1941 US Army WWII German Armored Assault Artillery

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  • 8/9/2019 1941 US Army WWII German Armored Assault Artillery



    U.S . W ar Dept. General Staff, G-2.Germ an arm ored assault artilleryDecember 23. 1941.


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  • 8/9/2019 1941 US Army WWII German Armored Assault Artillery



    Washington, December 2 3 , 1941 ^ MID 461

    NOTICEThe information co ntained in this series of bulletins

    will be restricted to items from official sources which arereasonably confirmed.This do cument i s being given an approved distribution,and no additional copies ar e available in the Military Intelligence Division. For provisions governing its reproduction, seeLetter TAG 350.05 (9-19-40) M-B-M.


    SOLUCEThis bulletin i s basedupon the report of an Americanofficial observer in Berlin. Tha translated article, which deals

    with the employment of a battery of armored assault artilleryof the "Greater Germany" Infantry Regiment on the French-Luxemburgborder, o riginally appeared in Die T f o c h e , a German weekly magazine.

    Intended propagandistic effects should no t be overlooked.CONTENTS


    " " "

    h 3ARRACKS,

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  • 8/9/2019 1941 US Army WWII German Armored Assault Artillery


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  • 8/9/2019 1941 US Army WWII German Armored Assault Artillery


    1 . TRANSLATION"A motorized platoon, with 2 antitank guns attached, con

    stituted the leading element of ou r advance guard a s we marched westfrom Vance, which i s 2 0 miles west of Luxemburg, to Etalle (figurel ) . As the vehicles approac hed Etalle on May 1 0 , they encounteredhostile armored scout cars, and during the ensuing engagement a r eport was received at regimental headquarters that Villers was occupied by French cavalry. The 2d Battalion was accordin gly ordered toattack Villers immediately. For 3 hours they advanced toward thevillage, meeting increasing resistance, and were finally stepped a tthe eastern edge by strong hostile fire.

    "Meanwhile the 1st Battalion, with the armored assault artillery battery attached, had arrived at Neuhabich, where the battalioncommander ordered a rifle company to make contact with the 2d Battali o n . Advancing slowly south from NeuhaMch, the rifle company finally reached Villers, where i t also met heavy resistance. The companycommander, after considering the situation, sent the following oral -mes sage to the rear: 'Assault battery to the front! 1

    "The 3d Platoon of the armored assault artillery batterydashed forward to engage in i t s first fight. The platoon commander,in hi s command vehicle, was followed by Assault Guns N o . 5 and N o . 6 .The platoon encountered no resistance until it arrived a t the centerof town, where it received heavy machine-gun fire. Two rounds fromeach of the as sault guns silenced the machine guns.

    "Assault Gun No. 6 went.into action, firing a t the near-bybuildings. One she ll exploded in a courtyard among some French cavalry horses. The animals which were uninjured galloped away, frightened by the explosion.

    "Assault Gun N o . swung into position in the churchyard tosilence hostile machine guns which v r a r e firing from two windows ina large building doss b y . The platoon commander ordered the guncommander to fire on this target, and two roun ds from the assaultgun served to silence them.

    "Finally, the enemy e v a c u a t e d , the main street and the centerof the town, but machine-gu n resistance was renewed a t the westernedge of the village. Momentarily, i t was thought that the .assaultguns should b e sent ahead again. But the riflemen and the partiallyarmored antitank-weapons on self-propelled mounts were able t o reducethis resistance unassisted.

    "The 2d Battalion remained in Villers during the night. Fieldkitchens were moved u p , the men were fed, and medical personnel caredfor the wounded. The 3d Platoon o f the assault battery obtained some

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  • 8/9/2019 1941 US Army WWII German Armored Assault Artillery


    rest j u s t i n rear o f the front l i n e , the men sleeping i n th eir vehic l e s . T h e next morning, a t 5 a . m . . , the advance guard and the 3 dPlatoon o f the assault battery moved out toward Mellier.

    " T h e armored assault g u n s soon reached a dest royed bridgeacross a tributa ry o f the Semois River. T h e pioneers, although h arda t work, h a d not yet completed th eir task h e r e ; but the g u n s managedto ford the river. The regimenta l commander, i n order to g e t up tothe front, took a seat in a n assault battery munitions vehicle.

    "After fording the s t r e a m , the assault g u n s c a m e to a barric a d e o f tree trunks which obstructed the road leading u p a slope i no n e o f the southern spurs o f the Ardennes Forest. The driver o fAssault Gun N o . 5 , however, steppe d on his accelerator, dashed againstthe obstacle, and opened the w a y . So f a r , no enemy ha d been encountered.

    " T h e infantry was in t h e lead a s the advance guard movedthrough Mellier into a beechwood forest beyond tha t t o w n . Resistancewas encount er ed a t 10:30 a . m . a t a clearin g i n the ' . r o o d s - T h e 1 s t Battalion, upon emerging i n t o the clearing, was fired upon from th edirection of S u x y . The leading conpeny deployed promptly a n d , s u pported by an antitank platoon, began to advance, fina lly being checked a t the stream j u s t west o f the town. T h e regimental and ba ttalioncommanders, ac c ompanied by certain r a e m b e r s o f their s t a f f s , observedthe action f r o m , high ground east of S u x y . Intense activity prevaileda t the command posts. Heavy weapons were ordered u p ; tasks were a ssigned, and positions designated.

