Regio Esercito field orders (briefing) format

ClaudeJ

New Member
Hello all great people around here,

would you know how were the orders formatted at battalion level and below?

For example a modern standard format would be NATO's OSMEALQ format, US WW2 era format would be the 5 paragraphs and so forth.

Best regards and thanks for any help you could provide.

Claude
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Claude

I have not see any examples of battalion and below field orders. My assumption is that they followed the same format as higher level orders. I will look at my sources tonight and see what I can find.

Pista! Jeff
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
I spoke too soon. While looking for some material on artillery control, I discovered a copy of Tutto per che è e per chi sarà Ufficiale di fanteria published in 1942. This is guide for officers written by two colonels and a professore major. There is a compete section on 'Ordini di Operazione' (operations orders) that I am currently translating. It addresses orders from platoon to battalion.

More when I get through the section.
 

ClaudeJ

New Member
Awesome! Thank you very much for your efforts Jeff.

It will be very interesting to see how the order were written, and even see how different, if at all, it was from the other armies of that time.
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Here is my first cut at the translation. Sadly an example/format is not provided. Words in [ ] are mine added to aid comprehension. This is the first part, more to follow. Tutto per che è e per chi sarà Ufficiale di fanteria pp. 326-328.

^^^^^^^^^^

The orders are generally given in writing by each commander (usually up to the btg) in his own name, and in an imperative form. In urgent cases, the commands can direct orders by removing the ones received from the superior command, [either by] adding them to register, or verbally, the executive provisions for which they are responsible.

The order must be short - simple - clear - precise, drawn up in such a way as to indicate exactly the purpose to be achieved and the way of achieving it (concept of action). It presents the different topics in succession of relative importance, to prevent the secondary details from disturbing the vision of the essential.

Date the written order:

The date must correspond to the day of transmission, and correlate with that of the ordered operation. The time of issue is specified at the time it is given to the bearer, specifying the means of transmission. The issuing location is precisely indicated. The scale and [map] sheet of the topographic map is mentioned, even if it is the one [currently] in use. The addresses are clear, with an index of the recipients and of the office of delivery. The subject must give succinct but exact idea of the topic of the order itself.

In addition to the subordinate commands, the orders are sent, for information, to their higher [command] and adjacent [units].

In smaller units orders are given verbally by the commander to the subordinate officers. Clarity is the basic requirement; they have to explain without [using] superfluous words: the situation - the task assigned to the unit - the concept established to execute it - the use of the means - the movement formations - the conduct of the accompanying weapons - the artillery cooperation - the modalities for communication/liaison - requests for fire, etc., so as to enable the subordinates in accomplishing their task they are entitled in full understanding, and use initiative with the case allows, in relation to the desired purpose and to the action of the adjacent units .

Therefore the officers must be informed about the location of the units, the locations, the objectives, the lines, etc., referring to the topographic map and proceeding neatly from left to right and, if there are sectors starting at the top down, and from the left to the right.

Instead of saying: "Forward or behind ...", or "above, below, etc.", Always refer to the cardinal points.

A direction of movement will be specified by announcing successive known places, or easily identifiable points.

It is useful, [if] having time, to ask any officer if he has understood what to do, and make sure to repeat the spirit of the information received.

If there are reinforcing units, their commanders must receive orders together with the others, as if they were your own officers.

Do not forget that the responsibility for the misinterpretation of an order rightly falls on those who have not given it in due manner.

In the course of the action, with completed movements and with the objective achieved, keep the higher headquarters up-to-date about the news they may be interested in. During the action, keep the connections/[coordination] to the right, make the signals prescribed for the fires, indicate the displacement of your command post, etc.
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Continued from Tutto per che è e per chi sarà Ufficiale di fanteria pp. 328-330.

We will summarize the main topics that must serve as a constant norm for the "Combat Orders", for the commanders of the Plotone Fucilieri, of the Compagnia Fucilieri, of the Battaglione.

Comandanti di Plotone fucilieri
The approach [march] (front and average depth 150-200 m)
Indicates the initial formation of the squads (which will vary depending on the distance from the enemy, the nature of the terrain to be covered) - the direction - the routes that need to be prescribed - the security measures to the front and flanks (if you have not already [been] given orders in this regard [by] the company commander.).

