The following report contains several lessons learned as a result of
British armored operations in the Middle East.
a. Smoke Shells
Smoke shells have been very effective. In a tank versus tank action, they
are used to blind enemy antitank and other supporting weapons, either as a
screen, or as a general cloud over the enemy's position. It is an accepted fact
in North Africa that conditions of very poor visibility, such as obtained when smoke
is used, always hamper the defending guns more than the attacking tanks.
b. 57-mm Antitank Gun
The tactical employment of the 57-mm (British six-pounder) antitank
gun differs little from that of the 40-mm (British two-pounder) antitank
gun. The 57-mm guns must always be fired from an emplaced position except
in hit-and-run operations, and even then if time permits. Digging
in, camouflage, and the withholding of fire until a hit is certain, are
all of vital importance; if the gun has been discovered, fire should be
opened at once.
c. Motorized Battalion
The motorized infantry battalion is an integral part of the armored
regiment during all operations. It normally accompanies the combat troops, and
very rarely marches with the supply echelon. This battalion is equipped with
sixteen 57-mm antitank guns, 12 heavy machine guns, and 4 heavy mortars. It is
organized very flexibly and is highly mobile. Individual companies of this
battalion are nearly always decentralized and attached to armored battalions
forming a part of the regimental group. Various roles which have been allotted
to the infantry of this motorized battalion are as follows.
(1) Flank Guard
An armored regiment during operations at Sidi Rezegh, concerned with
the security of its left flank, sent out its motorized battalion as a security
patrol. The battalion successfully accomplished this mission.
(2) Night Operations
Whenever possible, armored regiments are protected by patrols formed
from the motorized battalion. These patrols operate about 3 miles from the
bivouac area as a guard against surprise attacks. Sometimes they form combat
patrols, but it should be noted that they cannot be used both day and night for any
length of time with efficiency.
(3) Antiairborne Attack
The motorized battalion can be used as a highly mobile force in readiness
to guard against possible parachute or airborne attack directed at vital
installations within the division area.