K.J. Bunting Capt.
Issued to Corps
(for distribution down to Divisions and Batteries R.A.)
NOTES ON RECENT FIGHTING – No. 10.
The Creeping Barrage.
(Issued by the General Staff)
- The principles laid down by the enemy approximate to our own, but there is less insistence upon making the barrage as deep as possible in order to deal with defence in depth.
- The enemy’s plan of calling the beginning of the preliminary bombardment zero hour makes it necessary for his infantry to start by the watch instead of making the assault simultaneous with the opening of the barrage. The latter, which is the practice employed by us, is the simpler system, and, therefore, has much to recommend it. On the other hand, recent operations show that the enemy usually attacks in artillery formation, taking tactical advantage of the ground, rather than in extended lines, so that possibly an exact synchronization between the infantry attack and the beginning of the barrage is less essential.
- With regard to paragraph 4, the barrage described is not a true creeping barrage, the smallest “lift” being 200 yards. It is obvious, therefore, despite the remarks in paragraphs 1 and 6, that the enemy attaches less importance than ourselves to the close following of the barrage by the attacking infantry. It is pointed out, however, that as the arrangement of a barrage must be dependent on the number of guns available and the nature of the country, the enemy’s tendency to close up his creeping barrage and to employ in it every type of weapon, including the 15 cm. how., is probably dictated by the fact that he has not so many guns with which to support the infantry as we usually have. In some of our operations last year Corps had a gun (all types included) to every five or six yards of frontage. In an attack on a 50 miles’ front, such as that of the 21st of March, if artillery were provided on this scale it would necessitate the concentration of some 15,000 guns, which is out of the question.
- It would appear from the German “Notes” that the whole of the enemy’s so called “creeping barrage” is concentrated as close in front of the attacking infantry as the safety limits of the different shells permit. With us, on the other hand, the various guns and howitzers usually fire in separate barrages (all creeping), although the fire of 18-pdr and 4.5-inch howitzer is occasionally mixed, and the zone of the barrage extends to a depth of 1,000 yards or more. Our system, therefore, undoubtedly gives more protection against distant machine guns.
- The timing of the bounds, to which allusion is made in paragraph 5, has no reference, apparently, to the estimated rate of the infantry advance.
- The order as to quickening the barrage by means of signals (paragraph 9) is vague. The definition of a “considerable distance” is left to the battalion commander. The “echeloning” of a barrage is decidedly dangerous, especially if the covering guns are firing obliquely, or if hostile machine guns are sited for enfilade fire, as would often be the case. It is not altogether clear under what circumstances a battalion commander would be able to decide whether it was of any advantage to hurry on. In the general obscurity caused by smoke and dust, it must be very hard to know what is going on either in front or to the flanks.
- There is a widespread notion that the Germans are able to control their artillery by means of light signals, and doubtless they attempt to do so. It is pointed out, however, that the occasions when this method of communication with the artillery can be carried out successfully must be rare, particularly if the fire of the attacking batteries is heavy. In practice, it must be extremely difficult to ensure that the battery or batteries which are really concerned see and respond to the signal, and that other batteries which are firing ignore it.
- The other methods of regulating the creeping barrage (paragraph 10) are excellent in theory. The difficulty in practice is to ensure any communication at all between liaison officers and artillery commanders behind.
- The instructions contained in the same paragraph that any portion of the creeping barrage which has to be brought back is afterwards to catch up the remainder of the barrage can only be carried out if the remainder halts sufficiently long to enable that part of the attacking infantry which has been held up to regain its place in the line at the normal rate of progress.
- Attention is drawn to the last sentence of paragraph 11. The moral is that artillery officers should go forward, not as liaison officers with battalion commanders, but with the object of establishing communication between themselves and their batteries, in order to assist the infantry with observed fire, the value of which is incalculably greater than that of any mechanical barrage. (See Artillery Notes No. 4, Section VI., para. 10 (iii).) Ia/47795 Iam/Art. Nr. 237 8/3/18Printed under the Recipient is personally officer. custody.
- supervision of an responsible for its safe
- Very secret mob. Copy Nr. 1061
- Headquarters 18th Army ARMY H.Q.
- NOTES ON THE CREEPING BARRAGE.
- TRANSLATION OF A GERMAN DOCUMENT.
- Printed in France by Army Printing and Stationary Services.
- 6th of May 1918.
- When an attack has progressed to a considerable depth it may be expected that most of the enemy’s original gun positions will have been over-run and his fire considerably reduced. Consequently, communication will be more easily maintained. Conditions approximating to those of open warfare will exist, and the duty of the artillery is then to apply observed fire to known centres of resistance and to preserve the closest touch with the attacking units of infantry. The onus of keeping touch must, however, be shared by the latter. (F.A.T., Sections 147 (3), 153 (5), and 156 (1), (2), (5).)
- Tasks for the creeping barrage – The object of the creeping barrage is to force the enemy to keep under cover during the assault, and to give our own infantry the opportunity of surprising him in this state. It should thus paralyze the enemy, but cannot destroy him. Its effect will only be fully utilised if the infantry fully exploits the enemy’s temporary inaction by following close up under the barrage, without fear of a few splinters.
- A single hostile machine gun which becomes active again does much more damage than a large number of our own splinters.
- Batteries taking part in the barrage. – All batteries which are not engaged on special tasks during the infantry attack, such as counter-battery work, neutralization of strong points and rear lines, fire on back areas, batteries in readiness to engage fleeting targets and batteries accompanying the infantry.The actual creeping barrage will only be put down by field guns, 10.5 cm. and 15 cm. howitzers and light Minenwerfer.
