This section complements "Camouflage Against Ground
Observers," an article which appeared in a previous
issue of the Intelligence Bulletin (Vol. II,
No. 5, pp. 25-32). As that article pointed out, a single
camouflage undertaking may deceive both air and
ground observers with equal success. However, although
the Germans believe that camouflage against
United Nations air observation is the primary consideration, they
stipulate that at the front it must be closely
tied in with camouflage against ground observers. In
connection with the following German precautions
against hostile air reconnaissance, it should be
noted that German camouflage activity and
discipline in Italy has thus far been notably good. The
commander of any German unit, however small, is
supposed to be capable of developing a successful
camouflage scheme, using whatever materials he can
find locally. The Germans leave much to the individual, who
generally is expected to improvise his own
camouflage devices. Aside from sniper suits and snow
suits, little except ungarnished nets, helmet nets, and
occasionally paint is issued to the individual soldier.
2. DURING MOVEMENT
a. Although every effort is made to undertake general
troop movements only at night or under conditions
affording bad visibility, elaborate camouflage measures
are observed when daytime movement is ordered for
tactical or technical reasons. These measures are
maintained through the night as well, for greater
security. Units are brought in small numbers from
camouflaged assembly areas to the point from which
they are to move. No delay is permitted. In movement
by rail, canvas-covered frames are erected on flat
cars carrying guns, tanks, and so on, to duplicate the
appearance of box cars. When movement is conducted
on roads, halts and rests are timed with due
consideration for making the most of natural cover.
Motorized units often go some little distance in search
of woods or orchards. If no natural cover is available,
efforts are made to fit in with the natural pattern
of the terrain, as seen from the air.
b. A night ruse prescribed by the German Army
involves the spacing of partly dimmed lights at regular
intervals along a road, to draw the attention of hostile
night reconnaissance away from an actual German
column which is moving in complete darkness.
c. To avoid conspicuous crowding at bridges, narrow
passes, and so on, vehicles are stationed in
readiness under the nearest cover, and then are sent through
one by one or in small groups.
d. In order to deceive as to the exact places where
river crossings are to be made, "false crossings" are
initiated at other places either before or during actual
crossings. A certain amount of actual bridging material,
smoke, and sound effects is employed to make
the ruse all the more convincing.
e. As part of track discipline, vehicles are prohibited
from taking short cuts, and individuals are forbidden
to shape fresh footpaths, in the vicinity of any area
where movement is to halt and where a camouflage
plan is to go into effect.
Emergency roads and paths follow close to ditches, the
edges of fields, the banks of lakes, rivers, or creeks, and
the edges of gullies.
3. IN BIVOUAC
a. In towns the Germans make a great effort to park
guns, tanks, and vehicles under cover. When this is
impossible, irregular dispersion is carried out in courtyards
and gardens, beside walls and hedges, and under
trees. Tents are similarly screened. Artificial camouflage
material is used to improve weak points.
The Germans make good use of the camouflage opportunities
presented by destroyed or burnt-out villages.
Personnel, vehicles, weapons, and supplies are
concealed in the ruins with great care so that very
little artificial camouflage need be added.
b. Outside towns and villages, bivouacs are situated
as far as possible in woods having thick foliage. Tree
tops are bound together, and roofs of foliage are constructed,
to conceal open patches.
c. In open country, bivouac tents are pitched in
valleys, ditches, gullies, quarries, as well as under overhanging
rocks, and beside any fairly high natural
growth that can be found. If natural cover is totally
lacking, tents are pitched far apart and irregularly,
and vehicles are dug-in and camouflaged.
The Germans make a great point of not allowing
equipment to remain in plain view. Similarly, all such
items as empty tin cans, discarded bits of paper, and
other waste are carefully kept out of sight.
4. IN COMBAT
In combat, responsibility for maintaining camouflage
discipline rests almost entirely in the hands of
the individual German soldier, who is very good at
utilizing shadows, woods, ditches, scrub growth, gardens,
and field crops for concealment. He uses local
vegetation to camouflage his person, and is expert at
advancing by crawling. Reports from Italy emphasize
the ability of the German soldier to lie quietly in one
spot for hours at a time, and then methodically to
resume his mission.
5. FIRING POSITIONS (GENERAL)
a. To avoid creating new tracks, the Germans try
to establish firing positions near roads. Existing opportunities
for concealment are taken into account;
thus the Germans make the most of buildings, courtyards,
places damaged by fire, woods, and individual
trees. In Italy the olive trees have proved especially
useful for this. In open country, slopes, valleys, and
gullies are favored. Abandoned infantry positions
are sometimes used. When no cover is available,
weapons are dug in and are camouflaged with garnished
To preserve the total effect of a camouflage plan,
the Germans have been known to withhold all fire when
there has been a possibility of reconnaissance by hostile
aircraft—but observance of this precaution has generally
depended on how much the Germans have had
at stake in the ground situation.
