I’ve recently been painting a partisan platoon for Chain of Command, and they’ll need someone to fight. With a little bit of a tweak my Germany infantry troops can be used to represent a rear-echelon unit such as the landesschützen .
Who were the Landesschützen?
At the outbreak of the war, the Wehrmacht consisted of many well-trained front-line troops intended for swift conquest, but there was also a large reserve of older or less fit men available for duty. After Barbarossa failed to quickly knock the USSR out of the war it became obvious that the war was going to be a long one and that the Reich would need huge forces to occupy the captured territory, guard the large number of POWs, and try to clamp down on the increasingly numerous and effective partisans springing up everywhere.
The Wehrmacht started to organise Security Divisions (Sicherungs-Divisionen) which included Landesschützen battalions and police units, supported by armour and artillery. As well as their defensive role they were intended to take the fight to the partisans, and to be honest a big part of their role was also oppressing the local population, and they were involved in the rounding up of Jews and other targets of the regime, as well as numerous war crimes. Ultimately much of this oppression only turned the population against the Germans, even among those poplations that initially saw the Germans as liberators from Soviet oppression.
Landesschützen battalions were security troops. Many guarded POW camps and strategic points such as bridges and along with the police they patrolled the roads. Many of the hapless German sentries taken out by the heroes in your favourite war movies would have been Landesschützen. Often older (35 years and up) or those not medically fit for front line service they were not exactly lavishly equipped, and they didn’t get the best leaders or training. Their performance against the partisans was often pretty patchy, and the partisans managed to create virtual no-go zones for German troops. Periodically the German authorities would plan a big operation where Landesschützen (sometimes supported by front-line infantry units, armour and air support) would go in and clear out a partisan stronghold, and the Germans were usually successful when they did. But the threat never went away and over time the population turned increasingly against the occupying Germans and the security role got harder and harder.
Landesschützen units were often also known as Security Battalions (“Sicherungsbataillone”), especially when operating under the control of field army headquarters in aggressive anti-partisan operations.
German security units in Chain of Command
Obviously this is not a first-line unit, so the first thing you’ll notice about the list is that the troops are rated as green. Don’t worry too much about that, as the partisans are mostly rated green, too.
The second thing you’ll probably notice is “where are all the lovely belt-fed MGs?”. The answer is: issued to front-line units. While some rear-echelon troops were lucky enough to have an MG34, an awful lot didn’t, and were mostly equipped with captured foreign guns (or obsolete German ones). One of the most common types were the ZB-30 and ZB-26, known in German service as the MG30(t) and MG26(t). If they look familiar it’s because the Bren gun was a version of the same family of guns. Since they were chambered for the rimless 8mm Mauser cartridge they had a straight magazine instead of the curved one the rimmed .303 cartridge required. There were some slight differences, but they’re close cousins of the Bren, and in CoC are treated the same (box-fed LMG, 6 dice).
The shape of a Landesschützen platoon mirrors the four-squad setup of the early-war infantry platoon, and there doesn’t seem to have been any evidence that they were ever changed to a triangular organisation in line with the rest of the army. So this list will serve all the way from 1942 through to the end of the war.
Other German lists can be used for anti-partisan units, an Ost-Bataillone could well use the standard triangular infantry platoon with MG34s/42s but rated green (-5), and on occasion front-line units were called in for big operations so you could field a regular infantry platoon (regular +0). The difference between this Landesschützen platoon and a green infantry one is that you’ll get more bodies but fewer good MGs for about the same force rating.
The support options for this platoon include infantry weapons and both mortars and artillery, both of which your partisan opponents lack. Some heavy weapons (Flak-38, Pak-36) are included, as well as a number of vehicles. The SdKfz221 and 222 armoured cars are included, as once the SdKfz250 half tracks started taking over the armoured recce role many of the armoured cars were switched to route security in rear areas. The fun part of the list is that you can include booty tanks (beutepanzer)! Some Russian and French types are included, but to be honest you could probably go and raid the Consolidated Arsenal for just about any type you liked such as British Matildas, Italian M13/40s, and US-built Shermans. They all got used.