I Corps Signal Report 21 July 1916


32nd Division. No. S.G. 163.

32nd Div. Arty. No.G.869.

14th Inf. Bde. S.O.104.

8th Division

15th Division

16th Division

32nd Division

40th Division

R.A. 1 Corps


No.496 (G.a.) 21st July 1916.


The attached notes are the results of enquiries which have been made as to the working of Signal communications during the recent fighting, and are forwarded for your information.

In view of the fact that visual signalling has been so successfully used, all signallers, Artillery as well as Infantry, should be frequently practiced in this method of communication.

(Sd) J.K. DICK, CUNYNGHAM, Lt. Col., G.S.

For Brigadier General, General Staff, 1 Corps.




  1. The means of communication that have been used in addition to the ordinary telegraph and telephone system are:-
    1. VISUAL, including signalling to aeroplanes and balloons.
    2. Observation by contact aeroplanes.
    3. Pigeons.
    4. Wireless.
    5. Earth currents.            Runners have been considered as the normal means of communication within a battalion and also for carrying secret messages, such as operation orders, between brigades and battalions.
    6. All except the last have met with a certain measure of success, but visual has been proved by far the most useful, due chiefly to the nature of the country in which these operations are being carried on.
    1. IN THE PREPARATORY stages of operations a system of main routes for telegraph and telephone circuits was laid out, both at right angles and parallel to the front. In areas not liable to heavy shelling these routes were of overhead lines; forward of this they consisted of cables buried 6 feet deep. Just prior to the commencement of operations, some of these buried routes were extended to the front line and tunnels constructed as far towards the enemy’s line as possible.      The buried routes proved a great success. This was partly due to the absence of enemy artillery fire behind our lines. Only one case of a buried route being cut was reported; 24 hours were necessary to complete repairs.      At first, this appears imprudent owing to the length of time taken to repair buried routes when cut by a shell, but in reality it is more satisfactory to run a new alternative line overground when required, than to attempt to keep one up through heavy bombardment.
    2.       In some cases, no direct wires from batteries to O.P.’s were laid, but the O.P. Exchange System was enlarged, and batteries was plugged through to their O.P.s for definite periods on the orders of the Group Commander.
    3. Many lines, even such as Battery O.P. were not duplicated by cable overground, but for all important lines there were alternative ways of “getting through” in the underground system.
    4.       The frequent moves of divisions has shewn that these routes should be on a most liberal scale and not planned merely to meet the requirements at the time of construction.
    5. On the commencement of the offensive. – lines carried forward by battalions with one of the waves of the attack never lasted long enough to be of value. On the first cessation of the barrage, Brigade Sections with the aid of the Battalion Signallers, left behind for the purpose, laid D.5 cable forward. Only in a few cases was difficulty experienced in keeping the wires through. At the same time the tunnels under the neutral zone were broken into and completed as trenches into the enemy’s line.      As the advance progressed and Brigades moved across the old trench line, trouble began to be experienced with lines from Divisions to Brigades, chiefly owing to damage to cables by traffic. At this stage Corps could render assistance by building at least one airline forward for each of its Divisions. These would be of value to the Corps later on, when the Divisions advance.      Most Divisions gave up sounders and reverted to buzzers for telegraphic purposes on account of the leakage on lines. Fuller-phones were tried, but in most cases unsuccessfully. This was chiefly due to lack of experience in their use, as they had been issued so short a time beforehand.
    6.       Owing to the congestion of traffic, much time can be saved by establishing forward dumps of cable and line stores beforehand, and arranging that parties employed on construction shall billet or bivouac near their work.
    7.       For crossing the neutral zone, Twin cable armoured with galvanised iron wire, was tried, but the extra durability was far outweighed by the difficulty of repair.
  3. VISUAL. Visual has been almost universally successful. This is partly due to the fact that the country is admirably adapted to this means of communication. Every type of visual signalling, except Helio and Rockets was used, but the one that was most satisfactory was the “Projector Protatif” (or “French Lamp”) which, whilst lighter and less cumbersome than shutters or aeroplane lamps is suitable both for day and night work and for signalling to aeroplanes and balloons.            Discs of about ten inch diameter, on sticks 2 feet long, were used and found very portable, but their range is limited to approximately 1 ¼ miles. Shutters were also used with success, but 50 per cent of them always seem to be discarded in the advance.            In many cases batteries after they advanced, used visual to their F.O.O.S and vice versa.
  4.             Divisions installed one or more receiving stations to cover the whole of their front. In cases, acknowledgements of messages were given by a semaphore arm (or lamps at night) 100 yards away from the actual station.
  5.             The apparatus consists of an electric bulb and reflector in a thin metal case about a foot in diameter, and batteries carried in pouches on a belt. It is light enough to hold in the hand whilst signalling and the dispersion is such that no more rigid base is necessary. By day, except in bright sunlight, it can be read at 4,000 yards. By night, red shades have been used to prevent the ray drawing fire.
