OPERATION ORDER NO 1 18 DA 19 June 1916

COPY NO. 37

 

OPERATION ORDER NO 1

– by –

Brigadier General S.F. Metcalfe D.S.O.

Comdg, Arty 18th Divn.

 

TASKS ALLOTTED TO DIVISION.

 

(1) The tasks allotted to the 18th Division in the forthcoming operations are:-

(1) To secure and consolidate the line running from the Railway at A.3.c.8.6. to the junction of DUGOUT trench and BRESLAU ALLEY, thence North East up BRESLAU ALLEY to the junction of trenches at A.3.c.15.72., thence along the trench joining BRESLAU ALLEY with MINE ALLEY, thence by points 2258, 6159, POMMIERS LANE, POMMIERS REDOUBT to the junction of trenches F.6.a.70.10. and to hold them at any cost for a prolonged period against counter attack.

 

(2) To consolidate the trench from MONTAUBAN through S.26.d and c (MONTAUBAN ALLEY) and BEETLE TRENCH.

 

(3) To secure and consolidate the line running from the Western corner of MONTAUBAN as far E as Divisional Boundary, thence westwards to trench junction at S.27.c.1.7. and along trench to junction of trenches at S.26.d.7.6., thence Northwards along trench to about S.26.B.5.4. thence Westwards along the spur through S.26.a.8.3. and S.26.a.2.2. thence to join up with the right of 7th Division near S.25.b.3.0.

At latter point a strong point is to be constructed immediately it is gained; the 7th Division will construct 4 strong points to the west of this and to the south of the crest of the ridge, roughly along the line S.25.b.3.0. to about X.29.d.9.10. (between S.25.b. and d. and between X.30.a and c.)

 

(2) DIVIDING LINES.

 

The 30th Division will be on our right the 7th Division of XVth Corps on our left.  The 9th Division XIII Corps in Corps Reserve.

Dividing Lines between 18th & 30th Division are shown in Map 1.

 

(3) DIVISION FRONT.

 

The front allotted to the 18th Division extends from the junction of the trench at A.9.a.6.5. to a point 70yards due east of point where CARNOY-MAMETZ road cuts trench F13/3.

Total frontage 2,200 yards.

 

(4) OBJECTIVES.

 

The objectives to be attained by the 18th Division are:-

First.    (a) From Railway at A.3.c.8.6. to the trench connecting A.3.c.10.75. with A.2.d.75.90. – Point 6159 – POMMIERS REDOUBT – Junction of trenches at F.6.c.70.10.

(b) As a support to the above and subsidiary to it, the consolidation of the following strong points:-

(1) Junction of trenches at A.9.a.30.95.

(2) Junction of trenches at A.2.d.05.25.

(3)Junction of trenches at A.1.d.8.3.

(4) Junction of trenches at F.6.c.85.45.

(5) Junction of trenches at F.6.c.68.07.

 

Second. The triangle formed by the trenches at S.27.a.7.0. along MONTAUBAN ALLEY to the junction of trenches at S.26.d.6.7., along this trench to its northern extremity at S.26.b.46.40., thence to the western extremity of the trench at S.26.a.5.6. and thence to a point on the track about S.25.b.5.2.

 

(5) GENERAL PLAN.

 

The Infantry assault will take place on ”Z” day, the days previous to this being known as ”Y” ,”X”, “W”, “V”, “U”, ”T” “S” &c &c days. The Division will attack with its three Infantry Brigades abreast.  Each  Brigade will place two Battalions in front line and one in support, retaining its fourth battalion in Brigade Reserve.  No Divisional Reserve is kept back.

 

Each Brigade has one group of Field and Howitzer Batteries affiliated to it in the closest possible co-operation.

 

The plan adopted aims at simplifying the work of subordinate units; it is based on the idea of launching six battalions to gain the furthest objective; it provides three more battalions to fortify and garrison the nearer objective; it places in suitable localities three more battalions close up for the unexpected eventualities which every battle discloses. The whole Division will be used up unhesitatingly to gain the objectives allotted to it by superior authority, but the mere crowding of Infantry on the POMMIERS plateau will be avoided.

 

(6) FRONTAGES & OBJECTIVES.

 

Frontages and objectives allotted to Infantry Brigades (and affiliated R.F.A. Groups) are as follows:-

  • RIGHT BRIGADE (55th ).

