Why red Army had so many skiers in the Great Patriotic

History 07/02/20 Why red Army had so many skiers in the Great Patriotic

the use of skis in warfare has been known since ancient times. With the development of armies, the emergence of organizational structures appeared and a separate special unit in which the staff received ski training and equipment was skiing. For example, in the French and Italian armies since the XIX century there were companies of Alpine skiers. They had to act in the Alpine zone of eternal snow to explore. Later, in the armies of other countries, where there were mountain troops, there were units that used the skis.

However, it was the mountain troops, with their characteristics, and the skis were only used a special unit. And they should not be confused with the ski, which is an independent native troops, where the main part of the personnel of combat units moves on skis.

the Ski troops have a seasonal characteristic, thus depending on the season, they actually move from one kind of troops to another. In winter, the presence of snow cover, ski units and are moving troops, a kind of “snow cavalry”. Their mobility corresponds to equestrian units, and permeability is even higher. Ski troops can operate in off-road conditions, on rough terrain, to overcome forest in the middle lane. However, the time of year where there is no snow, makes the ski troops in regular infantry. And even more weak, as the ski connection have less heavy weapons.

Ski troops were formed in a few countries, which is understandable and is determined by geographical features.

it is believed that in the Soviet Union came to the need for massive use of skiers in the 1940’s after the war with Finland. This is true, but it is worth noting that the stories about the huge number of Finnish Legnicain greatly exaggerated. It was about the special reconnaissance and sabotage battalion, called Sisi, which often travelled on skis. Them in the Finnish army was four. The only connection of the Finnish army, who had at the state of skiing is a cavalry brigade (Ratsuväkiprikaati). While there was no snow, the team moved on horseback, with snow personnel were issued ski.

the red Army began to shape the ski part of the winter of 1941. It was a separate ski battalions, the exact amount of which is still under question, as they are formed, including, and part of the division of personnel. But the account went on hundreds, in March of ‘ 42 in the army were two hundred and thirty separate ski battalions.

Used ski battalions as moving troops and usually were part of the strike groups for action to reach and encircle the enemy. The composition of the group, as a rule, one or two tank brigades, one or two cavalry divisions, and three to five ski battalions. Given that the cavalry divisions of the time about the power was equal to three battalions, it is clear that the core often is made up of skiers. There were a few separate ski brigades in the Northern sectors of the front.

the Mass formation of Soviet ski troops is the winter 1942-43-second period. From separate battalions moved on to the brigades.

as part of the ski brigade was four ski and two mortar battalion anti-tank battalion, machine gun, sapper and reconnaissance company. The brigade had 3,000 people, 18 heavy and 55 light machine guns, 25 60-mm and 48 82-mm mortars, 54 antitank guns, and 12 45mm antitank guns.

the Largest number of ski teams was 51. In November of ‘ 42 in the active army had 18 teams and another 30 were in the rear. By March of ‘ 43 the number of ski brigades in the army has reached 42.

as for the Wehrmacht, in September 1943 from four separate jäger battalions formed skibut Jaeger brigade (1.Skijäger-Brigade). In the brigade there were two ski-jäger regiment (two battalions), a mortar battalion (36 120mm mortars), a heavy weapons battalion (12 75mm anti-tank guns, 12 20 mm anti-aircraft self-propelled, 6 88th anti-aircraft guns), division assault guns (two companies of 10 StuG III in each).

a year later, the brigade was deployed in division (1. Skijäger-Division). In the division two ski-jäger regiment (three battalions), futilely separate ski battalion, a battalion of heavy weapons, artillery regiment, antitank battalion and a pioneer battalion. The battalion heavy weapons one company was armed with captured tanks T-34, the second — anti-aircraft self-propelled launchers, one self — propelled anti-tank guns and the fourth company had 150-mm self-propelled infantry gun “Grille.”

All units of the division, in addition to skiers were motorized. In fact this brigade, later deployed to the division, and was the ski troops of the Wehrmacht.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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