The British source from which the details set out below are taken states that
the Germans expect land mines to be laid to protect roads, tracks,
bridges, crossings, etc., in open country as part of a general defensive
scheme; and as scattered booby traps. Mine clearance is a function of the
German assault engineers.
Normal reconnaissance and reports will reveal a suspect area, which must
be reconnoitered by the engineers for boundaries, types of mines, gaps and methods
of laying. The engineers work in small parties 300 to 500 yards apart. Such
reconnaissance should be supplemented by aerial photography, maps, and by
interrogating prisoners in the area where captured.
Searching is to be done by small parties of engineers. They use long
improvised probes designed to prod, with the soldier standing erect, a
lane 3 feet wide. Protective goggles (presumably splinter-proof] are
worn. The probes are of three kinds: two are about 5 feet long, one
resembling a rapier (Sucheisen) and the other having
no special handle (Minensuchstab); the third probe is
about 15 feet long with points like a hay fork. Electro-magnetic
detectors (Minensuchgerät) are also used for clearing gaps.
Mines which have been laid a long time may be spotted in sand, by the
depression; in fields, by the lighter colored grass; in wet earth, by
the dark patches; in frosty ground, by the cracks and under a thin
covering of snow, by a slight rise if the mines have been laid during
the snow fall. Mines laid in frosty ground before the fall of snow
cannot be spotted after it.
Gaps should be 2 yards wide for infantry, 5 yards for vehicles and 10 yards
for two-way traffic.
Gaps are cleared by engineer parties, artillery barrage, and air bombardment.
Engineers clearing gaps, if the mines are not under fire, search for individual
mines. If the mines are under fire, detonating fuze
nets (Knallnetz), charges (geballte Ladungen) or bangalore
torpedoes (gestreckte Ladungen) are used. Trip-wire mechanisms
are sprung by using a harpoon.
Artillery barrages are an expensive method of mine clearance. For a
100-yard gap 20 to 25 yards wide: a 21-cm heavy howitzer fires 120 rounds of
percussion fuze ammunition, a 15-cm medium howitzer fires 400 rounds of
percussion fuze (short-delay) ammunition, and a 10.5-cm gun-howitzer fires 600
rounds of percussion fuze ammunition. The latter is not to be used except in an
Air bombardment with 50-kg bombs fuzed without delay is effective. Lighter
bombs are unsatisfactory and heavier bombs create a gap which is impassable for
armored vehicles. About nine-hundred 50-kg bombs are required to clear a gap
50 to 100 yards wide and 200 yards long.
Neither shelling nor bombing guarantees that all mines are neutralized;
this must be done by engineer parties.
d. Electro-Magnetic Detector
For reconnaissance a detector-operator and a neutralizer work as a pair
clearing a lane 5 feet wide. The detector-operator crawls about 3 feet
ahead of the neutralizer and sweeps to and fro across his front
covering a lane 5 feet wide.
For clearing a gap 15 feet wide, five such pairs are used, each
detector-operator dragging a 30-yard line behind him as a guide
for his neutralizer and his neighbor. Pulls on the rope also
serve as a means of signaling. The pairs work in staggered
formation 10 yards behind each other, each pair sweeping a
5-foot wide lane and overlapping its neighbor's lane by
about 1 foot 6 inches; this is done by sweeping up to 5 feet
out from the line of the neighboring pair in front. The
boundaries of the gaps are marked with tape laid 1 foot 6 inches
outside the guide lines.
When there is no opposition, detector-operators walk erect sweeping a
lane 8 feet wide.
e. Detonating Fuze Net
Detonating fuze is made up into a net 30 feet long and 8 feet wide with a
6 inch mesh. The net is raised on pegs or stakes 2 to 3 feet above ground. The
net is laid by hand.
f. Mobile Bangalore Torpedo (Ladungschieber)
This is improvised from two wheels with an axle between. Several of
these are made or collected and spaced 5 yards apart. The pipe of the bangalore
torpedo is laid over the axles and made fast. To supplement this, 3-kg charges
(geballte Ladungen) are placed on the pipe, two spaced between each axle. The
normal length of the bangalore torpedo on wheels is 25 yards, and it clears a gap
4 to 6 yards wide. It is towed as far as possible before being pushed out into the
minefield. The front wheels and axle are replaced by skids in overgrown country.
g. Neutralizing Mines in a Rear Area
Mines are destroyed with detonating fuze, two turns being taken round each
Mines may be ploughed by using a tractor or winch to pull the plough from
a safe distance.
S-mines may be cleared by a tank towing a harrow.