THE CHAIRMAN: General Snow, Ladies and Gentlemen On the 5th December last year in this Institution, Colonel Bingham confided to us the impressions and experiences of himself and his Staff formed during the practice season of 1912. He impressed upon us the points which called for our attention, and he indicated the direction in which the Instructions for 1913 would probably trend. The lecture was received in this building with enthusiasm, was repeated elsewhere, and undoubtedly proved of the greatest value to the Horse and Field Artillery at large. The Committee of the Royal Artillery Institution recognizing that fact has invited Colonel Bingham to come down here again this evening and open his mind to us regarding the Practice of 1913, and he has very kindly consented to do so.
May I be allowed to express the hope that after Colonel Bingham has delivered his address, those who feel themselves competent to comment on any remarks he has made will do so in order that we may have a good discussion, for undoubtedly an illuminating dis-cussion puts the crown on an interesting Lecture. (Loud applause).
THE LECTURER: I must apologise for lecturing two years' running on the same subject, and I may say I did not want to do it again, but I was told that it was useful and filled up gaps that must necessarily exist in official publications, so I consented. I am afraid there is very little now to talk about. F.A.T. is coming out in its permanent form as soon as it can be corrected and got ready; the amendments which will come out with it are really only details which were shown to be wanted. I will first shortly discuss the systems of the year and then go on to gunnery details which are really the pickings of the Camp Commandant's Reports and our own experiences at the different camps.
Elementary was carried out in most camps on the lines suggested last year. One camp did not like it and described the method as Kindergartenishso let it go at that. It is open to the Camp Commandant to do it on whatever lines he pleases on the understanding that the elementary day is for the instruction of the young officers and the young soldiers.
At Lark Hill we had a quick-firing test with one gun in battery to show the men what continuous quick fire means. The quickest rate obtained was 22 rounds a minute, firing for half a minute. The rank and file took great interest in the test.
The 3rd Division fired their elementary on the Plain before going to their camp, and a Howitzer Brigade at Aldershot a few rounds on Colony Bog. The system is excellent, and it is a great pity that there are not facilities for everybody to carry their preliminary as did this Brigade.
The 5th Division fired their elementary at Glen Imaal, and went back later on and fired the remainder of their ammunition.
Our great difficulty is still in producing proper targets to represent movement. I sometimes think we do not take enough time to explain to the Battery Commander what the target represents.
We tried on Salisbury Plain, which is the only camp where you can have real movers, small columns to show advancing and retiring infantry, but it was not entirely satisfactory, as in real life if we saw anything we should see many rows and batches of columns. Some people think targets are unnecessary, but personally I am of opinion that dummies should be put in every standing or natural target so that effect can be counted.
Effectives are not worth talking about at an irregular target, as the opinion of the Range Parties is worth nothing unless they are parallel to the target.
To give some idea of the material required and the labour involved, I may tell you that West Down and Lark Hill had each 85 miles of wire laid out on the range to work the different targets, even then one felt that the targets did not represent to the Battery Commanders what we meant them to represent.
Do not let anyone think that tactical shooting need in any way interfere with instruction in gunnery. It ought to add an extra interest in the latter, and every series fired at tactical practice should be as closely criticised from the gunnery point of view as from the tactical. As a battery never fires more than about 100 rounds in a day, the number of situations should not exceed, say 4, giving that number of gunnery series enabling ranging to be carried and effect to be obtained. The Infantry and Cavalry Officers who now take great interest in our shooting have ample opportunities with this number of situations of visualising for us the movement of their own arm, and so helping us as far as can be done without the presence of actual troops.
Divisional Field Firing.
The Divisional Field Firing of the 3rd Division with the whole of the Infantry of the 3rd Division was intended to show the infantry the effect of artillery fire, and at each phase they were placed in a position to observe the fire. It was also intended to practise co-operation, but as they were not allowed to advance under artillery fire not much was learnt in this way. Nobody will take the responsibility of the risk, although I understand it has been done in India. A suggestion from Ireland to employ special shell with a blowing fuze is not practicable from financial reasons and from the difficulties of turnover. At the 3rd Division field firing the practice, from the point of view of allotment of fire, was very well done. Tasks were allotted to batteries, but they were also allotted zones in which targets, although they did not affect that task, were the objective of the units to which that zone was allotted.
At Lark Hill the plan was tried of the Brigade Commander attending at the Camp Commandant's preliminary Conference instead of giving his criticisms first at the General Conference. It has always seemed to me absurd to ask a Brigade Commander to publicly criticise his own Majors whom he has trained. Needless to say, opinions vary a good deal on this point.
Occupation of Positions.
And now to get on to the occupation of positions and technical gunnery questions connected therewith.
Times throughout had improved considerably, showing that the stop-watch had been extensively used, but various points came to notice, which in our opinion would have helped matters, and about which, of course, there are differences of opinion.
I want to go quickly through the procedure of occupying positions, under cover, in the open, and in semi-covered positions. Of course there cannot be any real sealed patterns, but here are sample ones for what they are worth.
Let us take the covered one first:
The C.R.A. and O.C. Force make their reconnaissance, and it is decided that the guns are wanted in action with complete cover. The B.C. has had no one with him during this reconnaissance but his trumpeter and director man. Cavalry Brigadiers only allow one man with the B.C. R.H.A. The remainder of the Headquarters stay back with the battery.
The tactical reconnaissance finished, he sends for them and proceeds to reconnoitre alone, and mounted, for his observing station and roughly the position of his guns.
The former is where he will observe dismounted unless it is absolutely certain that he will have to be on his ladder.
He then comes back, gives his B.S.M. directions as to his communications, etc., and goes dismounted to select his actual observing station.
He is followed by his director man with his director ready shipped to save time. The B.C. puts it up, lays it on the target or centre of the zone and calls up the Subaltern, who equally comes up, dismounted, looks over it and is then sent off to lay out the lines for the battery. As soon as he is gone, the range finder arrives and is given his orders. The B.C's man turns the director through an angle of 120° towards the battery and has a flag or picket put up to mark this line. This will be found to be a great assistance to the Subaltern who will know that his guns must not be behind this line or his B.C. will be in the danger angle.
