[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.]
CHAPTER IV. TACTICS
Section VIII. SPECIAL OPERATIONS
1. Town and Street Fighting
In attacking a town or village, the Germans employ flanking and encircling tactics. They attempt to cut off water, electricity, gas, and other utilities. While carrying out the flanking maneuver, they pin down the defenders with heavy artillery fire and aerial bombardment. When it is necessary to make a direct assault, the Germans concentrate all available heavy weapons, including artillery and air units, on one target. They favor as targets for their massed fire the forward edges of the community, especially detached groups of buildings and isolated houses. During the fire concentration the infantry assembles and attacks the objective immediately upon termination of artillery fire. Tanks and assault guns accompany the infantry, and with their fire immobilize any new enemy forces which may appear. They also support the infantry in sweeping away barricades, blasting passages through walls, and crushing wire obstacles. Guns and mortars are used against concealed positions, and antitank guns cover side streets against possible flanking operations. Machine guns engage snipers on roofs.
The immediate objective of the Germans is to divide the area occupied by the enemy. These areas then are isolated into as many smaller areas as possible, in order to deny the enemy freedom of movement.
Another form of attack employed by the Germans is to drive through a community and establish good positions beyond the town to block the retreat of the defender. Then they try to annihilate the enemy within the community.
The assaulting troops are divided into a number of columns and make a series
of coordinated parallel attacks. Attacks from opposite directions and
conflicting angles are avoided, since they lead to confusion and to firing
on friendly troops. The columns are sub-divided into assault and
When compelled to advance through streets, the Germans move in two files, one on each side of the thoroughfare. The left side is preferred as it is more advantageous for firing right-handed from doorways. Consideration is given to the problem of fighting against defenders organized not only in depth but in height. Consequently the men receive specific assignments to watch the rooms, the various floors of buildings, and cellar windows. Side streets are immediately blocked, and at night searchlights are kept ready to illuminate roofs.
As soon as a building is occupied, the Germans organize it into a strongpoint. Windows and other openings are converted into loopholes and embrasures. Cellars and attics are occupied first in organizing for defense.
Even buildings which have been completely destroyed are kept under constant observation to prevent their reoccupation by the enemy. From occupied buildings the Germans deliver continuous machine-gun and rifle fire with the object of denying the enemy the opportunity to occupy alternate positions.
Underground corridors and sewers, which provide excellent cover for defenders, are attacked with determination. When immediate clearance or smoking-out is not possible, the entrances are barricaded, blasted, or guarded.
Aware that their tanks and assault guns are vulnerable to attacks by tank-hunting units, the Germans assign infantry to protect them. Barricades and obstacles are cleared by infantry and engineers. All able-bodied civilians, regardless of danger, are summoned to clear the streets of debris.
When a section of a town is occupied, the Germans close up all side streets leading from the occupied area, block all exits of houses, and then begin a house-to-house search with details assigned to special tasks, such as mopping up roofs, attics, basements, courtyards, and staircases.
2. Attack on Fortified Positions
The Germans realize the difficulty of attacking a strongly fortified enemy position and prepare such an attack well in advance of the actual operation. Before attacking a large and intricately fortified position covering a large area—a classical example was the assault on the Belgian Fortress Eben Emael—the Germans attempt to secure, in addition to information obtained through normal reconnaissance, its exact plan by the employment of agents and fifth columnists. When time permits, they construct a duplicate of the fortification on similar terrain well in the interior of Germany, as they did with Eben Emael. In building such installations for intensive rehearsal training of specially-organized combat teams, the Germans spare neither labor nor expense. These special combat teams usually consist of combat engineers, reinforced by infantry, antitank, and chemical warfare units.
The attack on the fortress usually is preceded by an intensive dive-bomber bombardment and long-range heavy-artillery fire. The purpose of these bombardments is to destroy obstacles and minefields, and to create bomb craters which not only provide cover for assaulting troops but also may be converted into firing positions. Often paratroopers land in close proximity to the fortification just prior to the assault, immediately establishing radio communication with the combat-team headquarters.
