W HETHER he is serving in the rocky wastes of Egypt or in the jungles of
New Guinea, the American infantryman quickly discovers that the ground
is his best friend in time of trouble. It is a lesson that no soldier ever learns too
soon, for in the degree that it becomes his habit to seek protection even when
halted for a few minutes, and to study the nature of cover and the elements of
personal protection while he is in training, he increases his chance to survive in
combat and to defeat the enemy.
The Basic Field Manual tells the story: You are most exposed to fire when you
are standing, much less when you are prone, and best protected when you are
below the surface of the ground. For example, under artillery shell fire, ten out of
ten men would be hit by shell fragments if they were standing. Only six of the
ten would be hit if all were prone. Only one would be hit if they were in shallow
trenches or in foxholes.
Yet the swing back to intensive training in the nature and need of hasty field
fortifications is a relatively new thing. During the first two years of the present
war, the value of improvised works was greatly discounted, at first because of the
emphasis on permanent fortifications, and subsequently because of the feeling that
due to the influence of the high velocity weapons, the days of fixed positional warfare
were over for good. From necessity, troops who were virtually without knowledge
of how to dig and revet a trench of the 1914-18 variety soon learned how to
scratch out air-raid trenches. Within the last year many occasions have arisenin
Libya, in Bataan, in Malaya and in Alaska-when a capacity to dig in quickly
meant the difference between saving or losing a situation.
Very quickly the new technic of hasty fortification, as shaped by the need for
protection against the tank and the airplane, has become standardized in line with
the commonsense principle of achieving the maximum of protection in the minimum
of time. Speed is the essence of today's entrenching methods as it is of the
modern offensive. The old type of trench-a much more elaborate affair-did
not give adequate concealment from air and ground reconnaissance. Consequently,
it is a conspicuous target for heavy concentrations of fire from aircraft and
from ground weapons.
The new methods are designed to make all types of bombardment relatively
ineffective by diffusing the target and giving greater individual protection
to the soldier. Moreover, armored vehicles are not effective against infantry which
they cannot see.
The special requirements of today's warfare are therefore met when the soldiers
are located in small one or two-mian foxholes. To add to the enemy's confusion,
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MOTHER EARTH IS THE SOLDIER'S FRIEND
Outlining a slit trench for one
man calls for a space 21/2 feet
wide by 31/2 feet long.
A foxhole to protect two men
requires a space 21/2 feet wide
by 6 feet long.
Height of occupants determines
depth. Soldier here stands on
firing step of two-man hole.
Shallow trench about 2 feet
deep gives protection during
a short rest period.
Camouflage is of prime importance,
should be adapted from
materials ready at hand.
Foxhole in Bataan: A Yank prepares
a "Molotov Cocktail" for an
approaching Jap tank. Entrenchments
like this which delayed the
enemy advance were well used
in the Philippines.
Shelter in Alaska: Dug along the
fringes of the encampment these
foxholes were designed to give
protection from strafing Jap
planes that might streak over for
a surprise attack.
Prepared and Distributed by
ARMY ORIENTATION COURSE
Special Service Division, Services of Supply
[United States.] Army Orientation Course. Newsmap. Monday, October 26, 1942 : week of October 16 to October 23. [Washington D.C.]. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1005/. Accessed May 24, 2015.