[Lone Sentry: The German Armored Division]
[Lone Sentry: Photos, Articles, and Research on the European Theater in World War II]
Home Page | Site Map | What's New | Contact: info@lonesentry.com

The German Armored Division
Military Intelligence Service, Information Bulletin No. 18, June 15, 1942
[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the wartime U.S. War Department publication. 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.]

Chapter 12


155. If by reason of exceptional circumstances the armored division is employed to break through a permanently fortified front, the attack will be carried out by the motorized infantry brigade reinforced with engineer assault detachments, attached infantry units, strong forces of artillery and engineers and will follow the principles laid down for Attack against a Permanently Fortified Front.

Heavy tanks and heavy antitank guns may be used singly to engage loopholes. They will be attached to the motorized infantry. Part of the tank brigade may be employed to engage enemy forces holding intermediate ground, and to cover the advance of assault parties, thereby relieving strain on the artillery.

The main body of the tank brigade will not be employed until tank obstacles have been removed. Its task will be to extend the breach achieved by the infantry, and turn it into a complete breakthrough. Search for tank traps and obstacles must be carried out deep into the enemy's position in order to prevent abortive employment of the tank brigade.

156. Cooperation with the air force is particularly important when the armored division is attacking a permanently fortified position. The air force can have a decisive influence on the armored division's attack by reconnaissance of targets, bombing attacks on enemy fortifications, tank traps, sleeping quarters, headquarters, switchboards, and reserves, and by providing defense against enemy aircraft. The air force bombardment timetable must be coordinated with the fire plan of ground troops. Parachutists dropped in or behind the enemy positions can give material assistance.

Close liaison with the air force is essential. Foremost elements of the division must be clearly distinguished. There must likewise be no possible doubt regarding the line beyond which the division must not advance before the bombing attack. There must be air liaison officers provided with all necessary means of communication, not only at division headquarters, but also with the foremost troops.


157. When a river must be crossed in the attack, the motorized infantry will first carry out the crossing according to principles laid down for the infantry division. Its small numerical strength permits attack only on a narrow front. Tanks with heavy guns can be sited to fire from cover from the near bank while the crossing is being made.

The bridgehead formed on the far side should at first not be larger than can safely be held by the division infantry and artillery.

158. Ferry crossings should be started as soon as possible and used to move tank units. The latter will extend the bridgehead so that construction of a permanent bridge can begin.

Antiaircraft machine-gun units must be included in advance parties in order to protect the crossing.

The main body of tanks and those parts of the motorized infantry which are not required to establish the bridgehead should be kept well in rear in order to keep clear the crossing points allotted for vehicles. When the bridge is completed—and not before—they will cross and carry out deep thrusts into the enemy lines. The vehicles of troops engaged in the river operation follow them.

159. The division must lay down in detail the order in which troops and vehicles are to be ferried or are to cross the bridge. Points at which columns are to separate and assembly positions must be located well in the rear of crossing points. The division commander will appoint officers to regulate traffic at separation points. They will prevent other units from using the bridge without authority of the division. They will have telephone communication with the bridge and with the troops waiting to cross. Commanders of troops which have crossed will see that crossing points are quickly freed for the passage of following troops.


160. Except when necessary, tanks should not be employed in built-up areas, since their movements are restricted and they are easy targets for antitank weapons. When the armored division is compelled to fight in a built-up area, the task should be assigned to the motorized infantry. As in the case of an attack against a permanently fortified front, the motorized infantry may be strengthened by single heavy tanks, heavy antitank guns, and engineer assault detachments. They give support by engaging particularly strongly fortified defense areas.

Built-up areas can be overcome more rapidly and with fewer casualties if smoke is used to blind the enemy, if he is paralyzed by artillery and bombing attacks, or if the area is burned down. Tank and motorized infantry units following in rear of the first wave will be employed to flank the locality and take it from the rear. Liaison must be insured between forces carrying out the frontal and flank attacks.


161. Woods and mountains limit the mobility of tanks, interfere with their deployment, and appreciably weaken the armored division's power of attack. The division should, therefore, avoid fighting in woods and mountains. If it has to fight the enemy across wooded country and mountains, it must employ the motorized infantry brigade, reinforced by other arms or task forces.

To prevent tanks from falling into enemy traps when fighting in woods and mountains, especially thorough reconnaissance is necessary.

Fighting in woods and mountains must be conducted in a narrow front along roads, but must be in great depth. The terrain prevents lateral reinforcement of several combat teams attacking along separate routes.

Employment of engineers assumes increased importance in fighting in woods and mountains.

In particularly difficult country, it may be necessary to hold back the tanks in early stages, and to advance protected by motorized infantry and by motorcycle troops when the motorized infantry has dislodged the enemy.


162. In advance and attack in smoke or fog, the armored division must rely on tracks and notable features which point the direction of the objective. Advance by bounds will frequently be necessary. The division must be organized in depth, and units must be held in close contact with each other. Even while advancing, units must be organized in their battle formations. Early allotment of necessary supporting arms and signal equipment is essential.

163. In advancing deployed and in attacking an enemy unprepared for defense, the tank brigade will lead. Generally motorcycle troops will be attached to insure maintenance of contact, immediate protection, and close reconnaissance.

The motorized infantry brigade (following in vehicles) and other parts of the division should be accompanied on their flanks by antitank troops. Until the division is equipped with antitank guns on self-propelled mounts, this task will be carried out by tanks. These will protect the motorized infantry against a surprise tank attack and sudden lifting of the fog or smoke.

164. Against an enemy organized for defense, the attacks will be led by the motorized infantry brigade on foot. Tanks and antitank troops are allotted to motorized infantry on company or platoon strength to deal with enemy defense areas.

165. It will often be desirable to employ task forces in fighting in fog and smoke.

[Back to German Armored Division Table of Contents] Back to Table of Contents