|"Early usage: Red Army soldiers in maskirovka winter camouflage near Moscow, December 1941" (source)|
(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
May 7, 1943
There's a "fake war" here in Russia's front lines consisting of supply columns that go nowhere—guns that don't shoot and tanks that couldn't stop a rock.
No one is fooling down in the Caucasus tonight as the Red Army presses the Axis forces back to the Black Sea coast. But on the rest of the front there is a real war of nerves that, in plain deception, provides the greatest mystery show on earth.
And strangest of all, these mystery tactics are good military practice.
The whole purpose of this "fake war" is to fool the enemy and keep him fooled until you are really ready to move. Here's what the Russians have devised in the way of deceptive warfare.
German scouts have reported the location of scores of gun positions which later turned out to be nothing but tapering tree trunks stuck into the ground at traverse angles to resemble artillery. It's the same with some tank concentrations. They turned out to be wooden models.
More difficult has been the problem of concealing actual troop and tank movements. Most of this is done, of course, at night. Front commanders are advised to take advantage of wind and rain and thunder to move their tanks so that the enemy will not know it. Or they can order a heavy artillery barrage during which the noisy tanks will move off.
On the other hand, the way to make the enemy think you're moving your tanks when you're not is to collect all the tractors in the district, bring them to the front line, and run them off again at night. A heavy Russian tractor sounds very much like a tank. (Another thing that has kept Germans scratching their heads is a simulated activity on the rear roads of a sector. Several times the Jerries have been tricked into making a premature attack when they have seen lines of carts carrying empty boxes moving away from a Russian sector, indicating a weakening of the front.) By the same method, the Germans have been fooled by a sudden burst of activity on one sector, with Red Army soldiers shifting guns guns about, tanks driving up and down, men running around and shouting and digging new fortifications. The Germans, of course, expected an attack at this point and prepared for it.
The attack came next door.
It takes a lot of skill and acting ability to carry on deceptive warfare, but thus far the Russians have proved that they have an army of Barrymores when they try this sort of thing.