As soon as the Subaltern has planted his posts in line with the target, he comes back and should find his director ready for him layed on the posts. If the B.C. has not selected the exact position for the guns the Subaltern will have to decide where to put them, keeping in view his orders as to cover. He tells his horse-holder where to go mark the line for the guns, and then picks up and measures the angle to the aiming point. Unfortunately last year, I think, we laid too much stress on its being in prolongation of the line of guns, and officers went for this in preference to very good ones at an angle. With the simple rule of dividing the angle which the line DirectorAiming Point makes with the line of guns, parallelism is very easily corrected, but it is extraordinary how often it was forgotten. Now let the Nos. 1 gallop out the last 100 yards and be halted by the Subaltern. They will halt their guns on the line and bring them into action. The Section Commanders now run to the director, look at the A.P. and back to their guns, and turn the finder of the dial sight on to the aiming point. Verbal descriptions are absolutely useless. Some B.C's, instead of their putting out aiming posts, like to send an angle to the Subaltern's director, and I am afraid I like that way best myself personally, but there is, of course, the possibility of error, and the aiming post way is a certainty.
The former will have to be done if the guns are behind any-thing like a wood, and everyone ought to be able to do it quickly and accurately. This is a very long story which can be done on the field far quicker that the time I have taken to tell it, and I only bring out the fact that it is a drill pure and simple.
We tried to find out how a Section Commander was to know when he had got 13 foot cover, and we found that if he went to where he could just see the target or feature from which he wants full cover, that he should drop his handkerchief or any article that he will be able to see, ride down the hill, dismount, and with the hand angle or sight instrument set at zero, move up or down till, with the instrument directed on the article he has dropped, the bubble is in the centre of its run, and at that spot he has 13 foot. This again sounds a long story, but when tactical considerations require absolute concealment the time taken to carry out this operation will not be wasted. Very, very seldom did Field and Horse Batteries really get 13 foot of cover, at least on Salisbury Plain. We carried out a practical trial to find if 13 foot was right, and found it was so.
The Battery Commander goes on with his director man and trumpeter in close attendance, followed at a reasonable distance by the Subaltern with his staff, behind comes the B.S.M. with his party, the remainder of the Headquarters. The method I am now suggest-ing was tried this year and was found successful, and I hope will be put in Field Artillery Training. It is really what was done some years ago. The B.C. dismounts, as does his director man, and the director is set up (on the low legs if necessary) on the target or on the centre of the zone or on the reference point if he thinks it preferable; he calls up the Subaltern and tells him how the battery is to occupy the position, and gives him any other necessary instructions. The Subaltern gallops back to pass on his information to the battery or stays to help the B.C. The B.C. says to his director man "tell the officers when they come up that the director is on the centre of the target and that it extends 5 degrees," or "that the director is on the reference point. The target is 5 degrees to the right and extends 4 degrees." "Tell me the angle of sight directly you have taken it." The B.C. goes to his station and waits, and as soon as the guns arrive he takes hold of the traversing lever of the nearest gun, or the Subaltern does for him, and throws it on to the line. The Section Commander of that section, looking over his shoulder does the same to the other gun. The other Section Commanders having looked over the director do ditto with their guns. The only orders the B.C. gives are: "Angle of sightLeft rangingCorrector 160, 34, 31," or as the case may be.
Every layer picks up an auxiliary aiming point to carry on with.
By this means I have seen a battery start in 18 seconds, and the average is 28 seconds from the time the B.C. halts the battery.
We claim that by this method every gun is put on the right line at once, fewer orders are required, and great quickness is obtained. One B.C. wrote to me and said"the Horse Artillery had quickness of opening fire on the brain." My answer is that it is a very good form of madness so long as accuracy goes with it.
The Section Commanders, too, see the B.C's ranging rounds and know their line even if they were in any doubt before. Reference points described verbally are almost useless in my opinion.
The wagon limber of the gun nearest the B.C. should now be sent to a position for him to use, well behind the line, so that his voice goes down.
When we come to occupying semi-covered positions it entirely depends on the amount of cover required. It may be any degree of cover between 13 foot and 0. Whether guns are to be run up by hand or whether the teams should come up and get away as quickly as they can, must depend on circumstances. Unless the ground has been carefully registered by the enemy I believe the latter can be done every time.
In a semi-covered position the battery is bound to be given away as soon as fire is opened. I think the only time when they will be run up by hand is when a position in observation is desired and it is necessary to conceal the operation, and there is time before fire is likely to be wanted.
If the target or reference point is visible to the Section Commanders standing up, the procedure is identical with the open method.
If it is wished to get concealment when occupying the position although the flashes when the guns have opened fire will be visible the best method undoubtedly is to drive along the position in column of sub-sections, action right or left, unlimber the wagon bodies and run them up by hand. Several batteries did this with the wagons on the enemy's side and the obvious happened, the wagon on any-thing like a slope got out of hand and ran downhill.
To get on the target from such a position, the B.C's director or the Subaltern's director should be left pointing on the aiming point and the angle previously measured, as in a covered position.
Before we leave the question of Occupation of Positions, there are one or two details in which B.C's are not agreed.
Some will not allow the layer to pick up an auxiliary aiming point for himself. I think it is a very bad compliment to the B.C's teaching, and to the man's intelligence.
The B.C's of all the batteries I saw on the Plain, and some of them had had the No. 7 Dial Sights only a few days, did trust their layers and successfully. It is tying one hand behind your back not to do so I think, wasting time and bothering the layer.
Some will not allow a Subaltern to put out the lines or select the position for the guns. Again I think it is a very bad compliment to the B.C's teaching and to the intelligence of the Officer.
Another point, and a very important one, is the concealment of the observing station. Bullets would correct it in war, but it is bad teaching to unnecessarily risk the lives of the brains of the battery, without which the carefully concealed guns are not of much value.
Use of Observation Ladder.
The ladder when it is provided must stay with the battery till the technical reconnaissance commences, it must then stay with the headquarters under charge of the B.S.M., and will be placed by him, and it must not be used unless necessary.
The 120° line will be a great help as to the placing of the ladder, as it must be either on or behind this line. It is quite possible that in war, risk or no risk, they will have to be used on account of space, but they are always going to be deathtraps. I can't help thinking cunning B.C's will put their ladder where they are not, and will observe from elsewhere.
I have talked a great deal about this occupation of positions, but it is like the "House that Jack built," one fault will bring out other faults and so on. The points in occupying a position are, that it must be done quickly, with the least possible information to the enemy, and the lines should be as nearly as possible right to start with.
