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"Italian and Greek mortars and mortar doctrine" Topic

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470 hits since 22 Jun 2017
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Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP23 Jun 2017 8:33 p.m. PST

I've been reading The Hollow Legions by Mario Cervi. He mentions several times that, during the 1940-41 campaign in Epirus and Albania, the Greek mortars were extremely deadly. The only explanation he offers is that the Greeks employed forward observers for their regimental 81mm mortars, while the Italians didn't. Was the use of forward observers a novel concept at the beginning of the war? Did everybody use it later on? What other factors go into producing a good mortar team? I have found out it wasn't a quantity issue: Greek regiments had four tube batteries, while Italian regiments had six tube batteries.


Martin Rapier23 Jun 2017 10:33 p.m. PST

I'd be astonished if the Italians didn't use mortar fire controllers, and even if they didn't, the crews can self spot (as in WW1 practice). I suppose it is possible they did a lot of unspotted map fire, perhaps due to the terrain, which would be more akin to harassing fire.

Could it just be that the Italians were generally attacking, while the Greeks were sitting on top of mountains shooting at them?

Griefbringer24 Jun 2017 5:18 a.m. PST

I am not really familiar with the tactics employed in the Greek/Italian conflict, but the use of forward observers for mortars was hardly a novelty. Considering that mortar ammo was usually available in limited quantities, properly observed firing procedures would make the most out of those resources.

Martin Rapier's comment about the defensive stance certainly is worth keeping in mind – troops out in the open would be much more vulnerable to the shrapnel produced than dug-in units. German mortar crews also obtained a reputation for deadliness in defensive fighting in Normandy.

Personal logo Jeff Ewing Supporting Member of TMP24 Jun 2017 5:40 a.m. PST

Also, in defense, you can plot ranges and plan concentrations -- although the Greeks didn't stay on the defensive long, quickly pushing the Italians back into Albania.

Legion 425 Jun 2017 4:27 a.m. PST

And I'd think all mortars can fire directly with open sights. But I would think FOs would not be novel for most if not all armies anytime during WWII. Mortars like we see in WWII were around since WWI. So it's really not new piece of tech.

What other factors go into producing a good mortar team?
I'd think like any soldiering. If the equipment is not poorly designed, etc. Training, training, and more training followed by experience.

I'd think that would be "universal" to most any military. Of course, poor training techniques, lack of training, etc. will effect effectiveness in an military. At least initially possibly. In some cases, some militaries get OJT during combat situations. Not the best way to learn, but sometimes that happens for a variety of reasons.

All that being said, having been trained on the 81mm in my distant youth. It's not really rocket science, but you still have to be able to set up, etc. the mortar to be able hit the target. And obviously some "math" is involved, etc.

We have discussed this sort of topic previously and these may be of some interest : TMP link

TMP link

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