6. FIELD FORTIFICATIONS
a. The Germans make every effort to study air
photographs of the terrain before devising a camouflage
scheme of any appreciable size. The resulting
over-all plan includes the following precautions:
warnings regarding all places especially vulnerable to
air and ground observation, selection of good positions
for which natural local cover is already available,
allotment of artificial camouflage material to positions
where it can be used to advantage, disposition of
dummy positions, and decisions regarding control of
movement. Whenever possible, the Germans take air
photographs at progressive stages of the work, to make
sure that the terrain pattern is not undergoing any
change—or, if it is, to make sure that its
former appearance can be restored.
b. Trenches are covered, wherever possible. The
Germans use various methods. For example, they
garnish wire-covered frames with scrub growth, straw,
and so on, to blend with the terrain, and lift them
during an attack, to permit observation and fire.
Similarly, they bind branches and straw together with
wire or string, place them across the trenches—with
openings provided for observation and fire—and secure
these mats to the ground by stakes at regularly spaced
intervals, to prevent sagging. To allow light to enter
a covered trench, the Germans sometimes leave openings
every 8 or 10 yards, which they cover with translucent
cloth, such as gauze, suitably colored.
c. The Germans maintain that complete camouflage
of concrete emplacements is as much of a safety measure
as the concrete itself, although in a different sense.
The possibility of fitting such defenses into existing
terrain cover is always considered at the outset. Excavations
fit into irregular terrain patterns, and
straight lines and edges are avoided. Entrances are
kept as small as possible. When it is essential for the
emplacement to project above ground level, the walls
are covered with a mixture of tar and asphalt, with
earth or straw stuck to it. The enemy frequently
camouflages the roofs with turf in which natural
vegetation is growing.
German pillboxes on the edges of villages are usually
camouflaged as houses and sheds, and in open country
as farm cottages and outbuildings. This is relatively
easy in Southern Europe, because of the widespread
use of whitewashed terra cotta for civilian buildings.
d. The Germans remove excavated earth at night or
in bad weather. It is either removed a considerable
distance, or is used in the construction of dummy emplacements.
(See paragraph 8.) If it is left near
the site, it is made to conform with the ground pattern.
e. Wherever possible, wire obstacles are erected on
covered ground, but if they are erected in exposed
areas, the Germans often take the precaution of painting
wooden stakes to match the terrain or of smearing
the tops with earth.
Minefields, too, are laid with an eye to possible air
observation. True minefields are planned so as to disturb
the terrain pattern as little as possible, whereas
dummy minefields are left sufficiently exposed to
7. MOTOR PARKS AND DUMPS
It is a German policy to establish motor parks and
food and ammunition dumps in woods whenever it is
possible to do so. The Germans recommend that these
be established about 100 yards from the edge of the
north side of the woods if circumstances permit. Trees
are felled only when necessary. Even in thick
woods, dumps are camouflaged with undergrowth.
In occupied localities dumps are kept under cover.
A favorite ruse is to situate them in courtyards and
to disguise them as woodpiles. In open country,
groves of trees, clumps of bushes, and overhanging
ledges are widely utilized. The Germans do not permit
a concentration of vehicles to stand in the vicinity
of a dump in the daytime; instead, the vehicles are
grouped under cover, and proceed singly to the dump.
8. USE OF DUMMIES
a. The Germans attempt to devise dummy constructions
which will divert the opposition's attention and
upset its fire plan. They are erected at the same
time as actual installations, and are given an almost
convincing camouflage treatment. The Germans do
not place them at random, but, rather, make them
appear to have been erected for tactical purposes.
They are situated far enough away from genuine
installations so that fire directed against the former
will not harm the latter. Dummies are maintained,
and are visited from time to time, to add to the
illusion that they are in use.
b. Whenever possible, a dummy position is so
planned that any ground attack against it can be
counterattacked on the flank from a genuine position.
Dummy trenches are usually of normal width, but
are only a few inches deep. Sometimes the Germans
burn straw in them to blacken the interior and make
them more convincing when seen from the air.
c. Dummy dugouts are generally suggested by
nothing more than an entrance.
d. Dummy paths leading to dummy positions are
prepared. In fields the grass is mown down the width
of the path to leave a flat surface for texture contrast. In
bare country, paint or natural materials are sometimes
used to give paths the light color of a flat
e. The Germans regard dummy figures as useful in
completing the illusion of dummy machine-gun positions.
f. Dummies are used to suggest the presence of
tanks in an area. As a rule, the construction of these
is very simple (see fig. 1), but sufficiently
appropriate positions are chosen to heighten the reality.
|Figure 1. German Dummy Tank|
g. The Germans simulate minefields merely by digging
up sod and replacing it unnaturally. (There
are usually a few true mines in the enemy's dummy
minefields. A proportion of 5 to 10 percent is not
uncommon.) For added effect, wire and warning
notices are often erected.
h. Dummy lights, suitably placed, are used to suggest
railroad stations, factories, and airdromes. Partly
dimmed lanterns are stretched across open
country to suggest the presence of troop columns, and
dummy bivouac areas are represented by camp fires.
i. The Germans have been known to cover dummy
positions with smoke screens. The purpose of this
is not only to deceive air observers, but to draw fire
and thus determine hostile gun positions.