XV Corps Heavy Artillery Instruction 18 June 1916
Operation Order No. 7. XV Corps H.A.
1. The XVth Corps are taking part in an offensive operation which is being carried out by the 4th Army along the whole extent of its front.
2. The objectives of the Corps are as follows:-
(1) A line running along the spur in S.25.a. X.30.a, and the line of the spur running South from CONTALMAISON to Bottom Wood.
(2) BAZENTIN LE GRAND and the defences between that VILLAGE and MONTAUBAN.
(3) GINCHY, LONGUEVAL, and DELVILLE WOOD.
3. The first objective will be gained by the simultaneous attack of two divisions in the front line advancing on the XVth Corps front, but omitting that portion of the line opposite FRICOURT and the VALLEY in which the WILLOW STREAM runs.
As soon as the 1st line has been reached the FRICOURT village and wood will be cleared by a separate operation.
4. The attack will be preceded by a bombardment lasting five days designated U. V. W. X & Y days, the day of attack being Z day.
5. On the day of attack the time of assault will be zero hour which will be notified; this will be preceded by an intense bombardment lasting 65 mins.
6. After this bombardment on Z Day, the fire of the H. Artillery will be lifted back after definite periods which are set out in the schedules attached, lifts being direct from one barrage to another; and the times of the lifts must be most strictly adhered to. In the case of the Field Artillery the lifts are made by successive jumps.
7. The FRICOURT village area is kept under fire during the whole period of the advance and when the final barrage in front of the first objective has been reached, the fire of the Heavy Artillery will be concentrated on this area prior to its being cleared, and will then be lifted back again by successive lifts to the final barrage.
8. The Corps Artillery under the orders of the Heavy Artillery Commander during the period of bombardment and at the commencement of the operations will consist of:-
2. 12” Howitzers.
4 9.2” How. Batteries.
4 8” How. Batteries.
2 6” How Batteries 30 cwt.
2 6” How. Batteries 26 cwt.
4 6” Mk. VII Guns.
5 60 Pr Batteries.
3 4.7” Batteries.
1 4.5” Howitzer Battery.
3 75 mm French Batteries.
Time tables in which definite tasks have been allotted to every battery have been issued as follows:-
Schedule A. Preliminary Bombardment V. W. X. & Y. Days.
“ B. Concentrated Bombardments on the same days.
“ C. Night Bombardments.
“ D. Preliminary Bombardment X Day.
“ E. F. G. H. I. J. K. L. Successive barrages.
These don’t include the 4.5” Howitzer Battery nor the French batteries which will be employed in counter battery work and in special tasks which are detailed in Special Schedules.
9. It is of the utmost importance that the counter battery work should be carried on during the preliminary bombardment, and also particularly during the assault.
It is of little avail destroying the enemy trenches and defences if he is still able to put up such a heavy barrage on our front line that our troops cannot advance.
The positions of the hostile batteries already disclosed are well known and can be kept under heavy fire, but it is possible that there may be other batteries, the positions of which may not yet have been disclosed. Certain batteries, namely the 128th, 130th and 1/2 Lancs heavy batteries, and the 58th Siege Battery, 6” Mk. VII Guns, are therefore told off for counter Battery work more particularly, and although they have been allotted other tasks, on a call from an aeroplane they will at once leave whatever they are doing to engage the hostile battery indicated.
If the counter battery work becomes heavy, every 60-Pdr Battery may, if necessary, be called on by the aeroplanes.
The Officers Commanding 18th & 23rd H.A. Groups will also exercise their discretion in this respect and put on any of their batteries to counter battery work if the necessity is urgent, but they will at once report having done so to Hd. Qrs. H.A.
In cases of urgent necessity the Flying Corps will also call up certain heavy howitzer batteries after reference to Hd. Qrs. H.A.: these batteries will be the 34th Siege Battery (9.2 How.) and the 78th S. Bty. (8” Hows.) and they will answer the aeroplanes calls at once, reporting to Hd. Qrs. H.A. at the same time.
10. The special bombardments which have been detailed on each day are concentrated bombardments, but are not intense in respect that the rate of fire is not increased beyond the normal rate of the guns and howitzers concerned.
The remainder of the ammunition allotted for each battery per day will be fired spread over the whole course of the day without leaving any intervals except for the special periods detailed, when photographs are being taken or for any other purpose which may be ordered.
11. During the preliminary bombardment, certain smoke and gas attacks will be delivered, as follows, provided the wind is favourable, for the purpose of leading the enemy to imagine that an assault is immanent and so cause him to man his parapets, and also to impair the efficiency of his gas helmets by causing them to be worn.
