continue to replace the older systems.
Signal: Can you share with us any plans for an offensive within France?
Nagten: The doctrine of the Wehrmacht calls for spoiling attacks on the defensive at any opportunity. When Panzergruppe West finishes its redeployment, I imagine that a full blown counteroffensive will be planned. At the moment speculating about that possibility is premature and possibly unwise.
Signal: What is one piece of equipment that every commander of a Kampfgruppe should include within their force?
Nagten: Das herz eines kreigers, my young friend. But I have noted that many young officers overlook the value of small recon units, whose ability to gain deployment space, screen flanks and prevent surprise is not valued. When constituting a Kampfgruppe I always allocate at least one small unit.
Thank you very much to Generalleutenant Nagten for his time and thoughtful answers, we know many Wehrmacht boy will be reading and re-reading your answers ahead of the exciting days of battle to come!