Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

German Artillerie Division 18

Discussion in 'Eastern Europe February 1943 to End of War' started by harolds, May 13, 2015.

  1. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,435
    Likes Received:
    203
    This is probably one of the lesser know German formations of WWII. It was formed in early '43 and disbanded about a year later. I have come across a couple of references to this unit but the only thing substantial I've come up with is a short Wiki article.

    GAD 18 was a full division consisting of three motorized artillerie regiments, a sturmgeschutz battery, a flak bn., a battalion of motorized infantry (artillerie grenadiers?) plus other assorted units. There was a picture of 150mm Hummels, but otherwise, nothing on weapons. For most of its life, the division was commanded by Generalleutenant Karl Thoholte.

    In one reference to this division, I seem to remember that Hitler ordered that it LEAD an attack. The fact that the infantry BN saved the division from annihilation three times meant that the division was way far forward and my memory could be correct.

    Eventually, the division was broken up due to heavy casualties, with its staff and support units going to Gross Deutchland and the individual regiments turned into individual independent artillery brigades.

    Personally, I think a few such divisions, using older men and others who could be useful but not up to frontline combat, could have been quite helpful. They could have buttressed hard pressed areas and counter attacks. However, using them as shock troops was quite a stretch and makes one wonder what "Doc" Morrell was feeding Old GROFAZ that day!
     
  2. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,434
    Likes Received:
    353
    Location:
    London UK
    harolds,

    Probably the main reason why there isn't much about this formation on t'internet is that guns and howitzers aren't as sexy as panzers. ;)

    Actually you can find an article by Generalleutenant Karl Thoholte on p 709 in the Dec 1945 issue of Field Artillery Bulletin http://sill-www.army.mil/firesbulletin/archives/1945/DEC_1945/DEC_1945_FULL_EDITION.pdf

    The Germans unlike the British and Soviets, did not have a an artillery command and control system for artillery units not organic to divisions. There was a Corps Artillery command cell, but this was not comparable , say to the AGRA which commanded non divisional field artillery or the Red Army Artillery Divisions which provided the artillery command and control for major offensive and defensive operations.

    The 18th Artillery Division was a bit of an experiment, to concentrate the fire of artillery to forestall Soviet Offensives, developed within Army group Centre, and attributed to Heinrici. I suspect that the use of this formation as shock troops may have been a reflection of the lack of ammunition and an act of desperation. Gunners have a secondary role as infantry and as long as they have some ammunition they bring their own fire support and anti tank protection.

    According to this web site http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Gliederungen/ArtDiv/18ArtDiv.htm The 18th Artillery Division was formed from the 18th Panzer Division - the Schutzen battalion was formed the the 18th Pz Div Aufklaerung battalion.After the losses in July 1944 - in the collapse of Army Group.
     
  3. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,435
    Likes Received:
    203
    As a former U.S. Army artillery officer, I resent your first sentence! It may be true, so therefore I resent it more! :-( Just kidding! Thanks for the input Shel. I appreciate it. Unfortunately, when I clicked on those sites I couldn't get on.
     
  4. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,435
    Likes Received:
    203
    OBTW: I'm not sure that when they were used as shock troops, they were out of ammo. I think they were charging with their SP howitzers. I would have loved to read Thoholte's article.
     
  5. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2014
    Messages:
    406
    Likes Received:
    90
  6. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,223
    Likes Received:
    449
    Artillery on the offensive tends to be sited pretty close to the front lines, but a single battalion of infantry is not enough to cover a divisional frontage defensively, far less make a significant contribution to a major attack, the organic infantry is more likely to be meant as a fire brigade if the frontline is pierced endangering the guns in order to avoid distracting forces from the supported units to protect the arty. I always believed the artillery division's role was to punch a hole with firepower for other units, or simply disrupt enemy offensive concentrations with fire concentratons, not actually assault, The single battery of Stug was probably there to support the intrinsic infantry battalion, not to be "lent" to the supported units.
     