I would recommend every B.C. to make the roughest model with earth or sand, shape it into hills, different positions, and practice indoors, with his headquarters, the occupation of positions. This applies to Territorial Artillery principally, but in places like Woolwich or Sheffield, or such like, where drill grounds are practically non-existent, I think much could be done.
When batteries go out to drill wash out the aiming points used on the last day, and make the Subaltern select others, and practice him in working out parallelism and so on, otherwise when he goes to camp he doesn't see his old friend, and perhaps gets into difficulties.
Difference of level of wheels. An instrument is coming, I hope, for the difference of level of wheels. The Nos. 1 will learn to work it very soon, and one source of trouble will disappear. Parallelism in the batteries that I saw had improved considerably.
Ranging. Now let us come to the ranging, and, pace the B.C's, there is a good deal to be said as to improvement required.
Gambling is very prevalent and some are perfectly happy to go to method of fire when they are not certain in their own minds that they have got the range. The old fault of gambling on high air bursts is still with us. "Thinks" don't count at Ranging. One B.C., a very good one too, said he thought there was too much deliberate ranging, and he liked jumping the range. The answer is that unless the range is found the results of shrapnel fire are absolutely nil.
We have now had two years of Collective, and it's the old storysome like it and some don't. The conclusion come to at several camps was that the best method of ranging on a gun target, or a crest line target, is to start with section ranging to get a 300-yd. bracket and go to collectiveinside this bracket. It is when one is getting near that the doubts of + or - occur, but with collective these doubts disappear. The rounds verify each other and the first two lines are corrected during the section portion. This method is economical, easy, and I think is the right method, and I hope it will be adopted. I understand the disliked word "normal" is now defunct.
When everything is going right, ranging is easy; it is when difficulties come along that failures take place. And now to get out of difficultiesyou have started with a Section and both rounds are lost. Shorten the Corrector and get smokeyou lose one roundrepeat each end firing both guns with the same elevation. Certain B.C's are wedded to percussion, and in consequence frequently come to grief. One battery I saw this year who were very quick at starting, were nothing like quick enough at getting to effective fire owing to the B.C's prejudice against T.S. Ranging. Another conclusion generally come to was that it is better to give out the longer elevation first always, so as to simplify procedure. It is laid down now, to be done when supporting an infantry attack, and is apt to be forgotten if it is only done on particular occasions. Many were the corrector troubles, as B.C's will not be bold enough with their alterations. I go so far as to say that when all your shells are bursting on the ground come back 20 at least, and bracket your corrector this way, like your range.
Angle of sight troubles always will be with us, and we found that when odd things were happening it was better to say "Angle of sight is...."the man who was wrong immediately put his sight correct, the delay was negligible, and the guns immediately shot right.
Miniature ranges have done much to help B.C's to give out their orders quickly and their deductions. Unfortunately the miniature range cannot reproduce real smoke, the observation of which depends so much on the wind and makes observation so difficult, particularly when it is blowing directly from or towards the battery. The smoke of a shell that has really burst beyond is quickly blown towards us and is visible in front of the target. There is no remedy for this but practice.
Howitzers. Time shrapnel ranging was tried with 4.5" howitzers, and was I think successful. Howitzers generally had quickened up a good deal. Various little mechanical helps were an assistance, and Captain Dreyer's system of ranging in yards with a false range for others than the 4th charge, is a move in the right direction. Only one man can make a mistake with this system, that one the B.C., and if he has selected the wrong rangewhat matters, he can always alter it. The tendency of Howitzer B.C's is to put their batteries too far back and so oblige themselves to go a long way away and complicate their communications. It is no use getting into position quickly if you are going to be slow afterwards, because as soon as you open fire the chances are you will draw fire, and the sooner you are top dog the better. This applies to all guns equally. We have improved our times for opening fire, and we must now learn to get to effective fire quickly.
At short rangesdo not attempt to range with percussion. I have seen disastrous results this year from so doing. At very short ranges the trajectory is so flat that I think the percussion strike the smallest obstruction and go on to burst beyond, and are most confusing. Range with effective length of corrector and crawl up.
I think I have discussed now all the different patterns of targets and given the views that we have all come to after seeing many batteries try the same things.
Responsibility for correcting for line.
One point that came out very often was as to who should correct for line when the Section Commanders can see the target. The book says the Section Commanders are to correct when they can see, and there are often too many cooks, the B.C. and the Section Commanders both doing it. I think, and I hope, it will become law that the B.C. should always correct unless he gives the order "Section Commanders correct for line." We know that they can correct when open sights or telescope are being used, but when indirect laying is used they can correct only at a standing target or at a moving one that is coming directly towards, or going directly away from, the battery.
Another small point is the difficulty found of ranging for fuze when below 1,600 yards. Several Horse Artillery batteries had Range and Fuze slips printed in large figures, and pasted on the lid of the wagon. This took it off the shoulders of the B.C. and worked very well. The question has been gone into very carefully and there is no good mechanical solution without attaching another piece to the bar indicator.
There is no necessity to say anything in particular about the howitzers beyond what I have said already. I am personally a great believer in the 4.5" howitzer, so much so that I would like to see a battery of howitzers in every Field Artillery Brigade. They were tried in Ireland at very short ranges supporting the attack, and I understand very successfully. Whether this is going to be possible or advisable is a matter of opinion, as these batteries carry very few shell. It is a very nice point as to whether they will ever get any more ammunition, if they approach too near to the enemy's position. They were allowed to carry lyddite fuzed, which was a great saving in time and trouble.
Method of fire.
A point I should have touched on before is the method of fire to be used. Most of us came to the conclusion that one round of battery fire is unnecessary for guns that can be unloaded. Battery fire at any interval seemed the most suitable. Gun fire is only of use at a Shock Action Target, and section fire, in my opinion, is an uncontrolled fire. There are, however, differences of opinion on the subject, and it is argued that when a slow rate of fire is to be kept up that section fire is best, as the battery fire would come much too slowly. At moving targets I saw battery fire kept up by a 4-gun battery at four seconds interval with excellent results.
I saw the 60-prs. do elementary on Salisbury-Plain and I was much struck with the drill and accuracy, but I do not like the Observing Officer doing the B.C's work at the latter's station. He was never meant for that. He was meant as an auxiliary when a separate observing party goes on. On one occasion there was a party of 3 officers at the observing station, and no commissioned officer with the guns at all. The Heavies, like the Field Artillery, are rejoicing in the possession of the No. 7 Dial Sight.
