Joe Kundlak
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Bratislava
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Hi folks,

I am searching for some approachable (in the sense of "readable and not bogged down with ultra-professional talk", though I am not scared by mathematics and tables) books on the above subject - how a larger force (i.e. regiment/division up) works, what goes on behind all the shooting, how orders are given, how logistics is maintained and what it even means to run such a larger force in the field?

I would prefer a non-modern book and am aiming more on the WW2-era of organization - but of course many concepts must have stayed the same, so I would not reject any useful information...
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Judd Vance
United States
Wichita
Kansas
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"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
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This gent:

Jim Krohn
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New York
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did a lot of research on WWII tactics when he designed Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles (west front) and Band of Brothers: Ghost Panzer (east front).

He provided a thread showing his source material on Ghost Panzer:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/980745/ghost-panzer-1-design...


Not sure if he has one on Screaming Eagles, but that might be a good place to start.
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Kent Reuber
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"Supplying War" may be a good resource for logistics.

http://www.amazon.com/Supplying-War-Logistics-Wallenstein-Pa...
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Michael Dorosh
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Joeyeti wrote:
Hi folks,

I am searching for some approachable (in the sense of "readable and not bogged down with ultra-professional talk", though I am not scared by mathematics and tables) books on the above subject - how a larger force (i.e. regiment/division up) works, what goes on behind all the shooting, how orders are given, how logistics is maintained and what it even means to run such a larger force in the field?

I would prefer a non-modern book and am aiming more on the WW2-era of organization - but of course many concepts must have stayed the same, so I would not reject any useful information...


The Nafziger books on divisional organization deal mainly with order of battle and sketch histories but there are some good glimpses at this scattered throughout. Osprey has titles on just about everything and I wonder if there aren't titles on logistics. There are good corps histories such as WAIT FOR THE WAGGON, the history of the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, that may be of use, but probably not as comprehensive as you may want. The British/Canadian/Commonwealth services did have the advantage of having distinct corps managing the support services, so they all have their own histories - Royal (Canadian) Army Service Corps, Royal (Canadian) Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, etc. The problem with many of the histories is that they were written shortly after the war, often by veterans, often with the mindset that only other veterans would be interested in reading them (thus, they don't explain day to day life very well).

Some of the corps assocations have online information for free download, with histories and descriptions of wartime service that may be of use. Some of the wartime corps have since been amalgamated into "branches" or other corps. In Canada, some of this is being reversed just recently. The Logistics Branch incorporates the former Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, military staff clerks (later the Administration Branch), etc.

There is much info out there but you may find you are embarking on a complex and lengthy research project. I hope you will share some of what you find, as like you, it is something I am interested in, and have struggled to find good, simple and comprehensive sources.

A book with a bit of detail on the German side of things is GERMAN INFANTRY HANDBOOK by Alex Buchner, who discusses the organization of a German infantry division in some detail, including the support services, though again, probably not in as great a detail as one might like, though at the least the order of battle of support services is provided.

You are probably familiar with the U.S. Army manual on HANDBOOK ON GERMAN MILITARY FORCES (if I am remembering the title correctly) which can be found for free download online, or reprinted from various publishers. It also has a great deal of information, though it was gleaned during the war from intelligence sources and its accuracy is subject to a bit of scrutiny. I don't recall immediately how much time is spent on military operations, but I remember a great deal of attention paid to things like recruiting, rates of pay and other bits of administration trivia so it may contain stuff like what you are looking for.
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Andy Daglish
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Cheadle
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I'm thinking that things work less well if you drive an SS panzer division through them. The D-Day landings had the benefit of optimum preparation, yet some assumptions made were false and some of those that were on the money were inadequately dealt with.

I'd consider Belton Cooper's book as a real-life 'for dummies' introduction to a few aspects of the larger organisation. The book contains a number of the author's wartime misconceptions, which is standard. Putting entirely inexperienced and therefore expendable three-man crews in Shermans, a proportion of which are certain to become flaming wrecks during tomorrow's attack, rather trumps the theoretical guff about tactical this and plans that. It does however give tank recovery teams fair notice. As Monty said, you play the game with the Germans, and if you know what you are doing, it goes more smoothly.
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Andy Daglish
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Joeyeti wrote:
how orders are given


General Bradley's subordinates made the point that he didn't often give orders they understood or could enact, so they reacted accordingly. General Patton was a different story, as was Brian Horrocks, who gave the impression of knowing everyone in his XXX Corps structure personally.



