New Zealand troops have successfully used the following methods of getting
through wire obstacles in the Middle East. In considering this report, the
reader should keep in mind that it refers to a New Zealand rifle company
which, in approaching enemy wire, has two platoons forward. Each platoon
has its three sections forward, also. Nos. 3 and 4 of each section carry
a. Triple Concertina Fence
As the leading sections approach a triple fence of concertina wire, they
deploy into a line and lie down about 10 to 15 yards from the
wire. Nos. 3 and 4, under covering fire from supporting weapons, or
from the section's own light machine guns, dash forward and throw
themselves—relaxed—against two adjoining pickets. Screw
pickets normally will bend under the weight, and the fence will
partly go down. If a strand of barbed wire runs through all the
concertina loops, and is tied to the pickets, it may have to be cut.
No. 5 man runs forward almost simultaneously, and, with his rifle
held well in front of him at high port, hurls himself full-length
against the length of wire between the pickets. As a result, the
whole stretch of wire flattens almost to the ground.
Nos. 1 and 2, with their light machine gun, move quickly and
carefully through the gap, and lie down about 10 to 15 yards past
the wire. The section commander and the remaining men follow
closely, lying down deployed in line, with Nos. 3, 4, and 5 joining
Nos. 1 and 2. If necessary, the light machine gun gives covering
fire while the rest of the section comes through. Simultaneously,
all other forward sections are doing the same, and should be ready
to resume their attack. If the wires are not tied, two men may be
sufficient to crash the fence between pickets.
b. Double Apron Fence
In approaching a double apron fence, the sections follow the method outlined
above. Nos. 3 and 4 throw themselves at the pickets (whether screw, angle-iron,
or wood), with rifle at high port. These men quickly cut the top wire and any
other fence wires that are tied to the pickets. No. 5 then dashes forward as
before, throwing himself, with rifle held well out to protect his face, onto
the stretch of wire between the pickets. All these men should throw themselves
boldly, but with muscles relaxed. The section then hurries through
the gap and deploys as before, ready to continue the attack.
Another method is for Nos. 3 and 4 to jump into the wire, cut the top
few strands, and then fall on the remaining wire to make it sag, the
section moving through as before.
c. Two Double Apron Fences, Close Together
The procedure described in sub-paragraph b, above, is followed, except
that Nos. 5 and 6 crash down the second fence.
d. Combined Wire Obstacles
Sometimes troops encounter the combination of a double apron fence, a
triple concertina fence, and another double apron fence—all close
together. In breaking through these combined obstacles, six men are
used, two per fence, who jump in, cut wires if necessary, and crash
down on the fence. Here, as in the situation covered by sub-paragraph c, it
may be advisable for the platoon to be divided so that only two gaps
are made, instead of one per section. Two adjoining sections can then
go through one gap; the remaining section, together with platoon
headquarters, can go through the other. A definite method should
be practiced and adopted by each unit.
Wiring gloves are advised for Nos. 3 and 4, but are not essential
inasmuch as the rifle will bear the brunt of the contact with the
wire. Burlap or some similar protection can be used around the hands,
if necessary. It can be wrapped around the knees, also, if the men are
in shorts. It is emphasized that this is not essential, however. Every
man must realize the importance of speed, and must feel strongly
determined to get through the wire.
The time in which a forward platoon gets through wire varies from
6 seconds, in the case of troops encountering triple concertinas, to
less than a minute in the case of troops encountering the combined
wire obstacles. Under cover of artillery and medium machine-gun fire, an
entire forward battalion has succeeded in getting through wire in
2 minutes and immediately continuing the attack.