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Order of the commander in chief concerning deficiencies in the employment of antitank rifles

ORDER TO THE FORCES OF WEST FRONT No.087

Secret

29 December 1941
Active Army

A significant quantity of antitank rifles, which combat experience has shown to be an effective means of combating light and medium enemy tanks, has come into the inventory of front units.

However, only the 16th and 20th Armies have made regular use of these antitank rifles. In the remaining armies antitank rifles have not assumed a proper role in the general system of antitank combat, despite the fact that the enemy has employed his tanks generally everywhere.

In a number of cases antitank rifle crews have been employed as riflemen, and the antitank rifles themselves, as a result of their poor accounting, have been abandoned on the battlefield.

This attitude toward such an effective means of antitank combat is completely unacceptable.

I ORDER:

1. The military councils of armies and commanders of large formations to exercise personal supervision over the combat employment of antitank rifles and to demand from the commanders of rifle units specific guidance in their employment.

2. Antitank rifle platoons to be included organizationally in the composition of rifle battalions and not be employed as riflemen.

3. In the defense, antitank rifles to be employed in groups of 4-8 rifles to cover the most important tank-threatening axes, organizing their coordination with antitank artillery and tank killer teams. The actions of antitank rifles must be covered by submachine gun, machine gun, and mortar fire of infantry units.

In the offensive, antitank rifle platoons must move behind the combat formation of infantry in constant readiness to defeat enemy counterattacks supported by tanks.

In all cases fire at enemy light and medium tanks from ranges 250-300 metres and below.

4. Establish strict accountability of antitank rifles and do not permit incidents of their loss or abandonment on the battlefield go unpunished.

5. The military councils of armies will report concerning the measures taken and will submit brief monthly reports concerning the employment of antitank rifles in the armies' units.

 

COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF FORCES OF WEST FRONT, ARMY GENERAL
/ZHUKOV/

MEMBER OF WEST FRONT MILITARY COUNCIL
/BULGANIN/

CHIEF OF STAFF WEST FRONT LIEUTENANT GENERAL
/SOKOLOVSKIY/

Directive of the Military Council of West Front concerning the under appreciation of antitank rifles and antitank grenades as means of combat with the enemy

No 1779-91

V/srochno [priority designation meaning "for immediate transmission" -J.G.]

19.11
04:25

FOR MILITARY COUNCILS 30, 16, 5, 33, 43, 49, 50 A

only 30A

On instructions of the Military Council the front chief of artillery has requested data from all armies concerning the results of employment of antitank rifles and antitank grenades.

The responses that have been received indicate either a lack of attention and an under appreciation of these means of combat with the enemy or a lack of knowledge of their actual utility. Whatever the reason, it confirms the non-fulfillment of the Military Council's directive concerning the employment and use of these types of weapons. Quickly familiarize yourselves with where and with what results these rifles and grenades have been employed and on what axes the rifles are currently located. Report the results not later than 20.11.41.

Zhukov
Bulganin

19.11.41

Translated by: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sources: TsAMO, collection 208, index 2524, item 9, sheet 170. Original.
TsAMO, collection 208, index 2524, item 10, sheets 235-36. True copy.

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