Frontage. Junction of trench A9/5 with BERKELEY STREET to junction of BATTY ROAD with front trench (inclu.) – 900 yards.

 

First Objective. From Railway at A.3.c.8.6. (exclu) – Junction of DUGOUT trench and BRESLAU Alley – point A.2.d.8.9. to point 2250 (exclu) – 900 yards.

 

Second Objective.  From the road junction at the west end of MONTAUBAN (S.27.c.7.4.) along the most southerly trench running through S.27.c. thence by MONTAUBAN ALLEY to the junction of the trenches at S.26.d.6.7.

 

Third Objective. From the triangle formed by the trenches in the South East corner of S.27.a. (inclusive), along MONTAUBAN ALLEY as far as the trench running North at S.26d.6.7. thence along this latter trench to its northern extremity at S.26.b.46.40.

 

  • CENTRE BRIGADE (53rd).

 

Frontage.  Junction of BATTY ROAD and front trench (exclu) to junction of YORK Road and trench A7/2 (inclu) – 650 yards.

 

First Objective Point 2258 (inclusive) – POMMIERS TRENCH – to its junction with POPOFF Lane (inclu) – 650 yards.

 

Second Objective.  From the junction of trenches at S.26.d.6.7., along MONTAUBAN ALLEY as far as its junction with the MONTAUBAN-MAMETZ Road (inclu).

 

Third Objective.  From the northern end of the trench running from N.W. to S.E. through S.26.b. (S.26.b.46.40.) (exclusive) to the western extremity of the trench running from S.26.a.88.45. to S.26.a.50.60. (inclu).

 

  • LEFT BRIGADE (54th).

Frontage.  Junction of YORK ROAD and trench A.7/2 (exclu) to a point 70 yards due east of point where MAMETZ-CARNOY Road cuts through trench F.12/3 – 700 yards.

 

First Objective.  Junction of POMMIERS Trench and POPOFF Lane (exclu) – POMMIERS TRENCH to its junction with BLACK ALLEY (inclu).

 

Second Objective.  POMMIERS REDOUBT and the trench to the west of it as far as its junction with BEETLE ALLEY.

 

Third Objective.  From the western extremity of the trench running from S.26.a.88.45. to S.26.a.50.60. (exclu) to the junction between the XIIIth and XVth Corps about S.26.b.5.2.

 

(7) TASKS.

 

The main tasks of the Infantry will be:-

(a)    RIGHT BRIGADE.

  1. To secure and consolidate the trench given as its nearer objective in para. 6 (a) and assist by flanking fire from Machine Guns the attack on GLATZ Redoubt by the 30th
  2. Two platoons, under a selected officer will be detailed by the Brigade Commander to deal with the craters and the maze of small trenches immediately north of them, in order that the general advance of the Brigade may not be delayed.
  3. On reaching its second objective to establish a strong point in the houses near the road junction at the West end of MONTAUBAN and consolidate that part of MONTAUBAN ALLEY allotted to it on para. 6 (a).
  4. On reaching its third objective to –
  1. consolidate the trenches existing on it.
  2. place machine guns in the trench running N.W. to S.E. through S.26.b. in such positions as will enable them to deal with any threatened counter-attack from the direction of the valley N. & N.E. of MONTAUBAN.

 

(b)   CENTRE BRIGADE.

  1. To consolidate and hold the trench allotted to it as its first objective in para. 6 (b).
  2. To assist the Left Brigade in its attack on the POMMIERS REDOUBT; mutual arrangements for this to be made beforehand between Brigadiers CENTRE and LEFT Brigade.
  3. To consolidate that portion of MONTAUBAN ALLEY from the junction of trenches S.26.d.6.7. to S.26.c.33.45. and to join up from this point with the right of the 54th Brigade in BEETLE Alley.
  4. On reaching its third objective, firstly to construct strong points making use of the existing trenches and secondly to dig new trenches where necessary to make the line continuous.
  5. To prevent enemy removing guns from CATTERPILLAR VALLEY.

 

(c)    LEFT BRIGADE.

  1. To secure BLACK ALLEY and the part of POMMIERS Trench allotted to it.
  2. From these positions to organise and carry out an attack on the POMMIERS REDOUBT.
  3. To secure and consolidate that portion of BEETLE TRENCH between S.25.d.98.27. and its junction with the MONTAUBAN-MAMETZ Road.
  4. On reaching its third objective to dig new fire trenches where necessary to join the left of the Centre Brigade and the right of the XVth Corps.
  5. To send forward LEWIS Guns to overlook the CATERPILLAR Valley and the valley East of MAMETZ WOOD and prevent guns being removed.

