Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #8: Poland Maps

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

You might be pleased that the upcoming Campaign Series East Front III will feature scenarios of the German and Russian invasions of Poland. Naturally, finding suitable topographic maps to form game mapfiles is important, and this article describes some tips to finding suitable Polish reference maps.

Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny

After WWI, when Poland became an independent country, it faced a challenge of making maps after the invaders left behind nine triangulation systems. The Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny (“Military Geographic Institute” or WIG) was set up in 1919 in Warsaw.

Maps in various scales of WWI powers such as Germany, Russia, and Austro-Hungary were updated and used for redrawn maps in the 1:100000 scale. (100k) These 482 sheets became the core set of maps. Each sheet covers 15′ (minutes) latitude, and 30′ longitude.

By 1926, they were 40% complete, and in 1927 began using a uniform triangulation network to print their own surveyed maps known as “Type Two.” These were two-colored, with black topographic elements and brown contour lines. From 1929 onward, the “Type Three” with either two or four colors were published. After 1931, four colors was the “Normal Type” for tactical maps.

By 1939, the  WIG had produced an additional 280 sheets of adjacent countries of USSR, Lithuania, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. In addition, the WIG made about 1600 1:25000 scale (25k) maps. These were arranged with nine 25k maps within the perimeter of one 100k map.

The origin of the 1925 Polish National Datum (PND 1925) is at station Borowa Gora (gora is Polish for mountain) where:(Φo) = 52° 28´ 32.85˝ North, and (Λo) = 21° 02´ 12.12” East of Greenwich. The 100k map projection is Gauss-Krüger Transverse Mercator, with Bessel 1941 reference ellipsoid. The grid lines are a stereographic system based on a model by Rousilhe, a French Navy hydrographer. On the 100k maps, the grid lines are in 2-kilometer intervals.

Elevation contours are shown in meters, but the intervals are based on the Russian “sazhen” with 1 sazhen = 2.134 meters. The contour intervals are in multiples of the sazhen, with the main “heavy lines” eight sazhens apart. (~17 meters) So, the “heavy” elevation contours with odd looking numbers like, 102, 119, or 137 may be seen. Some maps provide a contour legend table.

In September 1939, the WIG evacuated to Lwów, and via Romania to France, where it was reactivated. After the fall of France in 1940, it relocated to Great Britain where it made maps for the Polish Army in the west. The British GSGS (Geographical Section General Staff) produced their own set of WIG maps as series GSGS 4177. (220 copies) The GSGS also published WIG maps in the 1:300000 scale.

Screenshot section of a 100k Warsaw Map

Screenshot section of a 100k Warsaw Map

US Army Map Service

This service, known by the acronym AMS, was reorganized in 1941 under the US Army Corps of Engineers. They eventually published maps all around the world.  WIG maps were the basis for AMS  100k maps of Poland, produced from 1944 onwards. The AMS 851 series was a set of 25k Poland maps based on a combination of Polish, German, and Russian maps.

The AMS series M751, M752, and M753 are 1:50000 scale, 50k Poland maps, and were published starting in 1955. These are in the Transverse Mercator projection, using the International ellipsoid, and European Datum. They feature the UTM grid, zone 33. The contour lines are in 10 meter intervals, with supplementary ones at 5 meters.

Screenshot section of a 50k AMS M751 map

Screenshot section of a 50k AMS M751 map

WIG Map Index

The WIG index map  for 100k and 25k shows a layout of rectangles that are 30′ longitude wide and 15′ latitude in height. Awkwardly, the reference longitude is 14°20′, and does not fall on degree whole number like 14°. But this can be overcome. The latitude reference is 48°.

Each rectangle has an index number, with the first two digits representing the vertical or latitude. They are increasing from north to south, in reverse of degrees latitude. The last two digits are increasing from west to east, as does longitude.

So the rectangle for Czersk is 33-26. The 33 corresponds to the latitudes 53.75° and 54° while the

26 corresponds to the longitudes 17.833° and 18.333°. (Using decimal degrees is easier for computation, and will be used from here on.)

Here is a portion of the WIG Index map, and will give an idea of how it is organized. In addition, each rectangle is subdivided into nine squares represented by letters A to I.

Screenshot section of the WIG Index Map

Screenshot section of the WIG Index Map

Now don’t worry my dear Vsadniks, there is an easier way to get the map numbers using a spreadsheet. That is, if you start with the geographic coordinates, latitude and longitude, of your point of interest. The spreadsheet takes the latitude and longitude, finds the northwest corner coordinates, and then looks up the index numbers, including the letter for the 25k map.

