How to identify enemy units?

Alan Hume

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Not sure if I have asked this before or not but heck, here goes nothing

I've been reading an American unit history lately and while it is very interesting and could yield scenarios I'm drawing a blank with it as it comprehensively fails to identify the German units involved, not one, nada, zip, nothing

So how do you identify those units, I guess, at worst you could put down something like 'elements of Army Group...' and check a WW2 atlas to tell you what army group was in a particular area in a particular year but that's not great

Anyone got any ideas as to just how to work this out (other than getting lucky finding it in another book covering the same battle) I have to admit I am stumped here

I h
 

von Marwitz

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Well, the Americans probably mentioned the locations (village names etc.) where they fought. Search for those in reports from the German point of view. You might be able to find maps from the German POV that will indicate the units located opposite to the Americans or some particular village.

Then there are some forums with histroy buffs where you could ask such questions.

http://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de

The above is one good forum for the purpose. I reckon, many would be able to reply in English.

von Marwitz
 

Alan Hume

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Well, the Americans probably mentioned the locations (village names etc.) where they fought. Search for those in reports from the German point of view. You might be able to find maps from the German POV that will indicate the units located opposite to the Americans or some particular village.

Then there are some forums with histroy buffs where you could ask such questions.

http://www.forum-der-wehrmacht.de

The above is one good forum for the purpose. I reckon, many would be able to reply in English.

von Marwitz
Thanks, good advice, not sure quite where I would find the German reports mind you, I know where to find British war diary's (and can read them) but German? I'm a bit stumped I guess (apologies for my ignorance)
 

Alan Hume

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that forum is really good by the way, thanks for the heads up :cool:
 

62nd Army

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Alan

Von Marwitz has a good method, I would also add the "big picture" method. This simply is finding overall info on the battle in question and working back to find the other units.

I have an example; I designed a scenario from an American source on a battle during the Salerno landings in Italy. The American source never listed the German unit.

I went back and got a pretty accurate listing of the German Divisions and some of the independent units that fought during this period around Salerno. I actually got a book on one of the German divisions and it mentioned the same area/village that I had the scenario set in.
The dates were one day off (I think) and I figured I had my mystery German division. I got lucky on this one, but even I didn't I had the German units narrowed down to a few divisions and if push came to shove I had the "corps" if nothing else.

I am typing this from memory on a scenario I design at least 6 to 8 years ago, but the method is what I am trying to show.
This doesn't always work on small obscure battles, but can be a good method a large percentage of the time. Obviously the more time and money you have to do "research" certainly helps. :)

I hope this helps you!!

Regards
Joe
 

Alan Hume

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Alan

Von Marwitz has a good method, I would also add the "big picture" method. This simply is finding overall info on the battle in question and working back to find the other units.

I have an example; I designed a scenario from an American source on a battle during the Salerno landings in Italy. The American source never listed the German unit.

I went back and got a pretty accurate listing of the German Divisions and some of the independent units that fought during this period around Salerno. I actually got a book on one of the German divisions and it mentioned the same area/village that I had the scenario set in.
The dates were one day off (I think) and I figured I had my mystery German division. I got lucky on this one, but even I didn't I had the German units narrowed down to a few divisions and if push came to shove I had the "corps" if nothing else.

I am typing this from memory on a scenario I design at least 6 to 8 years ago, but the method is what I am trying to show.
This doesn't always work on small obscure battles, but can be a good method a large percentage of the time. Obviously the more time and money you have to do "research" certainly helps. :)

I hope this helps you!!

Regards
Joe
Thanks very much :nod: all good advice, yep, chipping away at it and narrowing it down bit by bit seems to be the way to go right enough
I don't have much time and money for the research though :D yep, have to admit I have always found it difficult to pinpoint German units
 

Alan Hume

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Saying that, other than using an military atlas I don't really know how to find out what units fought in what areas at what time
 

62nd Army

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Saying that, other than using an military atlas I don't really know how to find out what units fought in what areas at what time

Alan

That works, start there. Happy designing!! :)

Joe
 

Uncle_Duke

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Saying that, other than using an military atlas I don't really know how to find out what units fought in what areas at what time
I cannot overstate the importance of examining multiple sources as they relate to an individual action. I've recently been doing a bunch of research on the Northern Landing Group's campaign on New Georgia. For this, I've used something like three different official histories (both Army and Marine Corps), a unit history, various War Dept publications, and a handful of TO&Es I found online.

