Thursday, August 21, 2014

PATROLS Parts 1 & 2 - William A. Foley, Jr.

Understanding Patrols: 

"Ambush on a German Patrol" by William A. Foley, Jr. 
"The front lines in World War I were continuous trench systems well manned for several hundred miles, and it was dangerous in the extreme for even small patrols to try sneaking through these trenches to the rear.  But in this war, both armies often established strongpoints and placed small groups in isolated points in between.  They ran contact patrols to their right and left to check on their security and to try to intercept any enemy's attempts at infiltrating a patrol to the rear.  Both armies used patrols to actively probe and locate weak points and then would attack in strength.  If a breakthrough occurred, the attackers would attempt to roll up the lines to the right and left, as well as penetrate the rear.  In general, one-third of the defensive force was located to the rear of these weak points.  If a breakthrough happened, this reserve was employed as a counterattacking force.  The U.S. Infantry of World War II was a triangular design.  One of the three rifle platoons in the line company normally was kept in reserve.  The battalion having three rifle companies help one in reserve; and, of course, one regiment of the three in a division was held in reserve.  All of these units were rotated in turn so the men in the foxhole line could rest and refit in the rear for hours or days."

"Visions from a Foxhole:  A Rifleman in Patton's Ghost Corps"
-- William A. Foley, Jr. pgs. 40-41

On scouting on patrol:

"Officers, noncoms, and machine gunners were the most apt to be hit by something because they moved around more than members of a squad...
     But the man at the point, the scout, moves to unfamiliar territory, leading a patrol or heading a column of hundreds of men strung out behind-- his second scout often moved thirty yards to his rear.  The scout's job is to choose the best route possible and to see or hear the enemy soldiers-- or even smell tobacco smoke (if the wind is right)-- before he is seen.  he must use arm-and-hand signals to warn and instruct.  Either a sergeant or officer joins him where he is concealed; or, when he senses danger, he moves to the rear fifty yards or so to confer with the decision makers.
"Scouts Dig In" by William Foley Jr. 1945
     An alert enemy always has the advantage.  They are usually concealed and dug-in while he is in the open and moving.  The enemy knows his area and the scout does not.  An experienced outpost or MLR* will allow the scout to move past and then quietly will take him prisoner.  Perhaps the second scout would meet the same fate.  Therefore, the rest of the column unsuspectingly could move up and into devastating small-arms fire and mortar shells.  No matter how to looked at it, a scout had a heavy responsibility and an awfully good chance of having his punctured body tossed into the back of a six-by-six truck.
     My feelings were definitely mixed when informed I was to be a scout.  I met the sergeant's eyes, and controlling my fear, I nodded and said, "Okay, Sarge."  And while hoping it would be a one-shot deal (no pun intended), I was inwardly thrilled at the prospect of the experience.  But I would have been happy to see someone else do it."

--19 year old William Foley, Jr., outside Orsholz, Germany, January 30, 1945
Pages 41 and 42, "Visions from a Foxhole: A Rifleman in Patton's Ghost Corps"- William Foley, Jr.

*Purchase "Visions from a Foxhole" HERE via Amazon
*Purchase a print of "Ambush on a German Patrol" and "Scouts Dig In" as well as many prints of Foley's wartime drawings HERE

*Main Line of Resistance