 

(d). Leading troops of all three Brigades on reaching their third objective will send forward detachments with machine guns to cover the work of consolidation, establish observation posts overlooking CATERPILLAR WOOD Valley and prevent guns being removed.

(e) The line Railway at A.3.c.8.6. – trench junction at A.2.d.8.9. – Point 2258 – POMMIERS Trench to its junction with BLACK ALLEY, will be held at all costs against counter attacks, even if MONTAUBAN and MAMETZ should not be captured.

(f) Troops will be specially told off by each Brigade to “clean up” hostile trenches and deal with any of the enemy remaining there after the leading troops have passed over them.

 

  • STRONG POINTS.

 

To carry out the above tasks definite infantry units will be detailed to occupy and prepare for “all round defence” certain specified localities in the hostile lines as strong points. These points are shown in Map I.

 

  • ARTILLERY SUPPORT.

 

The Infantry attack will be supported by 18th Divisional Artillery.  Two Brigades of 9th Div. Arty. (less one 4.5” How. Batt.) XIIIth Corps H.A. Trench Mortar Batteries of 18th Division & 9th Div.

 

  • GROUPING OF ARTILLERY.

 

The batteries of Divisional Artillery (and attached batteries) will form three Groups. Each Group will support the attack of one Infantry Brigade as under:-

Right Group – O.C. Lt.-Col Blois D.S.O. 55th Inf Bde.

Centre Group – O.C. Lt.-Col Seagram 53rd Inf Bde.

Left Group – O.C. Lt.-Col Thorp 54th Inf Bde.

 

Each Group will be responsible for the ground to be covered by its affiliated Inf. Bde., and will be capable of reinforcing neighbouring groups should occasion arise.

 

The 2” Medium Trench Mortar Batteries (and one 240 mm Trench Mortar, if available) will be grouped under the Divisional Trench Mortar Officer, who will be situated in CARNOY, and in communication with 18th Divisional Artillery, through Left Group forward exchanges.

 

  • ARTILLERY BOMBARDMENT.

 

Will consist of:-

  1. A five days (“U” to “Y” day) preliminary bombardment of german defences, with a concentrated bombardment of 65 minutes previous to the assault on the 6th day (“Z” day).
  2. An Artillery bombardment, carried out in a succession of lifts to support the assault.
  3. An Artillery barrage against all counter attacks during consolidation of positions gained.

 

  • PRELIMINARY BOMBARDMENT.

 

During preliminary bombardment the following tasks will be undertaken:-

  1. Destruction of enemy’s wire by 18-pr & 2” trench mortars.
  2. Destruction of observation stations, communication trenches, machine gun emplacements, etc., by 4.5” Hows., assisted by 2” Trench Mortars on front system of trenches.
  3. Destruction of hostile system of trenches by XIII Corps H.A.
  4. Bombardment of billets by XIII Corps H.A.
  5. Counter Battery work by XIII Corps H.A.
  6. Shelling of all approaches and communications by day and night with a view of preventing replenishing of ammunition, food, water etc., by XIII Corps H.A. 18-prs & 4.5” Howrs.
  7. Preventing repair of wire and trenches by night, by 18-prs & 4.5” Howrs., assisted by machine guns and rifle fire.
  8. Concentration of fire on portions of the defences.
  9. Shrapnel barrage in support of gas discharge.

 

Appendix ‘A’ “Programme of Preliminary Bombardment” forwarded herewith indicates tasks to be undertaken on each day and night respectively.

 

This programme is intended as a general guide to Group Commanders, circumstances may necessitate the hours and tasks being somewhat changed, these should however be adhered to as far as is possible.

 

  • DESTRUCTION OF ENEMY’S WIRE.

 

Five batteries per group have been detailed for wire cutting. Each of these batteries has been assigned a definite strip of german defences, and is responsible for cutting all wire within this strip, and preventing repair at night.

(N.B. These strips are identical with the strips allotted to these same batteries during the bombardment to support the assault and are shown on diagram in Appendix ‘B’).

 

The wire on the succeeding lines of trenches will be engaged in accordance with “Preliminary instructions in wire cutting issued to all concerned.

 

The wire on the front line (and support line, where it is sufficiently close) will be engaged by the 2” Medium Trench Mortar Batteries as shown in Appendix ”E”.

