4

While reading this The Saving Private Ryan Online Encyclopedia I ran into:

One of the most heavily criticized scenes in the film, the Battle of Ramelle is not a textbook example of how a German unit would attack a small defending force in the rubble of a village. The closing battle is designed to support the plot and the drama, and not represent a history lesson on German tactics. A good example is the belltower that Jackson and Parker set themselves up in. Although the structure had obviously already been hit before, the tower itself was still intact and made a perfect sniper's nest. Before entering the village the Germans should have leveled that tower in order to deny their defender's a place from which to fire on them.

But they do not give an example of a textbook example of how a German unit would attack a small defending force in the rubble of a village.

Can anyone give one? The best would be from Operation Overlord or at least from West European Campaign.

Notice: When I'm asking about a textbook example, I'm not willing to get how it should look in theory, but a real life example of implementing that theory.

5

Lifted from this forum thread on ww2f.com.

Source: U.S. War Department "Handbook On German Military Forces" (Mar'45)

Officially released from restricted status by the U.S. Army Center For Military History.

  1. TOWN AND STREET FIGHTING

In attacking a town or village, the Germans employ flanking and encircling tactics. They attempt to cut off water, electricity, gas, and other utilities. While carrying out the flanking maneuver, they pin down the defenders with heavy artillery fire and aerial bombardment. When it is necessary to make a direct assault, the Germans concentrate all available heavy weapons, including artillery and air units, on one target. They favor as targets for their massed fire the forward edges of the community, especially detached groups of buildings and isolated houses. During the fire concentration the infantry assembles and attacks the objective immediately upon termination of artillery fire. Tanks and assault guns accompany the infantry in sweeping away barricades, blasting passages through walls, and crushing wire obstacles. Guns and mortars are used against concealed positions, and antitank guns cover side streets against possible flanking operations. Machine guns engage snipers on roofs.

The immediate objective of the Germans is to divide the area occupied by the enemy. These areas are then isolated into as many smaller areas as possible, in order to deny the enemy freedom of movement.

Another form of attack employed by the Germans is to drive through a community and establish good positions beyond the town to block the retreat of the defender. Then they try to annihilate the enemy within the community.

The assaulting troops are divided into a number of columns and make a series of coordinated parallel attacks. Attacks from opposite directions and conflicting angles are avoided, since they lead to confusion and to firing on friendly troops. The columns are sub-divided into assault and mop-up groups. Assault detachments of engineers, equipped with demolition equipment, flame throwers, and grenades, accompany the infantry. Where possible, the Germans blast holes through the walls of rows of buildings along the route of advance in order to provide the infantry with covered approaches. These passages afford protection for bringing up supplies and evacuating casualties. Houses are cleared of defenders by small-arms fire. Streets are avoided as much as possible by the Germans who infiltrate simultaneously through back yards and over roofs. They attempt to further the advance by seizing high buildings which offer dominating positions and wide fields of fire.

When compelled to advance through streets, the Germans move in two files, one on each side of the thoroughfare. The left side is preferred as it is more advantageous for firing right handed from doorways. Consideration is given to the problem of fighting against defenders organized not only in depth but in height. Consequently the men receive specific assignments to watch the rooms, the various floors of buildings, and cellar windows. Side streets are immediately blocked, and at night searchlights are kept ready to illuminate roofs.

As soon as a building is occupied, the Germans organize it into a strongpoint. Windows and other openings are converted into loopholes and embrasures. Cellars and attics are occupied first in organizing for defense.

Even buildings which have been completely destroyed are kept under constant observation to prevent their reoccupation by the enemy. From occupied buildings the Germans deliver continuous machine-gun and rifle fire with the object of denying the enemy the opportunity to occupy alternate positions.

Underground corridors and sewers, which provide excellent cover for defenders, are attacked with determination. When immediate clearance or smoking-out is not possible, the entrances are barricaded, blocked, or guarded.

Aware that their tanks and assault guns are vulnerable to attacks by tank-hunting units, the Germans assign infantry to protect them. Barricades and obstacles are cleared by infantry and engineers. All able-bodied civilians, regardless of danger, are summoned to clear the streets of debris.

When a section of a town is occupied, the Germans close up all side streets leading from the occupied area, block all exits of houses, and then begin a house to house search with details assigned to special tasks, such as mopping up roofs, attics, basements, courtyards, and staircases.

  • Hmmm. Taking it back to the quote in the question, it looks like a lot of the tactics mentioned here require a lot more personnel and heavy equipment to pull off than the Germans attacking the town in SPR had at their disposal. IIRC, they only had one tank, no reliable air support, and not much more than a single squad of infantry. – T.E.D. Apr 18 '18 at 13:32
  • @T.E.D.: Then again, they didn't face that much opposition either. I preferred to present the section in its entirety. – DevSolar Apr 18 '18 at 13:36
  • Right. There should have been only the tiny remnants of one squad there, had the other squad not been dispatched to retrieve Ryan. – T.E.D. Apr 18 '18 at 13:44
  • This does not answer my question, when I'm asking about a textbook example, I'm not willing to get how it should look in theory, but a real life example of implementing that theory. This is clearly stated in "The best would be from Operation Overlord or at least from West European Campaign." – Marian Paździoch Apr 19 '18 at 10:11
  • 5
    @MarianPaździoch: By the very nature of things, you will not find a step-by-step description of a real attack. Combat reports are usually much abbreviated, simply because no field commander will ever be aware of everything that was done; especially not in the Wehrmacht with its mission-type tactics. As for the defending side, they are even less aware of what exactly happened. So the textbook example can best be found in a textbook, with the execution in the field being more or less along those lines, adapted to circumstances (as no plan survives contact with the enemy). – DevSolar Apr 19 '18 at 10:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.