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Dave C.
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"Closing with the Enemy"

http://www.amazon.com/Closing-With-Enemy-1944-1945-Studies/d...
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Patrick Dignam
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Infantry Attacks (Zenith Military Classics) by Erwin Rommel
Link: http://amzn.com/0760337152

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Michael Dorosh
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aforandy wrote:
Joeyeti wrote:
how orders are given


General Bradley's subordinates made the point that he didn't often give orders they understood or could enact, so they reacted accordingly. General Patton was a different story, as was Brian Horrocks, who gave the impression of knowing everyone in his XXX Corps structure personally.




Much more useful to understanding how 1944-era armies passed on orders is the book NO HOLDING BACK which is an excellent study of the operational planning for Operation TOTALIZE. Brian Reid, a former Canadian Army staff officer, goes into meticulous detail about how and when the various orders for the operation were drafted, by whom and how the various pieces were fit together. TOTALIZE was somewhat unique, being the first battle in history to use fully-tracked armoured personnel carriers in large numbers and successfully. (The Canadian Corps had apparently attempted to use tanks in the First World War to move soldiers through shellfire but the men arrived at their destination in no condition to fight.)

As bonus material, Reid has a chapter on the death of Michael Wittmann, and a small chapter on the Polish Armoured Division, with organization and even key to pronounciation of Polish ranks and unit names. By coincidence, he mentions A Bridge Too Far, and Hackman's portrayal of the airborne general, Sosabowski, in the film.

NO HOLDING BACK traces the genesis and development of the operational plan, then describes the actual operation in detail, using primary references. It is definitely not a "pop history" such as Stephen Ambrose or the like might write, with veteran's interviews, etc., but a detailed analysis by a professional soldier, almost a review by one soldier of another's work.

John Marteinson - no slouch, when it comes to writing about the Canadian Army in Normandy, being a very respected historian himself - reviewed the book in Canadian Army Journal.

http://www.journal.forces.gc.ca/vo6/no3/br-cl-06-eng.asp

Quote:
Book reviewers usually try to avoid high praise or total condemnation, but, in this case, I simply cannot adhere to that custom. This book in every respect merits high praise. In my view, it is one of the very best books written in recent years about Canadian operations in the Second World War.


Quote:
In addition to being highly instructive, this book is a most enjoyable read. The writing style is lively, sometimes even with a bit of an ‘edge,’ sometimes showing the humourous side of a situation. Reid’s descriptions are vivid, and have that ring of soldierly understanding that comes from long experience in the field. This book should be in the library of every student of Canadian military history.


I think this would fit the original poster's needs very nicely.

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Doug
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I'd vote on How to Make War by James Dunnigan. It's very readable, but heavy enough to be authoritative. While it deals with modern warfare (no duh!), the structures of armies hasn't really changed since Napoleon (think S1, S2, S3, S4, etc). Probably the biggest change since WW II has been death by Powerpoint and email. The "you're breaking up" on the radio of WW II and beyond has now been replaced by "I didn't get the email with the order changes."

http://www.amazon.com/How-Make-Fourth-Edition-Comprehensive/...

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Martin McCleary
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I'd suggest looking at the various doctrinal manuals available on line. The U.S. Army Heritage collection has many WWII FM's available for free in PDF format. There's a LOT of stuff in there and it can take some dedicated hunting but you'd be surprised what you'd find.

I've seen only secondary sources for the Soviets but the extract on Soviet Tactical Doctrine in WWII would be a good place to start. There are also translations of Soviet armor manuals titled Red Armor Combat Orders but it deals mostly with organization and formations, not such much with planning and the actual conduct of operations.

I've never seen actual translated reprints of German doctrinal manuals. You'll find interpretations of some of them in english addressing squad, platoon. One I'd be somewhat wary of is titled Panzer Tactics by Schneider. It does have the only description I've ever read of the actual conduct of German tank gunnery training but the author didn't include a bibliography.

The book "From Normandy to the Ruhr" by Guderian is a pretty good look at operations and history of the 116th Panzer. I've also been flipping thru "Grenadiers" by Meyer and he has some very good descriptions about how he exercised C2 of his division in Normany.

Also Panzer Operations by Raus, some good info in there by a guy who caommanded at several echelons. .

One of the issues you run into is that "operations" tend to be not addressed much becasue most military authors take planning, battle rhythm, etc as a matter of course and they don't think that non military readers will find the details of much interest. It's tough to find accounts that recount the daily schedule or that describe how higher level commanders maintain battlefield situational awareness and then issue orders for pending operations. In many cases written orders are written after the fact, more as a historical record.
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