The climactic phase of the operation is the assault. Its primary objective is to get the engineers forward to certain selected works. During the approach, and until the engineers reach the fortifications, the artillery delivers fire of maximum intensity. Antitank guns lay direct fire against the embrasures, and chemical-warfare units employ smoke to blind forts and adjacent supporting works. The infantry covers the embrasures with rifle and machine-gun fire and remains in readiness to move forward and consolidate any success the engineers may gain. Engineers crawl forward, utilizing shell holes for cover. They are equipped with hand grenades, blocks of TNT, and submachine guns. Some groups use bangalore torpedoes, some pole-charges, while still others are armed with heavy flame throwers. With TNT and pole charges, they attempt to demolish systematically the weaker works, such as embrasures, ports, turrets, joints, and doors.
3. Combat in Woods
When attacking in woods, the Germans usually divide the area into company sectors. The Germans stress constant reconnaissance to discover the most weakly manned enemy position. This reconnaissance is carried out, even though company strength becomes temporarily reduced. Reconnaissance patrols usually move clockwise from their original position. The company commander reviews the reconnaissance reports in detail with his platoon and section leaders.
The company usually deploys in wedge formation when advancing. In order to achieve surprise, the Germans often leave the roads and advance cross-country.
As soon as the point of the wedge of the company is in sight of the enemy, the Germans creep forward to close-combat range, always keeping contact with adjacent and supporting units. The company then storms the enemy's position, using the greatest possible number of hand grenades, pole charges, and close-combat weapons. The advance elements attempt to break into the hostile position as deeply as possible, the body of the wedge widening the peneration on both sides. The company commander then decides whether to roll up the enemy position on the more important flank or to hold the ground until reinforcements arrive before continuing the attack.
Each platoon details at least one observer, armed with an automatic weapon, to neutralize enemy treetop snipers. The Germans believe that bursts of fire, rather than single shots, are necessary to deal effectively with such snipers.
The Germans consider fighting in wooded areas as the primary task of riflemen and machine gunners, since the employment of heavy-support weapons often is impossible. The Germans occasionally dismount heavy machine guns and use them as light machine guns. Antitank guns of small caliber and light infantry howitzers sometimes are brought forward manually, and when indirect fire is not possible they engage targets directly. Light mortars are employed individually. From Finnish troops, the Germans learned a successful method of using mortars in woods. The mortar observers, accompanied by a telephone operator, move with the advanced element. The line back to the mortar crew is exactly 200 yards long. One man is detailed to see that the line does not get hung on the way and as far as possible runs in a straight line. When the advanced element contacts the enemy, the observer judges the distance from himself to the target and adds the 200 yards to the mortar range. Bracketing of fire for adjustment is considered too dangerous because of the close proximity of friend and foe.
When the Germans leave a woods or have to cross a large clearing within the wooded area, the troops work themselves close to the edge of the woods. Then all the men leave the woods simultaneously, rushing at least 100 yards before seeking cover.
4. Combat in Mountains
a. GENERAL. The German principles of combat in mountain areas correspond in general to those employed on level terrain. The peculiarities of mountain terrain, such as limited routes, extreme weather conditions, and difficult communications, necessitate additional considerations in the tactics employed. The greatest differences occur in the higher mountains, where the Germans utilize specially trained mountain troops, which include the renowned Tyrolean and Bavarian mountaineers.
The Germans emphasize that all operations will be of longer duration in mountainous country than in lowlands, and therefore make proper allowance for the factors of time and space. For every 330 yards ascent or 550 yards descent they add 1 hour to the time estimate for covering a given distance on the map. Movements, command, and supply in mountain areas represent sources of difficulty, according to the Germans.
b. TACTICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF MOUNTAIN WARFARE. The Germans divide their units into numerous marching groups, which normally consist of a reinforced infantry company, an artillery battery, and an engineer platoon. In this manner the Germans counteract the danger of ambush, since each group is able to fight independently. The Germans locate their engineer units well forward with the advance guard so that they may assist in road repairs. The Germans realize that small enemy forces can retard the advance of a whole column and therefore they have single guns sited well forward. They also organize stationary and mobile patrols for flank protection.
The skill and leadership of junior commanders are severely tested in mountain warfare, as forces generally are split into small groups, the efficient command of which requires a high standard of training and discipline. Columns often are separated by large areas and impassable country, and since lateral communication is often very difficult, command of deployed units becomes much more complicated than over level terrain.
Normally supplies are organized in two echelons, the mountain and valley echelon.
The Germans make extensive use of high-trajectory weapons in mountain fighting, although antitank guns and heavy machine guns are used for covering road blocks. The effectiveness of the mountain artillery depends on carefully selected observation posts which are in communication with the single gun positions.