In addition, the spreadsheet has the links where you can download the maps on the Mapster website.

The yellow cells are inputs for the desired coordinates, and the blue cells are the index number and letter outputs. These are concatenated into a code which can be searched on the website.

The Polish index numbers have “P” and “S” prefixes before the index numbers. The “P” stands for “Pas,” which is Polish for “Zone,” and the “S” is for “Słup,” which means “Column.”

Here is a screenshot of the spreadsheet. This will be made available to you along with the WIG Index map here at the CS Legion site.

So here, the coordinates 52.3 and 21.01 degrees latitude and longitude are entered in cells D4 and D5. The code for the 100k sheet is in cell D17, and the 25k code in D18.

Screenshot of the WIG Index Spreadsheet

Screenshot of the WIG Index Spreadsheet

AMS Map Indexes

Similarly, a spreadsheet was made to find the 50k AMS maps of Poland. The AMS index map has reference latitude 48°, and longitude 14°. The 50k map sheets are 15′ in height and 20′ width. There is a larger four digit index number for a rectangle 30′ latitude by 40′ longitude. Finally, the 50k sheets are numbered I to IV, within the larger four digit index number. (First two for east-west direction, last two for north-south.)

Sorry for the confusion Vsadniks, but the following diagrams and the spreadsheet will hopefully make it clearer. The index numbers are increasing with both latitude and longitude, which makes it more straightforward.  The spreadsheet is set up similarly to the one for the WIG index.

Screenshot section of the AMS Inde

Screenshot section of the AMS Inde

Layout of 50k Sheets within a larger four-digit area


There are definitely many suitable maps of Poland available to use in creating EFIII scenarios. In my opinion, the best overlay maps are the AMS 50k scale ones. The 50k scale has the appropriate detail level for the game 250-meter hexes. The contour lines, in 10-meter intervals are much easier to use for setting the game map elevations.

Since the AMS maps were published after WWII, they may show some roads and urban buildup that did not exist in 1939. Here is where the WIG maps are useful for more accurate interpretation of road categories, (Number of lanes and surface condition,) as well as size of towns and the scope of urban areas.


“Wojskowy Instytut Geograficzny”, Wikipedia

“Grids and Datums”, Clifford Mugnier

“Allied Maps”,

Mapster Webpages

WIG 100k –

WIG 25k –

MapyWig Webpage

AMS M751, 752, 753 –

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #7: Kriegsstärkenachweisungen

My fellow Vsadniks,

Yes, the word Kriegsstärkenachweisungen is a mouthful, but it means the “tables of organization and equipment” for the Wehrmacht. And, to make things easier, we can use the abbreviation, KStN.


German unit organizations were based on tables of organization, (Kriegsstärkenachweisungen – KStN). All units had them, and all orders creating units indicated corresponding KStN numbers and dates. Issue dates were deadlines for when the KStN became effective.

The word  “Kriegsstärkenachweisungen” can be broken down: Krieg = war or military, stärke = strength or the composition, nach = according to, and weisungen =  instructions or direction.

The KStN were in the form of tables showing theoretical organization and composition of company sized units. These were often changed during the war due to reorganization of higher level units like regiments or battalions. The KStN gives the maximum number of men, their leadership, position, tasks, and armament authorized. The type of vehicles is also specified.

The company, staff (Stab), Staff company (StabsKompanie,) detachment, or battery is the basic level at which all KStN numbers were assigned. Larger units like battalions and regiments did not have KStN for the total organization, but had KStN for their staffs and staff companies.

It is important to emphasize that KStN indicated the maximum authorized organization. In many cases, they represented an ideal organization which in reality, was rarely achieved.

As new KStN appeared, the old ones were supposed to be destroyed in the field. The bombing and ensuing fires caused destruction of the Potsdam military archives in 1945, which means that only portions of the KStN remain today. KStN tables are primary source research documents.

KStN Relationship to Kriegsgliederung

The Kriegsgliederung drawings showed the overall organization of battalions, regiments, or divisions. However, these were built up from company sized units defined by the KStN.

The following diagram shows a Grenadier Regiment Kriegsgliederung, with KStN numbers added, corresponding to company and staff organizations.

KStN Regiment

Kriegsgliederung showing companies in a Regiment, with KStN numbers

Note that typical Kliegsgliederung did not include KStN numbers on the drawings. They are only shown here for illustration. The KStN 101V does not define the whole regiment, only the headquarters staff.

