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"Enemy Antitank Mine Fields and Booby Traps in Africa" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on German and Italian mine fields in North Africa is taken from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 6, August 27, 1942.

[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 is a report on an enemy minefield encountered by the British during the fighting in Libya in late 1941.

All the mines were German Tellermines, which are antitank mines shaped like a plate and weighing about 11 pounds.

Many of these mines had pull-igniters screwed into the bottom as anti-lifting devices, and occasionally mines were laid upside down to increase the difficulty of disarming the main fuse. The mines were laid at very irregular intervals, but always on or near a desert trail. The mines laid across trails were generally marked with small piles of stones at the corners of the field. Mines were also laid along trails and these were apparently marked by piles of stones at either end of the mined section.

In some instances, places where mines were laid showed signs of the earth having been disturbed, but in others there was no such indication of mines because the ground had become smooth and sun-baked, owing to rain and sun.

Where trails ran through scrub, loose pieces of scrub, sometimes with booby traps attached, were placed on top of the mines as camouflage.

In several places a single strand of wire had been strung on tall stakes marked with warning or notice boards. These boards carry the inscription "ACHTUNG MINEN," or "ATTENTIONE MINA," or "ATTENTION MINES." The wire itself, although attached to booby traps, did not protect live minefields, which were invariably placed to one side of the wire, approximately in prolongation of it.

Dummy minefields were also encountered; these were completely wired in, and contained tins sunk into the ground with occasional booby traps attached to them. Gaps between dummy minefields were invariably sown with live mines.

A notice board with skull and cross bones painted on it always indicated booby traps. (This must not be taken to mean that all German booby traps are marked; the contrary is generally true.) These consisted of small standard charges ignited by standard German pull-igniters. The igniter may be attached by fine binding-wire to stakes in a wire fence, direct to the wire, to trip wires placed a few inches above ground, to stones which support stakes, or to the notice boards themselves. Booby traps also were generally laid in the scrub on either side of the trails. Occasionally a second booby trap was placed underneath the first to make the removal more difficult.

Booby traps could be detected by close scrutiny for anything out of the ordinary, i.e., notice boards facing, or in sight of, the enemy, loose strands of wire, sticks with wire wrapped round them, old explosive wrappings, etc. Stakes with booby traps underneath them were normally dug in, while others were driven in. White wood stakes protruding 6 inches above ground and connected by inconspicuous trip wires were sometimes found. These could usually be identified by the presence nearby of small excavations, containing explosive.


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