No R/64. 25418. Army Form B 104-83
MACHINE GUN CORPS Records Office
91 York St Westminster
28th April 1918
I regret to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office to the effect that (No) 142687 (Rank) Pte. (Name) A.A. Smith (Regiment) MACHINE GUN CORPS was posted as ‘missing’ on the 21.3.18.
The report that he is missing does not necessarily mean that he has been killed, as he may be a prisoner of war or temporarily separated from his regiment.
Official reports that men are prisoners of war take some time to reach this country, and if he has been captured by the enemy it is probable that unofficial news will reach you first. In that case I am to ask you to forward any letter received at once to this Office, and it will be returned to you as soon as possible.
Should any further official information be received it will be at once communicated to you.
Your obedient Servant
I Campbell Lieut.
For Officer in charge of Records
K.J. Bunting Capt.
Issued down to Brigades.
NOTES ON RECENT FIGHTING – No. 8.
(Issued by the General Staff)
- Trench warfare has unduly emphasised the use of telephonic communication, which cannot be extensively maintained in warfare of movement. It will very rarely be possible to provide any communication by wire in front of Infantry Brigade H.Q., and it is impossible to count upon the telephone forward of Divisional H.Q. Commanders of Infantry Brigades and units must accustom themselves to rely entirely upon other methods of communications. Greater attention must therefore be paid to the organization of such means of communication, especially visual and wireless.
- In each divisional area, efforts should, if possible, be concentrated on one main artery of communication from front to rear, which should consist of cable, wireless, visual signalling and despatch riders, as circumstances permit. H.Q. of Divisions, and of Infantry and Artillery Brigades, should be placed in as close proximity as is practicable to this artery, on which signal offices should be established to serve several H.Q. It is for Corps to select the location of these arteries and to assist in their formation, so that Divisions may be enabled, if necessary, to move to points at which they will find both forward and rearward communication already provided.
- It is essential that the move of H.Q. of a formation or unit should be notified as early as possible to higher, lower and adjacent formations or units. The difficulty of maintaining communication has sometimes been much increased by failure to indicate the position at which new H.Q. were to be opened, or to inform all concerned of alterations of plans in regard to movements arranged.
- It would seem that there has sometimes been a lack of discretion in regard to the use of the signal cable wagon. Cases are reported in which all available cable was laid out while the situation was still obscure, so that the cable could not be recovered on withdrawal; and in other cases it seems that no use was made of the cable wagons, which were sent back when they might usefully have been retained.
- In a withdrawal it is inadvisable to trust entirely to permanent overhead routes; when cut they take a long time to repair, and a cable line can be restored much more quickly.
April 28th 1918.
Printed in France by Army Printing and Stationary Services. PRESS A-4/18-6194S-3,500.
Somewhere in France
Apl 25th 1918
I suppose you will be wondering what on earth has become of me. Well you must know from Elsie that I am in hospital I had to go under a minor operation and this was about a week ago I expect to be getting up in a few days anyway and then it will not be long before I shall be up with the Batt again. I hope all the people at home are well. Excuse the short note as I don’t like writing in bed.
Telegram to Mrs Dick-Cunyngham dated 24 Apr 1918.
POST OFFICE TELEGRAPHS
Postmarked EARLS COURT P.O. Nr Rly Stn 24 AP 18.
TO Mrs Dick Cunyngham 28 Coleherne Ct. S.W.
General Dick Cunyngham prisoner well, wiring camp when known.
Red Cross S. Kensington
Issued down to Divisions
(for distribution down to Battalions)
NOTES ON RECENT FIGHTING – No. 7.
GERMAN ATTACK NEAR GIVENCHY, APRIL 9th, 1918.
From captured German orders and the attached map which shows the dispositions and plans of the 4th Ersatz Division, it appears that the following method of attack was adopted by the enemy:-
- A very careful study was made of our defences in this locality. It is noteworthy that three days before the attack the enemy issued to platoon commanders detailed information gathered from air reconnaissance carried out at low elevation on that day, together with a note indicating not only the force expected to oppose the attack but also the estimated quality of the opposition anticipated. As a result of his reconnaissance, the enemy seems to have based his plan on avoiding the strong locality at Givenchy itself, penetrating our line on either flank, and turning inwards so as to take Givenchy from the right rear (south-west and south). The attacking force was divided into two portions, a northern and a southern. The northern attack was undertaken by four battalions, of which two were in front line, one in support and one in reserve. The southern attack consisted of two battalions, one being in the front line and one in support. In these attacks, the leading battalions were ordered to push straight forward, while the supporting battalion of the southern attack was to turn north and to take Givenchy in flank and rear from the south-west and south, and the supporting battalion of the northern attack was to deal similarly with Festubert from the south. This method of dealing from the flank and rear with strong points which are not attacked frontally has been conspicuous in the German operations since the 21st of March 1918.
- Our defences consisted of defended localities each of which was held by a complete unit of not less than a platoon; other platoons especially detailed for counter-attack were kept in support. The garrisons of the defended localities had received orders to hold on at all costs – orders which were carried out in every case – and the platoons in support had been instructed to counter-attack as soon as the occasion arose without waiting for further orders. Each defended locality was prepared and wired for all round defence. Many of the communication trenches were wired, and lines of wire running perpendicularly and obliquely to the front had been erected to check any lateral advance in the event of local penetration. These obstacles proved of great assistance in preventing the enemy from extending his flanks after he has forced his way into portions of our front defences.
- The attack was launched in a heavy mist, which greatly assisted the enemy. The parties of Germans, however, which succeeded in penetrating our positions were held up by the garrisons of the defended localities. As soon as the enemy’s advance was thus checked, the platoons in support counter-attacked and worked round the flanks of the parties which had pressed forward into our line. The enemy was engaged, therefore, by fire and bayonet from all sides. Several hundred prisoners and a large number of machine guns were captured, and our line was maintained intact. There was very little bombing.
- The failure of the enemy’s attack upon these defences was due to the stubbornness of the defence maintained by the garrisons of the defended localities, and to the promptitude and skill with which the supporting platoons made their counter-attacks. We employed the same tactics against the enemy as he was endeavouring to employ against us. No frontal counter-attack was delivered, but the enemy was defeated by a succession of immediate counter-attacks delivered from the flanks.Full advantage was taken of counter-attacking platoons of their knowledge of the ground, with the result that the enemy was outmanoeuvred as well as outfought.From a study of this engagement the fact emerges clearly that an enemy penetrating into gaps in our positions is very much at a disadvantage until he can widen the flanks of the gaps; if the defending troops strengthen the flanks of these gaps and hold on to their positions tenaciously, he is bound to be caught between two fires, and forced to surrender what he has gained.April 24th 1918. Printed in France by Army Printing and Stationary Services. PRESS A-4/18.-6188S-3,500.