  6. CONTACT AEROPLANES. Observers usually succeeded in following the progress of the battle without aid from the infantry. In some cases groups of 5 flares were lit by the latter at stated hours, but a better method would appear to be for the observer to call for this signal when he is in doubt as to the position of our troops, by dropping a flare from the aeroplane. In some Corps different Brigades used different coloured flares; in others all used one colour which was changed daily to minimise the risk of the enemy copying the signal. On occasions the lighting of flares drew fire. The carrying of mirrors by the infantry is an assistance to the observer but can be easily initiated by the enemy and is further liable to give false information when men are taken prisoner.Signalling to aeroplanes was not a success. Only a few messages were sent by the Infantry and many of these were not read. This system requires much practice to be of real utility. Its failure may be attributed to two causes – firstly that ordinary visualling was almost always possible, and, very naturally, the Infantry used the means to which they were most accustomed: Secondly, that the infantry were given too many means of communication and did not trouble to carry the ground signalling sheets very far. R.F.C. lamps are altogether too heavy for use during an advance.
  7. Information acquired was disposed of, either by dropping messages at Divisional Headquarters or by wireless to special Wireless Stations at Divisional Headquarters. In one case Corps Headquarters had a Wireless Station which also received these messages, but this necessitated the aeroplane coming back a short distance to get within range.
  8. The ground signals for identifying Headquarters were found useful.
  9. BALLOONS. Signalling to balloons was in general a failure due to the distance they were off, the difficulty of distinguishing the correct balloon, the difficulties of the observer reading the message when the balloon is swinging.            The observer in the balloon disposed of the message by telegraphing it to his telephonist on the ground, as he received it.            The difficulty of using balloons may have been due to lack of practice on both sides, but it is a system not worth perfecting in a country suited to visual. In flat country it might of great use for night work, but for day work, balloons are usually to far back.
  10.             One Battalion appears to have sent an important message back by this means which reached its address in 8 minutes.
  11. A system of identification was arranged. By day, pennants were carried but they were not distinguishable unless the wind was parallel to the front. By night, distinguishing signals were sent by lamp at regular intervals, successions of dots, dashes, dots and dashes, or an open light being used for any 4 adjacent balloons.
  12. Pigeons. Pigeons proved very successful in most cases, even through a heavy barrage. A small proportion were very slow in coming in. Some of these failures are no doubt attributable to lack of care taken of the birds after their distribution due chiefly to the insufficient number of trained men available.
  13. In a country unsuited to visual, the number of pigeons used might well be increased to a daily supply of 8 per Battalion. This would mean a very large increase in the number of men to be trained. It would also be an advantage for one officer per battalion to receive a little elementary instruction in the care of the birds.
  14. Wireless. Wireless was generally found to be little used owing to visual being so easily worked. On one occasion, however, as “SCOTS REDOUBT” it saved the situation when the troops at this point were cut off. In one Division it was stated that wireless communication was rarely established. This may be due to the fact that trench sets vary in efficiency; some are always giving trouble. On the right of our line, wireless could not be satisfactorily worked owing to “jamming” caused by the French aeroplanes sending out un-tuned signals.The system generally adopted is to install one trench set per Division, keeping the other ready packed up, and ready for an advance. As soon as this second set is installed and working, the former is brought up and kept in hand till required by a further advance, or occasionally it may be sent off temporarily with any unit of the Division that is likely to get out of touch.The Corps Wireless Officer controls the working of the Trench Sets, although the Divisional Signal Officer give the orders as to when and where they are to move. The Trench Sets are usually placed with Brigade Headquarters, but in exceptional circumstances may be with a Battalion.Each Corps works on one wave length.
  15. No ground aerials were used.
  16. Whilst the Corps Wireless set is being moved up, the two sets of each Division can work to each other, or else a set can be temporarily withdrawn from one of the Divisions to take the place of the Corps Set whilst it is being moved.
  17. The Trench Sets always work back to the Corps Station which is pushed forward as far as possible with safety.
  18. No one will use wireless when other means are available, on account of the necessity of coding. Many commanders found difficulty in expressing themselves in the sentences of the code book. This is due, chiefly, to lack of practice. In one Corps, an officer (not a Signal Officer) was attached to each wireless set to code messages, lists of sentences only being issued to Battalion Commanders.
  19. Earth Currants. The apparatus for this consists of a special buzzer for the forward station and a valve amplifier for the back station. The first sets were only issued a few days before operations commenced, and can hardly be said to have had a fair trial.The range is small, about 2,000 yards; the back station, which contains delicate apparatus, has therefore to be far forward and keep moving up as the advance continues.
  20. This method of communication is more suited to short advances where the back station can remain in a dug-out in our trenches.
  21. In every case the back station either failed to pick up the signals, or it could not reach them amongst the noise caused by the leakage from the cable circuits in the vicinity.