Radio is the primary means of communication, since the laying of telephone wire is not considered feasible.
c. MOUNTAIN TACTICS. Attacks across mountains are made to protect the flanks of the main attack, to work around the enemy rear, or to provide flanking tire for the main attack. The Germans attempt to seize commanding heights and mountain passes.
The Germans select their assembly areas as close to the enemy as possible to make possible a short assault. Supporting weapons are attached to companies, and where feasible, to platoons.
In defense, the Germans organize their advance positions on the forward slope, while the main battle position with heavy-support weapons is located on the reverse slope. The greater part of a unit often is held in reserve. This necessitates the organization of relatively narrow sectors, which, however, results in an organization of ground favorable for counterattacks.
5. Winter Warfare
Many of the techniques of German winter warfare were developed from those of the mountain troops, which were adapted easily to conditions of extreme cold.
Ski patrols are the chief means of reconnaissance in snow-covered terrain. As a rule, the strength of the patrol is a squad, reinforced by infantry soldiers trained as engineers, artillery observers, and a communication detachment. In addition to normal reconnaissance missions, patrols obtain information as to the depth of the snow, load capacity of ice surfaces, and danger of avalanches. These ski patrols normally blaze trails by marking trees or rocks and by erecting poles or flags. Stakes are used to indicate the extremities of roads.
Under winter conditions, German units keep support weapons and artillery well forward while on the march. Their antitank weapons are distributed throughout the entire column. Ski troops are organized to guard the flanks. Sleighs are added for the transport of weapons and supplies.
The Germans assign to trail units the task of cutting tracks for the formations that follow. The strength of the trail unit of a company is one or two squads; that of a battalion up to two platoons. In difficult terrain their strength may be doubled. Trail units are divided into a number of trail detachments consisting of six to ten men, echeloned behind the first of the trail units. The march formation of ski troops is generally single file; usually parallel trails are used to reduce the length of the column.
In winter warfare, attacks with limited objectives are the rule. The Germans attempt wherever possible to combine frontal and flank attacks under conditions of extreme cold and snow. They employ support weapons as far forward as practicable. Attacks often are made by ski troops; because of the difficulty of transporting artillery, ski troops frequently have to dispense with artillery support. For this reason the Germans consider it all the more necessary to concentrate heavy and light infantry weapons at points of main effort and to coordinate high and flat trajectory weapons. When pack howitzers are available, they can be dismantled and brought forward on sledges. Assault guns can effectively support ski troops in snow under 16 inches deep. They either accompany the attack as far as road conditions allow or move into positions at effective range, not exceeding 3,500 yards, on specially cleared paths away from roads. They occupy their positions just before the attack. As a rule attached assault guns are employed in platoon and company strength; single commitment is avoided. Tank units are attached only in exceptional circumstances.
Organization of a defensive position in deep snow or on frozen ground takes considerable time, for it is necessary to move weapons into position, lay out foot paths and roads, and build strong outposts and strongpoints with all-around defense. Camouflage is particularly stressed under such conditions. Since normal units used as reserves in deep snow have only limited mobility, the Germans employ ski troops for reserves wherever possible. These ski units are used for immediate counterattacks which are directed, where possible, against the flank of the attacking enemy. The Germans also use the ski troops as raiding parties to harass the enemy's front and rear.
6. Partisan Warfare
a. GENERAL. In order to understand German anti-partisan measures, it is necessary to discuss briefly the characteristics of Allied partisan organizations and their fighting techniques. The following discussion is based entirely on official German sources. The principles involved may be accepted by the Germans and find their way into actual practice in the near future.
b. TASKS OF PARTISAN WARFARE. The Germans consider that the strategic mission of the Allied partisans was to inflict maximum injury on the German Armies of Occupation. Means employed to accomplish this task were as follows:
Raids on individual drivers, resting places, troop and supply trains, headquarters, airfields, and ammunition and supply dumps.
Demolition of bridges, roads, and railway tracks.
Destruction of wire communications and railway systems.
Destruction of industrial installations and crops.
Terrorization of collaborators.
Undermining the morale of locally recruited auxiliary troops.
c. ORGANIZATION OF PARTISANS. (1) General. Allied partisan forces were organized partly prior to German occupation and partly during the occupation when dispersed army personnel and civilians rallied around a common leader. The Germans list the following elements as sources for the recruitment of Allied partisan units:
Remnants of Allied units which escaped destruction during military operations.
