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"Warning Markers for Contaminated Areas" from Intelligence Bulletin

[Intelligence Bulletin Cover]   A report on Wehrmacht warning markers for contaminated areas in WWII, from the Intelligence Bulletin, July 1944.

[Editor's Note: The following article is wartime information on enemy tactics and equipment published for Allied soldiers. In most cases, more accurate data is available in postwar publications.]



The Germans are equipped with sets of warning markers for use in any area which may be contaminated by gas. Each set consists of 20 marking flags with rods, a roll of marking tape, and a carrying case. The total weight is approximately 3.3 pounds.

The carrying case is shaped like a long pistol holster, and is about 23 inches long. A side pocket is stitched on for holding the marking tape. The case is provided with an adjustable carrying strap. The marking tape is reported to be about 3/4 inch wide, and to be dyed with a coloring matter which is resistant to light and water. Two bands of the tape, each about 27 yards long, are wound on a cardboard spool.

The steel rods for the marking flags are about 20 inches high, and are painted red. The lower tip is pointed, while the upper part is bent at a right angle. The horizontal portion of the rod is 4 inches long; attached to it is a triangular piece of yellow fabric printed with black skull and bones. A lengthening device, consisting of two metal clips attached one above another to the vertical part of the rod, permits one rod to be mounted on top of another.

According to the German Army document, "Gas Protection—All Arms," these warning markers for contaminated areas are used in the following manner:

When a gas scout (Gasspürer) discovers that terrain is contaminated, he goes back approximately 15 feet and sets a marking flag in the uncontaminated ground in such a manner that the warning signal points to the area of contamination. Gas scouts then reconnoiter further, as directed. If the farthest edge of the contaminated area can be reached, it is marked with contamination flags and marking tape. The distance between flags varies according to local visibility conditions. As a rule, it will be between 60 and 150 feet. The position of the flags must always give the approaching troops clear information as to the limits of the contaminated area. In terrain covered with tall vegetation (such as underbrush, crops, or tall grass) the lengthening device must be used.

When the foremost boundaries of contamination have been determined and have been marked with flags, the dangerous area can be indicated more clearly if marking tape is spread out and held in place by stones or fastened to trees or bushes. This is especially necessary in terrain where, because of brushwood and so forth, the flags may be overlooked.

The German contamination markers are light, compact, and simple. It is believed that they are satisfactory for use in the field, in spite of the fact that the smallness of the flags limits the range at which they are visible.

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