The following intelligence report on German security measures originally appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 12, November 19th, 1942. The report is based on captured orders from the commander of the German 15th Panzer Division in North Africa.
In the late spring of 1942, both the Germans and the British on the Gazala—Bir Hacheim line were building up strength for offensive action and, at the same time, organizing their own defensive systems to repulse the expected enemy attack. A captured German order issued by the Commander of the 15th Armored Division contains several interesting notes on these German defensive preparations.
Comparing the position of the division to that of a "spider lying in wait... for its victim," the commander ordered all elements of the division to be ready for action as follows:
(a) All front-line troops, immediately upon attack by the enemy;
(b) A specially designated task force, within an hour;
(c) The remainder of the division, within 3 hours.
Instructions were given for thorough ground reconnaissance to be carried out by all units down to and including platoons. Artillery observers were ordered to take positions much farther forward than normally, since "otherwise, after the first shot, dust develops and there is no possibility for direction of fire."
Apparently a tank company, in addition to the normal armored-car patrols, was to be held in readiness for action at all times. This company, however, was not to be committed unless the enemy attacked in force, and above all, was not to engage routine enemy patrols.
Just as the tank company was to be held as a reserve, the remainder of the division's tanks was not to be committed until the artillery and Panzerjäger units had engaged the enemy. Apparently, the German commander expected the British attack to consist primarily of tanks.
In addition to the regular minefields, dummy minefields were ordered laid. The commander emphasized that a great deal more attention should be given to making these fields realistic, pointing out that a captured British document indicated that the German dummy minefields were ordinarily too easily distinguished from the real ones.
Knowing that the British had a justifiable fear of the 88-mm gun, the commander ordered that dummy 88's be constructed with trucks and old telephone poles.
In addition to these measures of deception, dust generators (no description given) were to be used for simulating vehicle movements; and captured British trucks were to be camouflaged as tanks.
Great emphasis was laid on utilizing existing materiel to the utmost to achieve greater combat effectiveness. Unit leaders were requested to submit suggestions on how a larger amount of ammunition and fuel could be carried by the existing transport facilities. In this connection they were asked to discard all possible material and equipment which would be unnecessary for combat.