Army Commander’s notes 26 September 1917

Opposite p 55


Issued before Passendaele Battle 4th Oct



O.C. Coys


During his inspection, the Army Commander emphasised the importance of the following points:-


  1. In all practice attacks the flanks of the leading troops on the right and left of the troops carrying out the attack, must be represented by flags etc. These flags should move in accordance with the instructions of the director. They should not move in strict conformity with the attacking troops but should sometimes drop back leaving the flank of the attacking troops uncovered, sometimes move outwards so as to leave a gap. By this means leaders will be taught to deal with situations which will occur in a battle.


  1. The absolute necessity for supports and reserves keeping well up so that the onus of beating off a counter-attack may not entirely fall on those troops who have already been seriously engaged.


  1. The necessity for the outpost line of Lewis Guns etc maintaining their positions in the face of a counter-attack and never retiring on to the main line. By this means, even if the enemy succeeds in pressing the outpost line, he will be delayed and disorganised and so fall an easy prey to the troops in rear.     X       Retirements of any sort in the face of a counter-attack are fatal.


  1. At all parades, troops must be practiced in seizing their rifles and rapidly taking up a fire position in any direction. A definite object must be given for the men to aim at such as bottom of haystack, line of hedge, etc. each man’s position must be examined and criticised with special regard to the visibility of the target.


  1. The necessity for impressing on all ranks that although the pace of the barrage is slow, as soon as an obstacle occurs it must be attacked as rapidly as possible i.e. when the ground permits, all outflanking movements must be made at the double.       Unless the obstacle is rapidly overcome the barrage may be lost.


  1. The necessity for troops not engaged pushing boldly on, and for troops in rear moving round the flanks of obstacles which are being engaged by leading troops.


  1. It must be impressed on all ranks that their lives and the success of the whole operation will very likely depend:-

(a) On the amount of digging they can put in during the first few minutes after an objective has been captured.

(b) On cleaning their rifles at every available opportunity.                      X

With reference to (b) during all practice attacks, men must be taught to utilise every pause to clean their rifles without waiting for orders.  If the ground is very wet, it may be necessary for one man to clean whilst another shoots.

A Division which lately took part in active operations arranged for a small party of men in each Battalion being told off to clean Lewis Guns and Rifles put out of action by mud. This party was located in the vicinity of Battalion Hd Qrs, and Lewis Guns and Rifles which required cleaning were sent back to it from the lines in front.

The Divisional Commander is aware that many of these points have already been put forward, but they are all of such immense importance that he has no hesitation in publishing them again. They must be read in conjunction with notes already issued.


The above points are of the utmost importance and the Commanding Officer wishes Company Commanders to do all they can to carry out the Divisional Commanders wishes.


C.H. C**ing


Adjutant 1. E. YORK. R.


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