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"German Night Fighting Tactics" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on German night fighting tactics during WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 30, July 29, 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.]


Based on experiences in Russia, the following are some German notes on night fighting.

*          *          *

a. General

Attacks on a wide front were less frequent than strong thrusts at selected points. Small operations with selected personnel were often carried out.

Special features of Russian methods are skillful use of darkness, surprise at dawn, silent raids on positions, clever digging at night, opening fire at short range with the use of flares, and eagerness to get to close quarters. When the ground is lit by the defenders with flares the enemy seldom attacks.

b. Equipment

For night fighting, it is recommended that a cap be worn, as it permits better hearing than does a helmet. Belt and shoulder straps should be removed. The collar should be open, and shoes and leggings laced. Ammunition can be carried in pockets and grenades in a sandbag. A pistol, dagger, and sharp spade should be carried. The first-aid kit should also be taken along.

Certain individuals will carry Very pistols, wire cutters, explosives and incendiary material, and matches which can be used in wind ("wind matches"). Machine guns, automatic rifles, submachine guns, and rifles will be ordered according to circumstances.

c. Approaching the Enemy

If possible, try to approach against the wind.* Move in twos. If a single enemy is encountered, get under cover, let him pass, and then spring on him from behind.

Wire should be cut where dark background, craters, small hollows or bushes make crawling forward easier. To deceive the enemy, sacks and similar material can be hung up at other points, or fire opened at one point to allow silent forward movement from an entirely different direction.

Simple signals should be arranged beforehand, such as bird-calls, etc.

d. Assault Troop Operations

Suitable composition and order of march are as follows: Riflemen; section leader; long-distance hand grenade throwers; short-distance hand grenade throwers; hand grenade carriers; light machine-gun section. Flank protection, using machine guns and additional riflemen, is advisable.

e. Defense

In order to insure that riflemen do not mistake direction, rifles can be fixed in position with pegs while it is still light, so that when a position is occupied in the dark there is no difficulty in fixing the direction of fire.

*Men who have not bathed for a long time can be smelled downwind at some distance. Sound carries better downwind.


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