In German tank organizations, a light tank platoon
consisting of seven Pz. Kw. 2's is an organic part
both of the regimental headquarters company and the
battalion headquarters company. The regimental
light tank platoon is normally used for reconnaissance
purposes. German doctrine covering the reconnaissance
duties of patrols drawn from these platoons is
summarized below. (It assumes that superior German
forces are conducting an advance.)
2. THE DOCTRINE
Teamwork, the Germans point out, is the secret of
successful reconnaissance. They believe that
haphazardly formed reconnaissance patrols, made up of men
who have never worked together before, are of little value.
b. Reconnaissance Before H-Hour
(1) Orders.—Orders given to light tank patrols
which are to perform reconnaissance before H-hour include:
(a) Information about hostile forces and the terrain.
(b) German intentions (especially those of a patrol's own and flanking units).
(c) Composition of the patrol.
(d) Time of departure.
(e) Line of advance and objectives.
(f) Method and procedure of reporting (radio or motorcycle).
(g) Position of the patrol commander, and of the commander to whom he will report.
(h) Action to be taken on completion of task, or on meeting superior opposing forces.
It is prohibited to take written orders and situation
maps on reconnaissance. Special precautions are
insisted upon when markings of any kind are made on
maps used on reconnaissance; these markings are required
to be of a kind which will not reveal German
dispositions if the maps are captured.
(2) Information Needed Beforehand.—For its
disposition and method of work, the German patrol
depends on knowing:
(a) Up to what point contact with the opposition
is unlikely. (Until reaching this point, the patrol
saves time by advancing rapidly and avoiding
elaborate protective measures.)
(b) At what point contact is probable. (After this,
increased alertness is maintained.)
(c) At what point contact is certain. (Here the patrol
is ready for action.)
The patrol commander is also given necessary particulars
regarding air support and information as to
the attitude of the civil population.
(3) Method of Advance.—The light tank patrol
advances rapidly from one observation point to the next,
making use at first of roads and paths, but later, as it
approaches hostile forces, using all available cover. When
approaching villages, woods, or defiles, the
patrol leaves the road in sufficient time to upset the
opposition's aimed antitank-fire calculations.
(4) Command.—The German patrol commander
makes a rapid estimate of our position, and tries to
attack and overrun us if he thinks that we are weak. If
such a move does not seem advisable, he attempts to
discover the type and strength of the opposition
encountered, without becoming involved in combat.
"Keen, capable, and well-trained officers or noncoms
must be selected to command the light tank patrol," the
Germans state. "These must be constituted of quick-thinking,
resourceful troops who have functioned as a
unit long enough to know and have confidence in their leader."
c. Reconnaissance after H-Hour
(1) Mission.—The mission of reconnaissance after
H-hour is to explore the hostile position in detail, to
protect German deployment, and to discover hostile
gun positions, as well as natural and artificial obstacles
in the line of advance.
(2) How Performed.—The mission is carried out by
light tank patrols (which may be reinforced) operating
ahead or on the flanks, as in reconnaissance before
H-hour. The reconnaissance tanks employed immediately
ahead or to a forward flank are detailed automatically
by the first wave of the attacking force.
(Normally, one light tank per platoon of heavier tanks
in the first wave, and always the same light tank. The
remaining light tanks work behind the first wave,
performing other duties.) The reconnaissance tanks advance
rapidly, making for suitable high ground. They
keep 300 to 500 yards ahead of the first wave, and
maintain visual contact with it. The reconnaissance tanks
observe from open turrets or, if fired on, through their
telescopes, with turrets closed. They advance by
bounds, from cover to cover, keeping the terrain ahead
under continuous observation.
The tanks in the first wave, especially the Pz. Kw. 4's,
cover the reconnaissance tanks as they advance.
When the reconnaissance tanks contact our infantry,
they attempt to overrun us and, if they are successful,
they report and continue their mission. A reconnaissance
tank discovering hostile antitank weapons
and artillery reports them, takes up a position, and
waits for the rest of its company. While waiting, it
fires on hostile antitank weapons.
Tanks are avoided, but are observed from concealed
positions. The reconnaissance tanks report suitable
terrain for meeting an attack by hostile tanks. As
under the circumstances described in the previous paragraph,
each reconnaissance tank waits for the rest of its company.
Opposition which begins to retreat is promptly attacked,
the reconnaissance tanks reporting the development
and continuing the pursuit.
In the event of an attack by the opposition, the
reconnaissance tanks take up a position, meet the
attack, report, and wait for the rest of their companies
to come up.
In all these instances, the reconnaissance tanks avoid
obstructing the field of fire of the heavier tanks
following them. Throughout, the light tanks report by
radio if it is available, by prearranged flag or smoke
signals, or by significant firing or maneuvering.