Infantry VS Armor

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by MacArther, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. MacArther

    MacArther Active Member

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    I'm looking for notable actions where infantry (from any side) were able to combat enemy armor enough to force a withdrawal, or reassessment of the situation. If possible, the actions without AT guns (i.e. 57mm M1, and other towed things) would be very interesting. I've found very few documentations of infantry against tanks at all, so it would be interesting to see how well some infantry did.
     
  2. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    Interesting subject. My first thought would be that without AT support the inf would be hard pressed to turn back Armor. Are you asking about WWII or in all periods? You may be able to find something from early WWII. By the end, I think that everyone was pretty much fighting combined arms. I am at work so I can not do much research. I would love to read examples of it also.

    The British Abn took a beating during Market Garden and The German armor rolled over everything during the Bulge. The Inf will need the AT weapons and airpower to repluse the armor attacks. Unless the armor is attacking in Inf country, rough terrain, mountians, cities, the armor should win. As long as the tanks have freedom of movement, they win.

    There are many factors that effect the outcome of the battle. Once airpower and AT are added along with Arty, the battle changes. The best defense against tanks are other tanks. Attack Helos, Frogfoots and Wart Hogs are tank killing machines. The supply lines for armor also play an important role in battles. If all factors equal, armor will win. That being said, I cannot tell you how helpless I felt as a Tank Platoon leader during REFORG when we rushed for a woodline and found it crawling with light Inf and their AT weapons. :(

    DBII
    clank, clank, I'm a tank
     
  3. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    The American 5th Army under General Mark Clark renewed the offensive on the west of the peninsula on October 2. The Eighth Army began a simultaneous drive on Ravenna, with the Canadians in the lead on the coast. On the night of October 21-22, one of the Canadian brigades was ordered to force a bridgehead over the River Savio which flowed north-eastwards to the sea. According to the official record, the weather was “most unfavourable to the operation”. Torrential rain had caused the Savio, to rise 6ft in five hours and the soft, vertical banks made bridging for light tanks or anti-tank guns temporarily impracticable. Hence the infantry crossed in assault boats with the Canadian Seaforths as spearhead.

    As the right-hand forward company was consolidating its position on the north bank, it was counter-attacked in typical German tactical manner by a small mixed force of infantry, tanks and self-propelled guns producing seemingly overwhelming fire power. Private Smith, as he then was, led his two-man team with the PIAT (projector infantry anti-tank) — a primitive form of bazooka — to a point from which they could hit the Mark V Panther tanks in their less heavily armoured sides. Having got his team into position, Smith dashed back for a second PIAT, but the Panthers were by then moving down the road firing their machineguns into the ditches, wounding one of his companions.

    Smith fired his PIAT and hit the first tank. A group of German infantry appeared from behind it and charged the Canadians. Firing his Thompson sub-machinegun at a few yards range, he killed four of the enemy and drove the others back. Almost at once a second Panther opened fire and more infantry appeared. Grabbing fresh magazines from his wounded comrade, Smith reloaded his Thompson and held off the enemy infantry until they withdrew. He then dragged his comrade into cover and applied a field dressing to his wound.

    Instead of returning to the company’s main position, Smith remained throughout the night on the right flank to cover that approach in case of any further counter-attack. None came. The Canadians held their ground north of the Savio until bridging could be put in place. The bridgehead was then used to open up the advance on Ravenna before the winter and, subsequently, into the strategically important valley of the River Po the following spring.

    “Smokey” Smith was awarded the Victoria Cross for his outstanding bravery and determination in the face of greatly superior enemy firepower. He received the decoration from King George VI at a private investiture at Buckingham Palace on the evening of December 18, 1944
    Audie Murphy might also be a possibility but all I know about him is from the movie
     
  4. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    The places where armor really suffered was in Urban areas, the disadvantages being quite obvious.

    However out on the countryside and without AT support I'm afraid you will find very few examples of infantry pushing back or even halting an armored advance.

    The Allied infantry was absolutely dependant on AT support in any way or form when faced with German armor, otherwise it was a one way trip outta this world. The German infantry were fortunate enough to have a wide array of powerful handheld AT weapons such as the Panzerfaust Panzerschrek, both capable of piercing the armor of any Allied tank.

