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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Military/History Related Hobbies > Orders of Battle

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Orders of Battle Orders-of-battle, TO&E's, and related information on who fought where and what they brought to the battle.

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  #1  
Old 02 Jun 08, 08:12
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US infantry squad scouts in WWII

Hi everyone.

I came across a few resources designating two members of every US Infantry squad as being 'scouts'. These two men seemed to have the job their name implied: walking ahead of the rest of the squad while it was advancing.

Did that mean that the same people within a squad were allways walking ahead of the rest?
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Old 02 Jun 08, 16:20
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Barring casualties, yes!

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Old 02 Jun 08, 17:25
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thx Pruitt.. Sounds a bit unfair to me.. but I guess war hasn't got to do much with fairness
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Old 02 Jun 08, 19:49
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longevity

Quote:
Originally Posted by HoldSteady View Post
thx Pruitt.. Sounds a bit unfair to me.. but I guess war hasn't got to do much with fairness
Little wonder the turnover in a rifle platoon was usually over 100 % during a prolonged campaign.
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Old 09 Jun 08, 14:10
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Is this certain?

At least we were taught in the army(granted, 60 years later and in the finnish army) that the scouts would change. It's pretty heavy duty too, you are not simply walking ahead, but you're constantly ready to shoot..and actually instead of walking you are running. It wears you down pretty fast.


Dunno who it was done back then, but we were taught it the following way, when not expecting immediate contact:
Scout number one takes up position and covers the movement of scout number 2.
Scout number 2 advances 50 or so meters, maybe less maybe more, depending on terrain. He then takes up position and covers the movement of scout number 1.
Scout number one advances to where scout number 2 is, takes up position and ahead goes scout number 2 again. Of course it varies and there were other methods...always depending on the situation.

When expecting contact the scouts would be in front of the squad again some 25-50 meters, depending on terrain and visibility. They would advance by walking with gun held ready to shoot at all the time(basicly looking down the sights).

Anyways, it was not exactly an easy job and we at leat changed the scouts from time to time.
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Old 09 Jun 08, 16:07
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Karri your strategy assumes that BOTH the Scouts are going to be around for awhile and have a certain amount of skill! In Viet Nam, they would often use one guy as Scout because he was GOOD at it. Other Squads without a choice would just tell a FNG "Okay its YOUR turn to take Point!".

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Old 12 Jun 08, 02:51
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Found the relevant field manuals posted on the web for the US Rifle Company, issed 1942 and 1944.

http://www.34thinfdiv.com/manuals

Mentions that scouts were to be used in the manner described by Karri, but doesn't say if the chosen scouts could be rested. There was, as far as I know, not a speciality of scout when it came to grading GIs (as there was for automatic rifleman for example). The squad was authorised seven riflemen, two of who would act as scouts.

Perhaps the detail of whether the same guys got the duty or whether it was rotated depended as much on the squad as anything else.

Gary
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Old 12 Jun 08, 05:06
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Gary,

A great deal also rested on whether the "Scouts" survived being on point! If he did not come back, plug in another guy!

A scene in the movie "The Red One" comes to mind. How do you find out if there is any enemy in a town? Send in a guy and see if he gets shot! "They teach that in West Point..."

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Old 12 Jun 08, 12:20
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Thanks guys, I guess there isn't a thumb rule for this one (at least in WWII American units). My guess following your observations is that indeed it came down to the platoon leader, or perhaps even squad leader to regulate this.

Very helpfull!
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Old 13 Jun 08, 21:43
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One more note. When the US Marines reorganized their squads into teams based on a BAR each (two teams per squad 1943, three teams 1944), one rifleman in each team was labled "Scout". The other team members were labled: Team Leader, BAR gunner, Assistant BAR Man.
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Old 29 May 16, 00:16
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My Grandfather was a Scout for much of his time in the Europe
Campaign of WWII. To my knowledge he never rotated out. But
did have many partners, even to the extent of picking his own from
Time to time. He "won" a coin flip to get the Scout spot. He told me of many interesting stories I would gladly share if anyone's interested or
If I can answer any questions from his wealth of war knowledge he told me about.
29 Let's Go!
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Old 29 May 16, 07:25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karri View Post
Is this certain?

At least we were taught in the army(granted, 60 years later and in the finnish army) that the scouts would change. It's pretty heavy duty too, you are not simply walking ahead, but you're constantly ready to shoot..and actually instead of walking you are running. It wears you down pretty fast.


Dunno who it was done back then, but we were taught it the following way, when not expecting immediate contact:
Scout number one takes up position and covers the movement of scout number 2.
Scout number 2 advances 50 or so meters, maybe less maybe more, depending on terrain. He then takes up position and covers the movement of scout number 1.
Scout number one advances to where scout number 2 is, takes up position and ahead goes scout number 2 again. Of course it varies and there were other methods...always depending on the situation.

When expecting contact the scouts would be in front of the squad again some 25-50 meters, depending on terrain and visibility. They would advance by walking with gun held ready to shoot at all the time(basicly looking down the sights).

Anyways, it was not exactly an easy job and we at leat changed the scouts from time to time.
Similar to the practice in the Australian Army ,where the two forward scouts':" The Eyes and Ears of the Section" operated usually in a leap-frog fashion: one passing the other, then "propping" ,permitting the other to advance in turn.Both were armed with light automatic weapons. (Owens, later F1s ).
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Old 31 May 16, 19:04
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Well, "the manual" (Tactics and Technique of Infantry) shows the squad has two scouts, who are in effect riflemen, designated. They follow the squad leader in the advance and are to be used, as necessary, to move ahead of the squad to scout. The squad leader follows the scouts forward to control the squad's actions and maintain contact with the scouts.
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