Thursday 30 July 2015

Tanks and Minefields

"Instructions for arranging the passage of tanks through obstructions on the offensive
  1. In order to have tanks attack during the penetration of the enemy's first line of defense, it is necessary to make a passage in both our and enemy minefields, 1 passage per 5 tanks, 20 meters wide.
  2. Passages in our defenses are made a while before the attack, passages in enemy defenses are made 2-3 days before or on the night before the attack.
  3. The following methods can be used to clear a path through a minefield:
    1. Disarming mines by hand (in this case it is desirable to remove the detonator and leave the mine so that the passage is undetectable).
    2. Destruction of mines with mine trawlers.
    3. Destruction of mines using artillery and mortar fire during the opening barrage.
  4. The decisive condition for success is careful and constant surveillance of enemy minefields and knowledge of their borders and nature.
  5. It is desirable to send tanks in directions not covered by anti-tank mines. Only make passages on the basis of tactical decisions.
  6. All passages must be marked with markers visible during the day and night. The following markers can be used, depending on terrain:
    1. Stakes up to 1 meter tall, covered in dirt from the enemy's side and with lime carbonate on our side.
    2. Birch stakes up to 1 meter tall, covered in dirt from the enemy's side.
    3. Unidirectional signal lamps, pointed towards our side, and equipped with special visors, placed above the ground and undetectable by the enemy.
    4. Special metal plates covered in phosphorous, positioned at a slight slant towards our side.
    5. Stripes painted on terrain with lime carbonate the night before the attack.
  7. The passages must be concealed so that the enemy does not discover them.
  8. Aside from markers indicating the passages, markers must be placed every 25-30 meters. Turns are labelled with arrow pointers, two markers per turn.
  9. A control service is established at the passages.
  1. Before the offensive, make passages in our own minefields. The passages and their approaches are marked with markers.
  2. Assign squads (3-5 sappers with two hand machineguns). If passages in enemy minefields are made 2-3 days before the offensive, the squads observe the minefields from secret locations near the passages. Dig "fox nest" type trenches in two locations:
    1. 150-200 meters from the minefields, to be occupied by the squads immediately before the artillery barrage.
    2. In close proximity to the minefields, to be occupied by the squads when the artillery barrage moves further towards the enemy. Their task here is to guide the tanks towards the passages.
  3. Passages in enemy minefields are made 2-3 days before or on the night of the offensive. If it is impossible to fully make the passages (location is covered by deadly fire from an enemy stronghold), they are either made with artillery or with tank trawlers during the attack. Passages in enemy minefields are marked according to part 1 section 6 the night before the attack.
  4. De-blocking groups (3-5 sappers) are used to check the success of the artillery mine removal (checked after fire moves deeper into enemy defenses) and to disable mines during/after the infantry's advance.
  5. If passages are made through the entire minefield, the sappers send up a red flare. Squads near the passages guide tanks towards them by sending up red flares as the tanks approach.
    If passages were made by artillery and mortars, then the de-blocking groups must check them as soon as the artillery barrage moves deeper into enemy territory, alongside advancing infantry. Signals for tanks are only sent up when the passage is cleared of mines.
  6. Sappers assigned to clearing anti-tank mines are not to be used or any other task. While they work on their task, they are to be covered by infantry, and cooperate with tanks and infantry according to a plan established in advance.
  7. Tasks are issued to sappers on location by the regimental engineer in the presence of the commander of the tank unit that will be using that passage. The divisional engineer gives general instructions on setting up the passages.
    The regimental engineer is responsible for the passages in his regiment's area, the divisional engineer is responsible for all passages of the division.
    The regimental engineer must personally introduce the commanders of the tank units with the obstructions and passages, and give instructions on how to move tanks through the passages. Tank unit commanders are responsible for their crews' knowledge of the passages, their approaches, and following the rules of movement through the passages.
  8. De-blocking groups provide the movement of tanks through passages after checking them. The control procedure is as follows:
    1. After tanks move out from their starting positions, they meet with the passage commandant at the initial landmark. The commandant gives the tank unit commander the direction of movement towards the passage, or points to a landmark where the tanks must go.
    2. Sapper squads send up additional flares to guide the tanks. The path through the minefield is shown by the de-blocking squad, or, if the passage was made in advance, by the hidden sapper squad.
  9. If tanks move ahead of infantry through a passage that was cleared in advance, hidden sapper squads guide them using tracer bullets.
  10. Past the first line of defense, paths through minefields are cleared by attached sapper groups as minefields are discovered in front of the tanks.
  11. These instructions are to be studied by all commanders of engineering units, down to the squad commander and commanders of tank units down to commanders of individual tanks. Divisional engineers are responsible for providing tank unit commanders with one copy of these instructions."

Collection of Combat Documents from the Great Patriotic War, vol. 3, doc. 5.


  1. Very useful information for some future wargames:)

  2. #10. Pssst, c'mere... you can also use cannon fodder from the penal battalions. Just don't tell anyone.

    1. Walking your battalion into a minefield is a poor way of achieving your objectives.