Detailed KStN Description

A KStN represented a particular organization, with a description, number, and issue date. We will examine KStN 1114, for at Schützenkompanie (mot) or a motorized infantry company. These were found in Panzer divisions. This KStN was issued 1.1.1941 or 1 February 1941.

It has three pages, called “Seite” a, b, and c. The Seite a shows the composition of the company staff and an infantry platoon. The graphics were recreated from other records by Larry Schaeffer.

The Seite b describes the machine gun group, which had two heavy machine guns. It also showed the composition of the “Gefechstross,” which was an administrative staff that included various NCOs that acted as weapons, equipment, and medical officers.

The last page shows the maintenance and baggage organizations. (Kfz. Instandsetzungstrupp and Gepäcktroß.) In addition, it shows a summary (Zusammenstellung) of the personnel and equipment for the various parts of the company. This includes the commander, infantry platoons, machine gun group, maintenance, and baggage.

KStN Schützenkompanie

KStN Schützenkompanie (Mot)

KStN Schützenkompanie (Mot) B

Further Explanation and Glossary

The tables show some of the numbers in parenthesis. For example, section “Waffen”

has a subcolumn and two categories, Pistolen and (Masch. Pist.)  The numbers below, that are not in parentheses represent the number of pistols (e.g. Luger.) Numbers in parentheses represent the machine pistols, like the MP40. For example, and infantry platoon (Zug) would have 15 pistols, and 4 machine pistols.

The other situations are similar, like “besp.” vs “(unbesp.)” This refers to whether or not the transportation was horse drawn or not.

The following words appear in the headings or row  and the meaning may not be clear.

Mannschaften = men or personnel (non-supervisory)

Kraftwagen = truck

Anhänger = trailer

Krafträder = motorcycle

Beiwagen = sidecar

besp. = bespannt = horse drawn

Zug = platoon

Kraftfahrzeug = special vehicle, like a halftrack

Gefechstroß = administrative section

Gepäckstroß = baggage management

Internet Sources for KStN Documents

The internet has a few websites where KStN documents can be found. These were either scanned from originals, or recreated. For the 1941 era Panzer units, a good source are Larry Schaeffer’s series of books. These KStN are recreated from other documents, can be downloaded from the website The link is:

Lists of KStN were prepared by Georg Tessin, and presented on Leo Niehorster’s website:

The wwiidaybyday website has KStN in the form of graphic displays, showing figurines of soldiers, horses, and tanks. This ties the KStN number to the quantities shown. This could also be very helpful to enthusiasts looking for information.


“German World War II Organizational Series”, Leo Niehorster

“Kriegsstärkenachweisungen – Missing K.St.N of the German Army WW2 – Books 1-7”, Larry Schaeffer

“Kriegsstärkenachweisungen (Heer) Band 8a. Schnelle Truppen . . . “, NARA T78 –Roll 393

KStN 1171c Panzerkompanie with Captured 38H French Tanks

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.


Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #6: STAVKA Orders

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

You might by surprised to know that STAVKA is not an acronym. It is a Russian word that means “general headquarters.” Stavka orders contain a wealth of historical information about the Red Army during the Great Patriotic War. This is a primer on Stavka’s background, and about the system of orders, and how to find these for research.

Background on Stavka

The Red Army General Headquarters was known as Stavka, located in Moscow. This designation had also been used in Imperial Russia, prior to the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. For the Red Army fighting the German invasion, Stavka was re-created 23 June, 1941, the day after the beginning of the Great Patriotic War.

The Soviet of People’s Commissars of USSR and the All-Russian Communist Party of Bolsheviks Central Committee  ordered Stavka’s creation as a general headquarters. Initially, Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Timoshenko was appointed the head of Stavka. In addition, the membership included IV Stalin, VM Molotov, K E Voroshilov, SM Budyonny, G Kuznetsov, and GK Zhukov.

Permanent advisors included BM Shaposhnikov, GI Kulik, Generals KA Meretskov, PF Zhigaryov, N F Vatutin, NN Voronov as well as AI Mikoyan, LM Kaganovich, LP Berya, NA Voznesensky, AA Zhdanov, GM Malenkov, and LZ Mekhlis.

Later, Stalin became the head of Stavka, and BM Shaposhnikov was chief of staff, and signed many of the Stavka orders and directives. It was under Order No. 83 that Stavka was reformed on 10 July 1941. It was then known as the supreme headquarters with Stalin as Supreme Commander in Chief.

