Fighting at Night

Discussion in 'General' started by Drew5233, Oct 26, 2009.

  1. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    The issue of nightfighting must be seen from what effect it has upon the various armies.

    The British army had a strong tradition for nightfighting from the great war. Lord Gort found it neccessary to emphasise in his orders to the BEF that there must be heavy patroling at night.

    The patroles themselves were divided into two groups. Recce or fighting.

    During the first siege of Tobruk Gen. Moreshead fought ferociously at night. The defenders of Tobruk quickly found the nighfighting highly effective. Nightfighting against the Germans nullified thier strengths.

    The Germans had a number of good kit that made them formidable opponent during daytime. Belt fed MG 34 on tripods or bipods put up a terrible volume of fire. Tanks could be blown to bits by long range guns such as the 88mm AA gun in ground support role. The German tanks were reliable and had the advantage of firing proper HE shells which often meant that they would use direct fire on Commonwealth and British forces from a range that he 2pdr would have little or no effect.

    During the night the formidable weaponry had little effect. Small bands of allied troops would use submachine guns and grenades to harrass the opposition and disorganise them.

    For any who has tried nightpatrols they can all tell that it is highly exhillarating and almost fun. This buisiness of doing nightfighting fit the British and Commonwealth troops great.

    Gen. Moreshead had fought under Gen Monash during the great war, who had in turn studied the highly successful Japanese nightattacks in 1905 against the Russians.

    The path that Gen. Moreshead took was followed by the likes of Monty, who made nightfighting into an art as shown during the second battle of El Alamein.

    The Autocratic commandstructure in the British army meant that it was relatively easy to orcestrate an operation involving corps size units into a detailed plan.

    There are plenty of accounts of the effects and application of this art by war veterans.

    As a side note it is interesting to read 18 platoon, where Jary (the author commander of 18 platoon) utters his distaste for the standarised drills for patroling and use his own ideas to great effect.


    So the reason why the Germans had a different view on nightfighting is rooted in the equipment/capabilities they had during the day, and their Aufdragstaktik that made it difficult to orchestrate large units fighting according to a tight plan.
     
  2. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    So the reason why the Germans had a different view on nightfighting is rooted in the equipment/capabilities they had during the day, and their Aufdragstaktik that made it difficult to orchestrate large units fighting according to a tight plan.

    Too much reliance on panzers, armored blitzkrieg, etc...? :D
     
  3. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    The British experimented with Searchlights at night bouncing the light off the clouds to produce artificial moonlight.

    My father was involved in one such offensive in Italy. I believe in September 1944.
    He told me that it was not very successful as the technique was not perfected and the attackers took a lot of casualties due to being silhouetted.
    It was improved upon and used several times I believe with better results.

    Regards
    Tom
     
  4. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Very Senior Member

    One thing to remember about using the example of the British Airborne....or in fact the airborne forces of ANY nation...as examples of nightfighting ability...

    They were specifically trained to do WITHOUT any of the force multipliers...that night happened to render less effective anyway... divisional arty, armour, tactical air support etc. :mellow:
     
  5. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    Too much reliance on panzers, armored blitzkrieg, etc...? :D

    Training and equipment was ideal for fighting in the day, fighting at night stripped the advantages away.

    Hmm. Picture this: You have a Ferrari and I have a Lada 4x4, would you choose to race me in December in Norway or on the German autobahn in July?
     
  6. Warlord

    Warlord Veteran wannabe

    Hmm. Picture this: You have a Ferrari and I have a Lada 4x4, would you choose to race me in December in Norway or on the German autobahn in July?

    Autostrada in June, near the toe of the boot (I love Med weather, you know...) :D
     
  7. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Senior Member

    Autostrada in June, near the toe of the boot (I love Med weather, you know...) :D
    You obviously never had to drive on the Salerno-Reggio Calabria, IMO the Lada would be the better vehicle for that "autostrada" :D:D

    Back to the main topic the infrared night fighting equipment developed for the Panther was, at least on paper, very advanced. It's unlikely they would have invested all that effort unless they meant to use them.
    From what I know the system was not meant to be used by large units but by specialized platoons but this may be due to the limited availability of the modified tanks and Sdkf 251/20 Uhu "illuminators". Early in the war the Germans often used the night to infiltrate and outflank enemy positions, night assaults were rarer.
    As I understand it night fighting is a risky approach especially in fluid and mobile situations, all other things equal a daylight plan's additional control has a better chance of success, also round the clock fighting will reduce your troops to overtired zombies of little or no combat value in less than a week.
     
  8. Jaeger

    Jaeger Senior Member

    As I understand it night fighting is a risky approach especially in fluid and mobile situations, all other things equal a daylight plan's additional control has a better chance of success, also round the clock fighting will reduce your troops to overtired zombies of little or no combat value in less than a week.


    Right on all accounts. As students of the second battle of El Alamein will know, 8th Army planned to attack with infantry at night to disrupt, dislodge and crumble the defences and armoured units during the day to break the defence.

    Sadly operating with two corps in one area, and with some of the armd commanders useless (Lumsden and Gatehouse in particular) this was difficult.
     

Share This Page