Allied Forces have successfully completed one of the greatest landing
operations of all time in the invasion of Sicily and the Italian mainland. The world
expectantly awaits Allied landings on the Axis occupied coast anywhere from
Norway to Spain. The following translation of notes made by a German officer
formerly attached to a corps responsible for Channel Coast defense indicates the
manner in which the Germans have organized the Channel Coast defense.
* * *
a. Selection of Defense Areas
Owing to the shortage of troops, the defense will be organized into defense
areas. A complete disposition in depth of the defense areas cannot be maintained
at normal strength. As to the selection of the defense areas, the following
essentials will have to be taken into consideration:
(1) Where does the enemy have facilities to land?
(2) Which landing beaches has access into the interior?
(3) Where are there important installations, the possession or
destruction of which is of interest to the enemy?
(4) Finally, consider which parts of the coast do not lend
themselves to landing operations (waters where navigation is
difficult; islands constituting bastions off the coast; cliffs,
wooded terrain, marshes, zones offering few lines of
communication), and the sectors where landings are possible or likely
will stand out.
b. Initial Organization of Defense Areas
For the moment, defense areas will be constituted and occupied only in
those regions which lend themselves to landing operations. These areas will be
selected subject to the following conditions:
(1) Weapons must command the greatest possible stretch of terrain. Consequently, it
is not advisable to site guns on high points which overlook the
general terrain, because then the beaten zone is restricted, and furthermore the
weapon can not engage objectives within short range. In this manner, the risk of
letting the enemy penetrate under the angle of fire is eliminated and it is not
necessary to cope with defiladed areas.
(2) The defense areas will command as large a sector as possible. Owing
to the shortage of troops, the number of supporting areas will be so reduced that
the observation of the whole of the coastal sector will be impossible. By day,
therefore, it will be necessary to place parties with sufficient striking power
between the defense areas; whenever possible, one rifle squad equipped with a light
machine gun. The method of alarm to be adopted in case of an enemy approach
will have to be clearly explained and made known to every man in form of a
special order. By night, patrols will be carried out by bicycle whenever possible.
c. Organization of the Sectors
Each company will retain, whenever possible, one platoon in reserve. The
machine-gun companies will be split up in platoons and placed under command of
the rifle companies -- one platoon will be back, whenever possible, together with
the battalion reserve. Heavy machine guns and light trench mortars should in
principle be retained with the mobile reserves. The motorcyclists of the
regiments are to be so grouped as to constitute heavy machine-gun groups.
With regard to the use of the machine guns, it is advisable, despite the
present weakness in strength of the units, to keep the company organized in twelve
rifle squads. It is necessary to remember then that the squads are weaker. The
fastest possible means of liaison with all the defense areas will have to be ensured.
All the defense areas will be connected with the C.P. by telephone if possible, or
in any event by messenger. Where there is a shortage of telephone lines, steps
will be taken to set up a relay system of communications. If, owing to the extent
of the sector, no one company can be spared as battalion reserve, every available
man will be used for counter attack, including transport and headquarters
personnel, etc. The necessary training will be given at the earliest possible moment.
Sector commanders will not only make arrangements with the commanders
of other arms of the Wehrmacht as to their role in the event of landings, but from
now on they will also incorporate in their defense plan all the weapons in their
sector. In this way some of the weapons will be available for use at other points
where they are absolutely necessary.