Function of Stavka

Stavka was basically a General Staff, with Shaposhnikov running the daily administration, and General AM Vasilevsky as his deputy. Vasilevsky had developed a defense plan in 1940 in the event the Germans attacked.

The organization had many roles, including operational planning, advise on tactics and strategy, discipline, command changes, and unit tables of organization and equipment. It communicated these ideas through directives, orders, and occasionally decrees.

Stavka issued hundreds of documents each year. Most were directives, (direktiva), informational, or providing advice, but many were orders, (prikaz,) and  mandatory. Some of these, signed by Stalin are known as Stalin’s Orders. The serial numbering of directives continued to increase through the war. These are primary source documents for research.

Stavka Document Identification

Various documents had slight different titles depending on whether they were directives, orders, or decrees. Directives were the majority of documents, and in the title had these Russian words:

ДИРЕКТИВА СТАВКА ВГК No. XX. (Directive of Stavka Surpreme High Command No. XX) The Cyrillic text is useful for searches to find these. More hits are obtained at Russian language websites.

Directives would be typically signed by Timoshenko (ТИМОШЕНКО,) in the early weeks of war, but later by Shaposhnikov. (ШАПОШНИКОВ)

Orders can be identified by ПРИКАЗ СТАВКА ВГК No. XX. (Order of Stavka Surpreme High Command No. XX) These would be typically signed by Stalin. (СТАЛИН) The only title difference is in the words ДИРЕКТИВА vs ПРИКАЗ. Decrees are ПОСТАНОВЛЕНИЕ. In the titles, the letters were usually all uppercase. A glossary in the next section will be useful for identifying and translating Russian words identifying these documents.


This glossary will help with the keywords for document titles. The presentation is in the form of

Cyrillic = Transliteration = English translation

Ставка Главного Командования   приказывает

Stavka Glavnogo Komandovanija   prikazyvaet

High Command Headquarters orders

приказ = prikaz = order (singular)

приказывает = prikazyvaet =  orders (plural)

Командования = Komandovanija  = command

Главного =  Glavnogo = main or high

Ставка = General headquarters

Верховного = Verhovnogo = supreme

директива = direktiva = directive

доклад = doklad = report

Секретно =  Sekretno = Secretly

Постановление = Postanovleniye = Decree

Государственного = Gosudarstvennogo = State

Комитета = Komiteta = Committee

Обороны = Oborony = Defense

ВГК  = VGK  = supreme high command

ГК =  GK = high command

CВГК = SVGK = Stavka Supreme High Command

Internet Searches

The most effective way to search for these documents is to use the Russian Cyrillic form, and search on Google. This search engine offers a means of translating the documents that are found. To convert Latin letters to Cyrillic, the website is very helpful.

Researchers should also open a tab of “Google Translate,” to assist. This will not only translate Russian Cyrillic into English, (or the language of your choice,)  but displays the transliteration.

The primary search term for orders is ПРИКАЗ СТАВКА, and for directives,  ДИРЕКТИВА СТАВКА.

Other words or abbreviations in the glossary may be used as keywords as well. Sometimes hits are for mostly modern documents. If this occurs, include the year, like 1941 as a keyword.

Terra Russian Archive

This archive offers Word documents with many Stavka orders and directives. These are in Russian, but paragraphs can be easily highlighted, copied, and pasted into Google Translate to read in a preferred language. These are large, perhaps 400 or 500 pages. The link to obtain these is:

These records cover all the Great Patriotic War years, 1941, 42, 43, 44, 45.

For your convenience a copy of the 1941 document is available here.

Stavka Order 83

This was the order, issued 10 July 1941, that made Stavka the supreme headquarters of the Red Army, Navy, and Air Force. It also illustrates a translation technique of inserting translated paragraphs in between the Cyrillic text. It is easier to make Google Translations with paragraphs, rather than entire documents. This order was signed by Stalin. It also established commanders for the fronts.


Государственный Комитет Обороны


от 10 июля 1941 года № ГКО-77сс


Секретно № 83сс от 10/VII 41 г.

Копия — тов. Жукову лично

Экз. единственный

Командующим округами, флотами и армиями, которые обязываются ознакомить с документом членов соответствующих военных советов, а также командиров корпусов и дивизий

Копия: Председателям Совнаркомов и секретарям ЦК Компартий союзных республик

Государственный Комитет Обороны постановил:

State Defense Committee

Decree of July 10, 1941 No. GKO-77ss


Secret No. 83cc dated 10 / VII 41

Copy – Comrade Zhukov personally

Ex. only

Commander of the districts, fleets and armies who undertake to familiarize the members of the relevant military councils, as well as the commanders of the corps and divisions with a document.

