Non-commissioned officers and soldiers, as a rule, younger than 25-year-olds, who are physically fit, are unmarried (if married, they are childless). The main selection criterion is initiative and personal courage. So, one of the orders noted that the service in the assault unit is a big difference. After all, the assault case not only freed from the usual trench service, but also provides the best food and content, and awards are distributed more generously. Not showing enough effort and personal merit should be excluded from the assault [Taneyev. Ibid.].
The assault battalions were manned by fired and experienced personnel. Not for nothing, they began to implement and training functions - namely, assault troops as permanent assault units. The establishment of the assault battalions was supposed to facilitate the training of as many officers and non-commissioned officers as instructors of positional warfare and melee attacks and allow them to achieve new improvements for attacking enemy fortified positions. [Ibid. C. 1.].
The personnel of the assault units that were outside the combat zone were engaged in the preparation of new attack aircraft. The non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army units underwent short-term training as part of the assault battalions, and then, returning to their units, used new tactical ideas and skills acquired during training.
First of all, this was done by the exemplary assault battalion of Rohr. In accordance with the instructions of 1916, half of the battalion was to be at the front, and the second half was to engage in special training for infantrymen on new tactics. These courses were located in Beauville. Moreover, the battalion was engaged not only in retraining issues, he also trained assault instructors.
In December, 1915, for example, hundreds of servicemen of the 12 Landward Division passed through the Rohr battalion - receiving assault training, Landwehr acquired the skills of the latest tactical constructions, read maps, stormed training defensive lines.
Non-commissioned officers inculcated the skills of independence (non-commissioned officer - junior commander, not just a simple officer of officer orders, had to keep confidently and show a reasonable initiative). Privates must know all the ways to fight.
Training for military personnel included theoretical and practical courses.
The purpose of the first is to familiarize seconded officers and non-commissioned officers (based on fresh combat experience) with tactical techniques, the specifics of positional warfare, the use of combat weapons, and the interaction of forces and means (primarily assault ones) in battle. Lectures were given on the actions of the German and enemy weapons, the interaction between the infantry, machine gunners and gunners in the offensive and in defense, establishing and maintaining communication.
here and above - assault troops
The most important tasks of practical training are the introduction of iron discipline (which is why stormtroopers later became one of the strongholds of order in the chaos of revolutionary Germany), instilling confidence in their strength, love for work, tempering character and body, and developing skills in modern combat.
For practical training of attack aircraft built special towns, equipped in accordance with the latest front-line experience. A particularly important role was played by the camp near Sedan. Practical training of attack aircraft included practicing trench combat skills, handling machine guns (domestic and enemy), throwing grenades of all types, overcoming obstacles, destroying wire obstacles, handling carbines and pistols, participating in combined maneuvers using flamethrowers.
scheme of the training camp for the preparation of attack aircraft
Initially, individual and then group training was carried out, and, finally, within the entire unit (when the entire complex of the assault battalion was used). In the course of training, training positions were worked out against the attacks of enemy trenches, the seizure of several lines of enemy positions, counterattacks, the stripping of resistance centers, actions against fortifications and machine guns, and the reflection of enemy counterattacks. The attackers threw grenades, dragged machine guns, crawled on their bellies, stormed the lines of trenches.
attack aircraft in a training camp near Sedan, May 1917
obstacle course in a training camp near Sedan. August 1917
The success of the Germans in March 1918 was largely due to the excellent preparation of attack aircraft. The assault on the training lines of defense, identical to real targets, repeatedly worked out their attacks. The command staff had large-scale maps created on the basis of the latest aerial photography data. In preparation, combat cartridges and grenades were widely used, and this sometimes led to dire consequences. Thus, an eyewitness recalled how during a training attack on the defensive positions of a complex trench configuration, combat grenades were used, and one of the machine-gunners with a queue cut off an officer from the horse who was watching the exercises [Drury I.P. 25].
in training camp under Sedan, 1917
The situation was as close as possible to the combat: they used gases and smoke, the targets were full-scale, they worked out the interaction of all the armed forces, and repeated exercises of assault trenches using mortars, flamethrowers and infantry guns of the fighters, brought the actions of the latter to automatism. At the heart of the preparation lay the perfected technique of throwing into the attack, the technique of overcoming artificial obstacles and the technique of grenade fighting in the trenches. The fighter was required to outline in advance the path of movement to the attack - taking into account shelters (hollows, craters, etc.) and points of respite, to work out the technique of movement. Such preparation of the attack led to the fact that the latter was carried out rapidly, almost without needing control. In the throwing of grenades, such perfection was achieved - so that from the breaks of one trench or the course of a message, accurately throw the grenade into a defensive or trench defended by the enemy.
On the eve of the last major offensive of the German imperial army, E. Ludendorff even tried to create assault formations - the so-called. shock or assault divisions. But the progressive shortage of high-quality manpower forced him to abandon plans to turn all his infantry divisions into assault: in the winter of 1917 / 18, planning a large offensive in the west, he saw that too many soldiers had crossed the 30-year line or lacked the necessary physical training. The general reorganized, gathering young fighters in the shock divisions — for each shock division, on average, 3 had positional divisions of lower combat value. The latter were staffed by youngsters and older people, had a minimum of equipment, differing in lower fighting spirit. Impact compounds received the lion's share of artillery, supplies, ammunition and preparation time. The strongest fighters were sent to their ranks. But mass connections did not have the quality of training and the elite assault battalions.
Uniforms and equipment.
The German infantry of the First World War had one of the most practical uniforms. The 1910 g. Uniform, recalling the days of the victory of the Franco-Prussian war, was well suited for maneuvering campaigns, but with the transition of hostilities to the positional stage, the form began to change. The crowded helmet Shishak had no practical function, perfectly indicating the location of the German soldier. Therefore, the front-line soldiers tried to get rid of this detail of their headdress. In 1915, a new model helmet is introduced - with a removable sisak and a cloth case. The new helmet was not made of leather (it was getting smaller), but of felt, metal, and even pressed cardboard.
The first attack aircraft in 1915 wore a standard uniform - at that time the uniform of the fighters on the front line differed from the established pattern only in minor details. In accordance with the pre-war program, instead of field gray trousers (feldgrau), stone-gray-colored pants (stengrau) were injected - after all, the matter of the fieldgradua faded rapidly. Instead, the sample tuner 1907 / 10. A new, more practical, no flap (in the place of missing pockets), but having cuffs instead of characteristic cuffs. The soldiers were ordered to blacken leather items: belts, boots, and cartridge bags - although it was not always possible in front-line conditions. The shooters and huntsmen retained the shape of a characteristic gray-green hue, while the uniform in the machine-gun parts became gray-protective. This, of course, applied to the "native units" of the storm troopers wearing the uniform. The designations of belonging to the military unit were limited to the number on the epaulets, at the same time the regimental galloons remained, although now they were sewn only on the collar. The non-commissioned officer’s galloe became simpler — and they began to be sewn only on the corners of the collar, while the cuff-erated galloon became a small segment, sewn on top of the cuff. The pre-war overcoat was replaced by a gray-protective uniform overcoat intended for servicemen regardless of belonging to the combat arm.
reconstruction of weapons and equipment of the fighter of German assault units 1917-18. Dressed in a field blouse and field trousers made of gray fabric, boots with windings, a 1916 steel helmet on his head. From weapons - Mauser 98А carbine, grenades, a trench knife - a characteristic weapon of assault units. Out of equipment - a shovel, a gas mask, on the neck cartridge belt for 70 cartridges, two bags for grenades.
With 1915, a gas mask consisting of a mask of rubberized fabric and a filter box (removable; a spare one was worn) began to flow into the troops.
21. 09. 1915. The German army received a new uniform. The tunic replaced the blouse (although the old tunics were worn until the end of the war), which had a more loose fit. It had large oblique pockets on the front of the 2, buttoning gray metal-buttoned buttons (for additional masking, the buttonholes closed the slat). They sewed a dark-blue feldgrau blouse, trimming a turn-down collar with a green fabric. An 1895 model satchel with calfskin cover was too uncomfortable for trenches. On the Eastern Front, the satchel was worn until the end of the war, and in the Western, it gave way to an “assault pack” consisting of a raincoat and greatcoat, rolled up into a roll and wrapped around a bowler hat. This design was lighter and more compact. Sometimes the old knapsacks were used outside the front line (during the marches), but they mostly gave up in the wagon train.
attack ground equipment
Only at the beginning of 1916, the attackers receive a new piece of equipment that distinguishes them from the army, the steel helmet, which in time became a kind of emblem of the German army. Over the course of 1915, this helmet was attacked along with various types of body armor. The German helmet, nicknamed by the British "bucket for coal", was made of silicon-nickel steel and weighed 1,2 kg. Thanks to the backplate and eyelets, he protected the warrior’s head much better than Adrian’s French helmet or the English (reminiscent of medieval times) “shaving basin”. Inside the helmet was a shock absorber, and the chin strap was adjusted in length. Two ears, sticking out on the sides of the helmet, made it possible to fasten an additional armor sheet. The helmet was worn, as a rule, by guards and snipers, whereas among the usual infantrymen, he initially met infrequently. Stormtroopers wore helmet polls. As the English document noted, the Germans had a high opinion of their helmets, who in the very short time earned a great deal of confidence in the army. [Tactical techniques of the German army from the experience of 1916 fighting in the Somme. C. 23].
Initially, the Rohr battalion tested various types of body armor — the latter were supposed to reduce personnel losses. In addition to body armor, they were tested by attack aircraft and shields. But the imperfection of the technology of the time led to the fact that it was necessary to make shields from fairly thick steel sheets - and the shields were too heavy and inconvenient to attack. This shield is more disturbed than defended. Bullet-proof vests were also inconvenient, and they were mainly used by observers and sentries - fighters who do not need to move a lot. More actively used "cuirass" and "armor" branches of light machine guns of assault groups. And by the beginning of the offensive near Verdun, February 1916, the attack aircraft apparently differed in appearance from the infantry. For example, if many attackers wore a steel helmet, most of the infantrymen continued to wear a pickelub with a shishak removed.
Attack soldiers wore and equipment adapted to their specific tasks. They quickly abandoned the use of pouches, starting to stuff the cartridges into the pockets of the tunic. Later, a triple pouch began to be worn on one side, while on the other side - on a belt - a trench dagger. The rifle was worn behind his back, and the waist belt with cartridge bags was missing. Spare rifle clips were in a cartridge case thrown over the neck (up to 70 cartridges). Each attack plane had at least a dozen hand grenades (as much as it could carry) - they were worn in bags suspended over their shoulders. Some attack aircraft had wire cutters in order to make passages in wire fences. Another distinguishing feature of the attack aircraft was that he wore boots with windings instead of boots. Large leather patches were sewn on the elbows and knees - reinforcing problem areas (with constant crawling). From personal belongings, the attack aircraft carried a bowler hat and overcoat in the roll with them.
The 1917 manual called the steel helmet, gas mask, 2 bags for grenades, 2 water flasks and duffel bag as mandatory attributes of the attack aircraft equipment. Since by the end of 1916, assault battalions appeared in all armies of the Western Front (and the soldiers in their composition served for a certain time, then returning to their units), by the middle of 1917, non-commissioned officers and officers served in most infantry battalions, trained in the assault. Returning to their unit, they brought with them not only the latest tactics, but also a characteristic form. In the autobiographical novel “War” L. Rennes recalled how a new officer of the unit asked the sergeant-major about what he wears windings and patches for if it is not allowed by the charter. When the latter explained that he served in the assault, the captain was satisfied, because he was going to create an assault platoon in his unit, but many officers did not like that such noncoms not only had a special form, but also had their own tactical views.
Describing the insignia of attack aircraft, it is worth noting that the latter wore the uniform of "native" parts or assigned during the formation. The latter is characteristic of attackers — that is, permanent units. But the latter were also assigned the form of the units that went to form them (for example, the 1, 2 and 3 assault battalions were in the form of light infantry, and the 10 and 5 (Rohr) engineering parts). On shoulder straps affixed the number of the assault. Thus, the 1 th assault battalion fighters on the field gray with a white vypushkoy infantry shoulder straps had a red number "1", 3-egersky - on a gray-green with a green vypushka jager's epaulettes, red number "3", and the battalion Rohr - on black red vypushkoy engineering uniform red figure "5". Common to all is the red color of the battalion number on the epaulets.
Here and above - samples of helmets, body armor and breastplates
Officially approved insignia of attack aircraft were absent. In the German army it was forbidden to wear bullying patrons - though attack aircraft often ignored this ban. Thus, the stormtroopers depicted on one of the photographs on the left sleeve wear a dark stripe in the shape of a grenade. The fighters of the assault company of the 23-th Reserve (Saxon) Division, which was attached to the 12 Army Corps, wore a green bandage with white edging and the letter S on their left arm. Officially, only some of the emblems of the specialized units were confirmed: the initials “MW” ( Minenwerfer) on the mortar strap and the "dead head" flamethrowers. Thus, the Reddeman Guards flamethrowers in full-field uniforms with engineer chases (black, red edging, without number) and guards buttonhole “coils” on the cuff of the left sleeve were carried by a special insignia, presented by Kaiser Wilhelm - a round black badge with a picture of a "silver" bow, a round "black" ой ". In winter operations white camouflage was used. The characteristic details of the uniform of all attack aircraft are leather overlays on the knees and elbows, the letter S of green cloth (“stormtrooper” —that is, attack aircraft) or the image of a grenade (typical for the assault detachments of infantry units) on the left sleeve of the blouse, and instead of boots there are boots windings. Often, camouflage camouflage was applied by helmets on helmets and gas boxes.
The supply of soldiers in the trenches is fraught with great difficulties - the delivery of food and ammunition to the front lines did not work reliably. And the fighters, going to the front line, took with them an 5-day food supply. To heat the food in the trenches, they used small burners that worked on dry alcohol, while in order to deliver hot soup and coffee, they used special flasks-thermos flasks. But when the intensity of the shelling was reduced, food was immediately sent to the front line. Since in Belgium and Northern France many water sources were not suitable for drinking, the water supply system had to be organized - wells appeared, pipes were laid and pumps were installed. Sugar factories, breweries and other enterprises have become water treatment plants. Drinking water pipelines were laid as close to the front line as possible - sometimes reaching the front trenches. In addition to water, soldiers received mineral water - sometimes directly from existing factories. Stocks of the latter were organized near the front line. Going to the front line, the fighters received 2 bottles of fresh water and as much mineral water as they could carry.
In 1914, the daily ration of a private soldier who was in the field included 750 g of bread (or 400 g of biscuits), 375 of meat or 200 of corned beef, and other products. The meat ration, gradually shrinking, fell to 1915 by the end of 350, and by October 1916 to 250. One day a week became lean. Younger commanders received 125 ml brandy (or rum) or 250 ml wine or half a liter of beer per day. Also on the day relied 30 g pipe tobacco or 2 cigars (cigarettes). Often contented with suhpaykom (200 g corned beef or bacon, 250 g biscuits, 150 g canned vegetables, 25 g salt, 25 g coffee). Stormtroopers issued reinforced rations.
German and Austrian soldiers are fed from the same boiler. Italian Front, October 1917. The picture was taken shortly after the assault units of the Italian front at Caporetto broke through
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