Marching Fire - US forces

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Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Jan 2020 04:29

Does anyone have any info/sources on marching fire? The BAR was designed to perform marching fire in WW1 conditions.

Patton was a famous advocate of this style of attack. However, in reading his description it seems suicidal and I have never read of any German account of being attacked by US infantry in this manner.

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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Cult Icon » 30 Jan 2020 16:42

The filmmakers for "Fury" attempted to recreate "Marching fire" for their movie. At 3:50 the infantrymen announce, "Marching fire!" :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x8yXtcFKg4&t=181s

Supposedly, when performing marching fire, the infantry were to advance frontally against enemy positions, with unaimed suppressive fire (Garands, BAR). They were not supposed to stop, and not supposed to leapfrog from cover to cover. Even 30. cal. was to be fired from the hip, and no.2 dealing with the MG belts.

Mortars (60mm and 80mm were to provide fire support) and armor was to be in close support.

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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Gary Kennedy » 30 Jan 2020 18:18

The same topic came up on another forum I know, not that long ago. It was far more concerned with tabletop recreations rather than historical examples, but someone posted up excerpts from a couple of papers, which can be found in the Fort Benning Donovan papers collection.

https://mcoepublic.blob.core.usgovcloud ... %20CPT.pdf

https://mcoepublic.blob.core.usgovcloud ... %20CPT.pdf

It should be noted that these are student papers, but they include a list of sources for the quoted examples.

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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by OpanaPointer » 30 Jan 2020 18:49

You might peruse the Center Of Military History website.

And https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marching_fire (The footnotes often have good information sources.)
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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Art » 30 Jan 2020 21:13

There is quite a number of Soviet instructions or experience reports that advocate similar tactics in the final assault with emphasize on submachine guns.

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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by OpanaPointer » 30 Jan 2020 21:30

I read a description of BAR tactics in the Pacific that went like this:

BAR man and his squad, on one flank, keeps enemy heads down while 2-3 rifle platoons advance on the other flank. The rifle squads then take the target under fire until the BAR squad has advanced and is ready to restart the cycle. Repeat until enfilade fire is available.
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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Poot » 30 Jan 2020 22:04

OpanaPointer wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:30
I read a description of BAR tactics in the Pacific that went like this:

BAR man and his squad, on one flank, keeps enemy heads down while 2-3 rifle platoons advance on the other flank. The rifle squads then take the target under fire until the BAR squad has advanced and is ready to restart the cycle. Repeat until enfilade fire is available.
That's essentially bounding overwatch.
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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by OpanaPointer » 30 Jan 2020 22:25

Poot wrote:
30 Jan 2020 22:04
OpanaPointer wrote:
30 Jan 2020 21:30
I read a description of BAR tactics in the Pacific that went like this:

BAR man and his squad, on one flank, keeps enemy heads down while 2-3 rifle platoons advance on the other flank. The rifle squads then take the target under fire until the BAR squad has advanced and is ready to restart the cycle. Repeat until enfilade fire is available.
That's essentially bounding overwatch.
I thought somebody would know what to call that. 8-)
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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Poot » 30 Jan 2020 22:34

Ha! Yep, much more effective than massing in a line and moving out towards the objective.
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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Cult Icon » 01 Feb 2020 05:08

Thanks for this. Although without reading the pdfs it is hard to imagine this method being effective outside of very niche situations, such as in woods with limited line of sight (this was considered a good time to use it) or finishing off a beaten and demoralized enemy.

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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Gary Kennedy » 01 Feb 2020 19:40

I think it does come under the heading of situational. I did a search over on fold3 when the topic came up elsewhere, and there is a direct comment in 'Immediate Report No.14' from early August 1944, submitted by an observer with 12th Army Group - "Men do not use their own fire to help them forward, there should and must be more marching fire".