No. 7 Dial Sights
Only three 18-pr. and one 13-pr. batteries practised at Lark Hill with No. 7 Dial Sight. They were of course obliged to use aiming posts. With one Division of Territorial Artillery we tried doing without them with much success, but of course the 15-pr. is a very steady gun. When aiming posts are put out with this gun, chaos is apt to ensue as soon as the deflection on the deflection bar is used up.
In my opinion sweeping should be carried out at battery fire as well as section and gun fire. The gun would be re-layed for line and elevation after every round. Remember this little rule to know how much sweep is required:"With a 6-gun battery multiply the number of degrees the target subtends by 3, 5 for a 4-gun battery, 9 for a section."This gives the sweep in minutes.
Checking Sights and Range Dials.
The simple method recommended was successful. It simply consisted in bringing the line of the rocking bar sight to the horizontal by using a straight-edge and field clinometer on the fore-sight and back-sight of the rocking bar sight, making the sight clinometer agree, and then bringing the muzzle to the horizontal and making the range dial agree. The muzzle was brought to the horizontal by putting the field clinometer on the guides near the muzzle, and moving the wheel on the right side till the bubble is in the middle. This competes with the droop and does away with any bother consequent on the planes having been altered. Great ingenuity was shown when casualties were made to instrumentson one occasion directors, flags, and aiming posts were taken away and the Subaltern Officer concerned was full of resource and success-fully competed with the task.
Capt. Hill's Lecture.
I must allude for a minute to Captain Hill's lecture last year which attracted a great deal of attention. He said that guns required grouping. The C.R.A. 2nd Division kindly tried it, and Captain Hill has now recanted it in an article sent to the "Journal of the Institution." Check the Sights and Range Dials and the guns shoot alike.
His other remarks, though, about bursting shells too short much were taken to heartso much so, that at some camps grazes were really too numerous. His other great point, asking for extra accuracy in ranging, is always to be borne in mind. Remember it is a curious fact in Natural History that whenever we see a round burst over we immediately pull the range back, but we see any number burst short without putting the range up, and yet the real range is + and - with the same ranges.
The only other point to bring out in this year's work was the employment of a forward Observing Officer, much advocated by the G.O.C. R.A. 1st Division. Undoubtedly he will be used occasionally but I think purely as an officer for observing effective fire with no tactical powers, and I do not think he will be sent out without the special permission of the C.R.A., and then with a view to observing some particular target that cannot be observed from the battery end.
Line of fire by Compass.
It is recommended from one camp that Battery Commanders should learn to get the fire of their batteries on to a target by means of a compass, and I certainly think everybody should know how do it. In an enclosed country it will probably be the only possible way. 4.5" Howitzer batteries have two No. 3 Directors and can do it, but at present we have no compass on the No. 1 Director. Maps must be more studied for ranges.
The one-man Range Finders are very good, but the map and the gun, particularly the latter, are better.
There has been a good deal of misunderstanding about the retirements this year. Every care must be taken on the conditions then existent. I personally don't think there should be any words of command or any stereotyped method. I think you will send the Captain and tell him to let the Section Commanders know what is going to happen. The withdrawal might be by a gun at a time or by six guns at a time. If the Captain and Section Command know what is going to happen, and the Captain gives the proper orders, there should be no confusion.
We made a great deal of progress this yearwith the gallant officers of the R.F.C. observing our fire and locating hidden targets. I need not enlarge on the details, but the best day we were put on to a hidden target in seven minutes with seven rounds. An average time, but it depended a great deal on weather, was about twenty minutes. Of course some observers were more proficient than others, and some pilots, more daring than others, shortened the operation considerably. The system employed is about to be embodied in the new F.A.T.
During the Divisional Field Firing of the 3rd Division, an aeroplane observed the fire of one battery on to a hidden target close to other targets which were being engaged at the same time. The battery ranged a salvo of three rounds, and the airman had no difficulty in observing the fire and reporting the results.
Directors. Are the Directors well enough known? There should be, besides the Officers, at least three or four N.C.O's who can work the director. It did not seem to me that they are so well known as they should be. The days are gone when a B.C. was frightened of his director. In the early days of directors, one well known Officer threatened to put his B.S.M. under arrest if he brought it near him. The director is a good friend and should be treated as such.
Before concluding, I should like to say a word for the good work I saw done this year at Practice Camp by certain Territorial Units. The training and turn out of some of them had reached an extremely high standard considering the time at their disposal, and was most creditable to the Officers, N.C.O's and Men. I have finished all I have to say, or rather all one can say in an hour's lecture. Last year, after I had finished, one of the audience told a friend of mine that he hadn't agreed with anything he had heard, and that it was "rotten." This may be the same this year, but I am afraid if so that it is the best I can do.
MAJOR H.T. BELCHER, D.S.O.: The Lecturer mentioned that certain batteries seem to have quickness on the brain, and, as an onlooker at practice camps for the last few years, I could not help being struck by the great difference there is in the standard of drill reached by various batteries, more especially in the standard reached by the staffs of batteries. It appears to me that, as far as drill is concerned, greater perfection might be obtained without the firing of a single round, thus enabling batteries to take full advantage of their instruction in more advanced gunnery and fire tactics. Would it not be possible to examine all batteries and insist on the attain-ment of a certain standard of drill before allowing them to practice? My suggestion is that a day should be allotted, at the beginning of camp, to testing the drill of gun detachments and staffs, and that this test should be carried out on the practice ground and with ordinary practice targets. It would not be difficult I think to devise a series of standard tests in which marks would be allotted for both time and accuracy.
Another point I should like to speak about which the Lecturer referred to is this proportionate corrector. It would be rather interesting to hear the views of different officers on this point. My view rather is that we made a very great mistake in adopting proportionate corrector, and I think it is a mistake which has hindered progress almost as much as the retention of the 6-gun battery (Laughter). It seems to me that we strain at a gnat in insisting on proportionate correction and at the same time we swallow two enormous camelsone, that the alteration of the corrector bears no fixed relation to the corresponding alteration in the height of burst,that is to say we have got to think whether you should alter your corrector by 2, 6, 12, or perhaps 20, according to the range, and the other is the fact that the adoption of this proportionate corrector seems to have completely barred the way to a fuze-setting machine. I rather hope that the powers that be will experiment with a fuze indicator, at any rate, in which the correction will correspond to alteration in height of burst; that is to say, if you want to alter your height of burst by 20 minutes you will have to alter the corrector by 20. (Applause).
