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"Allied Fire Power Forces Enemy to Stress Night Infiltration" from Tactical and Technical Trends

An intelligence report on German night infiltration tactics in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51, October 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Increasing emphasis on the importance of infiltration of Allied positions at night, and an admission of Allied superiority in fire power and air power, are significant points in a recently published German army document. Translation of an extract follows:

The incredibly heavy artillery and mortar fire of the enemy on the Western front is something new, both for seasoned veterans of the Eastern front and new arrivals from reinforcement units. Veterans get used to it comparatively quickly, but inexperienced reinforcements require several days to do so.

The Allies have complete mastery of the air. They bomb and strafe every movement, even single vehicles and individuals. They reconnoiter our area constantly and direct their artillery fire. Against all this the German Air Force is conspicuous by its complete absence.

From the operations point of view, our own offensive operations by day, after completed assembly, etc.—i.e., attacks prepared "according to the book" have little chance of succeeding. Assembling of troops is spotted immediately by enemy reconnaissance aircraft, and smashed by bombers. fighter bombers, and artillery directed by aircraft; and if the attacking troops go forward they become involved in such dense artillery and mortar fire that heavy casualties ensue and the attack peters out within the first few hundred yards. Losses suffered by the infantry are then so heavy that the impetus necessary to renew the attack is spent.

Better results have been obtained through attacks by assault detachments operating at night on a broad front. These detachments penetrate enemy positions noiselessly and, in each instance, surprise and overcome the enemy without enemy artillery or air units having a chance to intervene.

The primary condition for this is that each individual assault detachment be fully acquainted with its task and know what to do in various circumstances, that it be in close liaison with its neighbors, and that the heavy weapons and artillery know exactly when to come into operation. But this is usual only in the event of local failure, when surprise has not been achieved.

Direction of infiltration operations is less a question of large-scale, elaborate planning than of practical instruction and reminder. The fact that "assembly has been completed" before the attack begins is of less importance than the fact that every company and platoon commander has thought of everything necessary to ensure the success of his assault detachment.

It is an essential duty of the staff planning the operation to put everyone down to the lowest ranking commanders completely in the picture. An attack of this nature attains no far-distant objective, but proceeds only by small stages, night after night. Yet in the end it reaches its objective without paying a heavy toll in manpower. The more cunning and variable the fighting, the more successful the operation.


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