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"German Paratroop Attack" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report on tactics of German paratroopers was originally published 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.]


How the leader of a German paratroop platoon of 40 men would dispose men and weapons in an attack on a defended hill is outlined in the following information which was obtained from reliable sources.

It is assumed that the position to be attacked is defended by one heavy machine gun, several light machine guns, a heavy and a light mortar, plus light infantry weapons.

The German platoon deploys in five lines with the platoon leader 50 or more yards ahead of the first line. From this forward position the platoon leader controls movement and fire.

[German Paratroop Attack]

One report indicates that the five lines are made up as follows (see companying sketch).

First line: 3 machine-gun crews

Second line: Light mortar, 6 men including ammunition bearers and riflemen, squad leader on the right

Third line: Light mortar, 6 men including ammunition bearers and riflemen; squad leader on the right

Fourth line: 5 riflemen, 1 ammunition bearer, squad leader at the left

Fifth line: 3 machine gun crews.

Lines are 50 yards apart. Fire and movement discipline are strict. The men advance 10 yards at a time, taking advantage of all natural cover. Machine-gun crews must always have three men and the squad leader gives the order of replacement if any crew members become casualties. Machine guns No. 4, 5 and 6 (see sketch) cover the advance and the setting up of machine guns No. 1, 2 and 3, then move forward to assist in the final assault.

It is presumed that the formation described herein was used to meet the particular situation prevailing at the time the engagement took place, and is not to be considered as consonant with normal German offensive measures.


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