The State Defense Committee responded to the chairmen of the Council of People’s Commissars and the secretaries of the Central Committee of the Communist Parties of the Union Republics:

  1. Назначить Главнокомандующим войсками северо-западного направления Маршала Советского Союза т. К. Ворошилова с подчинением ему Северного и Северо-Западного фронтов.


  1. To appoint Comrade K. Voroshilov Commander-in-Chief of the North-West Marshal of the Soviet Union with subordination of the Northern and North-Western Fronts to him.


  1. Назначить Главнокомандующим войсками западного направления Маршала Советского Союза Наркома Обороны т. С. Тимошенко, с подчинением ему войск Западного фронта.


  1. To appoint Commander Timoshenko, Commander-in-Chief of the Western Forces of the Marshal of the Soviet Union, Commissar of Defense, with the subordination of the troops of the Western Front to him.


  1. Назначить Главнокомандующим войсками юго-западного направления Маршала Советского Союза т. С. Буденного, с подчинением ему Юго-Западного и Южного фронтов.


  1. To appoint Commander S. Budyonny, Commander-in-Chief of the southwestern forces of the Marshal of the Soviet Union, with the subordination of the Southwestern and Southern Fronts to him.


  1. Ставку Главного Командования преобразовать в Ставку Верховного Командования и определить ее в составе: Председателя Государственного Комитета Обороны т. Сталина, заместителя Председателя Государственного Комитета Обороны т. Молотова, маршалов тт. Тимошенко, Буденного, Ворошилова, Шапошникова, начальника Генштаба Генерала армии т. Жукова.


  1. To convert the Headquarters of the High Command into the Headquarters of the Supreme Command and determine it as follows: Chairman of the State Defense Committee, Comrade Stalin, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee of Defense, Comrade Molotov, Marshals Comrade. Tymoshenko, Budyonny, Voroshilov, Shaposhnikov, Chief of the General Staff of the Army General, Comrade Zhukov.


  1. Резервную армию подчинить Ставке Верховного Командования с тем, чтобы потом, когда она будет приведена в полную боевую готовность, — подчинить ее главнокомандующему войсками западного направления.


  1. The reserve army should be subordinated to the Headquarters of the High Command so that later, when it is put on full alert, it should be subordinated to the Commander-in-Chief of Western troops.


  1. Обязать главкомов указать в специальном приказе подчиненному им фронтовому и армейскому командованию, что наблюдающиеся факты самовольного отхода и сдачи стратегических пунктов без разрешения высшего командования — позорят Красную Армию, что впредь за самовольный отход виновные командиры будут караться расстрелом.


  1. To oblige the commanders in a special order to indicate to the front-line and army command subordinate to them that the observed facts of unauthorized withdrawal and surrender of strategic points without the permission of the high command disgrace the Red Army, that henceforth for unauthorized withdrawal guilty commanders will be punished by execution.


  1. Обязать главкомов почаще обращаться к войскам своего направления с призывом держаться стойко и самоотверженно защищать нашу землю от немецких грабителей и поработителей.


  1. To oblige commanders-in-chief more often to appeal to the troops of their direction with an appeal to stay steadfast and selflessly to protect our land from German robbers and enslavers.


  1. Обязать главкомов почаще разбрасывать с самолетов в тылу немецких войск небольшие листовки за своей подписью с призывом к населению громить тылы немецких армий, рвать мосты, развинчивать рельсы, поджигать леса, уйти в партизаны, все время беспокоить немцев угнетателей. В призыве указывать, что скоро придет Красная Армия и освободит их от немецкого гнета.


  1. To oblige commanders-in-chief more often to scatter small leaflets signed from the planes in the rear of the German troops with an appeal to the population to smash the rear of the German armies, tear down bridges, open rails, set fire to forests, go into partisans, and disturb Germans of the oppressors all the time. In a call to indicate that the Red Army will come soon and free them from German oppression.


Председатель Государственного

Комитета Обороны


РГАСПИ, Ф 644, Оп. 1, Д. 2 Лл. 1

Chairman of the State

Defense Committee


RGASPY, F 644, Op. 1, D. 2 Ll. 1


Image of Stalin Order 270

This is an image of the Stavka order 270, which was issued on 16 August 1941. It was one the first instances where Stalin ordered Red Army personnel to “fight to the last”, and virtually banned commanders from surrendering, and set out severe penalties for deserters and senior officers regarded as derelicting their duties. Order 270 is widely regarded as the basis of subsequent, often controversial Soviet policies regarding prisoners of war.

