The following extracts from German Army documents illustrate the general
principles that the Germans follow in constructing infantry fieldworks. The
Germans preface their doctrine on this subject with a reminder that the
construction of positions "must conform to factors determined by the enemy, the
ground, one's own forces, and the time and supplies available. Fire positions
and fields of fire must be established on the fire plan before the work is marked
out and construction begun. Fire positions must merge with the surrounding country
in such a fashion that the maximum possible use is made of natural
concealment. Furthermore, all positions, even those to the rear, will be
kept camouflaged as much as possible while they are under construction."
2. GENERAL PRINCIPLES
The time required for the construction of fieldworks must be calculated
carefully. Periods of time given at the end of this section represent the
minimum requirements. A few complete and well-concealed positions are worth
far more than a large number, half-finished. When our troops are in the immediate
neighborhood of the enemy, construction must be carried out in such a fashion
that some form of defense is possible at all times.
In order to decrease vulnerability to high-angle enemy fire, weapon pits
must be constructed no larger than is necessary. The walls of the pit must at all
times be kept at a suitable angle, varying with the nature of the ground, so that
they cannot fall in. In the case of loose ground, and in constructing fire positions
in permanent fronts, it may be necessary to revet the walls of the pit. Revetting with
resistant material makes the work of clearing out the pit after a shell-hit more
difficult; the pit must then be excavated to a larger size than before.
If the situation and enemy action permit, the surface soil is removed from the
immediate neighborhood of the pit, to be used later in camouflaging the position. The
spoil, or subsurface soil, must be deposited far enough from the pit to forestall
the necessity of moving the earth a second time. The parapet must be extended far
enough on each side to afford the riflemen a field of fire on all sides, meanwhile
protecting them against enemy flanking fire. Also, the parapet should be kept low. The
field of fire should not be affected by irregularities in the surface of the ground.
A firing position that can be readily assumed remains the first consideration. The depth
of the excavations for arms or weapons depends on the required firing height. Dimensions
must also be adjusted to conform to the height of the riflemen. In setting out the
work, measurements can be taken by the length of a spade.
|Length of short spade|| _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ||20 inches.|
|Length of long spade|| _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ||3 feet 7 inches.|
|Approximate length of blade|| _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ||8 inches.|
The excavated earth should be disposed of in the least obvious manner, and by a single
route leading from one side of the pit. The path by which the earth is transported must
be regulated carefully.
Each position must have an alternative position. This must be at least 50 to 60 meters
from the original position. It must fulfill the same requirement. "Field of fire
comes before cover." As always, camouflage is of primary importance.
If time allows, pits should be connected by communication trenches.
Along lengthy communication routes, antitank pits should be dug at intervals of
50 yards. The communication trenches should follow a zigzag course, and should
be constructed with rounded, rather than sharp, edges.
The type and construction of positions is determined above all by the time
available for the work. Ground conditions, drainage, weather, facilities
for concealment, available personnel, entrenching tools, other tools, and
construction materials must also be considered.
The following will serve as a guide for the construction of positions on average terrain:
| Available time
|| Type of construction
|A few hours ||
||Machine gun and rifle pits, affording protection
against machine-gun fire and fragments of shells with impact
fuzes. Simple wire obstacles should be constructed. In the case
of light machine guns, antitank rifles, heavy machine guns,
light mortars, and antitank guns, overhead protection for
riflemen and their weapons may be provided at the same time. With
heavy mortars, light infantry guns, and heavy infantry guns, overhead
cover for the crew must be constructed before that for the weapon.
|Half day ||
||Thorough construction of pits and recesses under
parapets, providing protection against light high-angle fire and
splinters from richocheting and time-fuze shells, protection against
weather, and increased comfort for the crew
|Whole day ||
||Strengthening of wire obstacles, strengthening
of pits and firing bays. Connection of weapon pits within the
system by crawl or communication trenches.
|Several days ||
|Several weeks ||
||Systematic construction of defenses with continuous
trenches and shelters.