The Germans recognize that operations in wooded and broken terrain require special
combat methods both in the attack and in the defense. In such terrain the Germans try
to control all roads and trails, so as to ensure the movement of support weapons and
supplies. The heaviest fighting therefore generally takes place in the vicinity
of these roads and trails.
In the attack the Germans maintain careful protective fire as they advance along the roads
and trails; when they are obliged to move across open stretches, this protective fire
becomes continuous. Roads are opened up as rapidly as possible, and are covered with
antitank guns. Special attention is paid to the formations adopted during movement and
in battle, to correct employment of fire power, to appropriate communication methods, to
the problem of maintaining direction, and to supplying forward elements with an adequate
amount of ammunition.
In the defense it is considered essential to block roads and trails. Snipers are posted in
trees. Centers of resistance are established at curves, bends, and defiles, and
whenever a road climbs to higher ground. Firing positions are prepared just off
roads and trails, to command open fields of fire.
METHOD OF ADVANCE
In the approach march, squads and platoons advance on a narrow front, deployed
in depth along roadside hedges and scrub growth, and in hollows running in the
desired direction. The leading squads, on contact, serve as scouts and patrols. They
advance in extended order, with a light machine gun leading. While the squads
immediately behind the forward squads deploy less deeply at intervals of 30
to 40 paces, the subsequent squads follow in squad columns so as to have
all-around observation and protection. Special observers are detailed to watch
out for tree snipers.
|"In the approach march, squads and platoons advance
on a narrow front, deployed in depth along roadside hedges and
The Germans believe that when battle is joined, the same formations employed during
the approach march should be maintained as far as possible. Fire cover is provided
by the support weapons, especially the mortars, which advance with the forward
troops. However, the Germans recognize that further deployment of squads and platoons
may be necessary. It is a German principle that after resistance has been crushed and
hostile strong points eliminated, the original formations should be resumed immediately.
The reserve platoon advances, employing the same close formation, in the rear of
the platoon which gains the most ground. The commander of the reserve platoon
arranges for all-around protection, particularly to repel surprise attacks which
may be made by hostile forces from centers of resistance not yet engaged. These
protective measures also include protection of the rear.
USE OF FIRE POWER
To eliminate centers of resistance, the Germans employ all available light and heavy
weapons, especially mortars.
Since observation in close country is difficult, the Germans not only keep their
support weapons well forward, but often use their heavy machine guns as light
Terrain conditions are likely to have a definite effect on German employment of
mortars. Sometimes observers can work only from treetops. Every effort is made
to place observers close to the mortar positions so that corrections can be
passed accurately and rapidly to the mortar detachment. The employment of
message runners is not considered practicable in the heat of battle; instead, disk
signaling is preferred. The Germans try not to site their mortars too close to
the roadside scrub growth.
|"Sometimes observers can work only from treetops."
||"In the heat of battle, disk signaling is preferred."|
The commanders of the support weapons are required to report their
availability to the leading rifle company commander and his platoon
commanders, and to remain in their vicinity.
The antitank guns follow without orders in the rear of the infantry, as soon as
the roads have been cleared. Their principal mission is to take over the job of
preventing hostile tanks from using the roads. In addition, so far as their
principal mission permits, the antitank guns take part in attacks on Allied
centers of resistance, using antitank high-explosive shells.
|"The antitank guns take over the job of preventing hostile tanks from using the roads."|
Protected by the fire of the support weapons, the infantry works its way forward
as close as possible to the Allied centers of resistance. As soon as the support
weapons cease firing, the infantry breaks through, hurling hand grenades. The
Germans are scrupulously careful in regulating the time when the support weapons
are to cease firing—first the medium mortars and then the heavy machine
guns—and the time when the breakthrough is to be attempted. The points
at which the breakthrough is to be made are sealed off on the flanks by squads
especially detailed for this job. Hostile positions along hedges or other
roadside growth are mopped-up after the breakthrough.
Platoons and squads detail men for the express purpose of maintaining contact
with neighboring units. These men indicate the headquarters of their own units
by means of pennants and by signaling with lamps to flanking squads and
platoons. It is a rule that pennants marked "Front Line" always be put up. Identification
panels are laid out, when necessary, to indicate the advance of the front line.
Because the opportunities for unobserved movement are very good in terrain of this
type, the Germans make considerable use of runners. Radio-telegraphy and smoke
cartridges also are used, in addition to the light signals.
Higher headquarters are continually kept informed about the situation, to permit
smooth coordination of the attack.
Since the problem of maintaining direction is difficult in closely wooded and
unevenly wooded terrain, squad leaders are given specific rendezvous on roads
and paths. Compass directions are issued before the departure.
|"Compass directions are issued before the departure."|
Because of terrain difficulties, the Germans find it useful to equip squads with
ladders, axes, good knives, and sharp spades. Since ammunition supply is likely
to be slow and cannot be relied upon, a generous quantity of ammunition, including
hand grenades, is issued to the men before the departure.
|"Because of terrain difficulties, the Germans find it useful to equip squads with ladders, axes, good knives, and sharp spades."|