Image of Stalin Order 270


“Stavka (General Headquarters) created in USSR”m

“The Great Patriotic War: Headquarters of the Supreme Command. Documents and P89 materials. 1941 year”, Terra Russian Archives

“Order No. 270”, Wikipedia

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.







Image of Stalin Order 270

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #5: German Tactical Symbols

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

If you are curious about the strange looking symbols on Situation Maps, or other old Wehrmacht documents, this primer on German Tactical Symbols is for you. Knowing how to read these symbols is useful in researching unit organization diagrams, and maps.

Tactical Symbol Primer

A unique system for representing military units on maps and organizational charts  was employed by the German Army. These symbols represented the formation size for the various corps, divisions, regiments, and so forth, as well as the primary combat type, whether infantry, tank, or artillery, etc.

Headquarters symbols had two purposes. First, it indicated the size, function, and mobility of the unit. And, second, it represented the headquarters. For all headquarters units with separate KStN, symbols were placed to the right of the echelon’s symbol, as well as units directly assigned to the headquarters.

The symbols were mnemonic. Headquarters symbols reflected units’ pennants used on vehicles or the standards themselves. Anyone seeing these could immediately recognize the unit type.

The different functions and mobility additions were used to enhance the echelon’s symbol to indicate a specific purpose. Company-sized units and sub-units symbols were also modified similarly.

In the early WWII period, symbols were defined by the official German handbook of military symbols (H.Dv. 272) of 1938. The KStN is an abbreviation for “Kriegstärkenachweisungen,” translated literally: “Combat Strength according to Directive.” Essentially, it is the table of organization and equipment for a unit.

Basic organizational symbols are shown here:

German Organizational Symbols

Further, there were symbols that represented specific weapons, like mortars, machine guns, or artillery infantry guns. Here is a sample of these symbols:

German Weapons Symbols

Company-sized and smaller unit symbols tends to reflect the units’ function or at the main weapon.  Units too difficult to depict are represented by a box with corresponding abbreviations inside. In case it belonged to a particular arm, the arms symbol could be placed on top of or within this box. Where various modifiers applied, these were all added to the symbol.

An example is the Motorized Light Combat Engineer Company, KStN 714. It is represented:

German Motorized Engineer Company

This represents a company with three engineer platoons. The double arrow on top signifies engineering. The circles at the lower corners represent wheels, indicating this company is motorized.

Each of the three platoons have 9 light machine guns. The “le” at the bottom means that each platoon is light. Note the thickened line at the left. This is an indicator of a company structure.

Sometimes the box is divided by platoons or sections, but this could also be companies. It depends on the context. Usually a number is set below a weapon’s symbol, indicating the quantity in that unit. The ordinal numbering is from right to left, so that the platoon on the far right would normally be 1st Zug (Platoon) and then to the left, the 2nd and 3rd.

The tables of symbols are much greater than what is presented in this primer. But once you understand the system concept, using these additional references is easier.

On maps, like the German Situation Maps, headquater symbols are mostly used. However, the Wehrmacht also detailed their units according to composition with “Kriegsgleiderung” drawings.

Kriegs = war, and gleiderung = members. Or in other words, it was the membership or composition of a larger unit represented by a drawing called a “Kriegsgliderung.” Most divisions had their own specific Kriegsgliderung.

Such a representation is shown below for the 110. Schützen-Regiment (motorisiert) or 110th Motorized Infantry Regiment:

German Motorized Infantry Regiment

The Regiment Headquarters, KStN 103c has the signal platoon and armored car section. There were also trucks and motorcycles. (Shown at bottom.)

There are two battalions, I. and II. The Battalion Headquarters, KStN 115c has a signal detachment and some trucks and motorcycles.

The first Battalion has three motorized infantry companies, KStN 138c. Note that each company has twelve light machine guns and three 50mm mortars. These are represented by the box symbol.

To the left of the companies box there is a mixed machine gun company, KStN 161c with eight MG and six 81mm mortars. (There are two MG platoons, each with two sections of two guns each.)

Going further left is the Heavy Company, KStN 1121, with two 75mm infantry guns, three 37mm anti-tank guns and one light machine gun, and an engineer platoon, with three light machine guns.

This is the Kriegsgliederung for the 110. Motorized Infantry Regiment.

