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"Notes of a British Armored Force Officer on German Tank Employment" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following notes by a British officer regarding German panzer employment was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 34, September 23, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. 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.]


In Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 28, p. 12, there appeared a translation of a German document issued in the form of a general order by the Panzer Army High Command, listing the 10 rules on the function and employment of tanks. A copy of these rules follows:

1. The tank is a deciding weapon in battle. Therefore, employment should be limited to the "main effort" in suitable terrain.

2. The tank is not an individual fighting weapon. The smallest unit is the tank platoon; for larger missions, the tank company.

3. The tank is not an infantry support weapon. It breaks into and through the enemy line, for the closely following infantry.

4. The tank can take a piece of terrain and clear it, but it cannot hold it. This is an infantry mission, supported by infantry heavy weapons, antitank guns, and artillery.

5. The tank is not to be employed as artillery, which fights the enemy for an extended period from one position. The tank fights while moving with short halts for firing.

6. The mission of the infantry is to pin down enemy defensive weapons, and to follow the tank attack closely in order to exploit completely the force and morale effect of that attack.

7. The mission of the artillery is to support the tank attack by fire, to destroy enemy artillery, and to follow closely the rapidly advancing tank attack. The main task of the artillery support is continuous flank protection.

8. The mission of the tank destroyers is to follow the tank attack closely and to get into the battle immediately when tank fights tank.

9. The mission of the combat engineers is to clear minefields and to open gaps under tank, infantry, and artillery protection, in order to enable the continuation of the tank attack.

10. The tank is blind and deaf at night. It is then the mission of the infantry to protect the tanks.

*          *          *

It is interesting to report here the following notes by GHQ, Middle East Forces, based on a report by an experienced armored force officer, which reviews the points presented in the German document.

(1) It is considered that, with the exception of No.'s 2 and 3, the "Ten Commandments" are sound common sense, based on elementary and fundamental principles.

(2) No. 2, however, is interesting, since it reflects the opinions of von Arnim, von Thoma and Stumme (now all prisoners of war) who fought in Russia, where they acquired the habit of using their tanks in "penny packets".

A platoon is 5 tanks, and a company is 17 PzKw 3s, 18 PzKw 4s or 8 PzKw 6s.

Rommel would never have agreed to the company being split, and would normally have preferred to use the battalion, or even the regiment, as the unit of attack, as we would ourselves.

(3) No. 3 is debatable. Against weak antitank defense and no mines, this rule would be true. Medenine* showed that now since we are as well equipped with antitank guns as the Germans, they will have to rewrite this Commandment, and use their tanks in a similar manner to their recent employment by Eighth Army.

(4) It is interesting to note that in No. 8 the main antitank weapon is considered to be the tank-hunting platoon and NOT the tank. This accords with our own views but in the past has not been always understood.

*In the Mareth Line region


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