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"Observations on German Employment of Armored Infantry" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 22, April 8, 1943, describes the employment of German armored infantry. The original account is translated from a German training manual.

[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.]


The following account of the tactics of armored infantry was taken from a German training manual.

a. General

(1) Tanks

The rifle company transported in armored vehicles is a particularly strong unit in the attack because of its mobility, high fire power, and armor protection. The latter makes it possible to fight from the vehicles, but this is very rarely done. These units habitually dismount and fight on foot. The armor protection permits them to approach the enemy closely before dismounting. In view of its high allotment of heavy weapons, the company is able to carry out independent tasks.

Its main role is cooperation with tank units in carrying out the following tasks:

(a) Quick mopping-up and consolidation of ground overrun by the tanks;

(b) Supporting the tank attack by overcoming nests of enemy resistance, removing obstacles, and forming bridgeheads;

(c) Protection of assembly and bivouac areas.

b. Training

(1) Thorough training in fighting on foot must be given; at night, in all sorts of weather and all seasons, and over diversified terrain.

(2) All types of firing, especially at snap targets, must be practiced with both rifles and automatic arms, while the armored carrier is stationary and while it is in motion.

c. Fighting as Assault Troops

When the unit is used as assault troops, and also when fighting in woods, the weapons carried by the squads should be mostly submachine guns with plenty of HE and smoke grenades. Often only one machine gun will accompany the squad, but much extra ammunition will be distributed among several riflemen. The assault squads can borrow submachine gun, from the other squads. The heavy machine guns may go into action without their heavy mounts, but the mount should always be available. Mortars, from the vicinity of the carrier, coordinate their fire with that of the heavy machine guns.

d. The March

Over favorable terrain, an average speed of 15 mph can be maintained, with a maximum speed of from 18 1/2 to 22 1/2 mph under favorable conditions. This would permit a total of 90 to 120 miles per day. The interval between the point section and point platoon is about a minute, and between the point platoon and the company, 2 minutes. Antitank weapons, if carried, should be placed well forward, but other heavy weapons are normally placed in the rear. The company commander, and the commanders and observers of the artillery and heavy weapon units, usually travel behind the point platoon. Each platoon provides its own flank guards. Every 2 hours, a 20-minute halt should be made for minor repairs and refueling.

e. Fighting from the Carrier

The chief weapon in fighting from the carrier is the fixed (light) machine gun. Generally, this will be fired during halts of 15 to 25 seconds.

f. Attack in Cooperation with Tanks

The company will usually follow close behind the tanks to mop up points of resistance the tanks have by-passed. The leading troops will not dismount from their carrier, but will leave the fighting on foot to the succeeding waves. Antitank guns, if allotted, protect the flanks. Close contact will be maintained with the tanks ahead.

g. Pursuit

Close pursuit will be maintained, with every effort made to get behind and cut off the enemy, but when doing this, care must be taken to avoid being flanked in turn.

h. Defense

In defense, the armored infantry provides the outguard.

i. Retreat

Against an enemy on foot, withdrawal is made under cover of the armored infantry, which launches delaying counterattacks. Against an armored force, strong antitank fire must be provided, with constant reconnaissance on the flanks.

j. Battle under Special Conditions

(1) Attacking Strong Prepared Positions

The first two of the four carriers of an assault platoon drive forward through gaps in the minefields under cover of fire from the heavy weapons, directed at the casemates. They take position at the rear of the enemy defense areas. Against enemy tanks, smoke is used.

In the third carrier is the assault platoon leader, with squads detailed to hack through or blow out a lane in the wire. The fourth carrier, at 100 to 200 yards distance, follows up with ammunition and equipment.

(2) Fighting for Rivers

A swift attack to cut fuse connections will often prevent the enemy from blowing up bridges. If resistance is encountered, the patrols must report to the commanding officer, who may decide to cross elsewhere by means of rubber boats, or otherwise. Diversions should be practiced to draw the enemy away from the place of actual crossing. As soon as a crossing is made, the armored infantry will protect the bridgehead. Care must be used to prevent the dispersion of forces, and until a bridge is built, personnel carriers remain under cover from possible artillery fire.

(3) Fighting in Darkness or Fog

Careful preparation is necessary. In order to maintain direction the attack is usually made on foot along the lines of roads, streams, or ridges. Every effort is made to keep the carriers well forward, but under cover, in case the fog lifts or daybreak comes.

(4) Fighting in Towns or Villages

As a rule, occupied towns are avoided. If necessary to attack them, setting fire to buildings will assist in making a breach in the defenses, and the attack is then pushed through courtyards and gardens rather than along streets.

(5) Fighting in Woods

Careful preparation and planning should be done when time permits. Where possible, the woods are split into sectors and cleared in detail. The thicker the woods, the closer must be the formations. Before crossing open spaces, close observation must be carried out. Cunning and surprise are often more profitable than prepared assault. At nightfall, the attack is broken off and the defense organized.

On the defensive, the position should be organized in depth well inside the edge of the woods. Trails are cleared and marked for rapid communication within the position. Listening posts near the edge of the woods keep the open country under observation; they are frequently relieved.


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