“On reaching the objective we were either ordered to return to our unit or were relieved by another reconnaissance Zug that had followed us up. Occasionally we remained stationary in enemy territory until such time as our own division caught up with us. At first one had to overcome and become used to a feeling of loneliness, of being all alone in enemy territory without being able to rely on outside help. With increasing experience, one's self-confidence grew; apart from which, such independent missions were particularly attractive to a young cavalry officer in that one was not pressed into a restrictive framework with one's superiors and neighbours”.
“The initial penetration into unknown enemy territory was difficult. For this purpose our own local attacks were taken advantage of before the enemy could recover his balance. When one had achieved some penetration, the advance became easier. A reconnaissance leader must be a good observer and have a nose for knowing where he might run into the enemy. Mostly the cars were well camouflaged and used all available natural cover, following each other with the last car covering the rear. On features where a good field of vision was offered, one halted and made a thorough observation. If no enemy were seen then the first car went on to the next observation point under surveillance, when it arrived safely the next car was called forward”.
“It was important to make a thorough observation of villages as the enemy in one form or another nearly always used these. If you see the enemy, then you know. If the enemy is not visible and the civilian population is going about its normal business, then the village is not occupied by the enemy. If no people are seen, this is highly suspicious and the village should be by-passed by a wide margin”.
“The best patrols I had were those with clean guns. Even worthwhile targets were only reported and not engaged; that is the business of others. A troop leader with a tendency to bang away is useless for reconnaissance purposes since he is soon located by the enemy and chased like a rabbit. A report giving the location of an enemy tank lager is of infinitely more value than five shot up lorries”.
“Reports were made in Morse code and communications were good.' The operators were well trained and could send reports quickly, but it was up to the section commander to formulate the report. This soon became a matter of routine. Voice transmissions were used only between vehicles. Every report concerning the enemy's whereabouts, and even negative information contained in periodic situation reports, helped build up a picture of the overall enemy situation. The essential ingredients of a successful reconnaissance section were a well-drilled team, mutual confidence and strong nerves. Our main thought was always “There is always a way out and all is not lost so long as one is alive."
Oberst von Bonin von Ostau
A superb explanation of the methods adopted by German reconnaissance units is described here by Oberst a.D. Fabian von Bonin von Ostau, who served in Panzer-Aufklärungs-Abteilung 1:
“Having been given a task by division, the commanding officer would despatch several troops along the most important axes and lead them personally. Behind him, the squadron thickened up the flanks with further troops. As an officer commanding a section of two eight-wheeled cars, I carried out tasks given to me directly by the commanding officer. I was given a distant objective, perhaps 20 to 40 kilometres into enemy territory, and, without consideration of neighbouring reconnaissance sections, had to reach this using my own initiative. Enemy forces had to be reported and if possible circumvented without detection so that we could penetrate deep into their rear areas. Often we had not reached our objective by nightfall and remained as stationary observers, on suitable features, until daybreak".