That’s right… but only partially correct.
Can I advise you to read : “Combat – Panzergrenadier versus US armored infantryman” (Steven Zaloga) or “La Panzer-Lehr-Division” (Jean-Claude Pergault : in french, with a lot of various photos)? Several “Osprey MAA” also deal with the German army and its equipment.
The Panzer-Lehr-Division was made with the PZ-Lehr-Regiment 130, the PZ-Gren. Reg. 901 and 902, the Artillerie-Reg. 130, plus recon’, Panzerjäger, pioneers, Flak and divisional services… including a veterinary company : but where are the horses on the photos?
The photographers of the Propaganda service especially insisted on the armored vehicles and their crews, at the beginning of the action. In battle, they were crushed by Allied (US) air and material superiority.
The motorized assault infantry (Panzergrenadiere) is less well known, but they held the ground with bravery on the “bocage”.
So we had various types of soldiers in the PZ-Lehr:
1. tank-crewmen (an mechanics) in black uniforms, without special combat individual equipments. They lived, fought and died on their vehicles;
2. artillery and fire-support vehicles crews with field-grey uniforms, whose combat posts was on board (no infantry equipment). They are the ones you mention, I believe;
3. a majority of soldiers (Panzergrenadiere) transported in vehicles, but whose combat posts were outside. Those men had to hold or conquer a position, as assault infantry, just like their comrades of the Heer (Grossdeutschland) or Waffen-SS (LSSAD, HJ). We all know hundreds of fotos of armored and motorized divisions grenadiers : in combat condition, they always wore the infantry assault pack (more or less complete).
PZ-Grenadiere moved in vehicles but fought on foot, just like today (ie. modern Bundeswehr infantry, green piping)!
I know at least 4 photos showing PZ-Grenadiere of the PZ-Lehr-Div. with the infantry assault pack. The most famous (Bundesarchiv – Foto Grimm Arthur – Juni 1944) shows a group of 9 men in Normandy, along the wall of a rural house, equipped for an assault (grenades, Panzerfaust). The MG-gunner, a senior corporal (Obergefreiter) is in profile and shows clearly the full combat equipment, with gas-mask box and shovel too!
The real question is : how do you know who is wearing infantry combat gear on a photo? The answer is : see if the soldier is wearing suspenders or not.
To see suspenders (and others accessories, headgears, uniforms…): www.wehrmachtlexikon.de > Heer > Waffen und Ausrüstung > Ausrüstung > Tragehilfen für das Rückengepäck > Koppeltrag(e)gestell (suspenders).
As with their other historic lines, I hope that WA will be working on this assault infantry combat gear in the future.
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