MAJOR H. ROWAN-ROBINSON: I was privileged to attend Practice Camp this year and, looking at things from an outside point of view as a Garrison Artilleryman, perhaps my remarks may be of some value. Being new to the subject I studied Field Artillery Training carefully and took a barometer down with me in order to work out the corrector daily. On the first day, according to the barometer and the figures in the book, the corrector ought to have been 146; it was found by the guns to be 158. During the rest of the week I was there, leaving out cases where a false angle of sight was found, the figures remained roughly the same. I tried to find out the cause of the difference, but without success. It was not the round, it was not the temperature, but I thought it might have been due to a considerable variation of muzzle velocity from the normal. Unfortunately I could not discover the muzzle velocity of the particular lot of cordite that was being used. The batteries going into action knew from previous shooting that the corrector ought to be about 158, and, when it worked out at that, naturally did not worry over the fact that from the book it should have been 146. Batteries in war, however, not shooting always from the same practice ground depend for the estimation of their initial corrector, on the figures in the book. It would seem therefore advisable, when book and shooting vary, to study the cause of the variations and then to give some guidance on the subject in the Manual.
When studying the subject personally, I found that, according to experiments carried out with No. 80 fuzes, the multiplying factor should be, not 1/44, as stated in the book, but somewhere about 1/25. It may not seem a very important point, but a Battery Commander coming into action in South Africa at a height of 4,000 feet and a range of 4,000 yards would, following book figures, find a corrector that would cause his fuze to burn 200 yards too long. The Lecturer said that people were very apt to creep with their corrector. That being so, in the example quoted, a B.C. might waste a good many rounds before he found the true corrector. Moreover, finding the latter to differ considerably from the book figure, he would lose con-fidence in his Training Manual. I would therefore suggest the alteration of the size of the multiplying factor in the new F.A. Training.
The next point that struck me was that no notice was taken of corrections required for changes of temperature and pressure. On page 149, I think, of F.A.T., it is stated indeed, that variations in temperature and pressure, variations of heat of cordite, etc. will cause variations in range, but no guidance is given as to the direction or amount of the variation. These things can be worked out, and I think should be worked out. The arguments against the application of an initial correction are that it tends to make Battery Commanders slow and that, to work it out, a barometer and thermometer have to be carried with the battery. (Laughter). An aneroid barometer can be carried in a waistcoat pocket and a thermometer on a watch chain, so that you are not burdening your battery very much. If we study the conditions of recent warfare, it will be seen that the suggestion of an initial correction is not outside practical politics. Taking a range of 4,000 yards as a standard the corrections to apply would have been: at the action at Guru in Thibet, shorten 600 yards; in the South African war, on an average, shorten 300 yards; in the Libyan war, shorten 200 yards; before Chatalja, lengthen 150 yards; in the Manchurian war, from the summer fighting in the mountains to the winter fighting in the plains, the correction would have altered from shorten 400 yards to lengthen 200 yardsa total variation of 600 yards, which seems worth considering.
I submit that some guidance should be given in the Training Manual to assist people in making corrections for abnormal conditions, for it does seem a pity when you have a good gun, such as ours has been proved to be, and a good range-finder, and when you have trained your layers to lay and your range-takers to measure the range correctly, that you should sacrifice all and be 400 or 500 yards out, simply for the want of a little working out of the matter beforehand. (Loud applause)
BRIG.-GENERAL N. D. FINDLAY, C.B.: The Lecturer referred to the Forward Observing Officer, and he asked me to say a few words with regard to his employment. We have made considerable use of such an officer during the past training season in the artillery of the 1st Division, both at practice camp and during manoeuvres, and I think that most of the officers who have seen the system tried have agreed as to the benefit which may be derived from it.
As to the system itself, it is no invention of mine. It was adapted by Colonel W. T. Furse (at that time one of my Brigade Commanders, and now General Staff Officer at Cork), from a similar system in use in Germany, and described in the Field Artillery Training Manual of that country. Colonel Furse arranged for the provision of the stores required, namely some special telephone instruments and wire, the latter on reels with fittings which enabled them to be easily carried and the wire to be freely run out and reeled up.
The observation party consists of an officer and two non-commissioned officers carrying the reels and instruments. They are sent forward by their Brigade Commander, their duties being first to report on the accuracy of the fire, next to report on the movements of their own infantry, and to make sure that the latter are not coming under the fire of the batteries, and finally to report on any of the enemy's forces, such as batteries, infantry entrenched, or machine guns which are inflicting loss on our infantry, and which cannot be located from the battery observing stations. Of these duties the first (i.e. reporting on the accuracy of fire) can be carried out at practice camp, as can the third, the new targets of course being arranged for by the camp staff beforehand. The second duty as far as reporting on the movements of their own infantry is concerned can be carried out at field operations. The party does not necessarily accompany any particular portion of the advancing infantry, but moves, keeping under cover, from one point of vantage to another. Its object is to see what is going on, so that it can send back the required information by means of its telephone, or failing that, by signalling, semaphore for choice. I cannot agree with Colonel Bingham that the use of forward observing officers should only be tried occasionally. What we as gunners want to do is to ensure the accuracy of our fire, and this becomes more and more important the closer the opposing infantries draw to each other. We want to avoid hitting our own infantry and at the same time be able to take on any portions of the enemy's force which check its advance, and to do these two things we must know what is going on at the other end. In this, however, we are apt to fail, especially when Battery Commanders are observing their fire from positions close to their batteries. The forward observing officer is employed in order to minimize the chances of such failure. I think, therefore, that the system should be practised by us as much as ever we can, because we shall then be able to make up our minds as to whether it is of any use, and also because if it is to be used in war we must practise it in peace. Personally I think it will be of great service in war. At Okehampton this year it was carried out on many occasions, and reports were sent back which enabled the fire to be corrected. On other occasions the positions of new targets were indicated which could not be seen from the neighbourhood of batteries, and it was found possible to turn the fire on to them and send such information regarding the fall of the ranging shell as enabled effective fire to be brought to bear on them. At Okehampton there are certainly considerable facilities for trying a system of this nature, because the observing party can get behind rocks and obtain cover in a way they cannot do on flat ranges. One necessary adjunct is a switch board. If the Brigade Commander has one he can connect up the forward observing officer with any battery the fire of which that officer is required to report on, and the result of the observations can go to the Battery Commander direct.
