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"German Rules for Use of Contamination Batteries" from Intelligence Bulletin, Sep. 1943

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Excerpts from a German manual containing regulations for the employment of army contamination batteries, from Intelligence Bulletin, September 1943.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment and tactics published for Allied soldiers. More accurate data on German weapons and tactics is available in postwar publications.]



If any proof of the importance of U.S. antigas training is needed, it is strikingly furnished by a German Army manual containing regulations for the employment of "contamination batteries." These batteries have the defensive mission of contaminating tactically important terrain with persistent gases. Significant extracts from the manual are given in this section. It is recommended that a previous Intelligence Bulletin article on German gas warfare (see Vol. I, No. 7, pp. 31-37) be read in connection with the following.


a.  Terrain contamination will be undertaken only on the order, or by the authority, of the High Command.

b.  The attackers can seldom be completely stopped by terrain contamination alone. By means of increased and intensified fire, the defenders must follow up whatever advantage they have gained.

c.  There are two types of terrain contamination: harassing contamination and blockading contamination.

Harassing contamination, which is the lighter form, will confuse the attacking forces and delay their advance. Patches, strips, and areas may be contaminated.

Blockading contamination delays the hostile forces even more effectively, and inflicts heavy losses on them as they work their way through. It consists of a thick network of contaminated patches, strips, and areas of great density, and is most effective when it covers a large zone.

By laying down a harassing contamination very quickly, the defenders can often gain time in which to lay down an extensive blockading contamination to the rear.

d.  To deceive hostile forces, sham contaminations are useful. For this purpose harmless compounds, which resemble war gases in appearance and smell, will be laid down. The effectiveness of the deception will be increased if actual contamination is employed here and there.

e.  Contaminated terrain must be filled with obstacles and dominated by fire, so that hostile forces, instead of being able to cross it quickly in vehicles or tanks, will be compelled to fight their way through it.

Combat patrols [German] will remain in the contaminated zone to hinder decontamination with their fire. These patrols will use contamination-free paths, or will go through the contamination, wearing light gas-proof clothing.

f.  For tactical purposes, terrain is suitable for contamination if hostile forces are likely to consider it useful for observation and effective siting of weapons. Approach roads, bridges, entrances to woods and other localities, and possible assembly areas and communication centers are among the many types of places which lend themselves to contamination.

g.  In carrying out contamination, remember the following points:

(1) Spray vehicles can be used only in areas that the hostile forces cannot cover with observed fire. If the hostile forces are able to employ observed fire, contamination must be carried out by means of portable spray apparatus.

(2) Before contamination is laid down, it will be advisable to select men from all units which are to fight a delaying action in front of the area to be contaminated, and instruct them how to guide their units to safety when a withdrawal is ordered.

(3) The contamination of terrain may be begun either on receipt of an order from the battery commander, or at a later hour fixed by him, or when the combat situation reaches a definite state foreseen and specified by the battery commander—for example, when the rearguard reaches a specified line.

(4) If full instructions regarding the contamination mission go down as far as squad leaders, the contamination can be carried out at night. However, much more time will be required at night than in the daytime. There is also the risk that, because of the difficulties involved in maintaining a satisfactory warning service at night, personnel belonging to other arms will wander into the contaminated area.

(5) Besides providing chemical troops to operate spray apparatus, the contamination battery will maintain sentries in front of contaminated areas and along contamination-free paths. All these men must know their missions precisely. They will be instructed to move direction signs and gap markers, either when they leave the area to assemble elsewhere, or in the event that hostile forces succeed in penetrating the area prematurely.

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