I have been wargaming for 10 years in which time I have finally settled on two eras, Napoleonic and WWII, both in 15mm (1:100). Most of my ramblings will be about gaming in these two eras. An attempt will be made to record my wargaming interests, building of armies, ideas, interests and hopefully some games played.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Sturmgesshutz-Abteilung 200 (Major Becker)

One of the proposed units for my 21st Panzer Kampfgruppe is Major Becker's unit, the Sturmgesshutz-Abteilung 200. After reading Colonel Hans Von Luck's memoirs, I discovered that three batteries of this Abteilung were attached to Luck's Kampfgruppe for the attack on Escoville, Ranville and the Orne bridges. Also the whole of (or what remained of) the Abteilung was part of Luck's Kampfgruppe during Operation Goodwood. I think I will build this whole unit, not just one or two companies. But what was the actual composition of this unit?

The information on this unit within the Rapid Fire rules set is a little confusing. In their 1944-45 Unit organization lists they state that the Assault Gun Group consists of 2 x Hotchkiss 105mm and 2 x Hotchkiss 75mm AT. This would equate, at Rapid Fire's vehicle ratio of 1:5, to 20 vehicles per company. I've always had a problem with this and not fully sure what this term 'Group' actually represented?

This is my Rapid Fire Assualt Gun Group of 2 x Hotchkiss 75mm AT and 2 x Hotchkiss 105mm, which were painted a while ago.

I've also searched on the web and found Spearhead's composition for the 21st Panzer Division (found here at http://www.spearhead1944.com/gerpg/ger1.htm). To back this up, the German records (found here at http://www.spearhead1944.com/gerpg/21ger_rec.htm) show that there were 10 or 12 vehicles in each company. Using this information means that each company in Rapid Fire should consist of 1 x 105mm and 1 x 75mm Hotchkiss vehicles? ...... Interestingly this is the same ratio that the Spearhead rules seem to use.

These entries on a WWII forum are also interesting, they give a little background to Major Becker and the creation of this and other units. The posting can be found here at : http://ww2f.com/weapons-wwii/22843-major-alfred-becker-paris-baukommando.html. I've copied the relevent entries below, just incase the entry on this forum vanishes.

........Major Alfred Becker, a First World War veteran and mechanical engineer, was heavily involved in the conversion of captured vehicles from 1940.
In 1942 he converted captured French carriers into the 15cm (Sf) Lorraine Schlepper self-propped gun, which meet with great approval from the OKH. These were shipped to Afrika to supplement Rommel’s forces in the desert.
Towards the end of 1942 he was transferred to France to devise ways of utilising various captured French vehicles. Becker’s engineering staff set about their work and were soon pumping out a variety of innovative designs. From 1943 he started to convert the Hotchkiss H35 and 39 light tanks to mount a 7.5cm PaK40 or 10.5cm leFH16 as an assault gun. In the summer of 1943 he was given command of the 200. Sturmgesch├╝tzabteilung, part of the rebuilding 21. Panzerdivision, which he equipped with the new assault guns. By the time of the Allied invasion in June 1944 he had built the StuG abteilung up to five batteries of 10 vehicles (4x 7.5cm PaK40 and 6x 10.5cm leFH16 each). Becker was however more than just a simple engineer. In 1914 he had won the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd class, and during the fighting Poland had added the 1939 Bar to each of his crosses (commanding the 15. Batterie, 227. Artillerie-Regiment, 227. Infanterie-Regiment). For his inventive use of captured vehicles he was awarded the War Merit Cross 1st Class with Swords and by 1945 had earned himself a Knight’s Cross of the War Merit Cross with Swords.........

Another posting from the same thread:

........ One single person (Hpt. Alfred Becker, 227. ID (Artillery) was in charge ot the salvage the whole French captured AFV's. He collected the scrap in one place and did a triage with the vehicles:
1. Minor repairs and refits
2. Major repair and refits
3. Spare parts source

The the vehicles where repaired by importance all of one type in one step. All remaining spare parts where stored away. What was left was shipped back to the steelworks.
The Wehrmacht had only on Alfred Becker, so most captured vehicles in Russia where doomed!

Alfred Becker was an interesting guy. He started the war in the west with his Batterie (12.) horsepowered. After reaching the first dutch artillery depot on the way of 227. ID he equiped his Batterie and the recon element of 227. ID with motorized vehicles.
OK, motorized is fine, but mechanized is better. So Becker started to refit his Batterie with SPA's (!!!) (BY HIMSELF, WITH AN ARCWELDER !!!! ). After 6 month the FIRST armored artillery Battery of the German Wehrmacht was combat ready (without one vehicle build by a professional manufacturer!!!). The armoured artillery vehicle was composed from Vickers Mk.6 under-carriages with 10,5cm Feldhaubitze 16.
After that Becker was instantly transfered to Alkett to help this armourworks build a SPA on a French Lorain ammo-carrier.
In 1942/3 Becker salavaged all usable tank wreckage he found in France as described above. Now his unit was called "Baustab Becker". His production output (more than 1800 tanks and other Vehicle) was used to form "verstarkte schnelle Brigade West". Becker was also simultaniously commanding officer of Sturmgesch├╝tz-Abt. 200 (later Sturmpanzer-Abt. 200)............

In hindsight, I think that Rapid Fire's Assault Gun Group's makup for the Sturmgesshutz-Abteilung 200 is more to do with the points value given to the Hotchkiss vehicles within their rule set and the need to create balanced forces. I've also been wrongly understanding the term Group to mean Company.

My makeup for the unit is going to be:
1 x Leicht Schutzenpanzerwagen U304(f) - Unic Kegresse P107 (fitted with Radio equipment?)
2 x 4.7cm Pak (t) auf PzKampfwagen 35R(f) ohne turm (QRF models GFF03)
1 x PAK 40 + truck tow (probably a French truck)
4 companies of
1 x 75mm PAK40(Sf) auf Geshutzwagen 39H(f)
1 x 105mm leFH18(Sf) auf Geshutzwagen 39H(f)

I've now just got to puchase a few extra vehicles get the rest of the unit painted...............


Geordie an Exiled FoG said...

I like the level of research and those wacky modified French tanks

Very impressed

Anonymous said...

Battlefront have done some further research on this for their Flames of War system. According to one of Beckers maps the original research was muddled, a battery was 6 7.5cm tanks in two groups of three and one battery of 4 10.5cm howitzer tanks. company HQ was a H-39 OP vehicle. Not sure how it works in Rapid Fire, but more info can be found here.