German Infantry Mountain Engineer Units

German Mobile Units

German Artillery Units

Marshall Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny

One of Stalin’s favorite generals, Budyonny, was associated with the cavalry forces. He was a highly successful commander in WWI and the Russian Civil War. However, during Operation Barbarossa, he commanded the Southwestern Front, which had disatrous encirclements, resulting in 1.5 million Red Army soldiers killed or taken prisoner. He was blamed for many of Stalin’s military strategic errors, but was retained in the Stavka command because of political connections and popularity.

Budyonny was born into a peasant family near the town of Salsk in the Don Cossack region, on  25 April, 1883. Although growing up in a Cossack region, Budyonny was not a Cossack. His parents came from Voronezh province, and were ethnic Russians. He worked as a farm labourer, shop errand boy, blacksmith’s apprentice, and steam-threshing driver.

In 1903, he was drafted into the Imperial Russian Army, where he became a cavalryman in the 46th Cossack Regiment. After fighting in the Russo-Japanese War, he attended the Academy for Cavalry Officers in St. Petersburg.

During World War I, Budyonny was the 5th Squadron’s non-commissioned troop officer in the Christian IX of Denmark 18th Seversky Dragoon Regiment, Caucasian Cavalry Division on the Western Front. He became famous for his attack on a German supply column near Brzezina, and was awarded the St. George Cross.

He received the St. George Cross, 3rd class, fighting the Turks near Mendelij. He won several other awards as a result of some of his exploits.

After the fall of the Tsarist regime in 1917, Budyonny was elected chairman of the squadron committee and a member of the regimental committee. When the Caucasian Cavalry Division was moved to Minsk, he was elected chairman of the regimental committee and deputy chairman of the divisional committee. He quickly rose in the ranks, getting increasingly higher commands, and ultimately became the commander of the 1st Cavalry Army during the Russian Civil War.

The 1st Cavalry Army played an important role in winning the Civil War for the Bolsheviks, driving the White General, Anton Denikin back from Moscow. Budyonny joined the Bolshevik party in 1919 and formed close relationships with Stalin and Voroshilov.

From 1921-1923, Budyonny was deputy commander of the North Caucasian Military District. He spent a great amount of time and effort in the organization and management of equestrian facilities and developing new breeds of horses.

The same year, he was also appointed assistant commander of the Red Army’s cavalry. In 1924, he became Inspector of Cavalry in the Red Army. Budyonny graduated from the Frunze Military Academy in 1932. In 1935, Budyonny was made one of the first five Marshals of the Soviet Union. Three of these five were executed in the Great Purge of the late 1930s, leaving only Budyonny and Voroshilov.

Budyonny was considered a courageous and colourful cavalry officer, but displayed disdain for the tools of modern warfare, particularly tanks, which he viewed as “incapable of ever replacing cavalry.”

During the Great Purge of 1937, the NKVD came to interrogate and arrest Budyonny. He was armed with a service Nagant M1895 revolver, and called Stalin to demand the agents leave him alone. Stalin complied and the event was not discussed again, and Budyonny survived the purge.

In July-September 1941, Budyonny was Commander-in-Chief of the Southwestern Front, facing the German invasion of Ukraine. Operating under strict orders from Stalin, (who micromanaged the war,) to not retreat under any circumstances. Budyonny’s forces were surrounded at Uman and the Battle of Kiev. The disasters which followed the encirclement cost the Soviet Union 1.5 million men killed or taken prisoner. This was one of the largest encirclements in military history.

Stalin replaced Budyonny with Semyon Timoshenko, and was then put in charge of the Reseve Front.

He held other posts during WWII, including Cavalry Inspector of the Red Army. One of his contributions was the development of the Cavalry-Mechanized group, which consisted of a cavalry corps reinforced with a mechanized corps. These were useful in the later war years.

In the post WWII era,  he became a renowned horse breeder, creating a breed that is still kept in large numbers in Russia, the Budyonny horse, which is famous for its high performance.

He was frequently commemorated for his bravery in many popular Soviet military songs, including The Red Cavalry song (Konarmieyskaya) and The Budyonny March. The stylized woolen hat, called the Budenovka, was part of the early Red Army uniform, and named after Budyonny. He was allowed to retire as a Hero of the Soviet Union, and provided a Dacha at Bakovka outside of Moscow. Finally, he died on 26 October 1973.

