following was originally an article called: What
Jerry Thinks of Us... and Himself. This
taken from the
December 1944 issue of The
Intelligence Bulletin. This publication was
issued by the U.S. War Department to military
personnel with the intention of providing helpful
information concerning the enemy. The following
is a what a German soldier thought about the allied
soldiers as well as comments on themselves. This
is good information to help in understanding what they
thought about each other back then.
prisoner, a Panzer Grenadier who had spent 16 weeks at
Cassino, told his British interrogators that, in his
opinion, Allied soldiers had made a number of
outstanding mistakes in combat. He discussed these in
some detail, and, while his views are not necessarily
endorsed, they are worth examining as an indication of
how some enemy troops may expect us to fight in the
future. On the other hand, this same prisoner's
battalion commander, addressing his company officers
on the subject of the battalion's performance in
battle, analyzed the unit's shortcomings in forthright
language. The comments of these two men are specially
interesting when read in sequence.
ON ALLIED METHODS
infantry attack very cautiously and bunch up too much
when they move against their objectives," the
Panzer Grenadier said. "They are very negligent
about seeking concealment, and therefore can be seen
most of the time. When they move against their
objectives, their lines are not staggered enough and
are deep instead of wide."
soldiers on the double, upon coming to a sudden halt
frequently remain in a kneeling position, simply
waiting to be shot at, instead of throwing themselves
to the ground. Then, if nothing happens, they get up
on the same spot where they were kneeling before, and
continue their advance. I think this is extremely
dangerous, especially when the terrain is dotted with
snipers, as it is in Italy. I myself have seen at
least a dozen Allied soldiers die because of this
the German Army we think it is only common sense for
an attacking soldier to select an objective for each
phase of his advance. Upon reaching an objective, he
immediately throws himself to the ground and crawls 10
to 15 yards to the left or right, carefully avoiding
observation. He waits there a few seconds before
continuing his advance."
however, the Allied infantryman will drop after a shot
has been fired and will roll to the right. We Germans
know this. We have also noticed that Allied infantry
run toward their objectives in a straight line,
forgetting to zigzag and thus making an excellent
Italy, especially, attacking forces can use rocks to
better advantage than they do. While I was at Cori,
there was a large space between two rock formations,
which afforded a clear field of fire. We covered it
with a light machine gun. The first Allied troops who
tried to pass between the rocks moved very slowly and
in line, and some of them were hit. Not until then did
the others dash through the open space."
Allied commanders lack aggressiveness. They do not
realize when an objective can be taken; consequently,
attacking troops often turn back just before they
reach their objective."
Cassino I was in a valley with 97 other German
soldiers in foxholes and slit trenches. First, a group
of Sherman tanks attacked within range of our Faustpatronen.
Three of the tanks were knocked out. The infantry, who
should have followed right behind the tanks, were
about 500 yards behind, and therefore were too far
away to seek the cover of the armored vehicles. The
tanks immediately retreated. When the infantrymen saw
that the tanks had turned around, they, too, turned
around and retreated. The whole valley should have
been cleaned up in a matter of minutes."
great distance between Allied armored units and
infantry was apparent almost every time. There was one
instance when Allied tanks smashed across our
foxholes, to be followed an hour later by infantrymen,
who were driven back by hail of machine-gun fire. We
Germans rely on you to make these mistakes."
net cover on the helmets of Allied soldiers permits us
to see the outline of the helmet distinctly, and at a
considerable distance, in the daytime," the
German soldier concluded. "On the other hand, the
camouflage that we [Germans] use on our helmets
disrupts the outline of the helmet, and the canvas
cover can be painted to suit the terrain."
ON GERMAN METHODS
with its digging-in and long hours of lying in wait,
is contrary to the nature of the German soldier,"
the German battalion commander told his officers.
"Every company commander must emphasize to his
men repeatedly that the life of a whole company
depends on the alertness of a single soldier. We must
be prepared for new dirty tricks on the Allies' part
do not want to hear soldiers complain that they have
not eaten or slept for two days and that the situation
is impossible. The word 'impossible' must not exist in
because of its monotony, observation has become very
poor. The slightest movement of bushes must be
reported. Remember that trifles may be pieced together
at higher headquarters to form a significant picture.
Even negative reports may be of the utmost importance.
I have been noticing that our observers do not use
camouflage, and that, when they do, it usually does
not match the terrain. As a result, the observer
stands out like a flag. The companies seem to do their
utmost to tell all their actions to the enemy. In
short, camouflage discipline is poor."
and again, it has been evident that our soldiers
consider the night their enemy. Most of our men are
completely helpless at night."
Allies are using the night for much of their activity,
and have achieved a great deal of success. I have
noticed that they use their machine-gun fire very
effectively at night. They can place their machine-gun
fire 10 to 20 centimeters above the top of our
foxholes, so that even at night our men don't dare to
stick their heads up."
soldiers have learned the same tactics, but are too
lazy to prepare their weapons for night firing. Many
of our soldiers have even adopted the idea that they
mustn't fire at all. This can be traced back to the
fact that the enemy, with his superiority in materiel,
often has placed an artillery barrage on individual
soldiers. If we want to bring the old spirit back, the
soldiers must learn that their most important weapon
is their shovel."
must prepare alternate positions. We must never fire
from our main positions during daylight. It must not
happen again that our men refrain from firing on
Allied troops, giving as their excuse, 'We would only
hit the sand.' It is the responsibility of the company
commander to see that his company can be ready for
action at an instant's notice. In the instance I have
in mind, I don't believe that everybody was asleep,
but, rather, that the proper system was not being
men are not well trained in patrolling. They always
want to attack after a heavy artillery preparation.
This is wrong. Creep up, Indian fashion, and arrive in
the enemy's midst suddenly. It is now self-evident
that machine-gun belts must be wrapped around the
stomach, and that pay books and all papers must be
must be trained to understand brief military orders.
Our organization is poor. It is changed only after the
enemy has taught us a lesson. The other day we lost a
deserter. That this man is going to talk is obvious.
He will at least have told the enemy the time and
route our food carriers change. That the enemy has
acted on such information is proved by our losses. Why
aren't the schedules changed from day to day?
Ambulances do not arrive at the front fast enough. The
other day they took three-quarters of an hour, and I
understand that some of the wounded bled to death."
penetration of our lines has occurred mainly because
the gaps between companies have been too large. If the
company on your left fails to maintain contact, you
must in your own interest maintain contact to the
have been very poor. During a barrage, never send just
one messenger. Because of Allied artillery
fire, our line communications have been cut most of
the time. Use of radio, instead, has been impossible
because of the lack of radios. There are far too few
messages. The junior officers never put themselves
mentally in the position of the higher echelons. These
echelons are mostly so far to the rear that they
cannot be contacted. Every man, from privates up, must
make it a habit to report as often as possible."
distribution of ammunition has been satisfactory, and
our system of ammunition dumps has proved its