    That having been said the Soviets had a somewhat effective infantry AT weapon in the very beginning of the war, the 14.5mm AT rifles. Being powerful enough to punch through the side armor of the Pzkpfw. I II, and whilst not devastating such a thing was always a nasty surprise for any German tanker.
     
  5. JimmywiT

    JimmywiT Member

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    ^ ^ ^ ^
    The Germans had a lot of trouble in Stalingrad where the Russians learnt that if they went to the top floor of a building, or the basement, the German tanks could not elevate/depress their turrets eneugh to get a direct shot, leaving them free to engage them with molatov cocktails, plus the PTRD talked about by Soren above ^

    The story of what Major Robert Cain (VC) did at Arnhem is amazing. A summery is that he disabled several tanks with only a PIAT and when that ran out of ammo engaged them with a two inch mortar, fired almost horizonally with the base off the ground as they were that close! He accounted for 6 tanks, 4 of which were Tigers, and an unknown amount of SPGs. Heres the full story:

     
  6. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    read something on the Winter War between Finland and Soviet Union. At the beginning Finns had under 100 A/T guns and SU had over 2000 tanks with the troops operating against Finland. At the end Finns had some 150-200 A/T guns and SU over 5000 tanks. You will find lot of combats between tanks and infantry using Molotov's Cocktails and explosives.

    Juha
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    "The Allied infantry was absolutely dependant on AT support in any way or form when faced with German armor, otherwise it was a one way trip outta this world."

    Soren
    I recommended that You read what happened to 106th Pz.Brig when it attacked US 90. Div.

    Juha
     
  8. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    There was a fight during the Battle of the Bulge in the Twin Cities of Rocherath and Krinkelt. It was a key road junction that US troops were retreating through and needed to be held for that purpose. The 2nd USID was charged with doing it.

    The fight developed between the attacking German troops and the defending US troops. I think the fight lasted about two days. During which, the US troops held the German attack and destroyed any number of tanks with limited AT/Armor help. It was a bazooka fight, with US teams stalking German tanks and a generally confused situation for all players.

    Ended after the 2nd pulled out and back to Elseborn Ridge where the German attack went no further.

    There is probably plenty of stuff about it on the web.
     
  9. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    I suggest You read what happened Juha!

    Allot of AT artillery was used as support to the 90th Div in that battle around Metz, namely the attached 607th Tank Destroyer battalion and 712th Tank battalion. And as if this wasn't enough the Commander in charge of the 106th Pz.Brigade's attack (Franz Bake) hadn't even used reconnissance prior to the attack and he didn't have any artillery support. Bake in short drove the 106th Pz.Brigade right into one large ambush, being pounded by artillery and having his flanks exposed to US AT guns TD's as-well as the 712th tank battalion.

    So why did you bring this incident up Juha ? It has nothing to do with what we're debating here.

    Like I said, the Allied infantry were absolutely dependant on AT support when faced with German armor, otherwise the German tanks would be over them in no time. (And that happened ALLOT during WW2)
     
  10. JimmywiT

    JimmywiT Member

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    Yes, taking out tanks without AT support generally requires you to be very close to the enemy tanks (less than 100 yards really) so most of the successes in repulsing armor by infantry accur in areas where the infantry is able to get close to the enemy tanks, and flank them to hit their vunerable bits, like heavily forested areas or urban areas and villages

    infantry without this advantage would find it almost impossible to repulse armor, like on the Eastern steppe during operation Blue or operation Uranus, where infantry were without the ability to attack tanks without infantry support up close, and suffered accordingly, in the first case the russians, and the second the germans/romanians.
     
  11. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Very correct Jimmy.
     
  12. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    Every battle has a special situation and exception. In the case of the Bulge, many people believed that the woods would not support an armor advance. This was one of the reasons why the Ardense was choosen for the Amercian units to reconsitute. Also green units were there to get trained before rotating to the front. The terrain was made for Inf not Armor. That is one of the reasons why the attack was a surprise and worked as well as it did. It is also one of the reasons why the atack failed. American Inf was able to create choak points at major intersections and it restricted the Armor ablity to move. Without movement, tanks become pill boxes. Inf can beat armor in the mountain, Soviets in Afgainistan (sp?), rough terrain, thick woods, and urban areas.

