To read the novel in start-to-finish order, click the Volume Two link and consult the Table of Contents links at the bottom of the page.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

French Army Unit Structure

The French unit structure is moderately similar to the German, with the largest difference being that the German kompanie has three Zugs, while the French Company has four Sections.

There's an additional complication in how Henri's unit is put together at the regimental level. Each active duty French regiment was quartered at a particular depot. Henri's regiment is the 104th, based in Paris. However, when the reserves were called up, they were placed in a separate, reserve regiment whose number was that of the parent regiment plus 200. Thus, Henri is part of the 304th Reserve Infantry Regiment. The battalions and companies of this reserve regiment continue the sequential numbering of the parent regiment. Thus, Henri commands the 22nd Company, which is in the VI Battalion.

In the novel, I've had the VI Battalion attached to the 104th in order to help make up casualties that the 104th suffered during fighting in the Ardennes, prior to being pulled back to Paris via train and then dispatched to the Battle of the Marne using a fleet of Paris taxis.

Friday, June 19, 2015

German Imperial Army Unit Structure

Because Imperial German unit structure and ranks are not directly analogous to the American or British ones with which readers are more familiar, I've mostly used German names for the units and ranks. Since military organization can be confusing even in one's own language, here's a chart showing infantry unit structure.

At the higher level, two regiments formed a brigade. Two brigades (along with an artillery brigade, a cavalry regiment, two medical companies and two engineering companies) formed a division.

During the invasion of the Belgium and the Battle of the Marne, Walter is in:
1st Army
IV Reserve Corps
22nd Reserve Division
44th Brigade
82nd Reserve Infantry Regiment
II Bataillon
5th Kompanie
2nd Zug
7th Korporalschaft
Second Gruppe

As the army suffered casualties, lower ranking officers often came to command larger units. In particular, the Imperial German Army was slow to promote non-commissioned officers to commissioned ranks (say, a sergeant or gefreiter to leutnant) and so an NCO might end up leading a Zug or perhaps even for a brief time a kompanie.

The structures shown here changed as the war went on, as the nature of the war came increasingly to demand small group tactics and more heavily armed men with different specialties. However, at the beginning of the war, the vast majority of soldiers were riflemen and infantry companies were made up almost exclusively of riflemen.