Some basic German principles of coastal defense are summarized in the
following notes, which were compiled by a German Army officer.
1. ORGANIZATION OF STRONG POINTS
Defense will be organized in the form of strong points. In the
selection and organization of these strong points, the following
questions must be taken into consideration:
a. In which localities are landing facilities available to the opposing forces?
b. Which landing beaches have good exits into the interior?
c. Where are important installations situated, the possession or
destruction of which would be of interest to the enemy?
d. Which parts of the coast do not lend themselves to landing operations?
When strong points are to be organized in regions which lend themselves to
landing operations, special attention must be paid to the following:
a. Weapons must command the greatest possible stretch of terrain. However, there
are two reasons why it is not advisable to site weapons on high points which overlook
the general terrain; first the beaten zone is restricted, and, second, since the
weapons cannot engage objectives within close range, the hostile forces can
penetrate under the angle of fire.
b. When there is a shortage of military personnel, the number of strong points which
can be maintained will probably be so reduced that thorough observation of an extended
coastline will be impossible. In the daytime, therefore, it will be necessary to place
detachments with at least some degree of striking power between strong points. Whenever
possible, the detachment should be a section, whose weapons include a light machine
gun. Each man must be instructed in the methods by which an alarm is to be given if
hostile forces approach. At night, patrols will use bicycles insofar as the terrain
2. ORGANIZATION OF DEFENSE AREAS
Whenever possible, each company will keep a platoon in reserve. The
machine-gun companies will be separated into platoons, and placed under
command of the rifle companies. If circumstances permit, a machine-gun
platoon will be kept in the rear with the battalion reserve. All heavy
machine-gun personnel in the regiment should be reconstituted into heavy
machine-gun detachments. [There are normally 36 heavy machine guns in a
German infantry regiment.] Speedy communication between all strong points
must be provided; telephone messages, direct or relayed, will be used wherever
possible. If a defense area is so large that no company can be spared to serve
as battalion reserve, all available personnel not ordinarily used for combat
will be employed for counterattack. Each defense-area commander will have
authority over all arms of the services within his defense area, and will
incorporate in his defense plan a provision for utilizing all German Army
personnel within the area.
3. USE OF ARTILLERY
Coastal batteries will be sited principally at those points where it is
expected that the strongest resistance will be necessary. Batteries will
not be placed in exposed positions close to the shore; they will be sited
somewhat inland and under cover, but in such a way that they can engage the
coastal belt during a landing. This will give better results than the
engagement of targets at sea.
Plans must be made for coordination of artillery. All existing means
of communication will be put to use, and radio sets will be kept as
mobile as possible. The use of coastal batteries for firing in an inland
direction will be successful only if observation posts have been installed. Map
firing amounts to a waste of ammunition, and endangers our own soldiers.
4. CONDUCT OF BATTLE
Strong points will be defended, no matter what the situation may be, and even if
hostile forces achieve a break-through. Local reserves will be used in the
counterattack. If the counterattack fails, the opposing force's advance must
be blocked from positions in the interior. These positions must be held until
a planned counterattack by a larger reserve is successful.
Note.—The foregoing is of course general. Certain specific aspects
of German coastal defense are discussed in the next two sections. The
reader is also referred to the following M.I.S. publications:
"German Coastal Defenses" (Special Series No. 15) and the forthcoming
"German Doctrine of the Stabilized Front" (Special Series No. 17).