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"Field Notes on Sicilian and African Operations" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A few tactical notes from Tunisia and Sicily fighting in WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 33, September 9, 1943.

[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.]


An officer returning from the Sicilian operations reports that extensive use was made of pill boxes designed to resemble such ordinary road-side structures as houses and filling stations. These were usually found at road bends, where two fire lanes could be covered, and contained machine guns and antitank weapons. It was a most successful camouflage.

The triangular yellow pennant bearing a black skull and cross bones hanging from a light steel support stuck in the ground, was described in Tactical and Technical Trends No. 24, page 11 as a gas contamination warning. In Sicily its appearance was associated with the presence of booby traps.

South of Mateur in Tunisia, the same officer reported the presence of rough cast-aluminum mines resembling tellermines. It is hoped that an accurate description of these mines will shortly be available, as they appear to be made in the field of salvaged materials, and may be met with in Europe.

In a German battalion-strength hill defense position that put up a particularly stiff resistance, the machine guns and antitank weapons were sited with their muzzles barely clear of the ground along the crest. Behind the crest were deep dug-outs and trench positions to which the garrison retired during bombardment.

German powder is practically smokeless, but does flash at night. The 88-mm guns give no smoke, and on one occasion, held up a tank attack all day, till, at dusk light tanks were sent out to draw fire, and the guns were located by their flash.

He remarked upon the successful use of a 110-foot span steel Bailey bridge triple truss, single story, which during the Sicilian operations, had to be emplaced over a deep gorge at a hairpin turn. In spite of the turn, the bridge was placed by means of a counterweighted end.


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