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"German Instructions -- Motorized Infantry" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on tactics of the German motorized infantry was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 46, May 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.]


Here are some worth-while hints in simple language about the command of an infantry company carried in armored vehicles, which appears below as a translation from the French version of the original German. The document was entitled "The Thirty Commandments for the Command of an Infantry Company Carried on Armored Vehicles".

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1. Before a march, give the itinerary of the company in writing to each chief of section and to each march unit commander. Unnecessary mistakes occur in Russia because place names have been misunderstood.

2. Maintain liaison between front and rear. A company that arrives a little late, but compactly, has more value than a company commander arriving by himself.

3. The slowest vehicle, if it is absolutely indispensable for combat, determines the speed of your company. Place it behind your own vehicle.

4. Unit commanders, even in bad weather or at night, make observations standing. Otherwise, experience has shown that a commander who is seated makes poor observations.

5. To negotiate narrow or difficult places, unit commanders should alight and guide their vehicles.

6. When field or combat trains are with the company, as a rule place the armored vehicles in the rear. In this way, they can get stalled cars started, pick up the baggage of these cars and assure security to the rear.

7. When the roads are in bad condition, place each vehicle of your train as well as each motor sidecar between armored vehicles and see that their towing cable is ready (on trucks place the cable on the front axle and on the strut of the side-cars motor). Load the motorcycles on the vehicles.

8. Assign the most capable officer to ride at the rear of the company. He prevents the other vehicles from going two abreast without authorization. A motorcycle follows behind, which from time to time goes ahead and gives the officer information about distances and difficulties on the march. When a great distance lies between you and the preceding unit, have a second motorcycle ride behind it. This establishes liaison with your vehicle ahead, and indicates the route to take at crossroads.

9. No permission should be given to stray vehicles that wish to get into your column; they should follow in the rear; if not, they may leave the road at some point and carry with them all the rest of the column.

10. Fight the tendency of vehicles to advance several meters when there are interruptions during the march. This causes gasoline wastage and wear on motors. Allow the unit ahead to proceed to the distance of visibility and do not yourself leave until that moment arrives. Do not forget that you are responsible to your battalion commander for the maintenance of liaison. Motor couriers should be used for this purpose.

11. When there are interruptions, each unit commander should go ahead to determine the cause. Most frequently it is a driver who has fallen asleep.

12. In the course of night marches, interrupted by numerous halts, form a motorcycle awakening detachment. Each time the column starts they will awaken the drivers. In this way your column remains compact. Likewise, notify the column in your rear when the march is resumed.

13. The tactical chiefs have nothing to do with driving the vehicles.

14. When the company passes through defiles or gullies, send some vehicles to the flanks to observe on the other side of the screening terrain. Make liaison by radio-telephone.

15. When you place your company under cover in a wooded area, place it rather 50 meters too far towards the interior than a centimeter too close to the outside.

16. You will not again see vehicles sent singly on patrol, except under favorable conditions. A swamp or carburetor trouble, may be the occasion of their loss; moreover, always send two or more of them on patrol.

17. Never engage your company in action without previous reconnaissance of the terrain.

18. Utilize your speed and the power of your heavy weapons to advance and avoid losses.

19. When your company attacks behind the tanks, keep it at a distance from them in crossing the zone of barrage fire, to avoid artillery fire concentration.

20. Support the tanks as closely as possible with all weapons, in combat inside the enemy's defensive zone. Do not forget to provide protection to your rear.

21. The submachine gun of the driver should not remain on its support. It is a valuable weapon for close combat against vehicles.

22. The fire of rear vehicles ought not to be dangerous for the crews of forward vehicles that fight on foot.

23. When there is danger from mines, follow the tracks of vehicles that have just passed.

24. Every enemy antitank weapon has superiority over you because it is always ready to fire. Compensate for this superiority by rapid travel, by utilizing the terrain, making short stops to fire, and by actively concentrating your shots. When you have located an antitank gun close to you, charge it while firing and destroy it.

25. Do not give the order to alight from the vehicles until the fire from enemy antitank guns, or the terrain make it necessary, and at a time when you cannot be outflanked. Always utilize the protection afforded by your armor.

26. If you establish yourself with vehicles at a strong-point for defense protect yourself during the night by sending out advance patrols. From time to time run the motors for a quarter of an hour so as to be ready to fight from the vehicles. If the enemy attacks, remove the field of fire from the vicinity of friendly troops and utilize your mobility.

27. Do not permit reserve gasoline containers to be carried on the outside of the vehicles. One tracer bullet is enough to set them on fire.

28. On the defensive keep your vehicles under cover and group them at a minimum by sections, in order to permit them, with the driver and gunner in the vehicle, to move quickly to the attack.

29. Use your radio-telephone sparingly. When the motor is stopped, it discharges the battery in five hours. However, if you must use the radio-telephone, turn the motor over for a quarter of an hour every hour.

30. Your radio-telephone is of no service to you unless the unit commanders have the receiver and speaker in position; otherwise the alarm, when enemy cars are approaching, arrives too late.


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