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"German Infantry Minor Tactics" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following translation of a German document for military training umpires issued by a parachute battalion was published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 45, April 1, 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 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.

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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
Reporting back.

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.


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