Letter to S. Springett 21 July 1916

Tabors Cottages,



21st July 1916


Dear Sid,

Just a few lines in answer to your letter.  Glad to no (sic) you are well, as we are all very well at present.  We received your club money quite safe, thanking you very much for sending it.  We had a letter from Walter this morning, he said he was quite al-right.  He said he expected they would be shifting up to-wards the fighting line, before very long, we all wish he was not out there.  Thursday we heard of some very bad news Will Jeffory died from fever, he was out in the Persian Gulf.  The two Givilums, George is wounded and Alfred as(sic) gone stone deff(sic).  Joe Ring is laying very ill from wounds.  They granted her a free ticket to go and see him in Scotland.  Bert Maynard is wounded in the head, that is Mrs Taylor’s brother down at the farm.  We got this news about Thursday dinner time, it made us feel as if we did not want our dinner.  Tell dad and Ted the news.  Mother is sending you the letter she had this morning from Walter.

We are having summer weather now.  Edie & I have found it a bit warm to-day, we have been over to Fly Shot fruit picking.  This is all this time.  Write soon.

Winnie sends you a kiss she will write soon.

I remain

Your loving sister



Please send the letter back which we are sending you.



Second March table 21 July 1916

Date.               Unit.                            From.               Relieves.                      Position.          Time *             Remarks


Night               32nd Batty. RFA          Billets              Vacant position           G.8.a.3.0.                    Via BEUVRY – SAILLY LA BOURSE

22/23rd            (complete)                   BETHUNE     C/70 Bty.                                                        – VERMELLES.

– BEUVRY road.

33rd Bty. RFA            ditto               B/70 Bty (1 Sectn)      G.8.a.4.7.                                            ditto                                                                (2 Sections)                                         and 2 vacant pits.


36th Bty. RFA           ditto                B/71 (1 Sectn)             L.6.a.8.4.                                 Via BEUVRY – SAILLY LA                                          (2 Sections)                                        A/71 (1      “    )            L.6.A.4.8.                                BOURSE – FOSSE No 9



55th Bty. RFA           ditto                D/71 (1 Sectn)             G.1.b.4.7.                                            ditto                                                                (1 Section)


“O” Bty. RHA                      ditto                C/73 (1 Sectn)             F.30.a.9.6.                               Via BEUVRY – cross roads F.29.b                                  (2 Sections)                                         and 2 vacant                                                                (ANNEQUIN)



D/5 Bty. 5 Bde.          ditto              D/77 (1 sectn.)                        F.30.c.3.6.                               As for 36th Battery

(1 Section)


“Z” Bty. RHA                        Billets              C/185 Bty.                  F.30.a.8.8.                               As for “O” battery R.H.A.                                               (1Section)                    LES QUESNOY (1 section)


1st Bty. RFA               ditto               C/181                          F.24.c.7.8.                               Via BEUVRY – cross roads F.22.c. –                               (1Section)                                                                                                                                Road junction F.23.d.2.7.



3rd Batty. RFA                        ditto              C/72 (1 sectn)              F.24.a.5.4.                               As for 1st Battery.                                                 (1 sections)

5th Bty. RFA              ditto              C/70 (1 sectn)              F.24.a.4.8.                               As for 1st Bty.                                                                 (1 section)                                           B/77 (1    “    )                                                             Via BEUVRY – ANNEQUIN –

57th Bty. RFA             ditto              D/181 (1 Sectn)           A.20.c.4.6.                              CAMBRIN.

(1 section)



Night 23/24th   Complete reliefs as for Night 22nd/23rd.



* Not to arrive at Gun Positions before 9.30 p.m.

March table 21 July 1916

Date.               Unit.                From.               To.                               Starting                       Starting time   ROUTE

Point                            from S.P.