Smaller units or individual members of Allied forces who infiltrated through the German lines.
Escaped prisoners of war.
Deserters from locally recruited auxiliary services.
Women, who may be employed either as combatants or auxiliaries in the supply, medical, or signal services.
(2) Russian partisan units. The Germans outline the composition of Russian partisan units as follows:
Diversion groups of three to ten men.
Combat units of 75 to 100 men, divided into two or three companies, each of two or three platoons.
Regiments, consisting of several battalions.
Brigades of several hundred men.
Units of several thousand men, of varying composition and fighting value.
Divisional headquarters in command of operational groups.
Corps headquarters controlling a certain number of brigades or regiments.
Scouting and reconnaissance detachments.
Higher intelligence headquarters.
In addition the Russians had signal organizations and special formations for demolition works and bridging, mounted detachments, and in some cases even artillery and antitank guns. A special ground organization was set up to serve the air forces which supplied the partisans.
(3) French partisan units. The composition of the French partisan forces, according to the Germans, is:
The squad consisted of four or five men.
The platoon consisted of approximately 30 men.
The company had approximately 100 men.
A battalion consisted of three or four companies.
(4) Weapons. The weapons of the partisans included rifles, light machine guns, light mortars, pistols, machine pistols, hand grenades, explosives and incendiary material. Battle units also had heavy machine guns, heavy mortars, and guns.
(5) Uniforms. Partisans had no standard uniform. They wore civilian dress and the most diverse uniforms of their own and enemy forces. Stocks of uniforms were maintained by raiding German supply depots.
(6) Camps. The partisans located their camping areas in inaccessible terrain such as dense forests, marshes, wooded mountains, and caves. The camps usually were fortified with field works, dugouts, tree platforms, and minefields. Normally a number of camps were set up in adjacent areas with alternate camp sites prepared. The camps were complete with dumps, slaughtering facilities, bakeries, dressing stations, and weapon repair shops. These camps were well guarded, the personnel of the guard being composed of partisans or of volunteers from nearby communities.
d. PARTISAN TACTICS. (1) General. Higher headquarters would issue directives of a general nature, and the leader of the smaller detachments would determine the method of execution. In accordance with their strategic function, partisans almost always avoided pitched battles. If trapped and forced to fight, they would follow different courses according to their strength. Large bands would fight it out, whereas smaller units endeavored to disperse by small groups, infiltrating through the lines of the attackers or disguising themselves as harmless and peaceful civilians. Defensively, partisans fought with determination, even ferocity, from behind well fortified and camouflaged positions, allowing the attackers to approach to close range, and then delivering concentrated surprise fire. In Warsaw, Polish partisans fought in building areas for weeks with much skill, inflicting considerable losses on the Germans.
(2) Fighting methods. The partisans carried out guerrilla operations by conducting surprise raids against headquarters, camps, and weapon depots of the occupation army or by ambushing military transportation facilities, columns, or convoys.
When raiding columns, the partisans constructed obstacles along the route and then destroyed the first and last vehicle of the column. Railway trains were destroyed by exploding the roadbed or removing trackage. Troops trying to escape from trucks or trains were taken under fire. Before an attack partisans usually destroyed all telephone communications.
Partisan bands often changed their field of operations in order to carry out a given task, to secure supplies, or to evade discovery and prevent encirclement. Strict discipline on the march was maintained. Marches were generally at night, by routes known only to the local population. Partisan bands have marched 40 to 45 miles daily.
A common ruse was to give the appearance of greater strength by disseminating false information concerning partisan strength and armament. Partisans frequently used military uniforms of the occupation army for purposes of reconnaissance and requisitioning.
For successful operation the partisans needed secret agents who could be found in almost every village. The intelligence service of the partisans, of necessity, employed large numbers of women and children. In addition to collecting information, they were used as messengers between various partisan groups. (Local civilian populations usually were summoned to give assistance to the partisans.)
e. GERMAN ANTI-PARTISAN MEASURES. (1) General. The Germans divide the measures to be adopted against partisans into offensive action and passive defense measures. Both constitute specialized types of activity, brought about by the particular methods employed by the opponent. Since the partisans are inferior in armament, regular troops are inclined to underrate them and to act without due care and precaution. According to German doctrine, dealing with partisans demands increased vigilance, boldness, and aggressiveness in order to meet their extraordinary cunning and cruelty. In addition, the Germans considered that special training was necessary for their own troops in order to overcome difficult types of terrain such as woods, marshes, mountains, and built-up areas as well as for fighting at night or under winter conditions. Experience taught the Germans that the success of their anti-partisan measures depended on proper coordination between the German Armed Forces, SS, police, and the civil administration, ignoring, when necessary, territorial boundaries.
