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Infantry Anti-Tank Guns of the 16th Infantry Division
The infantry component of the 16th Infantry Division of the French Army was supposed to have forty-eight 25mm anti-tank guns. Each of the three infantry regiments of the division rated twelve of these excellent weapons, as did the infantry anti-tank company.1 Unfortunately, on 5 June 1940, when the 16th Infantry Division crossed swords with an entire Panzer corps, its infantrymen were obliged to make do with no more than thirty-two examples of the only effective anti-tank weapon available to them.
The 16th Infantry Division fought as a series of task forces, each of which consisted of one or two infantry companies reinforced by squads and platoons armed with various heavy weapons. Thus, while surviving accounts often mention the presence of 25mm anti-tank guns, they do not indicate whether such weapons had been provided by a battalion heavy weapons company, a regimental heavy weapons company, or the division anti-tank company.2 Nonetheless, the circumstantial evidence suggests that, while the division anti-tank company seems to have been “at establishment,” the infantry regiments were “on half rations.”
A French infantry division of 1940 had two anti-tank companies. The compagnie divisionaire antichars (CDAC), which was numbered as the thirteenth company of one of the three infantry regiments, employed 25mm anti-tank guns. The batterie divisionaire antichars (BDAC), which was the tenth battery of the single light field artillery regiment in the division, was armed with 47mm anti-tank guns.
While the weapons company (compagnie d’accompagnement) of each of the three infantry battalions was supposed to have two 25mm anti-tank guns, the regimental weapons company (compagnie régimentaire d’engins) rated six such weapons.