 

The wire in front of POMMIERS REDOUBT and on the western side of LOOP TRENCH will be engaged by the forward batteries in CARNOY valley on ‘Z’ day in accordance with Appendix ’B’, as well as by the Left Group wire cutting batteries during previous bombardment.

 

Group Commanders, and the Divisional Trench Mortar Officer will keep in constant touch with Infantry Brigade Commanders to obtain all possible information from reports of Infantry Patrols sent forward to ascertain damage to wire.

 

  • BOMBARDMENT TO SUPPORT ASSAULT.

 

The bombardment to support the assault will consist of a concentrated bombardment from -65 to zero hour, followed by a succession of lifts timed to conform with Corps Artillery lifts and the forward movement of the attacking infantry.

The Corps Artillery and Divisional Artillery lifts are shown on Map 1. the times shown at right end of lines refer to Corps Artillery, those at the left end of the lines refer to Divisional Artillery.  These lines indicate that at the hours stipulated no Corps Artillery or Divnl. Artillery respectively will be firing South of these lines.

As an indication to the attacking infantry that a lift is about to occur all 18-pr. Batteries will fire H.E. exclusively for 30 seconds before each lift, namely about 5 rounds per gun.

Group Commanders will impress on all battery commanders that it is essential that there should be no pause or cessation of fire as each lift occurs; batteries will continue firing at the same rate of fire; the “lift” being effected by the necessary increase of range only.

 

Five 18-pr. Batteries per group will be detailed to cover the assault, each battery being allotted a strip of german defences as shown in Appendix ’B’.

 

The batteries of the 51st Brigade, R.F.A., situated in CARNOY valley are allotted special tasks and will be employed for meeting any unforeseen eventualities.

 

The three 4.5” Howr. Batteries of 18th Divisional Arty. When not employed for counter battery work with gas shell by XIII Corps H.A., will engage portions of german trenches in rear of 18-pr. Barrage from which fire might be brought to bear on assaulting infantry.

 

During the assault concentration of fire will be carried out on the POMMIERS Redoubt, and on western portion of MONTAUBAN village.

 

Full particulars and time table for ”Bombardment to Support Assault” are contained in Appendix ’B’.

 

  • ARTILLERY BARRAGE DURING CONSOLIDATION OF POSITION.

 

Should it be necessary at any time to establish a barrage to repel a counter attack or assist our infantry in consolidating a position gained, the barrage front of each wire cutting battery will be represented by the width of the strip allotted to it as this point.

 

  • DEFENCE OF THE FRONT.

 

During the whole period of the Preliminary Bombardment Group Commanders will be responsible for the defence of the front allotted to them, the 5 wire cutting batteries being employed to establish any necessary barrage to check an attack or prevent a raid.

 

  • TRENCH MORTARS.

 

Instructions and tasks for Medium and Heavy Trench Mortars are contained in Appendix ‘E’. A copy of these instructions has been issued to the Officer Commanding each trench mortar battery.

 

  • COMMUNICATIONS.

 

  1. Telephone. These have been duplicated, and triplicated wherever possible, and buried at the bottom of communication trenches or else placed in separate trenches 6 feet deep.

On each Brigade front 4 pairs of wires have been run forward from Observation Stations to points close to the front line. These lines will be used in the first place for forward observation during wire cutting, and secondly to form advanced terminals for any forward wires required by Liaison Officers and Observation Officers detailed to proceed beyond German front line trench.

 

  1. Wireless. An advanced wireless station will be established by the Divisional Signal Company at A.19.a.5.8.  This station will be in communication with the main wireless station at Divisional Headquarters.

Trench Sets.  There will be one wireless set which will move forward with the attacking troops.  Its position will be determined by the Divisional Signal Company.

  1. VISUAL. Divisional Signal Company will establish signalling stations at 3 Brigade Headquarters and at A.13.d.1.1.

In addition to the above Group Commanders will establish every possible means of visual signalling between Observing Stations and batteries, and will select certain Observation Stations to act as receiving stations for signals sent back by F.O.O.s or Liaison Officer after the advance. Suitable sites within the german defences will be selected previously for signalling back from.

All F.O.O.s and Liaison Officers sent forward will be instructed as to which Observation Stations have been selected for receiving messages and should make certain that they know the exact position of these stations, and can identify them by looking back from our forward trenches.

 

  • DISTINGUISHING MARKS.