    DBII
     
  13. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    The Ardenne offensive stalled for namely ONE reason; NO FUEL. A large amount of Tigers, Panthers and TD's were abandoned by the Germans as they ran out of fuel, however first they were most blown up by their own crews, but a few were seized intact.
     
  14. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    “So why did you bring this incident up Juha ? It has nothing to do with what we're debating here.”

    Because lot of 106's losses were due bazooka teams and also because the tought reaction of supposedly “soft” American soldiers to German armoured surprise attack surely surprised Germans.

    “Bake in short drove the 106th Pz.Brigade right into one large ambush, being pounded by artillery and having his flanks exposed to US AT guns TD's as-well as the 712th tank battalion.”

    Now how you define an ambush, I understand it something that was laid down, in this case 106.PzBrig hit unexpectedly at the flank of 90. Div, first firefight was around bivouacked divisional artillery HQ.

    To me ambush is something like the one by “A” Coy/5 DCLI/214 Brig/43 Div in 22 Sept 44 when it destroyed 5 Tigers of sPzK Hummel west of Elst by PIATs and mines.

    “Like I said, the Allied infantry were absolutely dependant on AT support when faced with German armor, otherwise the German tanks would be over them in no time. (And that happened ALLOT during WW2)”

    Because war ended when Allied reached Elbe, in all probably German infantry was overrun by Allied armour more often than Allied infantry by German panzers.

    “The Ardenne offensive stalled for namely ONE reason; NO FUEL”

    Now lack of fuel had big influence to the downfall of 2nd PzD but for example 116th PzD was stopped near Hotton by tenacious defence by US troops and KG Peiper was first deflected by US combat engineers who constantly blew up bridges at the face of Pieper’s point Panthers and finally stopped when some Shermans knocked out the point Panthers of the KG

    Juha
     
  15. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    I would not say that lack of fuel stalled the attack. The Germans did not meet their early objectives of crossing the Meuse River. They were not expecting the Americans to put up a fight at places like St Vith and then Bastone. The delay of controling St Vith and failing to capture Bastone resulted in the avenue of attack being choaked off. The terrible winter weather made off road travel difficult. The Germans started to operations knowing that fuel levels were an issue. The plan was to capture fuel from the Allies but this never happend.

    I am at work so I do not have the details with me. If I make it to the college over the weekend, I will post some notes. While stationed in Germany, my unit studied this battle and did a week long terrain walk over the area durning the winter. My Sqdrn Cmdr's father was the Bn Cmdr that lead Patton's road march to Bastone. I have pictures of the Plt leader that made the first contact with the 101st Abn if anyone is interested in seeing them.

    DBII
     
  16. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Do naval guns count? The Germans in Italy found that infantry supported by naval gunfire was a nasty proposition. The 24th division in Korea had to do a lot of fighting against T34s without much armor support. They found the WW2 bazooka was not very effective against T34s.
     
  17. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    Of coarse we'd like to see..

    They may be worthy of their own thread.
     
  18. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    It is true that generally infantry can only repulse armour in urban areas, and most have some handheld AT weapon at hand.

    I don't want to hi-jack the thread but for me the Ardennes Offensive was going to fail with or without fuel. There were no reserves for the advancing German forces, so there would have been nothing to fill in the bulge they would create. I do not see any possibility of that force holding the British in the north and the Americans in the south for any length of time without reserves to fill in the gaps along the German lines.
     
  19. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    I agree. If the Germans made it to Antwerp the Allies supply lines would have been messed up but the Germans could not have held their gains. Patton's relief of Bastone would have become an flanking attack on the Germans. Would the sucess of the Germans resulted in a cease fire or surrender terms? I think that Hitler would demand continued offensive operations after feeling good about the operations.

    DBII
     
  20. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    "It is true that generally infantry can only repulse armour in urban areas"

    I'd say that infantry has a chance in any terrain which clearly limited tanks ability to manoeuvre and the ability of their crews to observe the neighbourhood. I was trained to fought against overhelming tank-heavy enemy in heavily forested terrain. Afgans showed the effects of mountainous country and Vietnamese the effects of jungle and rice paddies.

    Juha
     
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