A German directive for the defense of positions gives some interesting
details of German defensive tactics during recent campaigns. A translation of
the document is as follows.
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1. Every man must be aware that the defense of a position must continue
to the last man and to the last round. Every commander is fully responsible for
the defense of the interdependent defense area assigned to him. It is not permissible,
for instance, that the heavy weapons platoon-leader command the heavy weapons
employed on the right as well as on the left flank of the company.
2. The enemy must be prevented by all means from removing mines or
other obstacles which are laid in front of the position. Machine guns are most
effective for this purpose.
3. All available machine guns are to be employed on the flanks when
possible. Especially at night the machine guns must command the entire terrain
to the front. Shortly before dusk every machine gun, light machine guns included, will
therefore be sited so as to be able to cover their designated zones. These
sectors will be suitably marked. The sector of fire is to be marked by stakes on
the right and left limits; the elevation, by a wire stretched horizontally.
4. The heavy weapons and artillery are placed in relation to the light
infantry weapons in such a manner that their fire-power can be primarily directed
against important positions and terrain features, which the enemy might possibly
use during his approach.
5. Officers of all grades are responsible for the continuous preparedness
for defense. In addition precise written orders are to be drawn up for each
position, about which each man must be repeatedly instructed, and which he must
know by heart. These orders must show, among other things:
(a) The position of the enemy, the defense-sector, adjacent units, scout-troops, and the security toward the front;
(b) Observation and scouting patrols by day and night;
(c) Supervision of order and alertness in the position. Fire preparedness weapons and the storage of ammunition;
(d) Action to be taken: under enemy artillery-fire (for instance, the
soldier takes cover, with his machine gun or rifle, in his fox-hole); low-level
air attack (machine guns fire at will); action by enemy assault troops (alertness
for hostile feints); infantry-attack, tank-attack; penetration by adjacent unit;
(e) Significance of pyrotechnical signals, password.