Some interesting observations contained in the following notes indicate
certain preliminary signs of a German attack. Despite the fact that sometimes the
unexpected happens to defeat the supposedly best laid plans, there are often
dependable signs to look for in trying to predict the enemy's intentions. It is through
day-to-day observation and practical testing that tactics become adapted to combat
methods of the enemy.
These notes of a combatant in the presence of a German attack were translated
from a French document.
* * *
a. Preliminary Signs
These are indicated by thorough local aerial reconnaissance; patrolling
and local attacks; deployment of a considerable reserve.
Attention should be directed to the following signs:
(1) Mounted or horse-drawn troops -- almost sure indication of an infantry division.
(2) Mounted group of more than 32 men -- platoon of regimental mounted
orderlies of an infantry regiment.
(3) Motorcyclists in large numbers -- reconnaissance group of an infantry
division. Individual motorcyclists: (a) without sidecars, probably
couriers. (b) with sidecars, perhaps armored units or motorized infantry.
(4) Light armored vehicles indicate either a reconnaissance group of an
infantry division or an armored or motorized division.
(5) Horse-drawn artillery -- infantry division.
(6) Tanks -- armored divisions in general, use sections of five tanks, rapidly
shifted, for their reconnaissance.
(7) The establishment of passages in mine fields, the presence of engineers
in armored vehicles, night patrols, the arrival of dive-bombers, likewise indicate
b. Enemy Attack - Things to Watch
(1) Three men crouched side by side indicate a machine gun or a light
mortar. The mortar produces a small cloud of rosy-colored smoke. Mortars
and machine guns are vulnerable to destruction by a grenade or by rifles, employed
by two men who are mutually supporting. Infantry cannons are indicated by a loud
detonation and a brilliant light. They are frequently pushed ahead very much in the
(2) German smoke signals -- a white smoke probably signifies: "We are
here". A colored light or smoke means: "Call for support fire"
(3) Mortar fire ordinarily calls for three trial shots, followed by a group
of ten shots, which one expects to see full in the center of the spots where first
three shots struck. German 81-mm mortars generally operate in pairs; those
of 50-mm by groups of three.
(4) Antitank rifles are habitually in groups of three; antitank cannon
by two's or by three's.
There is nothing new about the preceding statements. Nevertheless it is
necessary to remember that the Germans have not lost sight of two essential
principles, which they apply in practice, both in strategy and in tactics:
(1) The principle of the economy of forces, which calls for the accumulation
of almost all the disposable armament on a narrow front, even to the detriment of
(2) The principle of enemy destruction. The latter should be preferred to
gains in terrain and is obtained by flank actions, after a fixation of the enemy's