Budyonny Group Picture

Budyonny (Right front) and his 1st Cavalry Army officers. Note the Budenovka “helmets”


“German World War II Organizational Series”, Leo W.G. Niehorster

” Semyon Budyonny”, Wikipedia

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.



Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha #4: Situation Maps

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

My fellow Vsadniks,

Were you aware that the German OKW produced maps of the entire east front, every day, showing  positions of major units? And, did you know that you can download these scanned maps, and use them for research?

Situation Map Background

The “situation” maps were called “Lage Ost” maps and made between June 1939 and May 1945. This is a highly significant and unique source of documentation for the 1939 Polish campaign and the Soviet-German war, 1941-45. These maps, which number approximately 2075, and were prepared for daily use by Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW. They detailed dispositions and movement of German forces and their opponents.

In 1999-2000, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) filmed these records in the format of 20.32 x 25.4 cm color transparencies. Negatives and reference prints were retained by NARA, while original maps were returned to the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz, Germany. Fortunately, these have been digitized, and are now available through a website: More on this later.

The wall-sized maps were first printed  by the Mapping and Survey Branch (Abteilung fur Kriegskarten und Vermessungswesen,) and then, annotated by OKH’s Operation Branch (Operationsabteilung) to indicate specific headquarters and unit locations. New maps were prepared daily, as staff officers collated radio and teletype reports from front-line commands to indicate advances, withdrawals, or other changes in locations and shifting geographic boundaries.

The maps were sent to OKW’s Operations Staff (Wehrmachtfuhringstab) for their use in following daily military developments on the Eastern Front. At times, Adolf Hitier personally reviewed these in consultation with his generals. The approximate size of the originals varied from 193 x 193 cm to 152 x 243 cm.

The map annotations are in German, as are transliteration of Slavic place names (e.g. “Wilno” for Vilnius, “Woronesh” for Voronezh.) Knowledge of German is helpful. German and enemy command headquarters are shown by standard German Army tactical symbols. The NARA document: German Military Situation Maps provides additional technical information on the maps, and some history of their capture and exploitation by the US Army.

Sample Maps

An overall view of one of these wall-sized maps is shown here.

Lage Ost Map

Wall-sized Situation Map 26 June 1941

A “zoom-in” of a specific section of a situation map is shown here. This provides some details on the battle around Smolensk on 15 July 1941.

Map around Smolensk

Screenshot of Situation Map around Smolensk 15 July 1941

From this map, the locations of various divisions, like the German 20. Pz (blue color) or the Red Army 37th and 82nd Tank Divisions are visible.(Shown in red color.) Locations of the 2. Panzergruppe HQ is visible. (It is near Gorki.) The Red Army Western Front HQ is shown in Smolensk, but fleeing to the northeast. The next screenshot shows the resolution possible (The total map filesize is 86 MB).

Higher Resolution screenshot

Higher Resolution screenshot showing location of 2. PzGruppe HQ near Gorki

These are screenshots from the MS Paint software display of the files. Most of these files are in the *.tif format. The software program Paint is useful for viewing these as it allows various zoom levels.

Downloading Situation Map Files

The website where these maps can be obtained is This is a specialized server, and can be accessed only by pasting the following URL into a browser address bar:

After pressing the keyboard “enter” key, this website should appear. Here is a screenshot:

FTP Server Lagekarten

Screenshot website

Next select the directory Lage Ost, by left clicking on the link Lage Ost. Do not right click or attempt to open this in another tab or window at any time when working with this server. This will redirect and get off track. The next directory shows options for various years, 1941, 42, 43, 44, and 45. Army Group Weichsel 1945 is also shown.

Again, left click on the Lage Ost 1941 option, and the directories for the months June to December 1941 are shown. Left click on the month of your choice. For example, when June is selected, the screen will show the following:


FTP Server Lagekarten Daily

Daily June 1941 Situation Map Choices

The daily map of your choice can be downloaded by left clicking on the appropriate link. These maps have large filesize, shown on to the left of each link. They vary from 34 to 96 MB. Download times could take several minutes up to perhaps a half hour, depending on your internet service.

After downloading to the folder of your choice, the TIF graphic map file can be opened in MS Paint or some other suitable graphic software.


“Guide to German Military Situation Maps – “LAGE OST” (Eastern Theater), 1939-1945,” NARA

This can be downloaded from

Campaign Series East Front III | Marshall Budyonny's Dacha

Marshall Semyon M. Budyonny

Marshall Budyonny’s Dacha is the latest series of articles by David Galster that will cover various aspects of scenario design, and some key historical points for Campaign Series: East Front III.