Military history

Personal Equipment & Weapons

The German soldier was very well equipped and in 1939, when the German war was unleashed against Europe, they were perhaps the best in the world. The rifleman or Schütze wore the trademark model 1935 steel helmet, which provided ample protection whilst marching to the battlefront and during combat. His leather belt with support straps carried two sets of three ammunition pouches for a total of 60 rounds for his carbine. The soldier also wore his combat harness for his mess kit and special camouflage rain cape or Zeltbahn. He also wore an entrenching tool, and attached to the entrenching tool carrier was the bayonet, a bread bag for rations, gas mask canister, which was invariably slung over the wearer’s shoulder and an anti-gas cape in its pouch, attached to the shoulder strap. The infantryman’s flashlight was normally attached to the tunic and inside the tunic pocket he carried wound dressings. A small backpack was issued to the soldiers, though some did not wear them. The backpack was intended for spare clothing, personal items, and additional rations along with a spare clothing satchel.

The weapons used by the German soldier against Poland varied, but the standard issue piece of equipment was the 7.92mm Kar98k carbine. This excellent modern and effective bolt-action rifle was of Mauser design. This rifle remained the most popular weapon used by the German Army throughout the war. Another weapon used by the German Army, but not to the extent used by the Kar98k, was the 9mm MP38 machine pistol. This sub-machine gun was undoubtedly one of the most effective weapons ever produced for the German war machine. The 7.92mm MG34 light machine gun was yet another weapon that featured heavily within the ranks of the German Army. The effectiveness of the weapon made it the most superior machine gun ever produced at that time. The MG34 was a very impressive fire rate and could dominate the battlefield both in defensive and offensive roles. The German Army possessed the MG34 in every rifle group, and machine gun crews were able to transport this relatively light weapon easily onto the battlefield by resting it over the shoulder. Yet another weapon, which was seen at both company and battalion level on the battlefield, was the 5cm 1.GrW36 light mortar and 8cm s. GrW34 heavy mortar. Although they could both be an effective weapon when fired accurately the light and heavy mortar was far too heavy and too expensive to produce on a very large scale.

At regimental and divisional level the German Army possessed its own artillery in the form of 7.5cm 1.IG18, 10.5cm I.FH18, 15cm s. FH18, and 15cm s. IG33 infantry guns. Specially trained artillery crews used these guns and they were seen extensively in Poland. The 3.7cm PaK35/36 was another weapon that was very popular especially during the early years of the war.

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