This is a general description of what was actually done in the way of experimenting with a forward observing officer this year. I think it would be a great thing if officers took up the question, because we know perfectly well that the Regiment has only got to prove the necessity for any system or for any particular stores and it always gets them. (Loud applause)
GENERAL T. D'O. SNOW, C.B.: I should rather like to say a word about that which has been referred to as the Forward Observing Officer. When used to report back what is happening with regard to the bursting of shell, well and good; but I do not quite follow if it is intended that he should report back to the Brigade Commander about certain new targets cropping up and certain points which want more fire turned on to them, as, if so, I think he may be taking the whole thing out of the hands of the Divisional Commander and the Artillery Commander. If we could always have Artillery Officers up in the firing line and the reports came straight in to the Divisional Commander, or even to the Artillery Commander, we might get on, but I think it would be a very dangerous idea to have such information going back to the Brigade, because the Brigades will be doing things I am sure they ought not to be doing, and getting on to new targets they ought not to get on to. Nobody knows the situation so well as the Brigadier of the Infantry which is engaged, whereas you are getting right past him and getting to the Artillery Brigade Com-mander. Possibly I misunderstood you.
GENERAL FINDLAY: I am afraid I did not make it clear.
GENERAL SNOW: If you would not mind telling me afterwards. While I am up I would like to say that I had hoped the Lecturer would tell us something about targets, as I was not altogether satisfied with their employment this year on the Plain. Personally speaking, I think that if it is necessary always to have targets to denote infantry advancing, a great deal of tactical instruction must be sacrificed. The moment arrives in a tactical scheme when the Director says "Now the only thing which could happen would be that the enemy would counter-attack from that point." Unfortunately there are no targets to denote such a counter-attack, so he has to create a situation which is unreal. Furthermore, these targets are not a bit like what you will shoot at in war. It would be much easier for the Director to create interesting and more real situations if infantry targets were abolished and the infantry target was pointed out by saying "the enemy's infantry are advancing, at the present moment the right of his firing line rests on that gravel pit and the left on that ash tree." Such a procedure would, I think, be just as good or better instruction for the artillery, but I should like to know whether there is any objection to it. (Applause).
GENERAL FINDLAY: I am afraid I did not make my meaning quite clear. I did not wish to imply that the artillery were to play their own battle, and take on any targets they saw. It is laid down in the Field Service Regulations that it is the duty of Artillery Commanders to keep themselves informed as to the progress of their infantry, and in our Training Manual we have much the same sort of instructions about the establishment of an advanced observation line to watch the infantry situation generally, to obtain information from subordinate Infantry Commanders, and communicate their observations direct to Artillery Brigade Com-manders, but we have no information given us as to how this is to be done. I think it will generally be necessary to send out one Forward Observing Officer per Field Artillery Brigade, and the information received will come to the Brigade Commanders. They will act on it or report it to their immediate superiors with a view to obtaining instructions, exactly as in the case of any other informa-tion they receive. For instance they would act on it at once if it dealt with the accuracy of the fire, or if by doing so they did not depart from the task originally allotted to them, but they would ask for orders from their immediate superior, the C.R.A. of the Division, or an Infantry Brigadier, as the case might be, before turning the fire of any of their batteries from the objective engaged, in order to fire at another objective which happened to be outside the particular zone allotted to them. I had no wish to suggest that the artillery would in any way play their own game. That is the answer you wanted, Sir, I think?
GENERAL SNOW: Yes.
COLONEL E. A. FANSHAWE: These advanced patrols are always used in the 5th Division. They were originally started in Ireland ten years ago by Sir William Knox, but we have not perfected them so much as they have done in the 1st Division. The order for them was that they were merely to assist the eyes of the gunners, and they were never to be used for transmission of orders.
GENERAL FINDLAY: If you have got them there why not let them help with other things?
COLONEL FANSHAWE: Because the orders should not come from the front.
GENERAL FINDLAY: This is not an order. Have you ever known it officially to be acted upon unless the Commanding Officer wishes it?
COLONEL FANSHAWE : The orders were that they were merely to assist the eyes of the gunners.
COLONEL H. A. BETHELL: There are one or two remarks I should like to offer. In the first place, with regard to the training in tactical co-operation between Artillery and Infantry, the Lecturer tells us that in peace time we cannot shoot over our own Infantry, but that we cannot teach Artillery and Infantry to work together unless the Artillery shoots over the Infantry. Therefore it follows that you cannot in peace time train Artillery and Infantry to work together at all, but with that I disagree. I do not think it requires more than a moderate amount of engineering to devise dummies representing the Infantry which could be pulled up as the Infantry is supposed to advance, and these dummies could be placed under the control of an Infantry Officer. I have seen that method worked, and on a German range I have even seen puffs representing the fire of the Infantrysemi-smokeless puffs were let off on the range in front of the guns which hardly obscured the view. I think if our authorities in these matters took the question of co-operation between the two arms more seriously a great deal more could be done in that direction.
Next, as to the point or limit at which Artillery should cease to fire over Infantry when the Infantry are attacking and the Artillery is supporting, we all know it is desirable that the Artillery should fire up to the last moment. About three years ago the French and the Germans both laid it down that the Artillery must stop or divert their fire when the Infantry arrived within 300 metres of the target. Two years ago the Germans reduced this distance to 200 metres approximately, and at the same time the French laid down that the Artillery must continue to fire down to 150 metres, that is when the Infantry were within 150 metres of the target, then using percussion shrapnel instead of time. We chose at the same moment to go back again and to say that the safe distance at which Artillery might fire over Infantry is about 400 yards. I think we shall all be glad to hear that it is proposed to modify this ultra-safe Regulation.
COLONEL BINGHAM: It is.
COLONEL BETHELL: There are one or two other minor points. With regard to coming into action in the open, I tried the method suggested by the Lecturer of putting up the director beforehand, and getting the Section Commanders to come and look over it to get the line of the target, but I found the director acted as a sort of fly trap or magnet. It attracted everybody. My own Staff came and clustered round it, and more especially Staff Officers. (Loud laughter). If you stick up a director anywhere on Salisbury Plain, you are sure to have a Staff Officer with a trumpeter galloping up to it. I thought I would rather not have my position given away in this manner, because when I stood up I should probably be shot, so I took it lying down without any director. When the battery arrived I layed the centre section guns myself and the Subalterns of the flank sections took the target from them. That system I found worked fairly well. There is only one other small point. I agree with the Lecturer as to the confusion which arises when gun fire is tried, but there is one method which I agree withrounds of battery fire. Let the Commanding Officer order one round of battery fire, five seconds, or two rounds, and then the men know there is something definite to do, and that they will not be hurried to begin again. With continuous fire from flank to flank a man can never be certain when the last gun has gone off, and he will be called upon to fire again, and the consequence is that the layers are always hurried. If you give it in definite batches, six shots at a time, the Commanding Officer can repeat these as often and as quickly as he pleases, and there is far less excitement, hurry and confusion. (Loud applause).