12. Smoke attack on day Y commencing at 7.20 and lasting for half an hour.
Gas attack on a night when the wind is favourable, which will be notified.
13. There will also be a Smoke Attack on Z Day on that portion of the Corps front which is not being attacked at first.
This attack will be started at 5 minutes before zero and will last one hour.
14. During the smoke attack on Y day, the bombardment will be increased in intensity for the first ten minutes and will then cease for five minutes and re-open with increased intensity for the next ten minutes.
15. If at any time during the operations from Z day onwards, re-bombardments are called for, these will last exactly half an hour from the zero time given, the last five minutes being more intense; it is clearly to be understood that if the order for re-bombardment does not reach the unit until after the zero named, the bombardment will still only go on until 30 minutes have elapsed from the zero hour originally given.
16. The boundary between the XVth & XIIIth Corps is as follows:-
F.12.c.39 – F.6.a.62.11. – track at F.6.a.89 – along the track to junction at S.25.b.45.00. – S.25.b.37.91.
On Z day, no artillery fire will be directed to the East of this line.
Fire can be maintained on CATERPILLAR WOOD throughout the day, but after three hours, no fire must fall South of the Southern edge of CATERPILLAR WOOD and the line of the stream from S.20.c.28. to S.25.b.37.91.
17. On Z day, during the advance, flares will be lit by the Infantry all along their most forward line at specified hours as follows –
9 a.m. 1 p.m. 5 p.m. 9 p.m.
They will also be lit:-
(a) on reaching the 1st objective.
(b) On reaching the 2nd objective.
(c) In the clearing operation on reaching the East edge of FRICOURT VILLAGE and ROSE TRENCH (F.4.c.35.60 – F.4.d.06.02.)
18. Distinguishing marks employed by the Infantry will be as follows
7th Division, a pink patch, 1 ft square, on the haversack, which will be worn on the back.
21st Division, not yet issued.
19. A complete liaison will be established between the following groups and the Divisions – the 14th Heavy Howitzer and the 18th Heavy Gun Group with the 7th Division, and the 21st Heavy Howitzer and 23rd Heavy Gun Group with the 21st Division.
This is in order that divisions may call direct on Heavy Guns or Howitzers, if the necessity arises, after the assault has developed, but no Heavy Howitzer Battery is to be taken off its task during the barrage period.
20. The Officer Commanding 18th & 23rd H.A. Groups will exercise their discretion as to advancing batteries during the operations on Z day, but all batteries must not advance at the same time; one battery of each group should be left to do the counter battery work until the others are in action further forward.
21. Advanced positions have been selected for Heavy & Siege Batteries and the routes to these reconnoitered as far as possible; batteries should be directed towards these positions, the guns and medium howitzers, however, will not be restricted, but will push forward as far as is found feasible.
22. The medium howitzers to be advanced first are the 59th & the 38th S. Batteries and these batteries will come under the direct orders of B.Gs, R.A., 7th & 21st Divns respectively when they advance.
23. Communication cables to observing stations have been well buried and it is trusted that telephone communication will not break down, but Officers Commanding Groups should make arrangements for visual signalling where possible as an alternative method.
It is hoped that an issue of improved Electric lamps will be made to every battery.
24. During operations on Z day, every endeavour will be made by batteries to send forward observing parties, and these parties in addition to trying to establish telephonic communication, will carry the Electric Lamps and other signalling apparatus, and will establish alternative communication with their Permanent O.P’s by these means.
25. Batteries will make arrangements to leave small parties behind at their permanent positions, when they move forward, in all cases where ammunition or other stores, which cannot be carried forward, have to be left in the positions, and reports of any ammunition thus left behind will be forwarded at once to the H.A. Hd. Qrs.
26. Reports will be sent in frequently to H.A. Hd. Qrs. During the course of operations, whether there is anything to report or not.
27. The Headquarters of the Heavy Artillery will remain at their present position until further orders.
Brig. General. R.A.
Commdg. H.A. XVth Corps.
Copies to S.O. R.A. XV Corps 1
“ “ B.G. R.A. VII Div 1
“ “ “ “ 21st “ 1
“ “ “ “ 17th “ 1
“ “ 3rd H.A.G. 1
“ “ 14 H.A.G. 1
“ “ 18 H.A.G. 1
“ “ 21 H.A.G. 1
“ “ 23 H.A.G. 1
“ “ 44th S. Baty. 1
“ “ No 3 Squad R.F.C. 1