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German Tactical Doctrine, Military Intelligence Service, Special Series No. 8, December 20, 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.]


The division artillery commander is a special advisor to the division commander on artillery einployment, replacement, and ammunition; he is also commander of the artillery regiment, which includes the medium howitzer battalion, the sound-and-flash battalion, and such artillery as may be attached. He orders artillery concentrations, counterbattery, and harrassing fire in cooperation with the general scheme of maneuver and in support of the infantry.

The artillery battalion is the fire unit. The battalion commander indicates definitely to his batteries such matters as the following: targets, aiming points, amounts of ammunition to be fired, time for opening fire, location of positions, ammunition supply, routes, types of fire, and kinds of ammunition. Firing data are obtained for the battalion by ranging shots, map computations, operations of the observation battalion (sound-and-flash), and references furnished by friendly troops. In very wide sectors or when operating in terrain of restricted visibility, it may be necessary for certain batteries to obtain firing data individually according to their tactical missions.


Part of the artillery, usually the light howitzers, has the principal mission of providing direct support to the infantry. The remainder is employed in counterbattery, harassing fires and preparations, concentrations, and interdictions. Close connection with the sound-and-flash battalion is maintained. Disposition must be kept flexible to permit quick shifting of battery positions, missions, and targets. The employment in general is determined by these considerations: (a) number and kinds of guns available; (b) combat plans of the command as a whole; (c) terrain and weather; (d) hostile artillery; (e) ammunition available.

[Figure 1. Artillery in a division attack.]
Figure 1. Artillery in a division attack.


In general, in the attack the artillery is located immediately in rear of the infantry line, just beyond range of hostile small-arms fire. Figure 1 shows a typical arrangement, with the observation battalion (sound-and-flash) operating directly under the artillery commander.

If reconnaissance and combat intelligence have given definite information about hostile dispositions, then a preparation may be fired, continuing 10 to 30 minutes, and depending upon the ammunition available, the surprise effect, and the situation. In the case where practically no information on the enemy is available, the artillery preparation is omitted; the infantry launches the attack, drawing fire from hostile heavy weapons and artillery, upon which, once located, the friendly artillery can thereafter fire.


Artillery in the defense is organized the same way as in the attack. The only difference in dispositions is that the direct support weapons (light howitzers) are located slightly farther to the rear, and the general support guns (medium howitzers) are in a central location where they can interdict at long ranges to force an early deployment of approaching enemy formations.


Time and space must be carefully coordinated by both the infantry and the artillery. It is essential that the artillery observers be at all times alert, not only to locate targets and hostile forces but to follow closely the movements of friendly troops, particularly the infantry. To facilitate this close contact, it devolves upon the infantry to seize and hold terrain which offers excellent observation for the artillery. Communication is effectively maintained. Close contact between infantry and artillery officers is absolutely essential. The division commander indicates, as promptly as possible, the plan of maneuver to the artillery commander so as to permit the latter the maximum freedom in planning the role for the artillery.

In the advance the artillery renders immediate support to the infantry when contact with the enemy is gained. This is accomplished by the artillery observers, who accompany the foremost infantry elements, or observe from balloon or airplane. In the attack the artillery must neutralize the hostile resistance and open the way for the advance of the infantry. Rapid reconnaissance and prompt deployment for action contribute to the success of this mission. It is generally advantageous for the infantry to wait for the support of the artillery. It is also important for the infantry to understand the limitations and capabilities of the artillery.34

34 In this connection: (1) the number, caliber, and effective range of batteries available; (2) the time necessary for preparation of fire; (3) the amount and kind of ammunition available; (4) the type of targets adapted to artillery fire.

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