In the attack (about 120-125 m)
Order any changes to the formation of the squads - informs their squad leaders about the mission of the platoon - assigns each squad an objective - indicates (if necessary) points of reference to reach them.

In the defense (width or sector from 200-250 m)
As a rule, it constitutes two advanced fire positions; or a strongpoint.
It indicates for each center the position of the light machine gun, the field of action of each weapon and the automatic stop direction – tangible defense in the intervals between adjoining centers - prescribes day and night security, and for observation – systematically arranges the terrain. Compile special written [plan] for delivery, referring to each center.

Comandante la Compagnia fucilieri
The approach [march] (front and average depth 300-400 m)
Prescribes the formation - the direction of movement of the platoons (or of the individual platoons) - the place of the reinforcement units, and their task.
The security is given to the units in front (reconnaissance - advance guard) or directly, if it has been order assume the security.

In the attack (about 200-250 m)
Assigns the attack objective and attack direction to the advanced Platoons - prescribes the direction of movement of the reinforcements and determines how to follow the advanced Platoon - it indicates to the accompanying [support] units (accompaniment) the direction of movement and the initial positions for the first actions of fire - informed about the artillery preparation, and prescribes the line to be reached during the preparation - provides for coordination, for the ammunition resupply, of the [medical] evacuation, ecc.

In the defense (about 500 m)
As a rule, it does not constitute a supplement to P.R. [Posizione di resistenza - position of resistance]. Plan of the P.R. showing Platoons and reinforcing units - establishes the location of advanced fire centers and those in the rear, particularly for machine guns and mortars, and their tasks - fixes the method for automatic stop - organizes connections, services, work arrangement for the terrain [plan for engineering work].

[I am working on understanding the concept of the 'arresto automatica'. I have not found a discussion of this concept in the book. ]
 

ClaudeJ

New Member
Thanks a lot for your efforts translating this manual Jeff. That is very instructive.

Regarding the , as far as I can understand from the manual "Regio Esercito - Addestramento della fanteria", and recalling my own experience, that would be "blind" firing at target that cannot be seen at that moment but which have been seen before and thus for which the elements (distance and direction) have been registered. What would be called today "Target reference point".

In a light machine gun emplacement, it can be as crude as sticks of wood ("aiming stakes") planted in the dirt to give a rifleman its angle of firing. On a a tripod, there are locks that can be used to aim at given angle and elevation.

It would usually be used to fire at terrain feature that the enemy could use, such as an edge of wood, a river crossing and so forth.
It can also be used to cover a listening/observation post for example.

That is also what range cards are for by the way.

Here is a modern U.S. Army manual in which such concept is exemplified (this one because it is easily available online but such procedure is quite universal, it is a standard technique in any army as far as I know) : https://www.atu.edu/rotc/docs/10_fm7_8.pdf
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Yes, it is possible that it is a TRP, but I actually believe it is more like 'final protective fires' (FPF). 'Arresto automatica' literally translates as automatic stopping or halting. A defensive position can have several TRPs which normally need to be called for.

FPFs happen when the commander calls for them or the enemy reaches a predetermined place on the terrain. It is all the weapons firing in prepared patterns or lines. Aiming stakes, gunner quadrants, and compasses were all used for FPFs. I planned many FPFs when I was a platoon and commander commander during my time in the army.

For me, the key word is automatica. TRPs are not automatically executed but must be called. FPFs can be automatic and triggered by enemy actions/movement. I have been searching the Italian manuals to see if the R.E. use the concept of FPFs.
 
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ClaudeJ

New Member
Oh, sorry if my explanations were written in very basic terms, I didn't knew you were in the infantry. ;)
 

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
Not a problem. Armor actually, but spend a lot of time with the infantry (Ranger school graduate among other things o_O).

There are other members on CS that don't have a military background, so your explanation is valuable to them. Never assume everyone is in on the secret :) Our discussions should help everyone gain a solid understanding of the Italian experience in the 2GM.
 
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