TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]



6. Pursuit

U.S. and German tactical doctrines on pursuit are very much alike. Pursuit begins when the enemy is no longer able to maintain his position and abandons the combat area with the bulk of his forces. The object of the pursuit is the complete annihilation of the retreating or routed enemy. Effective pursuit requires great initiative from commanders of all echelons of command, who must not hesitate to start pursuit immediately, even when their troops are exhausted. The enemy must be given no time to pause to reorganize his forces and reconstitute his defense.

The pursuit is conducted on a broad front by means of fire and movement. When making for distant objectives every effort is made to get around the enemy's flanks and effect a surprise attack in his rear. However, care must be taken that enemy attack on one's own flank does not cause deflection from the original direction.

Fast-moving troops are used in the pursuit. These troops often are organized into pursuit or advance sections. The infantry scatters the enemy and by-passes resisting enemy strongpoints, leaving their destruction to units following in the rear. Part of the artillery places concentrations at the avenues of retreat, while the remainder displaces forward in echelon, providing continuous support for the units in front. The Germans emphasize that a pursuit without the necessary artillery support may lead to disaster. Assault guns travel well forward with the rapidly advancing infantry, their comparatively heavy armament enabling them to crush quickly and decisively any enemy forces attempting to make a stand. Combat aviation bombs routes of retreat and strafes the hostile forces in direct support of the ground attack. Combat engineers repair damaged roads, facilitating the continuous flow of supply and troops.

Pursuit, after a successful breakthrough, is regarded by the Germans as an ideal mission for the Panzer division. Panzer Grenadiers in armored half-tracks or in unarmored vehicles and tanks supplement each other in pursuing the enemy. During the advance on roads, the tanks form the point. However, through wooded areas or larger villages the Panzer Grenadiers take over the point. Tanks and Panzer Grenadiers stay close together so that either, according to the situation, can be committed as soon as enemy resistance is encountered. Tanks are normally not used in units of less than company strength.


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