Even though there's a fair amount of overlap, each source tells me something interesting that the others don't. Even the maps have subtle differences that help to paint a more complete picture-- none are consistent in their topography except in the most general terms, some show or label villages that others do not, etc.

In the absence of translations of Japanese sources (which I'm not sure survived the war, much less whether they exist in English), I've been compiling a Japanese Order of Battle from these materials. Each seems to agree that the 6th Kure SNLF was involved, but some sources mention elements of the 13th Regiment as well. The War Dept's "Handbook on Japanese Military Forces" gives me some idea how these groups were structured, but not where they were employed.

I use this as an example of how the process is working for me. While it's been time intensive, it hasn't cost me a dime-- the local libraries know my face, and have a sense of humor about the gross number of Interlibrary Loan requests I've been putting in of late.

For finding units more generally, I would recommend Osprey books relating to a given battle as a good place to start-- read it through, then use the bibliography as a checklist for material to get from your local library. The US Army histories (Green Books) can also work well where American units are concerned.

Good luck!
 

von Marwitz

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Some links as a starter:

http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/

The following link is also an excellent site:

http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/inhaltsverzeichnis1.htm

If you look up a specific unit, for example a division, there are often maps to be found for that unit for various dates. This will usually only be of help for larger formations but this in turn will be a starting point to dig for sub-units.

Example:

1. Infanterie Division:
http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gliederungen/Infanteriedivisionen/1ID.htm

A sample map:
http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gliederungen/Korps/Karte/VII0344.jpg


von Marwitz
 

Alan Hume

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I cannot overstate the importance of examining multiple sources as they relate to an individual action. I've recently been doing a bunch of research on the Northern Landing Group's campaign on New Georgia. For this, I've used something like three different official histories (both Army and Marine Corps), a unit history, various War Dept publications, and a handful of TO&Es I found online.

Even though there's a fair amount of overlap, each source tells me something interesting that the others don't. Even the maps have subtle differences that help to paint a more complete picture-- none are consistent in their topography except in the most general terms, some show or label villages that others do not, etc.

In the absence of translations of Japanese sources (which I'm not sure survived the war, much less whether they exist in English), I've been compiling a Japanese Order of Battle from these materials. Each seems to agree that the 6th Kure SNLF was involved, but some sources mention elements of the 13th Regiment as well. The War Dept's "Handbook on Japanese Military Forces" gives me some idea how these groups were structured, but not where they were employed.

I use this as an example of how the process is working for me. While it's been time intensive, it hasn't cost me a dime-- the local libraries know my face, and have a sense of humor about the gross number of Interlibrary Loan requests I've been putting in of late.

For finding units more generally, I would recommend Osprey books relating to a given battle as a good place to start-- read it through, then use the bibliography as a checklist for material to get from your local library. The US Army histories (Green Books) can also work well where American units are concerned.

Good luck!
You're right, getting as much information as possible from as many different sources as possible is the way to go (as is interlibrary loans clearly)

I guess my problem re the (rather brilliant) Osprey Campaign books are that most of the battles I have been looking at lately are small and overlooked so not covered by the series, I recently bought some very cheap second hand copies of reprints of the Green Books though so I'm glad to say I have those available
 

Alan Hume

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Some links as a starter:

http://www.wwii-photos-maps.com/

The following link is also an excellent site:

http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/inhaltsverzeichnis1.htm

If you look up a specific unit, for example a division, there are often maps to be found for that unit for various dates. This will usually only be of help for larger formations but this in turn will be a starting point to dig for sub-units.

Example:

1. Infanterie Division:
http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gliederungen/Infanteriedivisionen/1ID.htm

A sample map:
http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gliederungen/Korps/Karte/VII0344.jpg


von Marwitz
Many thanks, those links are brilliant :nod:
 
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