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A German Company in the Defense
Transcribed by Jonathan Bocek


1. Introduction
      Recently a Panzer Grenadier company commander, troubled by the loss of life and matériel that his unit had been suffering in Italy, made an effort to alter certain methods that his men had been employing in the defense. His attempt is significant, in that it is an instance of a German commander undertaking hastily to revise his company's practice, in the light of experience freshly acquired in fighting United Nations forces. Much has been said about the rigidity of German junior leadership in the field, and not enough, perhaps, about its adaptability. The illustration at hand shows how a German junior officer tried eleventh-hour measures in the hope that his unit might avoid further reverses.

2. The Company Commander's Instructions
      a.  It was stated that, since a creeping barrage always preceded an attack, this type of fire was to be a signal for each man to go at once to his alert station and make a further brief check of his weapons.
      b.  Even during the barrage, every man was to keep a continual lookout, frequently raising his head above the parapet. This was described as particularly important when the fire moved, or "lifted", because, it was said, a hostile advance would follow the barrage closely, and the opposition would use mortar fire and grenades for purposes of deception.
      c.  When the attackers arrived in close proximity to the position, special attention was to be paid to any cover or dead space within hand-grenade range. Hand grenades were to be used against any hostile soldiers who might succeed in reaching such places.
      d.  The first section to discover that a hostile attack was in progress was to send a reliable, speedy runner to platoon headquarters by the safest route. It was stressed that speed was essential if the heavy weapons were to give proper support.
      e.  It was ordered that the position be held at all costs. Every man was to stay at his post and fight. A single well-aimed rifle shot was to be regarded as more worthwhile than a badly placed burst of machine-gun fire.
      f.  The dispatch of a runner was not to be considered necessary when a Very pistol was available. The following signals were to be employed:
 
Red     Attack by hostile force.

Green     Artillery barrage has lifted.

White     We are here.

Violet     Tank attack.

(It should be remembered, of course, that all German signals may be changed frequently.)

g.  It was stated that platoon headquarters should have sufficiently good observation to enable the platoon commanders to keep up with the situation and to insure against any hostile attack achieving surprise.
      h.  Platoon headquarters were to be turned into strong points, so that a hostile force could be engaged at any time from the depths of the position. A reminder as to the effectiveness of enfilade fire was added.
      i.  It was ordered that, if the next hostile attack were to be made at night and with armor, the forward sections were to fire with everything they had, while the best hand-grenade throwers were to be assigned for this specific duty. It was pointed out that the resulting damage to the opposition's morale might serve to halt the advance.

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