The Africa Korps parachute troops, according to a very recent unofficial
source, but one considered quite trustworthy, are armed with the best weapons
and they constitute the crack unit of the special troops of the Africa Korps. Considered
the bravest in the army, they are used as shock troops only. When possible,
they are kept no longer than five months at the front, then sent home for instruction
to correct faults noted in the last operation. To acquire full and complete confidence
in his equipment, the German paratrooper makes six jumps before he is sent to the
front line, and not till then does he receive his insignia. (On the other hand, a pilot
of a Ju-87, Ju-88 or Me-109 makes
no trial jumps, so that he will not acquire
the feeling that the parachute is to be depended on. Therefore, in case a forced
landing is necessary, he will do his utmost to reach his own lines.)
Attached to the paratrooper's uniform, called a "bone-sack" (Knochensack)
are potato-masher and egg grenades. Cartridges for pistol and rifle are carried
in the pockets. Part of the equipment is a curious cleaver-like weapon or
implement with a blade of from five to six inches long. How it is used was not
reported--perhaps to cut free from tangled shrouds. Air-borne troops are not jumpers. The
infantry land in airplanes or gliders where the paratroopers have taken an airfield.
The air-borne infantry supports the paratroopers.
Before the jump, the rip-cord is fastened to the jumping apparatus so that
the parachute can open itself. This occurs safely 99 out of 100 times. As the men
are reported to jump from heights of only from 50 to 75 meters, little chance is
left to open a reserve 'chute, if one is worn. The 'chute is supposed to open after
a 12-meter fall. Troopers are trained to use enemy weapons. Rations, extra
ammunition, machine guns and other weapons are, of course, dropped in containers
A paratroop battalion is organized, in general, as follows:
Four parachute companies.
The light weapons which the paratroopers carry during the jump are:
.08 Model automatic pistol, .36 in (9 mm)
.98 Model rifle, .312 in (7.9 mm)
Light machine gun
Potato masher and egg grenades.
The heavy weapons, dropped in containers, are:
Heavy machine gun, 7.9 mm
Heavy mortars, 3.2 in (80 mm)
Light mortars, 1.96 in (50 mm)
New-type mortar, 4 in (105 mm).
On the paratroop motor vehicle is painted the organizations' designations--for
R - means, Col. Ramke, (commander)
R.B. - means, under command of Ramke, Maj. Burckhardt* battalion
R. Hv - means Ramke, Capt. von der Heide's battalion.
The "new-type mortar" referred to above has not, as far as known, been
previously reported. As yet, no technical description of this weapon is available
but the accompanying sketch and description is believed to give a fair, general
idea of its characteristics and appearance.
The following numbers and items have reference to the accompanying
1. Shell (percussion fuze), cal 105 mm
2. Barrel, smooth bore
3. Dust protector, placed in the rear (3 A) when not in use
4. Wood or composition block, placed at base for the breech (holds firing pin)
5. Powder charge
6. Percussion cap--fastened in center of powder ring--and firing pin
7. Steel reinforcement
9. Barrel--binder lock--the barrel is fastened to this
10. Joint by which the barrel is moved
11. Sight mechanism, optical device with crank
12. Adjustable legs
13. Bubble sight
14. Carriage--similar to that of a 37-mm antitank gun, but smaller
15. Barrel fastener
16. Split trail
*A well-known paratroop officer, now prisoner in British hands.