(2) Offensive action. The Germans centralized the command and control of
their anti-partisan measures and made arrangements in regard to the fields
of responsibility between the supreme command of the armed
forces, the SS Reichsführer and the Chief of Police. While
Subordinate to the SS Reichsführer were the Chief in Command of Anti-partisan Formations (Chef der Bandenkämpfverbande) and the senior SS and police commanders, under whose command Army and Air Force units occasionally are attached.
All German troops and, in emergency, civilian establishments were prepared to engage partisans. The Germans employed the following army units in combat against partisans: divisions, independent task forces, cavalry units, motorized units, armored trains, service troops, emergency units, and locally recruited units. In addition to these organizations, the Germans employed Navy and Air Force units, as well as SS and police formations, including the security service (Sicherheitsdienst) and Secret Field Police (Geheime Feldpolizei).
The Germans emphasized the equipping of their anti-partisan units with easily transportable and quick-firing weapons, such as small arms, machine pistols, automatic rifles, rifles with telescopic sights, light and heavy machine guns, light and medium antitank guns, light infantry guns, light antiaircraft guns, and light flame throwers. Heavier artillery, antitank and antiaircaft guns, tanks, and armored cars, although they effectively strengthened the forces, could not be employed in all situations and terrain.
Clothing and equipage were designed to enable the unit to operate in all types of terrain and under all weather conditions.
The Germans realized the necessity of intensive intelligence work for successful anti-partisan measures. Higher commanders kept situation maps based on information concerning the partisans transmitted by all headquarters and units of the armed forces, and by civilian establishments. Systematic observations were made by security branches, such as the security service, the secret field police, and the military intelligence (Abwehr); information was disseminated and exchanged by adjacent establishments.
To provide all the necessary data for the tactical employment of anti-partisan forces, the Germans conducted intensive reconnaissance preceding their operations. This was carried out by collaborators, by mobile patrols. or by reconnaissance aircraft. Collaborators were the only means of reconnaissance employed when the projected operation had to be kept absolutely secret. The interrogation of prisoners was considered one of the best sources of information. The Germans therefore abandoned their original practice of shooting captured partisans on the spot.
When the Germans had adequate forces available they attempted to encircle and annihilate partisan units. The planning for this operation included the determination of the ground to be encircled, usually limited to the area actually known to be held by partisans. The assembly area was well removed from the areas to be encircled and was occupied in such a manner that the offensive intention was not disclosed. All forces taking part in the operation moved from the assembly area so that they reached the encircling lines at the same time. Lines were chosen which could be defended easily, such as lines of hills or forest paths across the direction of the advance.
The Germans normally kept sufficient local and mobile reserves armed with heavy support weapons. The consolidation of the encircling line was considered decisive for the outcome of the operation, because partisan fighting patrols tested the German lines with the object of breaking out through weak spots. The consolidation of the encircling line followed the usual principles for defense, such as disposing forward battle outposts, drawing up fire plans for light and heavy support weapons, fortifying strongpoints for all-around defense, and keeping mobile reserves in readiness. The precise method by which the encircled partisans were annihilated depended on the forces the Germans had available, on the terrain, and on the reaction of the trapped unit. One method employed was the gradual compressing of the encircled pocket, possible only in restricted areas, because in large areas the encircling forces could not advance at the same rate, thus creating gaps through which partisans could escape. Another method employed was to exert pressure from one side of the pocket while the troops on the opposite side confined themselves to defense. This method was used when the partisans held ground easy to defend, such as a river course, a ridge of hills, or edges of woods. The Germans also utilized powerful wedges and split up the defense pocket into several smaller pockets which were mopped up separately. Another method was to attack from the encircling line by strong assault groups formed from reserves, in cases where battle reconnaissance indicated that the partisans intended to defend their center position.
