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Working Forward (Das Vorarbeiten)
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 Gruppe works forward in dispersed formation. The command & control of the Gruppenführer over the squad members must be guaranteed. (All Soldaten ideally remain in visual range of the Gruppenführer, but at the very least within visual range of the man to their left/right or front/rear.)

The light M.G. is usually the spearhead of the Gruppe’s attack.

The longer that the Gewehrschützen are deployed behind the M.G. in a file, the longer can M.G.’s from rearward elements fire past the Gruppe.

When the situation and enemy fire permits, the Gruppenführer uses any available support from neighboring elements or heavy weapons to break through with all members of the Gruppe simultaneously.

Use the terrain to your advantage whenever possible when working forward.


Kriechen. (Crawling). The Schütze works forward on his hands and knees. The rifle is slung around the neck (high crawl) or held in both hands (low crawl).

Working forward is done by short running bounds or by crawling (see above images). The distance of the bounding depends upon availability of fire support, the effect of the enemy’s fire, and the terrain. Short bounds are most commonly used. (Plunge forward and throw yourself down!)  Bounding sideways is absolutely to be avoided. (Keep moving forward!)

Whether engaged in a firefight, or if prepared to fire, “Stellungswechsel” (Change position!) is commanded to order the next bound forward.

On hearing the command, “Stellungswechelsel”, the light M.G. and Gewehrschützen make their preparations for the bound to the next position, under full cover when the terrain permits.

The Gewehrschützen lock and load, and place their weapons on safe. The ammo pouches are closed. The Schützen take their rifles in the left hand, support the right hand on the ground, and pull the right leg as close to the belly as possible. They do not raise themselves up during preparations for the bound.

The light M.G. is loaded, but not cocked to the rear. As soon as Schütze 1 (machine gunner) is ready for the bound, he reports, “Fertig!” (Ready!)

Upon occupying the new fire position, Schütze 2 insures MG ammunition is ready for use. He leaves his ammunition by Schütze 3, and insures that no ammunition was left behind in the old firing position.

On the command, “Auf! Marsch! Marsch!” (Up! Doubletime, March!)  the Gruppe plunges forward. Oftentimes, the location of the next firing position is given before the command of execution, “Auf! Marsch! Marsch!”. For example, “Naechster Sprung: Hohlweg!” (“Next bound, the ravine!”) Otherwise, the bound is ended by hand/arm signal and/or the verbal commands “Volle Deckung!” (“Full cover!”) or “Stellung!” (Positions!)

The order to bound is often given simply with hand/arm signals and the command, “Folgen!” (“Follow me!”) At times the Schützen will simply follow the example of the bounding Gruppenführer without being given any orders.
The Breakthrough (Der Einbruch):

The Gruppenführer utilizes every opportunity to execute a breakthrough, even in the absence of specific orders to do so.

Through his personal example, the Gruppenführer leads the entire Gruppe in the assault.

The enemy is engaged before and during the advance with the highest escalation of fire.

The light M.G. assaults with the Gruppe, firing on the move.

The last resistance of the enemy is broken with hand grenades, machine pistol, rifles, and entrenching tools whilst shouting “HURRA!!!”

All Schützen take part in close combat; Schütze 2 and 3 with pistols. The Gruppe quickly reorganizes itself after the assault. (Consolidates on the objective.)  If ordered by the Zugfuehrer (Platoon Leader), the Gruppe lends fire support to other Gruppe(en),firing on the point of the other Gruppe’s breakthrough or the enemy.

Occupation of a Position (Das Besetzen einer Stellung):
Consolidating on the Objective

On occupying a position, the Gruppe is placed so that the Gruppenführer has influence over the entire Gruppe. (Is able to command all Gruppe members.)

The Gewehrschützen are emplaced in nests next to one another, each nest within calling distance of each other.

It is possible to obscure the position from enemy observation by emplacing camouflage and constructing fighting positions. The distance to all important points in the foreground is determined, so that upon the appearance of the enemy fire can be commenced more quickly. (A simple sketch with the distances to designated important points in the foreground is very useful.)


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




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