The following are some brief British notes on the tactics employed by the Germans in
counterattacking on the Mareth Front, March 21 to 23, 1943.
* * *
In the attack by the enemy on several of our positions, tanks were not used
in direct cooperation with the infantry. A maximum of 20 tanks was seen at one
time, and after proceeding for a short distance they split into groups of 3 tanks
each. They were always attempting to get to our flank. The tanks operated in
bounds, working from one hull-down position to the next, and stopping at each to
shell and machine-gun our positions.
After detrucking under cover of palm trees, the infantry stealthily worked
its way forward by making clever use of the ground. Snipers were very active,
and covered the advance of the infantry very efficiently. The infantry objective
at all times appeared to be to gain possession of commanding ground from which
our positions could be overlooked and made untenable.
The enemy made great use of mortars as a preparation for his attack. His
fire was extremely accurate and intense and his OP work seemed to be
excellent. The Germans made frequent use of tracer bullets to indicate targets for
their heavier guns farther back.
On one occasion after the capture of an enemy position by our troops, a
success signal (British) was given. The enemy was observed to immediately send
up a white Very light and his artillery opened on the newly captured position.
Reports indicate that the enemy did not use the former French pillbox defenses except
when driven out of open positions. However, there are some indications that the pillboxes
were used for infantry weapons. In the concrete, unroofed
emplacements 20-mm, 25-mm, and 47-mm guns were used.
In a company defense area, each platoon had either a 20-mm or 47-mm antitank
gun and several machine guns. The enemy made full use of the old communication trenches.