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"Miscellaneous (German)" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   Miscellaneous section from the August 1943 issue of the Intelligence Bulletin, covering "Instructions in Case of Capture," "Prisoners' Ruse," and "Use of Roving Guns."

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]

Instructions in Case of Capture, Prisoners' Ruse, Use of Roving Guns


Like the troops of other nations, German soldiers are instructed to reveal nothing more than "name, rank, and serial number" in case of capture, and are reminded that in accordance with international law, any other information may (and must) be refused. In addition, the German Army warns its soldiers to obey certain special instructions:

a. If you believe you are in danger of being captured, destroy all papers that you have on your person. Above all, tear out page 4 of your Soldbuch (pay book), which mentions your unit.

b. If you are captured, be strictly military and, at the same time, polite. Don't be influenced by friendliness on the part of the enemy, or by threats.

c. Never speak the enemy's language.

d. Always remember that the most trivial things, to which you attach no importance, can often give valuable information to the enemy.

e. No interest in technical questions is to be shown, not even when the questioner tries to provoke an argument by belittling German weapons.

f. Don't try to deceive by false answers.

g. Don't let yourself be fooled by an assumed knowledge, on the questioner's part, of the subject under discussion.

h. Don't discuss military matters or details of operations with your fellow prisoners.

In North Africa the German Army regarded the following information as especially valuable to the United Nations, and warned its troops that they must take every precaution to keep it secret:

a. The unit to which you belong, and its location.

b. The effectives of your unit, and its losses.

c. The other units which belong to your regiment or your division. The other units which were engaged at the same time as yours, and their effectives.

d. When, and by what means, you arrived in the theater of operations, what you saw on your way, and when you had your last leave.

e. What weapons the German Army has, whether you have seen any new ones, and if and when new or repaired tanks may be expected to arrive.

f. The morale of German troops; details regarding supplies and materiel.

g. The morale at home; the effect of United Nations bombing.

German soldiers in other theaters of operation receive similar warnings. The Germans caution their troops not to believe that better treatment will be given them if they consent to talk. It is stressed that even after a soldier has been interrogated, he must be careful when talking to other comrades in the camp, because of the possibility that a listening apparatus may have been installed. Troops are warned, too, that strangers in German uniforms may try to win their confidence, and that these strangers will certainly be spies. Speaking over the radio, making phonograph recordings, and writing of war experiences are strictly forbidden.

Of special significance is the German Army's threat of future punishment if these orders are not fully obeyed:

Every prisoner remains a German soldier. You must realize that after your return you will, if necessary, be called upon to answer for your behavior during your time of captivity.


According to a German prisoner, the following trick may be attempted by German soldiers who are about to be taken prisoner. Sometimes, just before a man is captured, he empties his aluminum canteen, slits it from base to neck, places his automatic pistol in the hollow space, and presses the sides of the canteen together again. He also presses the sides against the weapon to keep it from rattling. He then draws the canvas cover over the canteen. The weight of the pistol is approximately equal to the weight of a canteen filled with water.

If a man who follows this procedure is not detected, he will be able to carry his pistol into an internment camp, where he can use the weapon against his captors, either while he is attempting to escape or in some other situation.


The following extract from a German Army document discusses the tactical use of roving guns:

The two principal reasons for using a roving gun are:

a. To avoid betraying the location of the actual battery positions if the target can be dealt with by a few guns.

b. To camouflage the fire of our own activity by offering considerable protection against enemy flash-spotting and sound ranging

In the first case, each battery will site a gun 200 to 300 yards to the flank of the battery position. From a gunnery point of view, it is technically desirable to site the roving gun well on the flank of the No. 1 gun. It is not an advantage to displace it further by putting it forward or to the rear of the actual gun position, because fire control thus becomes more difficult and enemy observers can more easily identify the explosions of individual guns. If the gun is merely put 200 to 300 yards forward or to the rear, it may deceive as to the location of the other guns the battery, but it also will bring the battery position within the 100-percent zone of fire[1] directed against the roving gun. All ranging and harassing fire can be carried out by these guns. The roving guns of a battalion or even larger unit may be concentrated against important targets.

In the second case, the best camouflage will be obtained if provision is made that all firing be done as far as possible by concentrated fire and by as many batteries as possible. Batteries will lay down the concentration only after fire from the roving guns has been seen or heard. The roving guns will fire until the batteries have concluded their concentrated fire.

[1] That is, within the dispersion pattern.

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