Working Forward (Das Vorarbeiten)
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,
adjustments were made in effort to make it a
bit easier to read. Rest assured, the
information itself is true to the original. Enjoy!
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
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
Use the terrain to your
advantage whenever possible when working forward.
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
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
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
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!”
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
The Breakthrough (Der
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 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