In the following report, British Intelligence officers
summarize German methods of attacking concrete fortifications.
A typical attack is preceded by a short artillery concentration
on the objectives. The artillery then lays down smoke. Under
the concealment that this affords, the infantry and its supporting
weapons get in position at short range. These supporting weapons
will include antitank guns, and possibly field guns, placed
under command of the infantry, as well as heavy machine guns,
mortars, and infantry guns.
When the smoke clears, all weapons open fire on specific
loopholes allotted to them. Under cover of this fire the infantry
and engineers move in to the assault.
The assault on pillboxes can be made in several ways, but all
these depend on the principle that if you are near enough to a
pillbox, yon can get inside the angle of fire of its machine guns
and be safe—just as you can when you are approaching a tank.
Pillboxes, however, usually will be sited so that they are covered
by machine-gun fire from their neighbors. Therefore, pillboxes
can be attacked in this way only if supporting fire keeps the
embrasures of neighboring pillboxes shut, or if more smoke is
put down to isolate the particular fortification to be assaulted. The
actual attack on pillboxes may be made either with explosives
or with flame throwers.
Infantry sometimes can get close up under the embrasures and
push grenades inside. Engineers, who carry more powerful
charges, can blow up pillboxes and, by mounting charges on the
ends of poles, can attack embrasures that they cannot reach
otherwise. These pole charges are a common engineer weapon. The
infantry can improvise a similar charge by tying the heads
of six stick grenades around a complete central grenade.
Two sizes of flame throwers are carried by the engineers. The
range of both is claimed to be about 30 yards, but may in practice
be no more than 20 yards. The smaller can produce a jet of flame
for 10 seconds, the larger for 25 seconds. The larger must be
hauled on a two-wheeled trolley.
A method simpler than either of these has been used to neutralize
pillboxes—namely, to plug the embrasures with sand bags,
which may be effective for a few moments.