The following is a translation of a directive for umpires issued by a parachute
MG battalion on 27 June 1943. It illustrates once again the thoroughness
of German training and, in particular, one or two points which the experiences of
the Germans in recent campaigns have shown to be weaknesses. It must be noted
that this directive is addressed particularly to MG and mortar commanders.
* * *
Umpires will be detailed for all company field training; their duty will be
to watch the accuracy of the troops' actions in combat. They will assist
commanders. They will pay attention especially to the following points in training:
Junior leaders' technique in issue of orders
Exploitation of ground in the advance, camouflage
Use of snipers to support MGs and mortars
Choice of position by commanders of MG and mortar detachments
Intercommunication between weapon groups
Expenditure of ammunition, fire-discipline
Decisions taken by junior leaders
When issuing orders to their men, junior leaders must clearly express
their intention or task. Lengthy discussions are to be avoided. The sequence of
orders is as follows:
(1) Enemy -- "Enemy has occupied group of houses forward of us," or "Enemy
suspected at entrance to village."
(2) Intention -- "We will take the group of houses," or "We will find out
whether there is any enemy in the village."
(3) Method -- "X's MG will engage the enemy in group of houses," or "X's MG
will move forward to the ridge and observe the entrance to the village."
(4) Orders to MG detachment -- "X's MG position by the hedgerow," or "X's MG
position on the ridge where it can open fire at once on the entrance to the village."
(5) Communication to flanking units -- "Left of the road a patrol of 2 Company
is moving on the right, in our rear Y's mortar is following," or "X's MG
will cover the advance of A squad and keep contact with B squad. A squad is
now by the ditch, B squad 150 yards to our rear."
(6) Position of Commander -- "I am going forward, detachment will follow
50 yards to the rear" or "X and Y will come with me to the ridge. When we get
there, the rest of the detachment will follow by the same route."
Issue of orders by a MG or mortar detachment commander will always be
to the whole of the detachment. He will make one of the men repeat the order.
NOTE. -- All, including the commander, must be under cover where the
enemy cannot see any movement.
Preparations will always take place in full cover, the advance from cover
making use of covering features and camouflage.
It is wrong for a junior leader, having issued his orders, simply to go dashing
on ahead. He must lead his men and put them in position himself. He can only
do this by exploiting the ground, by clever crawling up near the enemy and by
careful choice of positions. Therefore, the intelligent commander will move forward
somewhat in advance of his men, having them follow from bound to bound.
Every detachment possesses a sniper. It is his task to cover forward
movement; when weapons are in position, he must be sited somewhat to one flank and
will receive special instructions from the commander when he is to open fire and
at what targets. The sniper must cause loss to the enemy for every round, and
demoralize him, without giving away the position of the main weapon too soon.
The junior leader will choose his position according to his task. He will
give his detachment an approximate direction and position and detail the contact
patrol. He is responsible for continuous observation of the battlefield, for keeping
his detail quiet, and for camouflage.
Every weapon commander must immediately make contact with his nearest
neighbor. This is particularly important on boundaries between units.
The junior leader is responsible for directing and controlling his weapon's
fire-fight. His orders will ensure that targets are engaged in the order of their
importance; he will lay down the amount of ammunition to be fired, indication of
targets, and fire-orders. He must be strict in seeing that not a round too many is
fired but also that sufficient ammunition is employed to make an impression on
the target engaged.
Rapid alterations in the battle situation may force the junior leader to
make his own decisions. He must have good reasons for his actions and must
immediately report his decision by runner to his CO. He must also let his neighbors
know about it.
In all actions there must be constant intercommunication between weapon
commanders and with the CO. Any changes will be reported immediately. Runners
must be particularly careful about their behavior; they must not betray by
carelessness in movement the position of the weapons or of the CO. Ground observed
by the enemy will be avoided; areas under fire, or commanded by the enemy's
weapons, avoided or rushed. Every runner must take pride in getting his message
through under all circumstances.