  7. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    21,941
    Likes Received:
    991
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    The Germans created units from the crews and tanks,artillery etc to create Kampfgruppe that would hit back after battles etc. They would incl everything available. This is considered one of their power element in ww2.
     
  8. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2013
    Messages:
    1,434
    Likes Received:
    353
    Location:
    London UK
    You need to read the article. The infantry were to protect the guns and the Stug to protect the unarmed OP tanks:



    This describes a belated experiment in fire control by authorised senior obserservers (Captains and Majors) similar to that developed by the Royal Artillery. It is the essence of the British and Commonwealth "system 1" in which the observer ORDERS fire rather than REQUESTS fire. 148 guns in four minutes ought to have been achievable by most British Corps artillery in support of an authorised observer, an acheived by a different route within a US Corps.

    PS At the risk of diverting the thread into a debate about national fire control doctrine the good General's comments do explain why the British thought their approach was better than that of the US Artillery. In theory the US approach of sending junior officers and NCOs as observers who request fire form the FDC should work as well. However, ion practice it only works as well as the FDC's understanding of the tactical picture. As a young officer going through Larkhill in the 1970s we had instructors with recent service in ietnam, including a US Major and a RAA WO2 AIG. The verdict was that typically what happened was that a call for fire would go to the FDC and then you could wait for 30 minutes while the FDC decided whether you really needed five rounds fused proximity or could make do with three fused point detonating, by which time the target had gone. That confusion does not exist when the troop or battery commander ORDERS a fire mission. Thoholte makes that point very clearly
     
  9. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,435
    Likes Received:
    203
    I finally was able to access the December issue of the Field Artillery Journal. It was a good read. Thoholte neither confirms nor denies that the division was used to spearhead an attack. He did say that the division was disbanded because higher command kept removing divisional units and "loaning" them to other formations. When the division was formed, the idea was to keep it whole so as to maximize its effectiveness. The whole German battle doctrine was based around the division. Battle groups were originally intended to be intradivisional tailoring for specific missions. In the latter part of the war, battle groups were the sweeping up of shattered units from the battlefield and forming them into an ad hoc command in order to stabilize a front. They were an unfortunate necessity with the "no retreat" orders that were universal in '44 and '45. AD 18 was cannibalized in order to provide three artillery brigades. This seems to be an effort by Hitler to de-emphasize the division. It can also been seen in the Panther Brigades that were butchered in Lorraine.

    Speaking of fire control, the General also wrote of a machine, actually an early computer, that an inventor gave him. It totally centralized the FDC process. With this computer the Div. HQ FDC plotted the target and put it into the computer. The computer calculated firing solution for each individual battery (they were spread out) and then transmitted the data to the individual batteries without using a human. This negated any error by using telephones or radios and was obviously faster. Gen. Thoholte thought enough of the device that he took it with him when he became HARKO of Armee Gruppe B in the west.
     
  10. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    34
    The 18. Artillery division was formed from the 18th Panzer Division. After Hitler ordered to built up this new kind of division on 9th of september, it took some time before the 18th Artillery divion could be built up. One reason was that the former 18th Panzerdivision could not be banned while this unit (or better only a Kampfgruppe of it) took part on a special move to the "Panther-Stellung". The built-up of the 18. Artillery division was finished in November 1943 in Wilna. Then the division fought as a unit of Heeresgruppe South.
    It was planned that the 18. Artillery division should occupy the Hitler´s headquarter Wolfsschanze in operation Walküre (after the assassination on Hitler on 20th of july 1944).
     
  11. harolds

    harolds Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,435
    Likes Received:
    203
    Interesting, Nordwind 511; what's your source for this?
     
  12. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Messages:
    188
    Likes Received:
    34
    It´s from the book "Die Geschichte der 18.Panzer-Division" by Wolfgang Paul. The author describe the way of the 18. Artillery Division with many deatils.

    But there´s another source which describe the activities and fight of 18. Artillery Division in December 43/ January 44: "Zhitomir/Berdichev - German Operation West of Kiev 24Dec-31Jan44 by Stephen Barratt
     

Share This Page