When time and forces for an encirclement were not available, the Germans attempted to defeat partisan bands by surprise attacks, intending to pursue and wipe out single detached groups. This method proved to be of value where a partisan formation had not been able to consolidate its position. The German actions therefore were dependent on the methods adopted by the partisans. When they committed their forces for battle, the German attack was carried out systematically with concentrated forces and fire. When the partisans attempted to avoid contact, the Germans pursued them frontally, while other units carried out enveloping movements. When the partisan formation dissolved, however, the Germans had to undertake reconnaissance to locate their new assembly area before a new action could begin. The primary target in such actions was the leader of the partisans, and the Germans usually placed a premium on the head of the leader to encourage his capture or death.
The Germans employed large numbers of heavy support weapons, tanks, assault guns, self-propelled antitank guns and heavy howitzers, when fighting the partisans in communities, and concentrated all available heavy weapons against a single objective. The tactics employed followed the German combat methods for street fighting and combat in towns.
The Germans also employed combat patrols against the partisans, copying the latter's methods with the object of harassing the bands and hindering their assembly and supply. Areas which were used regularly by the partisans for food requisitioning, or which they crossed on raids or sabotage expeditions, offered good opportunities for the deployment of German combat patrols. These patrols consisted of hand-picked, tough, well trained "Partisan Hunters" of platoon to company strength. They often wore civilian clothes or partisan uniforms.
(3) Protection measures. Offensive anti-partisan operations were supplemented by vigilant protective measures designed to safeguard troops; road, rail, and waterway communications and traffic; industrial, administrative, and signal installations; and growing crops and forest preserves.
The Germans designated the security of troops as a command responsibility. As a rule the Germans did not billet units of less then company strength in lonely districts. All billets and camps were organized for all-around defense, and all guard rooms were made into strongpoints. Maps showing the local partisan situation were consulted before the march.
To protect railway installations the Germans organized special protection forces whose task included patrolling in addition to the protection of communication centers. Strongpoints were constructed inside all installations and often along the tracks.
The Germans also organized special forces for the protection of roads and waterways. These forces, "Sicherungstruppen", were supplemented by military police detachments on the roads and water police on the waterways.
The ruthless methods employed by the Germans to maintain law and order are too well known to be discussed in this book. From the killing of individual suspects to the wholesale slaughter of whole communities and the burning of villages there is one long line of German atrocities and brutality.
f. GERMAN PREPARATION FOR PARTISAN WARFARE. Beyond doubt the Germans prepared and are still preparing fanatical members of the National Socialist Party, SS, and armed forces for partisan activities as the territory occupied by the Allies increases. One of Heinrich Himmler's main duties as commander-in-chief of the Home Army is supervising the establishment of partisan organizations and stay-behind agents in areas about to be occupied by the Allies. The Germans have built up large stores of ammunition and supplies, particularly in the mountainous areas of the country, and have established at various localities training centers for future German SS Partisans. Women are included in this training program. As to the methods which the Germans are most likely to employ, no definite information can be revealed at this time. However, it is recommended that a study of the Allied partisan combat methods be made to obtain an approximate conception of possible German partisan activities.
7. Anti-Airborne Operations
The Germans consider the use of mines and wire obstacles particularly effective against enemy airborne operations. They block landing fields and areas where landings might be made with S-mines, stakes, ditches, piled earth, stone, and wood, nondescript vehicles without wheels, and other barricades. They also construct minefields and dummy minefields.
For the protection of important installations against airborne attack, the Germans organize an all-around defense, giving particular attention to covering avenues of approach with machine guns. Observation posts are set up on high points, such as church towers and terrain features to give early warning of hostile landings. Such posts are located also in rear areas, and are especially important in thinly populated localities, since wire communications are particular targets of enemy airborne troops. Special signals by church bells, drums, or bugles are arranged for alarming the German mobile reserve units. These units, specially organized for the task of counteracting enemy airborne invasions and partisan activities usually consist of motorized troops with machine guns and antitank guns mounted on their vehicles. Although the Germans consider it an error to delay in committing these units, they stress that care should be used to avoid enemy deceptive maneuvers such as the dropping of dummy parachutists.
The Germans usually withhold rifle fire until descending parachutists are at close range, using machine-gun fire at greater distance. They believe that fire is most effective immediately upon the landing of the hostile force, before a consolidation of position has been made. Enemy transport planes are considered particularly good targets since they must reduce speed just prior to the jump of the troops.
The Germans appreciate the importance of immediate action against airborne troops and when no alternative is possible they will commit inferior forces to combat the hostile aerial invasion, hoping to delay the attack until reserves can be brought up.
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