There are actually a lot more references in unit reports from a quick search, this is just one description of a Platoon level attack supported by two tanks against a prepared enemy position;

"Then all moved out, using marching fire. The men fired their weapons at anything they saw and if they saw no one they still fired in the direction in which they thought the enemy were. They moved up and once they got started it was like a steam roller moving. They took everything in their path. All Germans were either killed or captured. Lt Chappell now says it was the greatest piece of marching fire he has ever seen."

From a history of the 274th Inf Regt, 70th Inf Div. The action was seemingly on 21st February 1945, which was not long after 70th Inf Div arrived in the ETO.

It chimes with some earlier comments I've read, about encouraging advancing infantrymen to use their own weapons more, and not rely on supporting arms to suppress all enemy positions, which was in line with the expected use of M1 rifles and BARs in the Rifle Squad and Platoon, with the rifles providing the greater part of the Platoon firepower.

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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by OpanaPointer » 01 Feb 2020 20:17

Having a cloud of bullets flying overhead can be a bit distracting.
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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Duncan_M » 21 Feb 2020 00:26

Cult Icon wrote:
30 Jan 2020 16:42
The filmmakers for "Fury" attempted to recreate "Marching fire" for their movie. At 3:50 the infantrymen announce, "Marching fire!" :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x8yXtcFKg4&t=181s

Supposedly, when performing marching fire, the infantry were to advance frontally against enemy positions, with unaimed suppressive fire (Garands, BAR). They were not supposed to stop, and not supposed to leapfrog from cover to cover. Even 30. cal. was to be fired from the hip, and no.2 dealing with the MG belts.

Mortars (60mm and 80mm were to provide fire support) and armor was to be in close support.
The manuals and techniques didn't specify it had to be unaimed, just that it could be unaimed hipshooting, which in all honesty was all the rage at the time (the technique went by the name instinctive shooting, and was very popular for both pistol and rifle shooting).

The original concept was French. The idea is the assaulting infantry that stops in the attack doesn't get started again, communication breaks down as incoming fire and casualties gets worse, leaders get killed and needlessly risk their own life standing up as targets as the men take cover. They're moving so through the enemy's engagement area, the longer they stay in it the more fire they take, especially indirect fire which is the real killer of infantry on the attack, not machine guns and not rifles. So cross the engagement area as fast as possible, get onto the objective fast.
The enemy position would be getting hit by an artillery barrage, the infantry would follow the walking barrage just outside the lethal range of its impacts, conducting walking fire.

If its not artillery conducting the supporting fires to suppress the objective as the advance is made, mortars or any other fires can do it, and its only when the assaulting forces

The technique, which also went by the name "assault fire" was taught and used all the way through the Vietnam War and afterwards, until DePuy's time as TRADOC when he officially killed the technique for the Army (as he despised it since his time with the 90th ID). However, the Marine Corps still teaches "assault fire" for assaulting across an objective.

I used to have a lot of hyperlinks from WW2 and Korean War accounts of the technique, but none of the links work anymore, but I still had some links that worked relating to later use.

http://www.survivalebooks.com/free%20ma ... 20137p.pdf 1963 FM 23-12 Technique of Fire of the Rifle Squad and Tactical Application (Assault Fire is literally on page 1)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEtYrzcFnV0 Skip to 13:30 for assault fire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8K7Fc1uFCNk Skip to 9:00 to watch it being used in combat during Vietnam by the 101st Airborne Div

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Re: Marching Fire - US forces

Post by Richard Stone » 27 May 2020 23:49

Attached are five reports that describe the use of 'marching fire’ by US infantry units during the battles in Northwest Europe during 1944 and 1945. These reports show that frequent use marching fire was made during the campaign and that it was a successful tactic on many occasions.

The last report provides one reason for the success of marching fire in combination with the US troop's use of their semi-automatic rifles.

All of the reports were collected from the US Army publication ‘Battle Experiences’. The publication date of each report is listed in the attachment title.
BattExp - Marching Fire -4 January 1945 .png
BattExp - Marching Fire - 1 December 1944.png
BattExp - Marching Fire - 10 March 1945.png
BattExp - Marching Fire - 12 April 1945.png
BattExp - Marching Fire -26 January 1945 -2.png
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