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The Firefight & Actions in Combat
Translation by Dan Aikins


The following is a translation from an original German manual dated 1940.  While we did try to keep the format of this article as close to the original as possible, some adjustments were made in effort to make it a bit easier to read.  Rest assured, the information itself is true to the original. Enjoy!

General Principles:
The Gruppenfuehrer is the captain of his team.  The Gruppe is the primary, basic unit put into battle. There is no such thing as the division of the Gruppe into Trupps with different assignments.

The Feuerkampf (firefight) is conducted in the framework of the Gruppe. When the situation requires commencing fire, the Gruppenfuehrer as a rule positions himself by the MG and directs its fire. The Gewehrschützen (riflemen) may open fire early when good prospects present themselves; at the latest when the enemy is deployed for a breakthrough. The part of the Gruppe that doesn’t take part in the firefight is held back under cover when the terrain permits, and when it won’t affect the cohesion of the Gruppe.

As a rule, commencing fire is ordered/controlled by the Gruppenfuehrer. The Gewehrschützen usually conduct the firefight on their own, unless the fire of all the riflemen is concentrated upon a single target by the Gruppenfuehrer.
 
 
Examples for Opening Fire:
 
MG & Gewehrschütze Seperately:

 

“MG: Geradeaus, Schornstein! - rechts davon im Acker, Schützen! Visier 400! - Stellung! Feuerfrei!”
(“MG: the chimney/smokestack straight ahead! To its right in the field! Sights at 400 meters!- Into position! Fire at will!” )

During the firefight the committing the riflemen becomes necessary:

“Schuetzen! Stellung! Marsch! Marsch! Feuer Frei!”
(“ Riflemen! Into Position! Doubletime, March! Fire at will!”)

The Entire Gruppe simultaneously:
 

1. “Halbrechts im Waldrand Schützen! Ganze Gruppe: Visier 450! MG: 100 Schuss! Stellung! Feuer Frei!”
(Right oblique into the treeline! Entire Gruppe: sights 450 meters! MG: 100 rounds! Into position! Fire at will!”)
 
2. “Ganze Gruppe! Stellung! Marsch! Marsch! Feuerfrei!”
(Entire Gruppe! Into position! Doubletime, March! Fire at will!”)

 
In General:

In order to insure accurate operation of the MG, insure the belt is perfect during preparing the MG to fire.  Every Schütze checks his own weapon and ammunition during fire-pauses.  The fire readiness of the MG is ensured by having the bolt in the forward position, the drum hung or belt loaded.

All means for increasing fire-effectiveness must be used. Surprise and flanking fire from all ranges (distances) against all targets is especially effective. This multiplies the fire-effectiveness and frazzles the nerves of the foe.

The MG and Gewehrschützen should always strive to pop-up by surprise and aggressively come into action. The victor is he who lays down the most accurate fire on his opponent the quickest. The MG and riflemen then disappear as soon as the intention of the fire is accomplished (Never lay around as an inactive target!). When necessary, change positions under cover/concealment. Preparations for opening fire are always made under any available cover .

The soldier engages the targets ordered. Against widely dispersed targets, the portions of the target most directly opposite (in his front). When the choice of target is left to the soldier, he again generally engages the targets most directly opposite his position. Every soldier must know the unit’s battle mission and what the commander’s intent is. Under the most opportune conditions, the beaten zone of fire will also cover targets not specifically included in the unit’s combat mission, if engaging the targets promises especially good results, and the combat situation permits it.

The rear sights are set to the determined distance. The soldier can determine the accuracy of his fire from the behavior of the enemy and from observing where the rounds are striking. After moving forward, the sights are of course readjusted.
 
 
Fire discipline in all types of combat:
The aim of the firefight is achieving fire superiority through the strong application of fire discipline. This is expressed through the selection of individual fighting positions, preparation of the fire positions (camouflage, cover, and concealment) the correct range selection of the sights, choice of proper targets, opening fire, and assignment of fire sectors. Fire discipline is therefore the prerequisite to the successful firefight. It must also be enforced after strenuous exertions (marching/fighting).

 


Sources:
-
Reibert, W. Der Dienstunterricht im Heere. E.S. Mittler & Sohn, Berlin, 1940. P. 275

   

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