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"Field Order for the Construction of Position" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following translated German order was printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 42, January 13, 1944.

[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 translation of an order in which a German officer criticizes officers and men of his battalion for negligence in the construction of positions.

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1/129 PGR -- Bn HQ 18 Oct 43.


Subject: Construction of Positions

(1) In spite of my repeated instructions about the building of MG positions, I found again today in the Bn sector positions which are testimony to the laziness and lack of interest of those responsible. It is evident that the great value of a well-built position is not yet appreciated. Some of the positions looked like children's playgrounds rather than the work of responsible soldiers. At 1000 hrs I asked a section leader with a particularly badly-built position what he had already done that day with his men (who were comfortably squatting under a tree). He replied "Nothing!"

In another case I found a heavy machine gun with folder tripod left on the ground without any sort of cover. The sentry told me in all seriousness that this was the proper MG position. I am now no longer puzzled why some sections of the line are unable to hold out; with positions so miserably constructed no sort of attack can be repulsed.

Henceforth I order:

(a) Every weapon is to be dug in so that only the muzzle is showing;

(b) For every weapon an alternative position will be prepared behind or to the side of the original position. It must be able to be approached under cover;

(c) Every weapon must be so covered in front that it fires through a loophole, and so that the crew is protected from shell-splinters and enfilade fire;

(d) For every man, even during battle, there will be a position which he can occupy;

(e) In every position hand grenades will be kept; the caps will be unscrewed during a battle and at night;

(f) Every sentry shall be able to make his report without taking his eyes off the enemy;

If in future I find out that this order is not being carried out to the minutest detail, I shall punish on the spot the responsible section and platoon leaders.

(2) All other offences, such as abandonment of weapons, or evacuation of a position before the order is given, I shall punish in the severest manner. Once again I solemnly caution all soldiers against withdrawing from a position before ordered to do so, or abandoning weapons or equipment when not absolutely compelled to do so. In the future I shall demote offenders without regard to their rank or position.

Sgt Matzken with his section abandoned a position without sufficient reason, and failed to prevent the section from running away. Steps have been taken to deprive him of his rank.

Every soldier must realize that we must perform our present duty with the slenderest forces; on this, much of the future conduct of the war depends. The German army is up against unimaginably numerous and powerful enemy forces. These forces are about to be thrown against us. Our job is to hold out and go on holding out.

This order is to be read out to ALL soldiers.



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