German Squad Tactics (Offensive)

The basic aggressive infantry squad tactics of all nations were devised with similar ends in mind: they were solutions to the problems of how to advance by means of fire and movement, and dislodge the enemy from his position. In World War II, the German squad would play its part by winning its Feuerkampf or firefight and occupying key positions during battles, never hesitating when they launched themselves on the offensive. When moving on the battlefield, the German squad had two main formations; advancing in the "Reihe", or loose single file formation, and "Schützenkette", or skirmish line. In the "Reihe" the squad leader took the lead, followed by the machine gunner and his assistants; these were followed by the riflemen, with the assistant squad leader bringing up the rear. The Reihe was highly practical for moving along tracks, presented a small target from the front, and allowed the squad leader to take decisions, directing the squad as needed. In all instances, the men were to take advantages of terrain, keeping behind contours and cover, rushing across exposed areas when alternatives were lacking.

From the single file formation (Reihe), the squad could easily be deployed into the "Schützenkette", or skirmish line. With the machine gun deploying on the spot, the riflemen could come up to the right, left, or both sides, bringing their weapons to bear. The result was a ragged line, with the men about five paces apart, taking whatever cover was available. The advance to contact was in bounds, from one visible objective to another, with a new objective specified as soon as the leaders had reached the first. Where resistance was serious the advance became fully fledged "fire and movement", either with a whole squad taking part, or a machine gun team down and firing while others advanced. Although grenades were best thrown from behind cover, they could also be used on the move. The soldier was instructed to grasp his rifle in the left hand and the grenade in the right, using the fingers of the hand holding the rifle to pull the fuse cord at the opportune moment. In circumstances where showers of grenades where needed, the order "Handgranaten!" from the squad leader would prompt the men to throw.

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