[Not to be taken beyond Brigade Headquarters.]
(ISSUED BY THE GENERAL STAFF, G.H.Q.)
- The following notes have been compiled from reports received from formations which have taken part in recent operations:
They contain information with regard to(i.) the maintenance of communication with the Infantry after it has advanced to the assault; (ii.) methods for dealing with hostile machine guns; (iii.) methods of indicating points reached by our attacking troops; (iv.) methods for reinforcing the front line; (v.) some miscellaneous questions.
- Maintenance of communication with the Infantry after it has advanced to the assault.Telephones.Between the front line trenches and Divisional and Brigade Headquarters telephone lines must be in triplicate, or even in quadruplicate, and one line should be buried; "ladders" at frequent intervals are also necessary.
Beyond the "departure" trench, it has been found possible to run out telephone lines. They are either taken forward with the first advancing troops, or are run out quickly during pauses in the enemy's fire; but they are liable to constant damage by hostile artillery.
The telephone cannot, therefore, be relied on after the Infantry has advanced. It has, however, so many advantages over other means of communication that every effort should be made to lay the lines and keep them in repair.
Other methods for maintaining communication are given below.
- Orderlies.This form of communication is the most used, and though it is slow and requires a considerable expenditure of personnel, it has proved in the end to be the most reliable.
In some formations, officers have been used for this purpose. One officer is detailed by each battalion and is charged with the duty of maintaining communication between Brigade Headquarters and his unit; he should be accompanied by an orderly.
It may sometimes be possible for these officers to transmit information back to Brigade Headquarters, after they have reached their unit, by means of the telephone used by the Artillery forward observing officers.
More generally, however, "runners" have been used, each message being sent by at least two independent "runners." The men are specially selected; a suitable distribution is four per company with six at battalion headquarters. "Runners" have also been used to form a chain of communicating files along a marked feature (trench, hedge, pathway, &c.), messages being passed along the chain.
It is most important to connect our line by some sort of communicating trench with the enemy's front line as soon as the latter has been captured. Even if this is only a foot or two deep, orderlies can crawl to and fro. Parties should be told off to continue the saps previously run out towards the enemy's line as soon as the assault is delivered, and other parties should also be told off to work backwards from the captured trench to meet them.
- Visual signalling.Semaphore, Dietz discs, lamps, helio and flag have all been used at various times. The great difficulty has been to avoid observation by the enemy, especially in flat country, though this can sometimes be overcome by the use of ruined houses, haystacks, trees, &c.
Good results have been obtained from visual signalling in the more advanced portions of the line by sending from front to rear only, each message being repeated three times without acknowledgement or reply from the receiving station.
The Siemens' improved electric signalling lamp has on the whole proved the most efficacious apparatus for the above purpose both by day and by night.
- Method of dealing with hostile machine guns.The difficulties [words missing where document is torn]
- How to locate the guns.
- How to dispose of them whenŠ [words missing where document is torn]
German machine guns are often placed in one of the following positions:
- In a very thick advanced traverse, firing so as to flank the main parapet.
- At a trench junction
- Dug in, very low in the parapet itself.
- In cellars.
- Dug in, in front of ruined houses.
The difficulty of locating guns in such positions is obvious, nor is it easy to draw their fire beforehand, as they are often kept hidden, and only moved up into position when an attack is imminent.
- Careful and continuous observation is the best means of locating the emplacements. A heavy bombardment on the first line and support trenches, both on the front of attack and on the flanks, appears to offer the best chance of destroying the guns; while a barrage of H.E. shell on both flanks of the Infantry attack, directed on the enemy's trenches and tactical points in rear, will probably neutralise their fire.
The following methods of dealing with them have also been found successful at different times:
(a.) By rifle or machine gun fire concentrated on the emplacement, if it has been located. This is reported to be quicker and more effective than shrapnel.
(b.) By trench mortars and rifle grenades, fire being concentrated on likely places. In one instance 14 trench mortars were concentrated against suspected machine gun positions and none came into action in that part of the line.
- Method of indicating positions reached by our troops.The following methods have been used:
- Coloured screens about 3 feet by 2 feet, on two poles 4 feet 6 inches long, the side facing the enemy being covered with inconspicuous green material. These were found of great value to the Artillery observing officers.
- Flags or discs on 9 or 10-foot poles. These poles were unnecessarily long and cumbersome
- Sides of biscuit tins placed behind the trenches or houses captured by our troops so as to be visible from the rear.
- Strips of white material laid down on the ground for identification by aircraft. Unless some such method is employed aircraft cannot distinguish between our own and the enemy's troops.
The drawbacks to all the above are that if the position has to be evacuated the signal may be left behind and so become misleading; moreover, if captured, it discloses our arrangements to the enemy. The design of the screen, flag or disc, also must be changed on each occasion.
- Placing caps on rifles and holding them above the trench. This has been very generally used.
- Daylight fireworks. These are reported to have been effective.
- Coloured rockets and Very's pistol lights, the colours or combination of colours being changed for each operation.
The Germans, however, are in the habit of sending up rockets as soon as an attack starts in order to create confusion.
- Movement of supports to reinforce the front line.It has been found that troops detailed for the assault must be formed in considerable depth, and that trenches with good splinter-proof cover are necessary for this assembly. These trenches should be prepared in successive lines according to the cover from view obtainable. A suitable distance between lines has been found to be from 40 to 50 yards.
Plenty of efficient communication trenches must be dug to connect these lines from [words missing where document is torn] Š[in]tervals of not more than 50 or 60 yards apart, so that troops may [words missing where document is torn] least possible loss and delay.
Communication trenches must be told as "up" and "down" trenches and picketed to ensure that they are only used in one direction only.
Sidings off these trenches are essential.
At intervals there should be communication trenches wide enough to admit of the evacuation of wounded men.
Any attempt to crowd troops into a confined space, in immediate proximity to the front line, leads to heavier casualties than an advance from lines in rear.
Experience has shown that once an attack is checked it is seldom helped forward by supporting troops pushed up directly behind it. The desired result is more likely to be obtained by pushing on on the flanks of the troops which have been checked, or else by a bombardment of the hostile positions in front of them.
- The following points are also brought to notice:
- Our own wire can be removed during the period of heavy bombardment; it must have been previously prepared the night before. It is advisable that the removal of the wire should take place as late as possible, in order that the enemy may not receive warning of the impending attack.
- Artillery barrages should be directed on to the enemy's supporting points and communications, and not on open spaces of ground, which leads to waste of ammunition.
Should the enemy be seen to start forming up to deliver counter-attacks, it is desirable to allow him to do so; once formed up he can be heavily punished.
- Reports have been received that the flashing of bayonets over the tops of forming-up trenches or parapets discloses the position of the Infantry assembled to attack. This should be guarded against.
- he organization of grenadier parties, particularly as regards the bringing up of reserves of grenades as the attack progresses, is most important.
- Above all, it is important to vary the methods employed each time an attack is delivered. This applies particularly to artillery bombardments.
31st July, 1915.
"The Infantry cannot do with a gun less": The Place of the Artillery
in the British Expeditionary Force, 1914-1918