MAJOR J. H. W. JOHNSTONE: The Lecturer laid it clown that in a covered position the B.C. was not to select the position of the guns, but to remain and watch the tactical situation. As there is already a man trained to do this, and as he will have to do it when shooting commences, I suggest that he might do it from the beginning, and leave the B.C. free. The selection of the position of the battery is often by no means easy. It must not be a yard further away than necessary, and yet not in the danger angle; it must be completely under cover, and yet the trajectory must clear the crest. The forward officer is often an extremely young officer, and to leave all this to him, together with the marking of the line of fire, and selection of an aiming point is, I think, to put too great a responsibility upon him. At least it might be left an open question; the B.C. might be allowed to remain and watch the tactical situation, or he might, if he thought fit, go and select the position of the battery himself, but the responsibility should be his. Matters become especially complicated, Sir, when more than one battery is coming into action near one another. (Applause).
MAJOR W. ELLERSHAW: Could not that present column, which we see in the "Report on Practice," giving the number of effective rounds, be done away with, Sir? I take it that it has a very bad moral effect on the officer conducting the practice. (Laughter). It is the one column he always looks at first thing in the ante-room, and on that he either pats himself on the back, or feels depressed, forgetting entirely the General's criticisms, which would otherwise, perhaps, have gone home. It seems to me that effective rounds are rounds either which produce the desired effect in keeping the infantry's heads down, or rounds which hit; and I should say that percussion shell bursting close up to, or even beyond, the target are equally effective in keeping mens' heads down, if not more effective, than many registered as such. Also there are many series where there have been no effectives reported, and yet we see a large percentage of the target has been destroyed, or a certain amount anyway. If we must have that "effective" column could we not have a rectangle worked out which would include both pluses and minuses, giving us the best average effect? My own idea is that the object of the guns still is to hit, and the percentage of target destroyed (that is the hits) is a definite matter which could be counted, whereas, the "effective," which I object to, is left entirely to the discretion of the range officer, whose opinion might be questioned. (Applause).
COLONEL HUGHES: There is one question I should like to say a word upon, and that is the question of the tactical and fire training. I cannot help thinking that we do not do enough tactical fire training at the large centres such as Aldershot, Bulford, &c. For four out of my five year's command I was at Bulford or Kildare, and yet I was only once taken out by my C.R.A., and that was because
I specially asked him to do so. Of course more is done now than when I left, but even this year several Brigade Commanders have informed me that they have never been taken out for such instruction.
I am old enough to remember when we started shooting, and it was then laid down, rightly I consider, that shooting and a limited amount of fire tactics only, should be taught at practice camps, and the main fire tactics at training centres such as Aldershot, &c. It being recognised that these centres were the proper places for tactical instruction, and that such instruction, beyond a very limited amount, was impossible at practice, owing to limits of ammunition. range and safety.
Twenty years went on and the Regiment learned to shoot, and then the cry suddenly arose, "We know nothing of fire tactics." To me this appears a condemnation of our system of training, and the question arises, Why this failure? Without however seeking an answer to this question, the cry at once goes forth for fire tactics to be taught at practice camps, and in response, the whole training is crammed into the already too short practice.
I am sure that if practice camp accessories, such as puffs, blanks, dummies, &c. were available at other stations, a great deal of fire tactical instruction could be given to Brigades by their Divisional and Brigadier Generals. There would be no difficulties such as General Snow mentioned. The other arms could take part and there would be no limitations on schemes such as are unavoidable at practice. The Lecturer said you could do it on ordinary field days, but such was not my experience. They are too rapid and there is too much going on.
If, however, you have special field days, well thought out schemes and carefully made arrangements, a great deal of most useful tactical instruction can be given to Brigades and Batteries.
I used to have such schemes for my batteries, and I think the Battery Commander thought them useful, at all events they said they did.
I however always felt that at Brigade practice I was the weak link and that I should have been able to have done more justice to my batteries had I myself received some such instruction as I endeavoured to give them. (Loud applause).
THE CHAIRMAN: Perhaps Colonel Bingham would reply.
COLONEL BINGHAM: With regard to Major Belcher's remark re: preliminary drill inspections before proceeding to camp. I think you must leave everything of that sort in the hands of the Divisional Artillery Commanders. Entire latitude is left to them as to what their batteries should do, and if they don't think a battery is fit to go beyond a certain stage of practice they are at liberty so to order.
The old practice of examining a battery for laying, etc. the day of arrival in camp has, thank goodness, gone for ever. I have not got time to go into the question of proportionate and non-proportion-ate corrector; the matter is at present under consideration.
I am afraid I cannot agree at all with Major Rowan-Robinson's plea for greater accuracy. No one in the field is going to play about with barometers, thermometers, and pressures, and such like. He began by saying that at West Down they knew the corrector and were not disturbed because it was not theoretically what it ought to have been. As long as the guns were firing with the proper corrector I do not know what more was required. Field Gunnery is not an exact science like Coast Artillery, which fires from a fixed platform at a fixed height above sea-level, etc., etc. The range of the day with Field guns is the range found by the guns, and the gun is the best range-finder, better than all the scientific instruments in the world. The corrector is that found by the B.C., and, affected as it is by the angle of sight, it is not going to be a scientifically fixed point found by the use of instruments. I am sure Major Rowan-Robinson's figures are correct, but, as I commenced by saying, I cannot agree with him about the necessity for going deeper into the question than we do now.
General Snow's question re: targets is a very difficult one to answer. I know the targets do not represent Infantry advances or retirements. He was at West Down last year, where unfortunately they had no telephones to help work the targets, and everything had to be arranged beforehand as a set piece, worked by coloured screens and flags. Even with telephones it is difficult to make movement realistic, as there are limitations in representing living targets by wood, iron, canvas and wire, and danger considerations come in very considerably. I can speak with experience, having had a man and some horses killed while pulling a moving target, and I confess to having been very shy about them ever since. We have tried very hard to improve the targets, and I think ours were better this year, but I know they were not good enough.
