1. ARTILLERY (NORTH AFRICA)
In increasing their precautions against British
counterbattery fire in North Africa, the Germans
have resorted to the following tactics:
a. Daytime harassing missions fired from roving
gun positions in the open.
b. Adjustments made by using one or two guns sited
on a flank of the battalion position.
c. The fire of both light and medium batteries directed
into the same area simultaneously so as to make
it harder for the opposition to locate these gun positions.
d. As many as six batteries fired at once, so as to
confuse the opposition's sound ranging.
2. ARMORED FORCE (RUSSIA)
United Nations observers in Russia report that the
German Armored Force has recently used the tactics
a. General Characteristics
All arms cooperate closely. Everything depends
upon the success of the tanks, which are used in mass.
Reconnaissance of weak points, flanks, and gaps is
very carefully performed. Speed is stressed. Orders
are very detailed, but local commanders are allowed
Surprise is achieved through secrecy, rumors, and
false orders. Tanks are maneuvered in an area where
the main blow is not to be delivered. Not only real
tanks but dummies, mobile and immobile, are kept in
evidence at one part of the front, while the main
striking force is concealed elsewhere.
c. Psychological Methods
On occasion, paratroops with automatic weapons
have been dropped behind the Russian lines at the
moment of the tank attack.
Parachutists or motorcyclists try to seize nerve centers.
Troops who succeed in reaching the rear of the
Russian defenses use indiscriminate fire in an attempt
to disrupt morale.
While the leading detachments go forward, the main
body follows in march column. When resistance is
met, the leading detachments deploy on a wide front.
Strong reconnaissance units are sent out to the flanks.
However, the main body remains in march column.
A spearhead formation is usually employed; that is,
motorcyclists and assault weapons go forward. A tank
regiment follows, with two battalions up, if the front
is expected to be from 1 to 1 1/2 miles wide. Panzer
Grenadiers (armored infantry) are deeply echeloned
behind these elements. The remaining infantry either
advance far to one flank, or remain concentrated in the
center, ready to widen any gap that may be made.
f. Avoiding Frontal Attacks
Frontal attacks are always avoided. German tanks
have come to respect fire from Russian antitank guns;
therefore, if there is a strong antitank defense, the
German tanks give up the attack. The Germans then
make a show of preparing for a second attack in the
same place, while they search the front for spots that
are weak in antitank defense.
Defense by German armored forces is very elastic. Towards
dusk, detachments of Panzer Grenadiers
move forward in front of the main line of resistance
to create an impression that the edge of the defensive
zone is further forward. The remainder prepare the
main line of resistance. A number of tanks are dug
in on this line. When the defensive zone preparations
have been completed, most of these tanks withdraw
to assembly points in the rear, to prepare for a
counterattack; only a few PzKw III's or PzKw IV's
remain dug in, to serve as pivots of fire.
3. PROPOSED DEFENSIVE A/T METHODS (RUSSIA)
A German Army document, based on German experiences
in defending against Russian tank attacks,
includes recommendations for the improvement of
defensive methods. These recommendations are contained
in the extracts given below.
a. Use of Tanks
We [German forces] should keep our tanks in reserve as far
as possible, and use them in close formation against flanks of
the Russian tanks as soon as the direction of the attack is clear.
Our tanks must always be prepared to act without delay. Previous
reconnaissance of covered approaches is necessary. Long-barreled
75-mm and 50-mm pieces have good effect when used
from the flank. Concentrated fire must be placed on individual
b. Use of Antitank Guns
Defiladed gun positions are desirable. Fire should be opened
as late as possible. It should be opened even when there seems
to be little chance of success; the enemy tank will be impeded
and usually will swing away. Antitank guns must be made
mobile so that they can be massed at the point where the Russian
tanks are attacking. An allotment of half-tracked tractors is
c. Use of Artillery
A well organized warning system and constant readiness to fire
must be insured. Individual guns in good condition must be disposed
in readiness, preferably 100-mm guns with special Rotkopf
(red top) ammunition. Gun tractors are necessary in order to
transfer guns quickly to the sector threatened by the tank attack.
Antitank defense by 88-mm flak has the advantage of achieving
a satisfactory penetration performance against all types of tanks.
However, a marked disadvantage of the 88-mm guns is their
great height, which makes them quickly recognizable. Also, their
positions cannot be changed readily.
d. Use of Infantry
When Russian tank attacks have been accompanied by infantry,
our own infantrymen who have allowed themselves to be overrun
in their positions have had great success against the Russian
infantry following up behind. Our troops who have dug themselves
in well have suffered very few casualties, whereas companies
which have abandoned their positions have had much
greater losses. For this reason it is essential to dig in deeply
and quickly, using every possible means. Above all, troops should
remain in the positions and allow the enemy tanks to go past.
All centers of resistance must be equipped with Molotov cocktails,
explosives (prepared charges and antitank mines), and, if
possible, with flame throwers.
4. STATIC DEFENSES (NORTH AFRICA)
The German defenses of the coastal town of Bardia
consisted, wherever the ground was suitable for
armored force vehicles, of an antitank ditch 3 feet deep
and 6 feet across, with an especially steep slope on the
side that the British tanks would approach. A short
distance from the ditch, and nearer Bardia, was a wire
fence, consisting of a double line or a double apron on
wooden posts—in either case, approximately 3 yards
deep. This ditch and fence combination described an
arc around Bardia. Between the fence and the town
itself, there was a series of 83 strongpoints about 500
yards to 800 yards apart—describing still another arc.
As a rule, antitank mines were laid on the British side
of the ditch, although sometimes the mines were laid
between the ditch and wire.
Each strongpoint was wired in and, except where the
terrain was naturally unsuited to tank use, surrounded
by an antitank trap. The strongpoints, which were
made of concrete, were semicircular in shape with an
opening at the rear, and consisted of 3 to 5 positions for
automatic weapons. In most instances the tank trap
surrounding a strongpoint was a ditch 9 feet across.
The ditch had a steep slope and a concrete lip on the
side that the British tanks would approach, while the
other side was faced with stone and had a concrete lip.
The entire ditch was covered with thin (1/4 inch) lath
planking, which in turn was camouflaged with dust and
pebbles. The tank traps were sited within hand-grenade
range of the positions. Artillery defense was
lacking in depth. Reserve positions consisted of low
stone walls, or boulders grouped around a natural
5. DEFENSIVE RUSES (NORTH AFRICA)
a. In North Africa, the Germans have repeatedly attempted
to attract the attention of British patrols by
unnecessarily loud talking and whistling, as well as by
rattling tin cans and tools. While this is going on, German
patrols try to outflank the British patrols.
b. A British patrol in the El Alamein area found that
the Germans had hung bells on wire obstacles, to serve
as an alarm device. (Note subparagraph 2j (11) of
"German Combat in Woods," page 14.)
c. Booby traps have been found attached to concertina
wire fences, to give warning of the approach
of British patrols. Although few details are available,
it appears that the explosions caused by these traps
were not very great. It has been suggested that the
traps may have consisted of Eier (egg) grenades with
the screw caps removed and the igniter strings tied
to the wire fence. This type of booby trap has been
found in connection with abandoned vehicles.
For a device of this kind to work satisfactorily, it
would be essential for the body of the grenade to be
secured firmly. The standard igniter for the grenade
has a delay of about 4 1/2 seconds. The effect of the
"egg" grenade is mostly blast.