A newly won position must be rapidly organized if it is to be held
successfully. During the May-July 1942 fighting in North Africa, British troops
successfully attacked a desert depression, but were then counterattacked and
overrun by a superior force of German troops. The following points of interest
were noted in enemy methods of consolidating the position.
Enemy salvage parties came in and began recovering vehicles and antitank
guns before the evacuation of prisoners of war had been completed.
During the day the enemy used the depression very skillfully as an
assembly area for tanks and antitank guns, with the tanks in hull-down
positions. Tanks and guns were concentrated at any point where a threat
appeared to develop or a target presented itself. The enemy appeared to
operate on a shift system, fresh tanks coming up during the day to relieve
those on duty.
At night the enemy had listening posts on a line marked by yellow lights
showing only to the rear. The area immediately behind his outpost
position was constantly covered by light mechanized patrols. Dogs
are reported to have been used in conjunction with the listening posts.
A further report on the same action lays stress on the role played by
tanks in enemy defensive practice. The enemy keeps groups of tanks
stationed along the whole line of the position, behind the forward
line. Attached to each group is a reconnaissance vehicle of
the Volkswagen type (comparable to U.S. 1/4-ton), which
moves about continuously and whose role is to lead the tanks against
any hostile attacking party. The tanks are ready to operate at any
time during the night, provided there is sufficient moonlight to
give them some field of view.