With regard to having no targets at all, I think it would be a dangerous experiment to have none. Officers would lose interest in their shooting and would say, "I know just as well as the Range Officers whether my fire was effective or not."
Colonel Bethell has a little misunderstood what I said. I did not mean to say that we could not or did not practise co-operation, but what I said was that so long as we cannot fire over the heads of our own Infantry not much can be learnt about co-operation. What is the kernel and gist of co-operation; it is firing over the heads of our own Infantry at the proper time up to the last possible moment. I am told that in India they do it, but I have never been able to get hold of anyone who has actually seen it done.
I don't think Colonel Bethell need be anxious about the visibility of the director. On service it will be studiously avoided if it is a danger spot, and on its low legs it will be really invisible. I should chance its being hit if it is a satisfactory method of pointing out targets quickly, which I think it is. I agree with Major Ellershaw about effectives. I have always been very sceptical about their nature, and that is why I say put dummies into every possible target and let hits be counted. The effective is most illusory, and on an irregular target the Range Officers remarks are not worth having.
Major Johnstone doesn't like anybody but the B.C. "putting out the lines" in a covered position, but I think it is a poor compliment to the B.C's teaching and to the intelligence of highly educated officers to say that they cannot be trusted to do it. I am afraid I don't know who the man is besides the B.C. who is going to watch the tactical situation, but it certainly is not the look-out man.
I agree absolutely with Colonel Hughes' remarks, and I know he did it himself with much success, but I think he would find that Divisional Commanders do do now what he suggests as far as the general run of the Artillery stations will allow.
I think I have answered in as few words as I can the questions that have been asked during the discussion. (Loud applause).
THE CHAIRMAN: I think we have had a most interesting lecture and I think we may claim to have had an exhaustive and illuminating discussion.
I would like to emphasize, if possible, my own personal opinion that we ought not to dismiss from our minds the question of the Forward Observing Officer. Let us study him during the coming season. If you look at page 243 of the "Army Review" of July of this year, you will see that he is much used by the Germans, and for both purposes. I think that is a point we want a good deal of light upon and to which our attention might be directed next year.
Colonel Bingham has dealt with most of the other points that have arisen in the discussion. As to the difficulty of targets, I think it is a good deal reduced at some of the camps favoured with a good telephone service. Colonel Bingham referred mainly to moving targets. I think we might do much to improve the siting of our fixed targets by obtaining the assistance of the General Staff Officer of the Division, or someone of that nature, to help in putting them down. Further, careful drafting of the scheme should prevent unreal situations such as General Snow has hinted at.
Now I want to say a word or two about tactical practice, which has come in for a good deal of criticism, mainly as a waste of ammunition. It is contended that our ammunition would be better expended if wholly devoted to gunnery practice. With that I disagree. It must be borne in mind that practice is part of our training, and training is preparation for war. What does war require of us in carrying out our mission of co-operation with the other arms? To hit is the reply, and certainly it is to hit, but not only to hitsomething moreto hit in the right place, and at the right time. We may be perfect shots, but unless we understand how to apply our fire with accuracy at the right place, and at the right moment, we shall not help materially to win the battle. We study tactics, and we pay great attention to the principles and problems that arise in connection with artillery support, but all that study and consideration will avail us nothing unless we practice the application of our fire in accordance with those principles, and verify the solution of the problems by the bursting of our shells. Besides, the whole system of our practice is progressiveelementary, gunnery, tactical; drill, shooting, application of fire; and the whole of them bound together (this is my point) with one common bond, and that is accuracy. Do not let it be imagined that tactical practice shall cover a multitude of inaccuracies; I think that is an entirely wrong conception. Where there has been disregard of accuracy the officer directing the practice must be held responsible cither for having drawn a bad scheme, or for having allowed it to be carried out in an uninstructive manner.
There is another point regarding which I wish to say one word, and that is collective ranging. I claim that we owe a great deal to collective ranging. Collective ranging has taught us one thing, and that is the use of time shrapnel ranging. In the summer of 1911, we used only one method of rangingpercussion shell. Time shrapnel was very seldom used. We hammered away with percussion shell at every target, suitable or unsuitable, and the result was that we used to take a very long time in arriving at effective fire. Then Officers, of whom Colonel Bingham was one, went abroad to visit Practice Camps in France, and came back to this Country and told us one or two not altogether palatable truths about our own pro-ceedings. The remedy lay in the direction of time shrapnel ranging and our experience in connection with the collective system has taught us how to use it, and we have further found out that no special method will apply to every target, but that we must vary our methods to suit our targets, using that particular one which appears to be most likely to attain our object.
Another word. Now that we have got excellent Manuals in the Field Service Regulations and in Field Artillery Training, let us try to stamp out the light regard some of us appear to hold for Regula-tions. We go aside from the Regulations in our dress, in our turn-out and in that of our batteries, and we have gone aside to an unlimited extent in our practice. Any one of us who has had a special fancy has let it have full vent on the practice ground. We have been wrong there, and I would like to say now, "Let us adhere to the Regulations; let us work on a uniform system, so that anyone can step in at any moment and command another man's battery." (Loud applause).
I think those are all the points I wish to refer to. There remains to me one duty, and that is to recall to mind that we are losing Colonel Bingham as our Chief Instructor, and that the loss is very great. I can testify from my own personal experience that during the last two years, Colonel Bingham, as Chief Instructor of Horse and Field at the School of Gunnery has done extraordinary good work. (Hear, hear, and loud and continued applause). He happens to possess many points particularly fitting him for that position. He has deep professional knowledge, and the power of imparting it to others. He has keenness, energy and enthusiasm, and a personality which carries him through everything. (Loud applause). I shall be expressing your view as well as my own when I say that although we congratulate Colonel Bingham on his well merited promotion, still we cannot help deploring our own loss.
You know the proverb about the tempering of the wind, and we have been able to secure a successor to Colonel Bingham, who, I am sure, is extremely well fitted for the post. (Loud applause). I happen to know that Colonel Uniacke has already set to work with a will.
Gentlemen, there only now remains for me to ask you to join with me in expressing to Colonel Bingham our appreciation of the trouble he has taken in preparing this lecture, and his kindness in coming here to-night to deliver it. (Loud and continued applause).