GERMAN ASSAULT TROOPS OF WORLD WAR I-ORGANIZATION, TACTICS, WEAPONS, EQUIPMENT, ORDERS OF BATTLE, UNIFORMS
SCHIFFER PUBLISHING, LTD., 2012
HARDCOVER, 344 PAGES, $69.99, PHOTOGRAPHS, DIAGRAMS, ILLUSTRATIONS, APPENDICES, GLOSSARY, BIBLIOGRAPHY
Stormtroopers were elite attack units of the German Imperial Army created in response to the stalemate of trench warfare on the Western Front. Both sides in fact employed a number of techniques to break through the enemy lines and restore a war of movement, the most obvious being the use of ever larger artillery barrages combined with mass infantry attacks. The general result of these efforts was simply more elaborate defensive works and massive casualty rates. Stormtroopers were organized as an alternative way of overcoming the enemy defenses.
The first assault detachment (Sturmabteilung) was authorized in March, 1915 and consisted of two companies of Pioneer troops brought together from the Eighth Army Corps on the Western Front. In August, 1915, it was placed under the command of Captain Willy Rohr. Rohr began experimenting with a number of different weapons and techniques of attack. His basic idea was to create small units of highly motivated soldiers capable of fighting at close quarters in surprise attacks against enemy forces. They were trained to act independently with a minimum of supervision from the higher German command system so that they could maximize the advantages of speed and surprise at the local level. In addition to rifles, they were armed with flamethrowers, light trench mortars, and short-range field guns, to put as much firepower under their immediate control as possible. Grenades proved to be especially effective in securing enemy trenches and became a major staple of stormtrooper attacks.
As the tactics developed, stormtroopers were used to spearhead attacks, smashing holes in weak points of the Allied lines ahead of the main infantry advance. They attempted to avoid enemy strongpoints or to attack them from the flank and rear, reckoning their speed of advance and ability to disrupt the enemy defensive system as more important than maintaining unbroken contact with the units to either side of them. Those pockets of Allied soldiers who did continue to resist would be cut off and mopped up by the regular troops following in the wake of the stormtroopers.
GERMAN ASSAULT TROOPS OF WORLD WAR I-ORGANIZATION, TACTICS, WEAPONS, EQUIPMENT, ORDERS OF BATTLE, UNIFORMS is the first book that fully details these small and well-integrated units that were armed with a range of light and heavy weapons to exploit any opportunity to penetrate the Allied front lines and press ahead. The typical rigid Prussian discipline was transformed into a closer comradeship between officer and men based on mutual trust. Author Thomas Wiktor has assembled an unprecentented book that is loaded with rare photographs, documents, insignia, and badges of these shock troops. Also included are the weapons used by these soldiers as well as a listing of all the units and what campaigns and battles they participated in. This is the ultimate reference book on a subject that is often overlooked in the study of World War I.
Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard