|Object Name||Orders, Military|
German document that was captured near Rembercourt, France.
31st Infantry Division
Section Ia No. 3555 [hand written: "Secret!"]Division Headquarters, 25 September 1918
Re: 1.) Orderly rapid evacuation of no man's land (Ia).
2.) Undertakings (Ia).
3.) Organization of a company in an offensive battle in a forest (Ia).
1.)The Army order of 24 September 1918 (Numeral 4) states:
"Only in the most seldom cases will the exact day and hour of enemy attacks be learned. In the case that this, through favorable circumstances, is learned, however, squads are to make arrangements which ensure an orderly, rapid evacuation of no man's land except for light fortifications, which could feign our continued occupation of no man's land."
Addition for the division:
As soon as an impending major offensive has become known to the division, the division will command
Code word: "Make way."
Upon this cue, the regiments are to remove the bulk of the forces occupying no man's land back to the first line of defense; this is to be obeyed under all circumstances.
Under specially selected leaders, valiant individual light machine gun squads will be left, well hidden in clear locations. Feigning an occupied no man's land, these squads pull back while fighting, causing the attacking enemy as much harm as possible, always keeping to forest paths, ravines, pits, etc., and skillfully eluding capture. Only a few machine guns will be able to significantly hold back the enemy - especially the Americans - and thereby enable the timely occupation of the first line of defense and the pockets of resistance, after the creeping barrage has passed over them.
Whenever the company in no man's land is relieved, these machine gun squads are to be identified on site and briefed. An outline of the arrangement of these light machine gun squads should be kept ready at every post for the relieving combat group commander.
All company leaders are to be notified of the aforementioned order.
If this code word is not issued, the hitherto successful combat procedures are to be applied further.
"The enemy has been repeatedly successful in taking a substantial number of prisoners during offensive patrols. The total loss of our missing persons have significantly outweighed the count of the enemy prisoners we have brought in. For the most part, our reported attempts at retaliation no longer appear to have encountered the enemy in no man's land.
This creates the need to again recommend a mobile, flexible placement of bivouacs, sentries, and patrols, which do not adhere to a single location. Above all, however, attention must be given to our forward positions' skillful and timely evasion of enemy barrage fire and the quickest possible preparation of counterattacks from our flank to cut off the enemy who has invaded no man's land. Through the diligent, yet rapidly devised, operations of our own raiding squads, the enemy is to be sought out and harmed in no man's land."
Addition for the division:
Every regiment will submit a plan with a code word and outline after an assessment by the division brigade:
a) for a small operation to be performed by a strong patrol squad in order to bring in prisoners (without special artillery support),
b) for a larger operation that can be executed by around 1 battalion: deep push into and beyond the enemy's main position, capture of prisoners and goods, return to our position, simultaneous consolidation of no man's land.
At the same time, desired artillery support is to be requested.
These specified operations a) and b) can be implemented at any time, according to weather and opportunity; in all cases, however, the division must report intent 24 hours beforehand. The division is obligated to send prior notification to the squad. There is no harm, however, if the operation, for any reason, does not take place at the intended time. I give the regiments free rein in this matte; nevertheless, I would be pleased, if we can still do the well-known, somewhat bellicose 78th American Division (see prisoner interrogation!) some proper harm.
3.)According to a communication from the A.A.C., the following formation has repeatedly proved itself in this year's battles for an invading company in an offensive attack in a forest:
In front 1-2 Squads in loose formation with light machine guns, behind them the rest of the company in rows or double rows closely following behind their leaders.
World War I
No man's land