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World War II | Spain | Blue Division
Golpe de Mano: Limited Assaults by the Blue Division
Posted 19 Jul 2003
Golpe de Mano literally means "blow of the hand" (Proctor, 1974). The Spanish troops of the Blue Division of WW2used this term for a limited assault. The assault force would consist of 5-40 men, under either an officer or NCO, and armed with automatic weapons, hand grenades, bayonets, and knives (meat cleavers were also favoured). The force would work their way through the Soviet defences, defusing mines and marking their path for the return journey. The attackers would eliminate the Russian sentries then split up in the enemy positions causing as much damage as possible in the few minutes available (never more than 20-30 min). The Spaniards would then regroup, and withdraw under cover of an heavy artillery barrage, taking any prisoners with them.
Sometimes the assault would be preceded by an artillery barrage, but not always (Proctor, 1974). This meant the Russians were never sure if the barrage was the preliminary to a golpe de mano, an all out offensive, or nothing. It was also possible for the Spaniards to be conducting an golpe de mano in one sector, at the same time as the Russians were putting in a full offensive in other.
A divisionario who completed five such missions received decoration called an Assault Plaque.
Proctor, R. L. (1974). Agony of a Neutral: Spanish-German wartime relations and "The blue Division". Idaho research foundation inc.