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Handbook 6/92: Combatting Bandits (valid for all arms), 6 May 1944


Special points


Deployment of the Luftwaffe against parrtisans


Co-operation between ground troops and flying units in anti-partisan warfare demands continuous close contact as well as knowledge of the other party’s operational constraints and possibilities. In major operations against gangs, rapid success by the Luftwaffe are only to be expected by concentrating its power at the vital point. In such circumstances simultaneous support for other operations must take a back seat. This is important in the highest measure, when inexperienced, temporarily assembled units are involved or training and replacement units. As a guideline for co-operation between ground troops and flying units the pamphlet “Army/Luftwaffe Co-Operation on the Battlefield (Ob.d.L. Führungsstab — Ia/Ausb. Nr. 1000/44 geheim)” is also applicable.

For a successful deployment of air units a continual exchange of intelligence on the development of the bandit situation, including during the fighting, is of particular significance. During major operations against bandits, rapid successes by the Luftwaffe are only to be expected by massing its forces at the critical point.


In fighting bandits the following tasks fall to the Luftwaffe:

a) Assistance with reconnaissance of gangs’ movements, strongpoints, camps etc. through aerial reconnaissance and making aerial photographs.

b) Annihilation of aircraft employed in supplying gangs.

c) Attacking gangs’ strongpoints, camps etc. Supporting ground troops in action against gangs by bombing and strafing.

d) Supplying the troops in the event of supply problems.

e) Dropping propaganda material.

f) Providing mobility for senior commanders and courier service.

g) In special cases deployment of parachute and airborne troops as well as dropping agents by parachute


In the main bandit districts the Luftwaffe tasks special HQ’s with conducting the battle against the gangs from the air. Under these, the flying units committed are grouped. Given the demands on them to support the Army at the front, only in rare cases are normal reconnaissance and bombing forces likely to be free for combatting bandits, it will mainly be formations assembled from schools, Ergänzungsgruppen, Nachtschlacht- and Verbindungsstaffeln that are available for deployment.

These HQ’s depend on the maintenance of close contact between the Luftwaffe units directly subordinated for fighting bandits and the formations fighting bandits on the ground.

During operations against bandits, liaison officers between ground troops and the Luftwaffe are to be appointed as necessary.


For aerial reconnaissance against bandits the following is to be taken into consideration:

a) Bandits see in conspicuous flights over their areas by reconnaissance aircraft the first indications of impending operations and frequently move out of the way after such reconnaissance flights. So that surprise is not put in question, this must be given special consideration in districts which are only rarely overflown. With large gangs which are expected to accept battle, or when searching for scattered elements of gangs, limitations on aerial reconnaissance are not required.

b) Aerial reconnaissance against gangs in woods is for the most part very difficult in Summer on account of the gangs’ cautious behaviour and good camouflage but conversely easily carried out in Winter. Tracks of vehicles and skis in otherwise uninhabited districts are generally sure signs of the presence of bandits.

c) Aerial photographs are to be evaluated by trained specialist personnel of the Luftwaffe. Allocated promptly and in sufficient numbers down to battalion level, they constitute a basis for scouting the lie of the land that is often decisive in battle.

d) Using aerial photos as examples, aircrew are to be taught the distinctive signs of gangs and their facilities. Instruction of leaders of ground forces in reading aerial photos is to be worked toward and supported.

continued on next page …


Extracts translated from OKW handbook 6/92, »Bandenbekämpfung (gültig für alle Waffen)« which is held by the Bundesrachiv-Militärarchiv under reference RW 4/1342.

This handbook was issued on 6 May 1944 but effective from 1 April. It superseded the 11 November 1942 »Merkblatt 69/1:Kampfanweisung für Bandenbekämpfung im Osten«.

Translation © Nick Beale 2022

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