443rd AAA Bn in World War II

TUNISIAN CAMPAIGN

ANTI - PERSONNEL WEAPONS

During Tunisian operations a number of new German anti-personnel weapons made their appearance. East of Gafsa, planes dropped metal spears made from 3/16" metal rods, sharp-pointed at one end, with fluting at the other to stabilize them in falling to penetrate helmets, equipment, tents and almost, whatever they struck. Molotov Bread Baskets were also dropped by enemy planes. Each contained 36 yellow "butterflies" that, upon hitting the ground, would slowly open their wings before exploding. The S-mine was widely used by ground troops. Buried in the sand with only three small prongs showing, it was activated when a man stepped on the hard-to-see prongs. It would then fire a cannister several feet into the air and the cannister would then explode, sending lethal steel balls in all directions. After many vehicles had run over land mines (Teller mines) causing death and injury, it became standard procedure to carry bags of sand on the floorboards, especially of jeeps. And to avoid giveaway sunlight reflection from jeep windshields, they were latched down to the hood of the engine and enclosed in a canvas cover. With the driver and passenger thus exposed to sand, wind and weather, the Germans began to string piano wire across the roads, especially in mountain passes, and at throat level. As a countermeasure, a five foot high angle iron was welded to the front of every jeep. A notched top would serve to catch and break the piano wire. This measure was entirely successful except in those few instances when an explosive charge was attached to the wire.

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