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"Consolidation After a Counterattack" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report describes the German consolidation of a position after a counterattack against British forces in North Africa. The report was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 14, Dec. 17, 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.]


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.


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