Night               Div. Ammun.  NOUVEAU    FOUQUEREUIL       Billets                          7.30 p.m.         BELLE CROIX – PONT REQUEULN

21/22               Column           MONDE         (H.6.½)                                                                                    – cross roads at STA ¾ W. of FOSSE –

JULY                                                                                                                                                              LOCON – BETHUNE –                                                                                                                                                                                       FOUQUEREUIL.


do       RIGHT GROUP       Battery            LE QUESNOY          Road junction             9.45 p.m.         PONT RIQUEULN – Cross roads at                           33rd Bde R.F.A.       positions          BETHUNE                  R.10.a.2.8.                                                STA ¾ W. of FOSSE – LOCON –

plus “O” Bty           RUE                   (I.6)                         (Sheet 36A 1/20,000)                          BETHUNE – LE QUESNOY.


Bty Hows.                                          road


do        LEFT GROUP         Battery            LE QUESNOY                        Road junction             10.15 p.m.       As for RIGHT GROUP to BETHUNE –             45th Bde. R.F.A.        positions          FOUQUIERES          G.32.b.1.4.                                                thence FOUQUIERES.

plus “Z” Bty R.H.A. RUE                LEZ BETHUNE         (Sheet 36B 1/20,000)

BACQUEROT     (H.6¾)







8th Divisional Artillery 21 July 1916



8th Divisional Artillery




21st July 1916

Reference Map. Sheet 36B N.E. and

36C N.W. 1/20,000


  1. The 8th Divisional Artillery will relieve the 8th Divisional Group R.A. and the LEFT Group 15th D.A. by Sections, on nights 22nd/23rd and 23rd/24th JULY.


  1. All moves will be in accordance with TIME TABLE attached.


  1. All moves will be carried out by darkness.


  1. Headquarters of Groups will be as follows:-


RIGHT GROUP – PHILOSOPHE L.11.b.1.1. on relief of H.Q. 73rd 71st Bde. R.F.A.

LEFT GROUP – F.23.d.9.8. on relief of 8th Div. Group R.A.


  1. Groups will send one officer per battery to batteries to be relieved on morning of 22nd Instant. These officers to remain with batteries.


  1. Transfer of guns and Stores will be in accordance with instructions already issued.


  1. Group and Battery H.Q. will take over command on completion of reliefs on second night.


  1. Divisional Artillery H.Q. will assume responsibility for Artillery Defence of the line on completion of reliefs on Second night.


  1. Divisional Artillery H.Q. will be at ESTAIRS till 12 noon 23rd July and which hour it will open at CHATEAU DES PRES.


  1. Completion of all moves will be reported to this H.Q. by wire.


C.R. Gover Major R.A.

Brigade Major 8th Divnl. Arty.

Issued at:- 8.40 p.m.

All Bdes.


8th Div.

15th D.A.

61st D.A.

61st Div.

1st Corps R.A.



SECRET                                                                                                         Copy No 9





21st  July 1916

Reference Map BELGIUM 1/100,000 HAZEBROUCK sheet,

except where stated.


  1. The 15th Division is to be withdrawn from the line.
  2. The 8th Divisional Artillery will rejoin the 1st Corps, relieving the present 8th Divisional Artillery Group and the Left Group 15th Division Artillery.
  3. The 8th Division Artillery will be withdrawn from the XIth Corps on night of 21st/22nd JULY and march to billets in LE QUESNOY, FOUQUIERES and     FOUQUEREUIL, in accordance with attached Time Table.
  4. The Division Artillery will march by Groups under the orders of the Senior Officer present –


RIGHT GROUP 33rd Brigade R.F.A. plus ”O” Battery, R.H.A. and D/5 Bty                                                                                             Hows. 5th Bde R.H.A.

LEFT GROUP.  45th Brigade R.F.A. plus ”Z” Battery R.H.A.

  1. Group Commanders will arrange the withdrawal of batteries from positions to Starting Points.  The  withdrawal to commence as follows:-

RIGHT GROUP 8.30 p.m.

LEFT GROUP 9.15 p.m.

  1. Echelons will march full.
  2. Ammunition. Dump ammunition will be dealt with in accordance with       instructions already issued.
  3. Separate special instructions dealing with Artillery Reliefs will be issued.
  4. Supplies. Refilling Point for 22nd JULY will be at BETHUNE.  Map reference      will be notified later by wire.
  5. All moves will be reported to this office.


Issued at 12.15 p.m.



C.R. Gover Major R.A.

Brigade Major 8th Divnl. Arty.


Copies 5/33/45 Bdes

8th Div,

61st Div.

61st D.A.

8 D.A.C.






8th D.A. Instructions No 6. 21 July 1916

8th D.A. Instructions No 6.








