Drill, Manual of Arms, and Formation
As German Army reenactors, it is important that we all know the basics of what it was to be a German soldier. The most basic thing you need to know is the drill, manual of arms, and formations. It is the responsibility of every squad leader to instruct his squad in these essentials and it is the responsibility of every squad member to prace these prior to attending an event. More often than not, “down time” at reenactments is spent screwing around and being useless. This is the time that squads need to utilize to become proficient at skills like the manual arms, hand signals, conversational German and the like.
Listen to the Alte Hasse and learn from them. Lest you be on report!
The Manual Of Arms
The basic sequence of movements begins with:
Gewehr Ab! (Order arms) – The rifle butt is rested on the ground
alongside the soldier’s right foot, trigger guard facing forward. The rifle is
grasped in the right hand near the upper barrel band. The left hand and
arm remainsin the position of attention, slightly bent at your side with your
index finger running along the seam of your trousers.
Das Gewehr Über! (Shoulder Arms) – This is done in five counts, and only the hands and arms must move; the body stays absolutely rigid. 1. The rifle is swung up in the right hand. The left hand grabs the piece just under the right hand. 2. The right hand now moves down and grasps the top of the rifle’s action. 3. The rifle is placed on the left shoulder with the right hand, while the left hand reaches down and supports the butt plate.4. A one-count pause. 5. The right arm is returned to the position of attention. The rifle is supported so that it is almost vertical, with the trigger guard in your armpit.
Das Gewehr Ab! (Order arms) – This is done from shoulder arms in 4 counts, and again the body must stay absolutely rigid. 1. The left arm extends and lets the rifle slide down the side of your body. 2. The right hand comes across the chest and grabs the piece near the upper barrel band. 3. The rifle is swung across the body and the butt is landed on the ground. The trigger guard will be facing away from the soldier. 4. The rifle is twisted so that the trigger guard is facing out and the butt is slid in towards the right foot. We are now back to the original starting point.
Achtung! Prasentiert das Gewehr! (Attention! Present arms) – This is done from the shoulder arms. 1. The rifle is pushed away from the body and twisted in the left hand until the trigger guard is facing to the left. The right hand simultaneously grabs the rifle at the grip. 2. The rifle is swung forward and down until the upper barrel band is level with the right eye. The left hand grasps the rifle near the rear sight.
Das Gewehr Über! (Shoulder arms) – From the present arms, we always go back to shoulder arms. It is done in 2 counts. 1. The rifle is lifted by the right hand and replaced on the left shoulder. The left hand supports the butt plate. 2. The right hand returns to the position of attention.
Closed Order Marching and Formation
There were two elementary close formations: The Reihe and the Linie. The Reihe was a line with the men-facing front to back, and the Linie was a line with the soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder. The interval when in the Reihe was called Abstand and was 80cm. When in the Linie it was called Zwischenraum and unless otherwise ordered was with the elbows just touching on each man. In each formation, the end man on the right was called the Flügelman (in open order called the Anschlussman); the lines always formed on him. Some things to remember when in formation:
Always fall in at attention (Angetreten) unless instructed otherwise.If you have a weapon, fall in at Grundstellung (order arms).While in formation, when called to “Stillgestanden” or “Stich” click your heels together.
Always fall in with a feldmütze on your head unless you are ordered to wear your Stahlhelm.The first and generally the last formations of the day will usually require Dienstanzug, only the belt with no combat gear, unless otherwise ordered by the ranking man.
When placed at Rührt Euch while in formation, remain in the formation and don’t wander off to talk to a friend. If you must leave the formation, ask your squad leader first. Something else about Rührt Euch, it is literally a rest position, not a position to “BS” in.
Soldiers should not talk in ranks unless given permission first. The standard German closed order marching formation was in three files, with the squad leader leading each file. In other words, three squads in Reihe formation marching side by side made up the platoon Marschordnung. The squad itself can also be put into Marschordnung, with the group leader on the left end of the rear rank.
The command to dress the ranks is Richt Euch! Everyone except the Flügelman turns his head to the right and dresses the ranks. Heads remained turned until Augen gerade…aus! Is commanded.
The normal command for eyes right is Augen…rechts! The head should be turned smartly. The command for eyes front is, Augen gerade…aus! For eyes left, the command is slightly different. It is, Die Augen... links! The reason for this difference is so that the men would be prepped to look in the proper direction before the command is given. When you hear Augen… you know you will be looking always to the right. Conversely, when you hear Die Augen… you know you will be looking to theleft.
The German command for forwards march is Marsch! This may be prefixed with a particular command such as:
Ohne Tritt (route step):
Gleichschritt (march step):
Lauftschritt (double time):
The standard German marching cadence was 114 steps per minute.
The German command for right, or left turn was, Rechts (Links) schwenkt…Marsch! The leading man or rank commences the turn on the Marsch command.