Signals document W.C. Green 13 May 1918.
1st E. YORK. R. – 5 Copies
9th K.O.Y.L.I – 5 “
15th Durh L.I. – 5 “
64TH T.M. Bty – 2 “
The following light signals between Infantry & Artillery will be taken into use at 12 noon on 16th May, by Division on left all troops in this Corps:-
(a) S.O.S. Rocket, or light, bursting into three white stars.
(b) Gas Attack Bouquet of white, green, and red lights.
(c) “We wish to 1 red light.
advance, lengthen range.”
(d) “We are here” 1 white light.
(indicating position of infantry.)
(e) “Our Field Artillery Worm light.
is firing on us.”
(f) “Our Heavy Artillery 1 coloured light followed by a Worm light.
is firing on us.”
(Sgd) E.D. AIGER
Brigade Major 64th Infantry Brigade
My dear dad,
What do you think of my writing! Bit better than my usual scrawl isn’t it? I am writing with my latest toy – a topping Waterman Edie sent me. She also sent me a pair of socks & a pipe, so I am well off. The pipe is the nicest bit of wood I have seen for a long time. I am going to get her to buy all my pipes in future.
Well how goes it dad. My latest information is that you were a bit better on the 10th. I hope to have a line from Win tomorrow.
I think I told you last night that I was applying to return. Curiously enough G.H.Q. rang up last night & said my own people were applying for me & they were sending an order along for me to go back. So that makes assurance doubly sure.
It is a dirty miserable wet day here. I should like an armchair, a good fire & a clack with you.
I have no news dad. This is only just to pass the time of day with you.
With very best love
Your loving son
91 York Street,
I beg to acknowledge your communication dated 1.5.18 regarding No 142687 Pte A.A. Smith.
The number 27521 was his old regimental number the No 142687 was given to him on being transferred to the M.G.C. 53rd Coy now 18th Batt. I note the change of address & will have the alteration made in the records.
For Lt. Colonel
i/c Machine Gun Records
Mrs. J. Smith,
100 Arcadian Gdns,
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
War Office letter to Mrs Dick-Conyngham dated 5 May 1918
LONDON S.W. 1
M.S.3.Cas/518. A. 5th May 1918
The Military Secretary presents his compliments to Mrs Dick-Conyngham, and begs to inform her that, from information contained in a telegram sent to the Central Prisoners of War Committee, London, by the British Red Cross Society, Copenhagen, and submitted to the War Office for consideration, it appears that Brigadier-General J.K. Dick-Conyngham, C.M.G., D.S.O., (previously reported missing on the 12th April, 1918), is a prisoner of war in good health in German hands.
The camp in which he is interned is not yet known, but as soon as this information reached the War Office, Mrs. Dick-Conyngham will at once be informed.
It has been accepted for official purposes that Brigadier-General Dick-Conyngham is a prisoner of war, and a notification to this effect will appear in the casualty lists in due course.
The Military Secretary is desired by the Secretary of State for War to congratulate Mrs. Dick-Conyngham on the safety of her husband.
28, Coleherne Court,
9th Canadian Artillery Brigade
4th of May 1918
LENS 11 1/10,000
- In accordance with orders from R.A. Canadian Corps the 8thA.F.A. Brigade will not be relieved at present but will remain in the line and will come under the command of C.R.A. 20th D.A.
- In accordance with O.O. 145-2, O.O. 145 Para 3 (c) is altered as follows:- In order not to reduce the gun power in the line where relieving units are deficient in guns relieving units will not withdraw guns from the line but will hand over in situ their full establishment of guns.
- On completion of relief of the 9th Brigade C.F.A. Brigade will march according to March Table attached.
- An Advance Party consisting of the following will assemble at the 36th Battery Wagon Lines at 9.30 A.M. 4.5.18. They will be mounted and will carry sufficient rations and forage for 24 hours.
36th Battery One Officer
Headquarters One N.C.O.
31st Battery One N.C.O.
33rd Battery One N.C.O.
45th Battery One N.C.O.
The Officer from the 36th Battery will be in charge of the party and will meet the Staff Captain, 3rd C.D.A. at the MAIRIE’s office, AMETTES at 3.00PM 4.5.18.
- Lorries conveying personnel of the 20th and 24thAs will convey personnel of the Sections of the 9th Brigade CFA relieved 4.5.18 direct to Billets at AMETTES. These lorries may be used to transport extra equipment in the way of tarpaulins, wireless sets etc.
The 33rd Battery will detail an officer and each of the other Units of the 9th Brigade C.F.A. will detail N.C.Os to report to him by 8.30 AM at the 33rd Battery wagon lines. This officer will ensure that lorries are met by guides and that lorry drivers are properly instructed.
Comd’g 9th Canadian Artillery Bde.
K.J. Bunting Capt.
Issued down to Divisions
(for distribution down to Battalions)
NOTES ON RECENT FIGHTING – No. 9
TACTICAL HANDLING OF MACHINE GUNS IN DEFENSIVE OPERATIONS.
(Issued by the General Staff)
These Notes refer to defensive operations only, and do not, therefore, necessarily alter our offensive tactics.
- Direct fire over the sights is the most effective type of machine gun fire, and all guns must be sited with this end in view. Indirect fire is subsidiary. It may, however, always be employed to harass and inflict damage on the enemy, provided that a sufficient reserve of S.A.A. is kept in filled belts at the gun for direct fire.
- During a prolonged bombardment prior to attack, cases have occurred where guns have maintained a useless barrage for several hours. The S.O.S. barrage, co-ordinated with the artillery and put down at the right time, serves a useful purpose. The justification for opening fire on S.O.S. lines depends on:- (b). the imminence of the hostile infantry attack.