New Division  1.  8th Division “HOHENZOLLERN” and “CUINCHY” Sections.



Position         2. (a). The battery positions and Group H.Q. of the present LEFT available for               Group, 15th Division Artillery.

relieving             (b). The Group covering the present 8th Divisional front, will be batteries and              taken over complete by LEFT Group, 8th Division

Groups H.Q.


O.P’s               3. Any battery taking over a new position may take over the O.P. at                             present belonging to that position.


Method and    4. Battery reliefs will take place by Sections on Night of 22nd/23rd and Date of Relief       23rd/24th July.

Passing of             Group and Battery H.Q. will take over Command on the second Command.         night.

D.A., H.Q. will become responsible for their new frontage from the                       time of completion of reliefs in the second night.


Telephone        5.  All telephone lines used by Groups and batteries whose positions lines                    are to be taken over will be left down, and plans of circuits will be                    handed over to incoming units.


Guns.               6.  15th Divisional Batteries will take away their own guns.

In all other cases, guns will be exchanged.

Gun History sheets will be handed over with the guns.


Ammunition. 7.  (a) The 15th Divisional Artillery will withdraw with their ammunition echelons full.

Any ammunition then remaining at their guns will be handed over to incoming batteries, receipts being given and taken.

(b) In all other cases the existing dumps at the guns will be taken over by the incoming units, the necessary adjustments being made between Divisions.

(c) 8th D.A.C. will issue to 15th D.A. batteries and to batteries of 8th Divisional Group R.A. from night of 22/23rd JULY, inclusive.


Div. Ammun 8.          The 8th D.A.C. will take over from the 15th D.A.C. on 22nd Column and Battery     JULY, but the following place is available for a Section if

Wagon lines.               desired:- E.18.b.7.2.


Battery Wagon lines.  Those of present 8th Div. Group R.A. and LEFT Group 15th D.A. are available.

Moves of               9.  Columns of vehicles will move as follows:-

Vehicles.               (a) From WEST to EAST – by daylight.

(b) From EAST to WEST – by darkness.

(c) Column of not more than 4 vehicles at a distance of half a mile between columns may move N. or S. by daylight, but larger columns will move N. or S. by darkness.


Sights and             10.  (a) Batteries will retain their own Gun sights.

Gun Stores.           (b)  Any battery which has indents now in at Ordnance for stores for guns, which are being left in position, will so inform Ordnance Officer concerned, and will tell him to what battery, Division etc., the guns are being handed over.  A copy of the letter with copies of indents will be sent to the D.A. taking over the guns.


Handing over        11.  All units on relief, will hand over to incoming units, all

of information       registration books, O.P. Log books, Lists of O.P’s.  Arcs of view

Maps, etc.              and O.P. exchanges, photos and panoramas, tracings of arcs of fire, local maps (see below) and orders, schemes of retaliation, fire concentration, mutual support, reinforcing, reserve lines and R.A. defence scheme; all other information respecting the enemy and the front which will be of assistance to incoming units.

Maps to be handed over:-

  • Scale 1/20,000 Sheets 36 B.  E.

36 B.  S.E.

36 C.  N.W.

36 C.  S.W.

  • All 1/10,000 Brigade Trench Maps on charge.


Trench Mortars 12. Divisions will retain their own Trench Mortar Batteries, and will relieve the Medium Trench Mortar Batteries on fronts which are being taken over by Sections on Nights of 22/23rd and 23/24th JULY.

Any “sound and settled” beds in positions which are for relief will be left down and the consequent necessary transfer of beds will be arranged between Divisions.





C.R. Gover Major R.A.

Brigade Major 8th Divnl Arty.




Copies to:-       5/33/45 Bdes




8th Division Artillery OPERATION ORDER No. 17 21 July 1916



Reference 8th Division Artillery OPERATION ORDER No. 17 of today’s date.




  1. Time Table, Column “To”                                                      BETHUNE – BEUVRY road.                                                      read LE QUESNOY.
  2.                   LEFT GROUP – for FOUQUIERES LEZ BETHUNE
  3.                   RIGHT GROUP – for LE QUESNOY read
  4. H.Q. R.A. will move to CHATEAU DE PRES (F.27.d) on 23rd instant. C.R. Gover Major R.A.21-7-6Copies to         5/33/45 Bdes.                        8th Div.                        61st D.A.
  5.                         61st Div.
  6.                         D.A.C.
  7. Brigade Major 8th Div Artillery.
  8.                   A representative from this H.Q. will be with the H.Q., 8th Division                          from 6.0 p.m. 21st instant, onwards.