Grenadier Escort Platoon
“Experience has repeatedly shown that wherever Jagdpanzer or Sturmgeschütze were used in close cooperation with infantry, even with limited forces, decisive progress has been made in attack and defense. But where this cooperation was poor or lacking, the combat missions often could not be carried out or were completed with disproportionate losses.”
This is the opening statement in a set of orders from the Inspector General of the Panzer Troops. The orders dated October 20th 1944 mandated the establishment of Grenadier Escort Platoons. The platoons were mandated for all Infantry, Grenadier, Volksgrenadier, Mountain and Jäger divisions equipped with Jagdpanzer or Sturmgeschützen.
I first noticed this unique unit in the organizational diagram of a 1945 Infantry Division. However when I looked over the KStN list for this division type there was no Begleitzug KStN. It was a minor annoyance not being able to locate the KStN but I let it go. Then I found a listing for the 1945 Infantry Division that included the Begleitzug, see below. This showed specific strength of the unit but still I could not locate any indication that a KStN existed. However in the comment section for the Begleitzug there was an OKH order number and with some help from the forums I was able to locate them.
These turned out to be very interesting orders, they can be downloaded at the end of the post. The orders not only spelled out the exact composition (including weapons) of the unit but its intended role and training. The documents include the orders and two attachments. The first attachment is the composition of the Grenadier Escort Platoons, thought not a K.St.N. it outlines each position and weapon. The the second are guidelines for training and use of the unit.
The high points of the orders are basically these:
- All infantry type divisions equipped with assault guns will form a Grenadier Escort Platoon. These will be formed with the best men of the division.
- This unit will be permanently subordinated to the assault gun battalion. It is solely intended to accompany the attack of the assault guns. Its task is not to hold a section after it has been taken.
- The training of the escort platoon in cooperation with the assault guns requires 14 days. Training must be carried out by the divisions using strict guidelines as provided.
- After a probationary period it is to be document in the personal papers of members of the escort platoons: ”Only to be used for Grenadier Escort Platoon.”
- The Army Groups and Armies will report back to the Inspector General of the Panzer Troops once the units have been formed. They will also report any experience already gained in their use.
Since the intent of my initial search was to find the KStN and apparently one did not exist I decided to create my own. Luckily the first attachment that describes the composition of the unit is detailed enough to do that. This KStN can be downloaded below as well.
Also of interest is that though not specifically mentioned in these documents the assault gun companies of a 1945 Panzer Division were also intended to have Grenadier Escort Platoons. This based solely on their presence in the organizational diagram of the 1945 Panzer Division.
Feedback or comments are welcome.
- US National Archives & Records Administration