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"German Camouflage Methods in Sicily" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on German camouflage methods in Sicily during WWII was printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 38, November 18, 1943.

[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.]


Study of enemy camouflage in the Sicilian campaign tends to confirm the impression gained in the closing stage of the North African campaign that enemy methods in this direction have improved.

The Germans, generally, have made good use of available cover and terrain, while the Italians, no doubt prompted by their former ally, seemed to have taken a serious interest in camouflage, with mixed success. The fieldcraft and camouflage behavior of individuals, particularly Germans, was very good and full use was made of the many opportunities offered by the type of country concerned.

a. Dummy Aircraft

These aircraft were of good quality, and from makers' marks it is obvious that they were mass-produced in Germany.

b. Pillboxes

The camouflaging of pillboxes sited to deal with landing forces has, not surprisingly, been the object of a great deal of effort on the part of the enemy.

Great care was taken to blend these pillboxes--mainly made of concrete--into the general ground pattern. The profusion in the island of walls, small houses, and huts, has helped this form of camouflage.

In one section (the Pachino area) several pillboxes were covered with complete huts made of straw. One pillbox overlooking a road junction was an actual small House, reinforced with concrete and having a weapon slit just above ground level.

Examples seen in another area were straw-roofed and sited on slopes in the vicinity of limestone ledges, which made recognition difficult. They had straw "blinds" to cover the weapon loopholes. One pillbox noted and photographed was sited against a wall, and an attempt had been made with paint to simulate the pattern of the stone wall.

Many of these pillboxes were revealed by the poor siting of their defensive wiring. Instead of being sited to blend with the ground pattern, wire was taken haphazardly across fields. Many of the pillboxes were never used.

c. Gun Positions

Of the gun positions studied, half had been camouflaged overhead by grass-covered nets. Although the remainder had no overhead concealment, the guns themselves were garnished with brushwood or similar, natural material. Many gun positions were indicated by tracks, etc., and poor camouflage. Here and there, however, a good site was found; for example a single gun position, where the pit was dug out of an embankment at the side of the road. This position had a low overhead canopy of grass-covered nets, branches and the like.

One antitank gun position is worthy of comment. The gun was sited in a recently cut cornfield on a forward slope. There were several stacks of straw in the field, and a further stack had been constructed around the gunshield. This simple treatment was, from all appearances, successful.

d. Weapon Pits

Some examples of covers for weapon pits have been encountered. In each case the camouflage consisted of straw matting raised on poles about a foot above the pits.

e. Sniper Equipment

Snipers' clothing comprised two jackets, one having a helmet cover to match. They were of good cloth, printed with disruptive patterning of various colors. The jacket that had the matching helmet cover was made up of a close-weave cloth with an elastic inset at the waist. It can be used either the normal way or inside out. The outside pattern has a background of green, the inside of brown. The helmet cover is carefully made, also reversible, with elastic insets and holding hooks. The second jacket is of twill, tailored on the usual lines, and of a general green color disrupted with brown. Both jackets blend well with the natural environment, but they both have the weakness of still revealing characteristic outlines, because they both fit closely to the body.


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