German S-Mine (Bouncing Betty)

October 10, 1944: Probing the Sigfried Line defenses; first encounter with the German S-Mine.

Lt. George Wilson, 4th Division, after nine weeks of combat since St.-Lo: “By now I had gone through aerial bombing, artillery and mortar shelling, open combat, direct rifle and machine gun firing, night patrolling and ambush. Against all of this we had some kind of chance; against mines we had none. The only defense was to not move at all.”

After the war Lt. Wilson flatly declared that the S-mine was “the most frightening weapon of the war, the one that made us sick with fear.” From “Citizen Soldier”, Stephen E. Ambrose, 1997, page 143-44.

Whether on land or sea, the demoralizing effects of mines, and their consequent impact on morale, tactics and timetables, is given far less credit than deserved. Ask any veteran of the land, river and canal war in Vietnam.


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