The German Infantry Squad in Action – A Demonstration of Minor Field Tactics

The U.S. Army translated the German field manual and made this training film in 1944 to teach their soldiers how to fight the Germans as effective as possible.

Scroll down for video!

What now follows is a short extract from the German field manual, which illustrates, with a wealth of concrete examples, the basic tactics of the German Rifle Squad.

The German tactics differ somewhat from those of the U.S. squad, mainly in that the enemy unit is built for tactical purposes around the employment of the squad’s light machine gun.  It is believed that U.S. company officers and noncommissioned officers will profit by this opportunity to study the combat methods of the basic German infantry unit.

The German rifle platoon consists of the platoon leader, platoon headquarters (one leader and three men), four squads, and the light mortar squad (one leader and two men). The squad is the smallest combat unit. It consists of the squad leader and nine men, one of whom is the second-in-command. The second-in-command is the assistant of the squad leader and represents him in case of necessity, he is responsible for liaison with the platoon leader and adjacent squads.

If the immediate, combined fire action of both the light machine gun and the riflemen is required by the situation, the skirmish-line formation should be adopted.

Skirmish line

If the whole squad is to engage simultaneously in a firefight, the riflemen take positions according to the terrain, usually building up a skirmish line on both sides of the light machine gun. The light machine gun remains centrally located in the squad skirmish line, except where the terrain or situation suggests the deployment of all the riflemen to the right (or to the left)

If it is desired to change the formation from squad column to skirmish line in order to take up the fire fight immediately, the leader gives the signal or command to deploy. Bunching around the machine gun must be avoided under all circumstances.

In order to form the skirmish line from the squad column, the forward half of the riflemen deploys to the right of the machine-gunner, and the rear half to his left. The interval between men is approximately five paces, unless a different interval is expressly ordered. If it is desired that the riflemen deploy all on one side, it must be so ordered.

If you want to learn more about the German Tactics you should click on this link for the full document.


Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.