WWII Battle of Berlin questions


In the book “With our backs to Berlin: the German Army in retreat 1945” by Tony L Tissier, amazon.com/Our-Backs-Berlin- … 0750926112 there is an account by a German soldier Gerhard Tillery who got separated from his infantry section and walked into a German mine field by mistake at night. He says: “They often put anti-personnel mines between the bigger Teller mines intended for tanks and trucks, and connected them with wires so that the slightest movement would set them off”. That makes no sense to me, a single soldier may activate a chain of multiple mines, anti-tank being an overkill. It is a waste. But if the mines are not linked, and if this soldier gets killed by one mine, the rest of the mines will still be sitting waiting for more targets to come. Am I wrong? That is question #1.
Question #2: The same soldier talks about his dislike of lacquered MG ammo: “In case of attack, I always kept back a belt of 1200 rounds for my machine gun of which 300 were brass”. Were brass ones in the begining of the belt, or they were intermingled? The lacquered rounds would still get hot.
I probably shall have more ammo questions as I progress through the book so I’ll use this thread later.


Vlad, taking into account German AP mines with tripwires I see no way how they would have set off the AT mines. There are physical restrictions which to overcome would have made a lot of additional work. And as you said this makes no sense at all.
Actually I have seen such an attempt in Angola once where this was tried. A bounding AP (with tripwire) mine got connected to a large charge nearby by the use of det cord. Of course it did not work - very poor knowledge on the side of the installing engineer.

Often AT mines are laid together wit AP mines (no tripwires!) which were supposed to “protect” the AT mines from “quick” clearing attempts.

I read quite some books of war participants and found many details which are physically impossible (or sheer nonsense). Many of the authors used to “spice up” stories which really did no good to the quality of the book.
A very good example is the book “Im Auge des Jägers” by Josef Allerberger who was a highly decorated German sniper in WWII.


[b]My personal experience is that the lacquered steel rounds run very, very well in the MG42. I’ve been told by experts in the field that the lacquer acts as a lubricant. Brass cased ammo works well in the 42, but once in a while a round will stick in the chamber.

The MG34 which is a somewhat slower weapon seems to run just as well with brass as it does lacquered steel.

I’ve never tried copper washed steel in anything other than bolt action rifles. There wasn’t much of that laying around the battlefield in 1945 though. I will say that I do have one copper washed steel SME in my collection with a 45 date, so they still made a little at that time.

I can’t really imagine why the soldier in the book would complain about lacquered steel rounds. By 1945, they had it perfected[/b]


As someone who has fired 10’s of thousands of WW2 German 7,9 brass, lacquered steel & CWS though both the MG34 & MG42, I find the statement about reserving brass for the MG42 a bit odd. There were surely issues with hard extraction in the rifle 98 with the early lacquered cases, but not so much in the MGs. Once waxing of the cases began, most problems with hard rifle extraction went away. I can attest to the fact that the latter waxed cartridges increase the cyclic rate in both weapons 100 rpm or more. Just my .02. JH


Regarding “reserving a few belts of brass-cased 7,9 ammo for the MG42”…I have heard of this as well, and it relates to Winter use.

Brass cased ammo functions better in cold climates than steel cased.
That is why the Luftwaffe maintained the use of brass for as long as it could, especially for high altitude use. From several accounts of Winter fighting at Stalingrad, I have read that MG gunners would scrounge any brass ammo they could from disabled Luftwaffe aircraft at the airfield, as long as they could get to it, as it would “heat the gun” without tearing cases apart in a “cold start” ( extra springiness of brass c/f steel.).
There are also Agfa colour photos of MG42s with brassy-coloured ammo belts (not the grey lacquered steel) during the 41-42 Winter, and the 42-43 Stalingrad debacle. ( “The Eastern Front” ,( by Greenwood) an illustrated “Coffee table” Book, with some very interesting photos not often seen featuring Guns and Ammo-- such as the October Parade in 1941 with Siberian Troops and 7,62 Lewis Guns…Tsarist 1915 order from BSA).

Doc AV
AV Ballistics


Vlad, as I understand Teller AT mines (mostly from reading Stephen Ambrose books), it takes a significant, almost deliberate force to set off a Teller mine. Infantry or even anti-personnel mines will not usually set them off. I think EOD has it right. You could probably set a whole field of AP mines around one and it would just sit there waiting for a tank or a truck. As far as “wasting” mines Germany made an art of defensive mine use. While they may not have been able to build many planes, trucks, or tanks (especially later in the war), they made mines by the millions. They put them everywhere and they were effective to some degree but they can only slow and not stop an advance. But don’t anyone tell Hitler that.