- As regards (a) rear guns should have a larger reserve of S.A.A. rounds than forward guns, as they have more opportunity of expending it; but a minimum of 4,000 rounds filled in belts must be kept intact at all gun positions and reserved for direct fire. (b) Every possible arrangement must be made beforehand for the communication of this to the batteries.
- (a). The ammunition supply.
- Barrage fire cannot be initiated at short notice from a new position. It cannot be carried out with a map of less than 1/20,000 scale. It should not be attempted unless there has been thorough preparation; unless effective communications exist; and unless it is clear that the enemy is actually advancing over the area covered by the fire.
- The positions of machine guns should be chosen with a view to all round defence. Instances have recently occurred where guns have been put out of action by a few of the enemy’s bombers, who have worked up close to them without being observed. If there is any dead ground or concealed approach in the neighbourhood of a gun position, it must be kept under continuous observation by sentries, or frequently patrolled. If the machine gun commander is unable to provide for his own protection, an escort should be furnished by the nearest infantry commander. It is the duty of the machine gun commander in such cases to ask for an escort if it is not provided.
- The employment of machine guns singly should be avoided, as reliance cannot be placed upon a single isolated gun unless it is in charge of an officer or NC.O. Guns sited in pairs facilitate control and inspire mutual confidence between the teams. Groups of four guns are generally more efficient, but are difficult to conceal. They have frequently been located and shelled out by the enemy before the completion of their tasks. They should not be employed unless efficiently camouflaged.
- Instances have occurred, however, of the successful control of a group of 4 guns, with the guns sited in pairs some distance apart.
- Care should always be taken to prevent the position of machine guns being disclosed by the movement of the gun detachment in its neighbourhood. When siting a gun position on a forward slope, some covered route (e.g., a hedge or ditch) should, if possible, be selected by which communication can be maintained with the gun.
- There should be no sniping by machine guns, as this gives away the position of the gun.
- Machine guns which are placed to cover ground by direct fire under normal conditions must also be able to carry out their tasks by indirect means in case of smoke, fog etc. at night and in misty weather, guns should always be mounted so that fire can be opened at once. During a hostile attack in fog or darkness, a sentry should be posted under cover in front of the gun position to give ample warning of the enemy’s approach.
- The question of reserving machine gun fire for short ranges depends on the nature of the target, but fire should be opened in sufficient time to prevent the guns being rushed by the enemy.
- Every machine gun team should have with it the means of destroying the gun. A bomb on the breech casing is an efficient means.
- When in action machine guns should invariably have condenser tubes attached. Cases have occurred in which hostile machine guns have been put out of action owing to the discovery of their positions by the escape of steam.
- Empty belts must be refilled at the first opportunity; when possible a special party should be detailed for belt filling at battalion H.Q. to assist companies. The importance of taking care of belts must be impressed on all ranks, and every effort must be made to salve belts when changing positions. The issue of machine gun ammunition ready filled in expendable belts is being expedited to the utmost.
- Co-operation between the infantry and Lewis guns and machine guns is essential, particularly in open warfare, and must be practiced during training. Instances have been reported during the recent fighting when orders to withdraw were given to the infantry which were not communicated to the machine gunners. This omission resulted either in the guns being withdrawn without orders, or in their being left in their old position until it was impossible to withdraw them owing to lack of any covering fire. The Lewis guns, as they are more mobile, should cover the withdrawal of the machine guns.
- As soon as the infantry has withdrawn and reorganized on its new position, a proportion of the machine guns which had covered the withdrawal should be released to take up fresh dispositions in depth.
- It is of the greatest assistance to the infantry commander in obtaining a quick grasp of the position if the machine gun officer can prepare a sketch map, however rough, shewing the situation of his guns.
- A definite system of communication must be laid down, and employed at all times between the machine gun company and its transport. This system must apply not only to the conditions of trench warfare; but also to the new conditions which will arise in the event of open warfare. The fighting limbers should be part of the company and controlled as such. They should not be grouped together under the battalion transport officer.
- The training of machine gun sections with their transport must be practiced on all possible occasions. The proper use of limbers and pack animals appears to have been somewhat lost sight of during recent operations.
- During a battle the machine gun battalion commander should establish his advanced headquarters near the advanced divisional headquarters, where he will be in touch with the divisional staff and have access to all the divisional means of communication.
- The machine gun defensive organization must make full use of the existing communications within the divisional areas. machine gun commanders, therefore, must keep in close touch with the headquarters of the infantry and artillery units in their vicinity. In this way they will be able, if necessary, to make use of the infantry and artillery signalling system.
- Special attention must be paid during training to:-
- Selection, both deliberate and rapid, of gun positions.
- Approach to a position and coming into action.
- Protection of flanks.
- Training of sections with their fighting limbers.
- Training of officers in rapid preparation of sketch maps.
- Co-operation with infantry in open warfare schemes.
- Notes on equipment:-
- On one occasion during the battle. Lewis guns were issued to units in mistake for Vickers. Chests for Vickers guns will in future be marked “Chests, Vickers .303” Gun,” and not “Chests, Vickers or Lewis .303” Gun,” as in the past.
- It is a matter for consideration whether the first aid case ought not to be strapped to the gun when in action, to prevent loss.
- It is considered advisable to retain the issue of auxiliary mountings on the scale of one per gun, and guns should invariably have the auxiliary mountings attached when out of the gun chests. Where a shortage exists, the forward guns should have preference.
- All reports show that guns and equipment worked well. Lock springs and the auxiliary mounting attachment band are the only breakages reported.
- One instance is reported of the belt filling machine proving of use.
3rd of May, 1918.
Printed in France by Army Printing and Stationary Services. PRESS A-5/18-6237S-3500