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How many Axis troops fought in Normandy, in the vicinity of the beaches, on D-Day?

I've tried many sources and they have focused primarily on the Allied Forces.

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  • 1
    voted to close: "homework question"; lacks research;
    – user2590
    Oct 6, 2013 at 22:05
  • user2976 - approx. 380,000 Axis troops. See the side bar of the Wikipedia article. Oct 6, 2013 at 22:39
  • 4
    So perhaps we shouldn't close the question. It seems a little more complex than first glance :-) Oct 6, 2013 at 23:29
  • 5
    I'm with @LateralFractal on this one, and already voted to re-open. However, it would be very helpful if all the information from the comments were moved into the question, especially the various estimates. user2976 please update your question to tell us what you found in your sources and to include what people found for you in the comments.
    – yannis
    Oct 7, 2013 at 8:46
  • 1
    There were millions of Axis troops fighting in Italy and the Russian front on that day.
    – Oldcat
    Jan 14, 2014 at 1:32

1 Answer 1

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According to this US Military Academy map of Normandy Operations June 6-12, 1944 the German divisions actually on or just behind the Normandy beach area on June 6 are as follows (West to East):

  1. 709 Infantry
  2. 243 Infantry
  3. 91 Infantry
  4. 352 Infantry
  5. 716 Infantry
  6. 21 Panzer

According to this source the nominal infantry strength of a German Infantry Division in the 1943-45 time period comprised:

3 regiments * 2 grenadier battalions * 708 all ranks = ~ 4,250 all ranks
1 fusilier battalion (similar to grenadier battalion) = ~ 700 all ranks
1 Engineer battalion * 3 Pioneer companies (unknown) = ~ 700 all ranks (?)
1 Artillery regiment (manning unknown; 10 per gun average yields ~820 all ranks):
36 @ 10.5 cm howitzer
12 @ 15 cm howitzer
12 @ 7.5 cm anti-tank gun
10 @ Assault gun
12 @ 2cm AA

This was supplemented by additional staff and support troops for each division. Grenadier battalions possessed [email protected] cm anti-tank guns, 36@panzerschrecks, and numerous mortars of various sizes included in the manning above. Ball park something in the neighbourhood of 8,000 to 10,000 men per division.

The Panzer Division at that time was similar in structure, with two Grenadier regiments replaced by Panzer Grenadier (motorized) regiments, and the third regiment replaced by a Panzer (armoured) regiment. This would supply roughly 2/3 the infantry strength of an infantry regiment, supported by two Panzer battalions (nominally ~50 tanks each) and a reconnaissance battalion in addition to the integrated engineer, artillery, anti-tank and other support troops.

In total this puts the total (nominal) field strength of the Axis units engaged on June 6, 1944 at roughly 35,000 riflemen/pioneers (5@6,000 + 1@4,500), 100 tanks plus supporting artillery, anti-tank and staff units.

As also noted by the map, this force is increased over the following 6 days by the arrival of these additional units:

  1. 77 Infantry (June 10-12)
  2. 17 SS Panzer Grenadier (June 11-12)
  3. 275 Infantry (June 12-19)
  4. 3 Paratroop (June 10-12)
  5. 2 Panzer (June 10-11)
  6. Panzer Lehr (June 10)
  7. 12 SS Panzer (June 7-8)
  8. 711 Infantry (unlabelled, possibly available from June 6)
  9. 263 Infantry (June 11, arrives west of St. Lo as reserve)

Updated for major artillery components and estimates for Fusilier and Pioneer battalions.

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