- Owing to their considerable backward splinter-effect, 21 cm. howitzers and super-heavy flat trajectory batteries should, in principle, be put on to targets which are ahead of the creeping barrage; their fire lifts in bounds from line to line (strong point to strong point) in front of the creeping barrage. Medium and heavy Minenwerfer remain silent.
- When special tasks are being allotted, it must always be remembered that the creeping barrage must be kept as dense as possible.
- Start of the creeping barrage at the points of concentration.(Times of flight to be taken into account! Watches must be synchronized!)
- At zero hour (*) + 300 minutes. The creeping barrage starts exactly at the right second.
- Advance of the creeping barrage. – The barrage lifts by bounds.The further bounds of the light artillery…………………..200 metres.(taking their lower rate of fire into consideration)….…..400 metres.
- Of the heavy artillery
- First bound of the light batteries (field guns and 10.5 cm. howitzers) and heavy batteries (15 cm. howitzers)………………………300 metres.
- Timing of the bounds. – After the first bound, the light artillery remains stationary for 3 minutes, the heavy artillery only for 2 minutes. After the subsequent bounds, the light artillery remains stationary for 4 minutes on each occasion, and the heavy artillery for 8 minutes on each occasion.
- Thus the heavy batteries will always lift off the mutual stopping places 1 minute earlier than the light artillery, so that the advancing infantry will not be endangered by splinters flying backwards.
- Halts of the creeping barrage. – Fire must remain longer on certain definite lines, and in some circumstances also on places in the intermediate area (for example. On the rear trench of the first line, on the intermediate line, on the edges of villages and ridges between the intermediate and the second line, etc.). The object of this is partly to force the garrison to keep sufficiently under cover before our infantry penetrates the line and partly to give our infantry enough time to close up right under the barrage, and to give it time to breathe.
- Situation and duration of the various halts. – These will be determined by the various Corps, and will be issued by them on tracings.! (Tracing No. 5 issued by the Army will only be sent to the Corps as a general guide.) The Corps will make mutual arrangements for a uniform movement of the creeping barrage at Corps boundaries, so that the infantry may not run into hostile enfilade fire.
- Advance of the creeping barrage after each halt. – By the clock: Heavy batteries will lift 1 minute before the light batteries.
- Not the duration of the halt, but the time of moving forward is to be laid down.
- Quickening the barrage by means of signals. – A light signal (“Lift”) will be laid down in case it is necessary for the creeping barrage to move more quickly. This signal will only be given on the order of a battalion commander, and only after going a considerable distance. It is only intended to enable a temporary and local quickening of the advance to be made. Subsequently the creeping barrage will conform again to the times and distances laid down, unless the “Lift” signal is given continually.
- The following will be the signal for “Lift” on the day of attack:-
- Green light signals (with or without clusters)
- Vertical puffs sent up from small “Flammenwerfer.”Before sending up this signal, it must always be considered that by such action the uniform advance of the creeping barrage is interrupted, and the fire becomes echeloned; this endangers the flanks of any infantry which are advancing more rapidly. (flanking machine gun fire).
- On receiving these signals, light and heavy batteries lift once for 200 metres.
- Other methods of regulating the creeping barrage. – Apart from regulation by time and signals, artillery commanders, and the auxiliary observers advancing with the infantry, are justified in regulating the fire of their own batteries on their own responsibility, in accordance with the situation, if they recognise the necessity for such action by reason of their own observations or of observations made by auxiliary methods (aeroplanes, balloons, etc.)Example:- If the creeping barrage has passed over single strong points, nests of machine guns, etc., while the infantry has not been able to follow the creeping barrage owing to the opposition from such points, then the auxiliary observers or artillery liaison officers can, by informing the artillery commanders, direct the fire of certain batteries or groups of batteries on to these targets, thus bringing their fire back from the barrage. This will only be necessary if the batteries accompanying the infantry and the minenwerfer are not equal to the task. If no special period of time is given for such fire, then the batteries in question will keep on these targets until the signal “Lift” is given, or until they receive information by telephone or lamp signal. They then catch up the creeping barrage.
- If, however, targets begin or continue to offer resistance after our infantry has passed over them, then their engagement becomes entirely a question for the accompanying batteries and the Minenwerfer. It is not permissible to fetch back fire from the barrage over our own infantry.
- Continual watching of the creeping barrage by ground and aerial observation is of the greatest importance.
- Duration of the creeping barrage. – The duration of the creeping barrage is dependent on the ranges of the batteries taking part in it. Our battery positions have been pushed far enough forward for the creeping barrage to cross the 2nd line everywhere. When crossing the enemy’s battery positions, the creeping barrage is made denser by the insertion of the batteries which have up to then been engaging the enemy’s artillery. Similarly, when crossing the 2nd line, the barrage is made denser by the batteries which have been engaging this line since the moment of assault.
- On the other hand, more and more batteries fall out towards the end, as every battery becomes silent as soon as, in lifting, it reaches its maximum range; thus, finally, the observed fire of a single batteries takes the place of the creeping barrage.
- Further artillery support. – Apart from the fire of heavy and super-heavy flat-trajectory batteries, which can fire for a longer period from their old positions, fire preparation and fire protection will be controlled by visual observation and by special orders, issued by the higher command to the artillery which has been moved forward, as soon as the limit of the creeping barrage has been reached. Such artillery must at all costs be at the right place in time; its communication with the attacking infantry cannot be too close.(Sd) v. SAUBERZWEIG.Issued down to Batteries and Companies.General Headquarters,
- 29th March, 1918.
- General Staff (Intelligence)
- Chief of the General Staff of the Army
* Beginning of the general bombardment. Zero hour will be notified later.
! These tracings must be given the number 5, as this number is quoted in orders and lists of targets.
Printed in France by Army Printing and Stationary Services. PRESS A-5/18-6277S-4,000