In Sicily the positions of the Armored Artillery
Regiment of the Hermann Goering Division were so
unsatisfactory that on 23 July the regimental commander
felt it necessary to issue a sharply worded
order requiring that certain outstanding weaknesses
be corrected at once. The commander had just
returned from a visit to the batteries. His most
significant statements are either quoted or paraphrased in
2. HOW FAULTS WERE TO BE CORRECTED
a. Precautions Against Damage by Fire
The regimental commander said, at the beginning of
We are in danger of suffering great damage by fire, not only
as a result of incendiary bombs, but because of the carelessness
of our own soldiers. I notice that, in spite of my repeated
written and oral warnings, the requisite measures for protection
against damage by fire have not been put into effect. I shall
hold the commanding officers of units responsible if adequate
measures are not at once ordered and carried out.
The expression "repeated warnings" is interesting.
Any weakness continually displayed by this regiment,
once regarded as a superior outfit, may sooner or later
become apparent elsewhere in the German Army,
granting the existence of such pressure as the United
Nations were able to bring to bear in Sicily. Even if
the weaknesses noted by this particular regimental
commander are not at present widespread, they are at
least symptomatic—an indication that the harder we
hit, the more rapidly German efficiency is likely to decline.
The order stipulated that fire trenches be constructed
around guns and ammunition supplies in such a way
as not to interfere with the quick removal of camouflage,
In every position sufficiently large detachments of
fire sentries were to be ready day and night with the
necessary equipment such as Feuerpatschen (fire
brooms), filled water containers, and so on.
Prime movers and emergency trailers were to be
kept nearby, so that guns could be removed quickly in
case of danger or damage by fire or enemy shelling.
Commanding officers were to check regularly to make
sure that these measures were being followed.
b. Further Construction of Firing Positions
It was pointed out that the necessary attention still
was not being paid to the construction of firing
positions: the digging-in of the guns, the preparation of
enough foxholes for proper cover, and the construction
of ditches for ammunition, with shells and cartridges kept
separate. The detachments in gun positions and
observation-post personnel were not to rest until
everything was under cover. This work was to be done at
night. In order to preserve, as far as possible, the
fighting fitness of over-tired elements in action in the firing
positions and observation posts, the rear services were
to be utilized for such additional digging.
c. Track Discipline
In some instances deep, conspicuous tracks led into
the firing positions. No attention had been paid to the
planning of routes which would afford at least some
semblance of camouflage against air observation. Disorganized
driving in and out—that is, the movement of
guns without an intelligently devised track plan—had
been the cause of this. The regimental commander
reminded his battery commanders that one of their
primary duties was to take care of this aspect of the
camouflaging of firing positions. He ordered battery
commanders to inspect all positions from suitably high
terrain points, for the purpose of taking advantage of
all natural camouflage for tracks, and of visualizing
how the positions would appear to hostile aircraft.
d. Alternate Positions
Alternate positions were not being occupied with
the requisite speed, when such moves were dictated by
the situation. The regimental commander ordered that
batteries be made more mobile so that new positions
could be occupied without difficulty. He pointed out
that the shelling of German positions over open sights
(with time and percussion fuzes and smoke shells) could
be expected to force the abandonment of these positions.
Too often, he said, batteries supplied with a
large amount of ammunition, but insufficiently mobile
had been utterly destroyed in a matter of hours by
concentrations of hostile fire.
e. "Last Covering Height"
The importance of a "last covering height" was something
that all members of the regiment seemed to have
forgotten completely, the regimental commander said. He
ordered that, inasmuch as most of the observation
posts were on forward slopes or on gentle inclines, notices
be put up in places most exposed to the hostile
forces, and that these signs read "Warning! Last covering
height! Now you are observed by the enemy!" He
required that the routes from observed positions to
headquarters and observation posts be clearly marked
with sign posts and that, if necessary, approach trenches
be constructed to these positions after dark.
The final words of the order are perhaps the most revealing.
To sum up, units containing elements which still are inexperienced
or stupid or apathetic must be taken in hand, and energetically
taught and controlled by the officers in command of these units. If
this is done, the heavy casualties that we have
been incurring up to the present time may be avoided in the
future. In particular, the most careful measures are to be
undertaken everywhere for the organization of an air-raid warning
system. Each unit commander will see to it that the system
operates smoothly and that any man who fails to perform his
duty is punished ruthlessly. I have repeatedly stressed the
principles contained in this order. Only when they are adhered
to by everyone will the artillery avoid heavy casualties and, by
maintaining its strength, be able to carry out its task.