 

The following distinguishing marks will be employed to enable the Artillery to follow the movements of the Infantry in the attack:-

  • Flags, red and yellow halved diagonally. 1 per platoon and 1 per Company Headquarters.
  • Tin discs, painted white. They will be carried in the centre of the back suspended by a string round the neck with another string tied to the belt to keep them in place when the men lie down.

 

  • GAS.

 

Arrangements have been made for a limited instalment of gas in suitable places along the front.

The discharge of the gas will be supported by heavy shrapnel fire, as shown in Appendix ‘A’.

 

  • AMMUNITION.

 

Appendix ‘C’ forwarded herewith gives “Approximate Allotment of Ammunition for various tasks per gun”.

This table has been worked out on the basis of a wire cutting battery, consequently the expenditure shown is greater than the average expenditure per gun including forward batteries.

This table is intended as a guide to Group Commanders in allotting number of rounds to various tasks, and in ensuring that sufficient ammunition is brought up to the guns to allow of subsequent tasks being carried out.

No gas shells will be fired by 4.5” Howrs. previous to -65 time on zero day.

 

  • RATE OF FIRE.

 

18-pr          Normal rate for ordinary bombardment will be 1 round per gun per minute.

Intense fire – 3 rounds per gun per minute.

 

4.5” How. Normal 1 round per gun per 2 minutes.

Intense 2 rounds per gun per minute.

 

For special cases such as counter attack by the enemy the rate of fire is left to the discretion of the Artillery Commander on the spot who must be the best judge of the situation.

 

  • COMMUNICATION WITH AEROPLANES.

 

XIIIth Corps Contact Patrol Aeroplanes will be distinguished by a broad black band under both lower planes and by streamers from the ends of both planes.

The firing of a white VERY light by the aeroplane will mean “I am ready to receive a message”.

The attacking infantry will signal to aeroplane by means of

Flares and mirror will mean “I am here and, so far as I know, within 50 yards of the actual firing line”.

These flares and mirrors will only be used when the leading infantry have either

  • reached their first, second or third objective
  • have been prevented from reaching any of their objectives.

Messages to aeroplanes from Battalion and Brigade Headquarters will be sent by means of either lamps or panel shutters.

 

  • FORWARD OBSERVING OFFICERS & LIAISON OFFICERS.

 

Each Group will detail 2 officers to act as Liaison Officers with two battalions of the Brigade they support.

In addition 2 Forward Observing Officers will be detailed by each Group to follow the infantry advance, and endeavour to establish forward observation stations.

The party and equipment to accompany these officers will be in accordance with instructions previously issued.

 

  • COOLING OF GUNS DURING BOMBARDMENT.

 

Attention is drawn to “Notes on Care of Guns during prolonged Bombardments” O.B./1717.

 

  • SPARE PARTS.

 

Spare parts for guns will be disposed of in accordance with previous instructions issued.

 

  • PREPARATION FOR FORWARD MOVE.

 

Certain batteries and guns will be held in readiness to move to forward positions in accordance with instructions contained in Appendix ‘D’.

 

  • THIS Operation Order is on no account to be taken further forward than Battery Positions.

 

  • APPENDICES & MAPS.

 

The following Appendices and Maps are forwarded herewith:-

Appendix ‘A’  Time Table of Preliminary Bombardment.

Appendix ‘B’ Time Table of Bombardment to Support Assault.

Appendix ‘C’ Time Table of Approximate allotment of Ammunition to various tasks.

Appendix ‘D’  Time Table of Preparation for Forward Advance.

Appendix ‘E’  Time Table of Trench Mortar Batteries.

Map I.       Indicating Divisional Boundaries, Group Boundaries, and Artillery Lifts.

 

  • PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE.

A.F. Brooke

Captain R.A.

Brigade Major, R.A. 18th Division.

H.Q. R.A. 18/Div.

19th June 1916.

 

Copies to:-

XIII Corps R.A.               No. 1.

18th Division                      No. 2.

7th Division                        No 3.

30th Division                      No. 4.

9th Divisional Arty.           No. 5.

53rd Infantry Bde.             No. 6.

54th Infantry Bde.             No. 7.

55th Infantry Bde.             No. 8.

9th Squadron R.F.C.          No. 9.

Right Group R.A.             Nos. 10-18.

Centre Group R.A.           Nos.19-26.

Left Group R.A.               Nos. 27-35.

XIII Corps H.A.               No. 36.

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