Defending The Reich

Defending The Reich

Defending The Reich: 
German Forces in Nachtjäger
with Wayne Turner

Nachtjäger is the latest book in the late-war Flames Of War series of Intelligence Handbook. Nachtjäger covers the fighting in northwest Germany in 1945. It focuses on the British crossing and advance from the Rhine River into the heartland of Germany. Pitted against them are an array of newly raised and auxiliary troops. In the German section of Nachtjäger, we spotlight two new divisions and the assortment of Luftwaffe and school troops that supported them.

This has given us an opportunity to introduce some new types equipment never before seen in Flames Of War. In 1945 a number of Panzer Divisions were hastily raised to fill the gaps left by the losses leading up the Allied crossing of the Rhine, among these was Panzerdivision Clausewitz.

Learn more about the British Forces in Nachtjäger here...

This unusual division was assembled from a number orphaned, replacement, and training units from around northwest Germany. Clausewitz was made of troops from 106. Panzer-Brigade ‘Feldherrnhalle’, Panzerschule ‘Putlos’, Panzergrenadier-Regiment ‘Feldherrnhalle’, Panzergrenadier-Regiment 42, Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung ‘Elbe’ and Panzerjäger-Abteilung ‘Grossdeutschland’. A number of new units were formed from various sources including Panzerartillerie-Abteilung 144 and Panzerpionier-Bataillon 144. Despite being formed as a whole division, due to shortages in motor transport Clausewitz fought as three Kampfgruppen (Battle Groups), with the motorised, armoured infantry, and armour divided in to two mobile groups, while the infantry and artillery, who were without motor vehicles, fought from defensive positions.
Defending The Reich

We decided to focus on two mobile groups of Clausewitz, Kampfgruppe Wallenberg and Kampfgruppe von Benningsen. Both these groups were armed with a mix of tanks. Kampfgruppe Wallenberg based around a core of Panther tanks and StuG G assault guns with further back-up from its own platoon of Jagdpanther tank-hunters. These are further supported by motorised and armoured panzergrenadiers, and various weapons platoons like 12cm mortars and FlaK half-tracks. Kampfgruppe von Benningsen also has a core of Panther tanks, supplemented by Panzer IV J tanks, and Panzer IV/70 tank-hunters, as well as motorised and armoured infantry, armoured cars, anti-tank guns, and assault guns. To reflect the desperate nature of the situation we have rated these troops’ Motivation as Reluctant, but due to their experience their Skill is rated Veteran.

 Defending The Reich

They can also use a new set of equipment to give them an advantage on the enemy: infra-red night fighting equipment! By this time in the war, most Panzer schools were training new Panther tank crews to use new infra-red scopes to locate the enemy in the dark. These were dispatched to a number of units in the field and saw action. In northwest Germany a number of British accounts recount encounters at night when British tanks came under fire from unknown enemy locations, so we decided to add the option to field Infra-red equipment. You can add this to you Panther and Jagdpanthers, as well as equipping these platoons with a Uhu Infra-red spotlight half-track to further increase the range if vision for your infrared- equipped troops. In addition to the tank, panzergrenadiers were also issued with infra-red equipped StG44 assault rifles and half-tracks.

Infra-red-equipped companies can make night attacks in any mission, negating the artillery and aircraft advantage of the Allies, allowing the Nachtjäger (or Night Hunters) to close with the enemy and take the attack to them. Nachtjäger contains infra-red and other night fighting special rules. 
 Defending The Reich
The other divisions we focus on in Nachtjäger are the seamen of 2. Marine-Grenadierdivision. As the German leadership searched for more sources of manpower it was decided to form a number of infantry divisions from Kriegsmarine (Navy) personnel, many of whom stood idle in ports with their ships. These young recruits proved to be enthusiastic and loyal fighters. They were organised along the lines of the Volksgrenadier divisions and trained by Heer (Army) officers, many of whom were attached to the division in the field. The marines are rated Fearless Trained. Like the Volksgrenadiers they have two combat platoons equipped with StG44 assault rifles and MG42 machine-guns and a third platoons with K98 rifles and MG42 machine-guns
 Defending The Reich

Not only do the marines make a good solid infantry force with excellent morale, they also have number of unique support options. The fighting in northwest Germany saw a variety of Luftwaffe and RAD anti-aircraft units, as well as training school units drawn into the fighting. The Luftwaffe, and their RAD (Reichsarbeitsdienst, German Labour Service) auxiliaries, provided anti-aircraft cover for the cities, industry, and railway network of Germany, but as the British advance northwards more and more of these units were assigned to the ground fighting. These troops manned railway and ground anti-aircraft guns of all sizes. The largest and most powerful weapons were often mounted on railway flat cars for ease of moment, and on many occasions the rapid advance of the British armoured troops ran straight into railway yards defended by 8.8cm and 10.5cm anti-aircraft guns. A Marine-Grenadierkompanie can field these mighty weapons either on ground mounts or as railway mounts in yards concealed amongst all the other rolling stock. 

~ Wayne.