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"Italian Measures for Concealing a Withdrawal" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on Italian withdrawal tactics is taken from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 12, November 19, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Camouflage in the desert is ordinarily much more difficult than in the woods, fields, and villages of more familiar terrain. It is possible to use the inevitable dust, however, to prevent the enemy from making exact estimates of the number of vehicles being moved. The following captured Italian order gives some details of measures taken by the Italians to conceal a withdrawal.

"During the next few days, the withdrawal of troops from the sectors of the Trento Division and the remainder of the 5th Light Division has to be concealed, and the arrival of numerous reinforcements has to be simulated. To this end, the following directions will be carried out. The measures must not be clumsily executed or they will fail in their purpose.

"It will be especially important to maintain lively patrol activity and to attack the enemy repeatedly at night, thus creating the impression that an offensive is imminent. The simulated motor transport movements must be carried out under the guidance of an experienced officer. The Trento Division is requested to send in, by orderly officer on the previous evening, particulars of the measures it intends to carry out during the following day and night.

"The Division will order the employment of planes from time to time.

"April 28---The following measures will be carried out.

"In the morning until 0900 hours, and after 1800 hours in the evening, the 8th Machine Gun Battalion and Bollbrinker Battalion of the 5th Tank Regiment are to keep up a lively traffic in the direction of the front, raising much dust. The 8th Machine Gun Battalion will form 2 or 3 motor transport columns of about 15 vehicles each, and the Bollbrinker Battalion will form one such column to maintain traffic on the different roads and trails leading to the front. During the day, single vehicles are to be used to raise dust. In addition, the 5th Tank Regiment will simulate heavy traffic running in both directions on the El Adem--Capuzzo road, as far as 40 km east of El Adem, every day.

"Battery A, 75th Artillery Regiment, is to simulate the presence of a battalion by frequent firing by platoons, and by the use of sniping guns. Harassing fire will be laid down. Ammunition consumption is to be approximately equal to that of the battalion to date.

"The Bollbrinker Battalion is to use its immobilized tanks to give the enemy the impression that the position is being held in the same strength. Every opportunity must be taken to capture enemy tanks or vehicles of any type.

"The 8th Machine Gun Battalion must maintain its patrol activity on the level of that carried out up till now by the 8th Machine Gun Battalion and the 200th Engineer Battalion together. Prisoners are to be taken if possible. At night, patrols are to fire rounds frequently and send up white Very lights (red Very lights in case of enemy attack, green in case of enemy tank attack).

"Frequent radio test-calls within the divisional system, and with the von Herff Group, will be made according to oral instructions to the 3d Signal Company.

"April 29---The Trento Division will organize a lively traffic (with large numbers of vehicles from the division trains) in the direction of the front in the early morning and evening, so as to create the impression of further reinforcements. Under the command of an officer, vehicles are to be formed in columns, like those of the 8th Machine Gun Battalion and the Bollbrinker Battalion on April 28. During the daytime, single vehicles will be used to simulate heavy column traffic in both directions... [More details on where heavy traffic is to be simulated]

"Battery A, 75th Artillery Regiment, will continue its tasks of April 28, but will increase its ammunition expenditure.

"The 8th Machine Gun Battalion will maintain patrol activity as on April 28.

"Radio activity will be continued as on April 28...

"April 30---All measures ordered April 29 will be continued on an increased scale. This applies particularly to the vehicle movements by the Trento Division, the 8th Machine Gun Battalion, and the Bollbrinker Battalion, designed to simulate the arrival of reinforcements; this applies also to the fire of Battery A, 75th Artillery Regiment.

"Special actions by assault detachments will be ordered for the night of April 30 to May 1."


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