Formations in Open Order
following was taken from the Die Neue Feldpost newsletter
& was done so with permission of the publisher.
We would like to thank him for his generosity as well
as thank all those who have contributed to this
article. It is with their efforts, we are able
to share this valuable research with the rest of you.
article is extracted from paragraphs 246-266 of the
1941 edition of "Ausbildungsvorschrift für die
Infanterie." This particular copy has
official annotations dated up to June 22, 1943.
- The open
order is applied when enemy fire, the terrain, or
tactical situation makes the closed order impractical.
There are two basic forms of the open order:
of the squad can be put in either formation, providing
that the squad is kept together.
is used for the approach (see illus. A). It is
also suitable for occasions when the MG is firing
alone and it always uses all available cover in the
terrain. When forming into this order, the squad
forms up on the ANSCHLUßMAN who is also Schütze 1
(the MG gunner). Interval in this formation is
called ABSTAND and is measured in SCHRITT (steps).
interval is specified, assume 5 steps. The
assistant squad leader (Stellvertretende Gruppenführer)
is at the end of the line and makes sure that no one
is used to turn the squad into a position to
facilitate the fire of the entire unit (see illus. B).
The squad can be ordered into this formation by signal
or by the command GANZE GRUPPE... STELLUNG!
Another command which means basically the same thing
is SCHÜTZENKETTE! This last command is usually
made merely to shake out the squad into the skirmish
line and is often used as the squad is underway.
The former command implies an imminent fire mission
and will mean that the squad will be at a halt when
the command is carried out.
forming up, the squad forms on the ANSCHLUßMAN;
the front half of the riflemen going to the right, the
rear half going to the left. Total deployment to
one side can be specifically ordered. Bunching
up around the MG is forbidden. Interval here is
called ZWISCHENRAUM and is also measured in SCHRITT.
As with the Schützenreihe, assume a 5-step interval
if none other is specified. Forward movement by
the squad in the Schützenkette is limited to short
moves only; long moves in this formation make passage
of terrain difficult and impairs the cohesion of the
general, there will be no talking in the open order
except to communicate information about the enemy, the
terrain, or to pass on information from one's
neighbors. The squad leader has no specific
place in the open order: normally he is at the head of
his men, but may be farther removed to scout or laison.
During combat he is in the center of the squad.
If no specific direction or objective is ordered, the
Anschlußman will follow the squad leader.
advance, the Gruppenführer (squad leader) wants the
men to proceed towards a suspicious corner of woods in
WALDECKE - SCHÜTZENREIHE!" The
men form up on the move and assume a 5-step
A squad on
the move is needed to move quickly toward a hedgerow
in skirmish line with 10-step interval:
BAUMREIHE! 10 SCHRITT ZWISCHENRAUM!
SCHÜTZENKETTE! MARSCH! MARSCH!"
A squad at
rest near a path receives the command, "AUF DEM
WEG IN SCHÜTZENREIHE! 2 SCHRITT ABSTAND FOLGEN!
squad would then get up and follows the
squad leader at 2-step intervals.
squad at rest in a field near a woodlot is ordered:
BESETZEN DER BAUMGUPPE DORT VOR UNS!
GANZE GRUPPE - STELLUNG! MARSCH!"
This squad would move into the woodlot and
form into a skirmish line in order to occupy
to form a stationary squad into an Indian file
preparatory to a move, the Gruppenführer would order:
WIE ICH STEHE! ABSTAND 8 SCHRITT!
SCHÜTZENREIHE!" The men would
use the leader's position as the starting
point of their line and take an 8-step
To shake a
stationary squad out into a skirmish line along the
edge of a forest preparatory to another employment
(different formation, move, etc..), the Gruppenführer
DIESER WALDGRENZE! SCHÜTZENKETTE!"
is responsible for seeing that his weapon is on safe
and all ammo pouches and boxes are closed before a
movement is made. Movement in the open order is
commenced on the command MARSCH! (or for quick time,
MARSCH! MARSCH!). Short sideways moves can also
be ordered. Movements to the rear will be made
on: "KEHRT MARSCH!", and ended by the
command "H-A-L-T!! KEHRT!". All
leaders remain on the enemy side of the formation
during these movements.
movement can be stopped by H-A-L-T!, HINLEGEN!, VOLLE
DECKUNG!, or STELLUNG! On the command H-A-L-T!,
the men remain standing with rifles at Gewehr ab.
HINLEGEN causes the men to drop in place to the prone
position. VOLLE DECKUNG causes the men to seek
individual cover. STELLUNG causes the squad to
assume the Schützenkette formation.
will assemble in the Reihe formation (not the
Schützenreihe) behind their squad leader. If
assembly is ordered for the entire platoon, the squad
will form in Marschordnung. Assembly occurs on
the command SAMMELN.