    " A s the h e avy infantry weapons and armored assault g u n s wer ehear d approac h ing from t h e r e a r , the battalion commander , i n a quickdecision, signalled his advancing reserve company t o turn off anda ttack i n the new direction.

    "Five minutes after the h eavy weapons arrived, they openedf i r e . I n the meantime, the armored assault artillery battery continued to the front t o assist the leading rifle companies . T h e riflemenslowlyworkedtheirway ahead, pressing h a r d . a g a i n s t the enemy, driving h im off o f the high ground t o t h e - right f r o n t . . Finally, o n e o fthe assault g u n s moved u p o n t o this commanding terrai n and quicklyfired 1 1 rounds a t a range of 8 0 0 yards into a batt ery o f ene my horsea rtillery going i n t o action. T h e a ssault gun itself, however, wasthen taken under fire by a French antitan k battery.

    "In the meantime, t h e German artillery opened fire and thebattalion bega n to advance across the Vierre River. As usual, allthe bridges h ad been destroyed and a l l the trucks ha d to be l e f t b ehind, although t h e wa ter was no obstacle f o r the infantry and thea rmored assault artillery.

    "After crossing the r i v e r , the a d v a n c e , was ch ecked again byresistance coming principally from a fortified house which stood alongthe route o f advanc e. Assault Gun K b . 5 went into action against

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    this house. The firs t round hit the lower left window; the secondent ered the attic window; the thirdwent over the h ouse but explodedamong some ret reati ng Frenchmen."By 5:30 p.m. all resistance in this vi cinity h ad been overcome. The French reconnaissance bat t alion, w h i ch had attempted tostop the regiment, was complet el y destroyed."The advance continued, but the next 1 0 mi les could be coveredonly by foot, for the trucks couldnot be moved across the river. Theday's objective, however, w a s . reached a t 9 p.m."The performance of the armored assault artil lery battery, ini t s initial engagements a t Villers and Suxy, completely w on the confidence of the infantrymen. I n addition to gi ving support to the footsoldier in battle, this self-propelled arti llery was also ut i lized incarryi ng light machine guns and mort ars and in towing ammunition carts."On the next morning, May 1 2 , the regiment moved through S t .

    Medard and Herbeumont."On the following d a y , May 1 3 , the regiment left Belgian s o i l ,march ing t h rough Bouillon into th e Bois d e Sedan, and on the nextmorning i t forced a crossing over the Meuse a t Sedan, t h ereb y clearing the road to the north for t he oncoming panzer division."

    a . The pers onnel of the "Greater Germany" Infantry Regiment i ses peci al l y selected. Initially, the bulk of men of this organizationcame from the Berlin guard regiment. The regiment i s mot orized andbelongs to an S.S. division.

    b . The auth or indicates th at in this particular engagement thisassault art i l l ery fulfilled the mi s s i on for w h i ch it was intended.Conversations w i t h German mi l i t ary personnel a n d . the context of otherarticles publi s h ed in German mil itary periodicals confi rm the conclusion th at th is assault artillery gave important and t i m el y assistanceto the leading i nfantry element s on many occas ions during the operations on the 7 / e s t e r n Front in the spring of 1940,c . Since th is weapon i s completely armored, i t conforms to thecommo nl y a ccepted definition of a tank. According to publ i s hed a c

    counts, this weapon, during combat, moved forward from coverto cover,keepi ng generally abreast o f the regimental reserve. Wh en the advanceof the leading foot elements was checked by resistance bey ond thecapabilities of the infantry weapons immedi atel y at h a n d . , , the armoredas sault art i l l ery was ordered forward along wi th other h eav y i nfant ryweapons and sometimes the regimental infant ry reserve. When goinginto action, armored assault 'artillery vehicles sought sui table covered positions in the front l i n e , fromwh ich t hey delivered directfire upon observed targets. I t i s not believed that they ever preceded and cleared th e w a y for the foot elements. Consequs ntly, thes e- 3 -

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    weapons, a s employed, are not comparable to accompanying tanks.d . I t i s probable that if the defending Fr ench f or ces had been

    liberally equippedwith antitank mines and antitank weapons, they couldhave neutr alized the ef f or ts o f the German armored assault ar tiller y.

    e . The action east of Suxy i s in accordance with the Ger man pr inciple that attacking infantr y seeks primar ily to seize commandingter rain, not only f or observation and the employment of infantry w e a p - ro n s , but also f or the advantageous use of artiller y.

    f . I t i s noted that in the attack east of Suxy, the commander ofthe 1st Battalion saved time by m e r e j l y signalling to the commander ofhis r eser ve companyto tur n off his r oute o f advance and attack in a new direction. Details o f the action contemplated for this companycould be f ur nished later by the battalion commander o r his r epresentative.

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