German defensive positions in the Italian mountains are characterized by
numerous above-ground but cleverly concealed stone bunker emplacements.
Usually these stone bunkers have been found in areas containing underlying strata
and out-croppings of rock which prevented adequate digging-in of positions without
the use of demolitions. Frequently it has been found that stone walls criss-cross
the terrain in such areas and in most cases the bunkers are sited to blend into the
general pattern of the walls and rocky slopes, making the bunkers almost
indistinguishable until closely approached.
The bunkers generally consist of shallow, scooped-out emplacements, surrounded
by strong stone and earth walls, covered with packed and earth-revetted
stone to a height of three or four feet. The overhead cover is generally reinforced
by heavy timbers or logs. Narrow firing slits are left in the face of the bunkers
close to the ground level. Exits are provided in the rear.
Mortar emplacements and shelters for riflemen are usually located behind
stone walls while forward machine gun bunkers, although primarily sited for fields
of fire, nevertheless are ordinarily so placed as to blend with the appearance of
the surrounding terrain.
German bunker positions seldom have many riflemen in the front line. Even
at night the majority of riflemen are held back and only a few are used in forward
listening posts. As a rule, the forward element of the defense has consisted almost
entirely of machine guns. These, together with mortars and artillery, are depended
upon by the Germans to stop an attack or to inflict such heavy losses that a swift
counterattack by the riflemen will be successful.