Supplement to First Army Intelligence Summary No 977. 16 September 1917

SUPPLEMENT TO FIRST ARMY INTELIGENCE SUMMARY No 977.

(From G.H.Q. Summary)

 

GERMAN TREATMENT OF PRISONERS.

The following information is given by prisoners as to the enemy’s method of treating any of our men who fall into his hands:-

A prisoner, from the moment of his capture, is treated with studied courtesy, given cigarettes, food, wine, etc., and housed as comfortably as circumstances admit.

No souvenir-hunting is allowed, his arms only are removed, and his private property is for the time being scrupulously respected.

 

As soon as possible, he is removed to the rear by car, his escort comprising men who can talk English and listen to all conversation.

 

The huts in which prisoners are housed are fitted with listening apparatus.

When all examinations are completed and the prisoner is evacuated, his good treatment comes to an end. Any apparent or real discrepancy in his evidence which is discovered is made the excuse for systematic ill-treatment.

 

The essential point is the uniform and studied good treatment of prisoners for so long only as any information is to be got out of them, the object being to induce a feeling of comfort and friendliness.

 

EMPLOYMENT OF TUNNELS BY THE GERMANS.

 

Prisoners, captured by the French during the fighting at VERDUN in August, have given the following information regarding the tunnels built by the Germans on the left bank of the MEUSE: –

 

The CORBEAUX TUNNEL was intended, during quiet periods, more for the circulation of troops than as a shelter. Nevertheless, it accommodated permanently a regimental H.Q., a battalion H.Q., the H.Q. and personnel of a Minenwerfer company, an important aid-post, and the field kitchens of one battalion and of the machine gun company of the regiment.

 

During the preparatory period, two companies of infantry were quartered by day. These companies were surprised by the French attack on the 20th August and remained in the tunnel.

 

The CUMONT – MORT HOMME TUNNEL accommodated permanently a regimental H.Q., two battalion H.Qs., an aid-post, and field kitchens.

During the French bombardment, both tunnels became crowded with wounded and stragglers from various units.

 

The bombardment resulted in most of the entrances to the tunnels being blocked. In the CORBEAUX TUNNEL, a length of 6½ feet collapsed through a direct hit, although there was a thickness of 46 feet of earth overhead at this point.  In the CUMONT – MORT HOMME TUNNEL, all the occupants were more or less asphyxiated by the gas produced by the high explosive shell.  Isolated, and cut off from supplies, the garrison were surrounded by the assaulting French troops and offered little resistance.

 

In the CORBEAUX TUNNEL, the commander of the 24th Res. Inf. Regt., and his staff, a large number of officers, and more than 700 other ranks were captured.  600 prisoners were captured in the CUMONT – MORT HOMME TUNNEL.

 

Conclusion. – The conclusion drawn from a study of the use of tunnels by the Germans in the CHAMPAGNE fighting (see Supplement to First Army Intelligence Summary No. 877, dated 8/6/17), applies equally to the above cases.  Tunnels cease to be effective when bombarded with heavy shell; they then become mere man-traps.

 

-0-0-0-

R.S. RYAN Lieut. Col.,

General Staff, First Army.

16-9-17.

 

WEATHER REPORT. – From mid-day, September 16th to mid-day, September 17th;

Wind. – S.W. 10 to 15 m.p.h.; probably changing to South or S.E.

Weather. – Mainly fair at first perhaps some drizzle later. Morning mist or fog; warm; fair visibility.

Temperature. – Day 68 degrees, night 54 degrees.

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