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German Methods of Warfare in the Libyan Desert
Military Intelligence Service, Information Bulletin No. 20, July 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.]

Section VI. German Desert Ground Defenses1

"Characteristic of enemy defenses was his complete reliance placed on concealment from the ground. Trenches were narrow; the parapet was spread out and never more than 9 inches high. The effect was to make the trenches most inconspicuous, and in one case an officer walked to within 30 yards of an enemy post without seeing it. There were no sandbags, few wire obstacles, and a general absence of defense stores; though this may have been by force of circumstances in the first instance, it proved entirely effective in the event, and made his defenses very difficult to locate. Revetting (facing of wall or embankment) was usually dry-stone walling, but very few posts had overhead cover, protection from the air being obtained rather by the narrowness of the trenches than by concealment. In one area a number of 'I' (infantry) tank turrets were used as pillboxes in fixed defenses and were very effective, providing good protection and being easy to conceal.

"We must give more consideration to the siting of our wire obstacles; provided that they are under fire (otherwise they are practically useless as obstacles), it is better to have them 200 yards away and concealed from the enemy, such as on a reverse slope or in a hollow, than to have them constructed to a geometric pattern 50 yards from the post and in the open.

"If time permits, consideration should be given to digging a wide shallow ditch in which to put the barbed wire. But this involves a lot of digging and is possible only in deliberate defenses.

"If it is not possible to conceal the barbed wire obstacle in such a manner, it may well be preferable to obtain concealment by having no (barbed) wire at all. In such cases antipersonnel mines may be substituted, but only if they are available in sufficiently large numbers."

1. This is taken from a British report.

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