The General Staff Archives

Europa Games and Military History

Tag: organization

Soviet Orders of Battle – Soldat.ru

In order to explain why I am linking with google translate to an Entry on archive.org, a little explanation is probably warranted. For a long time our knowledge about the organisation of the Red Army and its structure during World War II was fragmental at best. While the western Allies published extensive official histories, and the defeated countries of the Axis saw whole archives transferred to Washington and dissected there, the Soviet Union shrouded everything military in a veil of secrecy. Until the late Eighties, the best and most reliable information on the history of the Red Army came from captured german intelligence records.

The Collapse of the Eastern Block changed all this. For a brief period in the Nineties, archives and libraries opened their doors, and a wealth of information was suddenly available for researchers and historians. In 1995 Charles S. Sharp started publishing a series of orders of battle of the Red Army detailing the unit histories of the ground formations of the Soviet Army and NKVD. Sharp partly leaned on the research by Poirer and Conner and used some on the original German records, but the most important new source was the official order of battle of the Soviet Army as published by the Soviet Ministry of Defense from 1956 to 1990. It was relatively unknown until the early 1990s because the Ministry of Defense had classified all of them as secret. The problem with these OOBs is they only detail the combat forces and not the support forces.

A couple of years ago then information seeped out of the former USSR about a much larger series of books detailing not only the combat units, but also the combat support and combat service support units of the Army, Navy, Air Force and PVO forces. Finally, on 24th August of 2007, through his source, Igor Ivlev posted on his soldat.ru website scans of most (one is missing) of these books. It seems that they are appendices to General Staff Directives (which still remain restricted) showing every formation, unit, sub-unit, establishments and institutions in the Soviet Armed Forces and NKVD in the Operational Army during the war. The first one was published in 1956 and the last in 1973. Intermittent updates followed until 1998.

This was and is the most complete and authoritative source about the Red Armys Order of battle in Word War II.

Sometime in 2011 soldat.ru went offline, whether do to personal reasons or because the copyright paranoia has by now successfully replaced the cold war paranoia we don’t know. However, archive org thankfully saved a set of the files, so the originals are available. Additionally, the team from RKKA started the herculean task of translating this monumental work into English, and should you not be proficient in Russian, you can always start reading there. However, since the appendices are not available in any library or any other source, I thought that information to be more important at the current moment.

Date: May 15th, 2012

URL: http://web.archive.org/web/20100214135652/http://www.soldat.ru/files/4/6/216/

The Nafziger Collection

Before the advent of the Web, the name of George F. Nafziger was already a staple in wargaming circles. His work on the wars of the French Revolution and his collection of well-researched Orders so Battle, especially for the Napoleonic area, made him the first adress for anyone wargaming that time. Nafziger started to make singe OOBs available via the Internet in the Mid-Nineties, and his now rather weird looking website enabled visitors to order print-outs of selected battles and campaigns.

In 2010 Nafziger retired from publishing those OOBs and donated his whole collection to the public domain. It is currently hosted at the US Army’s CARL website. Additionally Alternatewars.com culled the complete archive and made it available as a collection of zipped archives for quicker access.

The Nafziger Collection itself contains orders of battle from 1600 to 1945 with over 7000 individual pdf files. What makes those files special is that the majority of them is based on archival sources, which are not easily accessible for mortal souls like us. Its depth and scope are unparalleled anywhere, and I can only highly reccomend taking a look, even if the access is a bit cumbersome.

Date: April, 23th 2012

URL: http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/carl/nafziger.htm

Battalion Organisation during the Second World War

“Bayonetstrength 150” is the most knowledgeable website on bataillon sized units in second world war that we know of. Its name aptly describes focus and content: its all about organisation, training, equipment, and action of bataillion-sized units on the various battlefields of World War II. Its author, Gary Kennedy, not only manages to describe the theoretical structures of these fundamental buidling blocks of armies, but also captures the reality of their emplyoment and the subsequent changes that attrition and battle wear forced on them.

Based on a prolific bibliography on the subject Kennedy manages to describe the close interaction between organisation, equipment, and training in a way that makes it accessible even for laymen.

The page is spartan and in simple HTML, the only compromise to usability is the color coding of various sections. A host of index-pages and introductions lead to some redundancy, but ensure the reader never feels lost. A must-read for anyone interested in the topic of tactical combat in World War II.

Date: April 18th, 2012

URL: http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/index.htm

Update, Sep 11th, 2017: Bayonettstrength has been offline since this summer. While the Owner of the website has publicly stated that he wants to re-up the site in the future, currently it remains offline. If you need any information previously available at bayonettstrength150, you can find an offline copy in the ubiquous web archive at

https://web.archive.org/web/20160425143250/http://www.bayonetstrength.150m.com/General/site_map.htm,

or you can contact me, since I do have an offline copy.