NOTE III ON ARTILLERY WORK.
1. Wireless Stations. It is most important that all wireless stations held by artillery units should be used to their fullest extent. It should be realised by all concerned that the wireless station must be erected at the very first opportunity and not left to be erected until after arrangements for every other means of communication have been made.
Close co-operation with aircraft is of vital importance during a moving battle, as few batteries have wire oft time available to ensure good communication with ground O.P’s and aircraft are the first and frequently the only means of discovering concentrations of the enemy just prior to an attack. If all units have wireless sets working, such concentrations can be successfully dealt with by means of LL and GF calls. During the last withdrawal some such concentrations were successfully fired on and dispersed in this manner but in a great many cases wireless was not working at the critical moment and opportunities of inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy were missed. In many cases for lack of any other means of attack such concentrations have been dealt with by means of bombs and M.G. fire from the air.
It is of course impossible during hurried changes of position to avoid the loss of a certain amount of material but – once the vital importance of a serviceable wireless set is realised by all – it should always be possible to bring away the essential parts of a wireless set i.e. tuner, aerial and earth mat. Masts, if lost, can always be improvised by using trees, buildings or even short R.E. signal poles. A sheet of corrugated iron can be used to replace a missing earth mat or at a pinch any metallic earth such as a jack knife or earth pin can be utilised.
Efforts are being made to reduce the weight and bulk of a wireless station so as to render it more easily portable by Field Artillery units; even at present the essential portions, referred to above, can and should always be carried in the firing battery. They will then be immediately available and the station can normally be ready to take in messages within a few minutes of guns getting into action.
2. Field Artillery. Field Artillery during a moving battle will form a large proportion of the available artillery for engaging surprise targets. As Brigade Commanders may be out of communication with a proportion of their batteries, it is essential that as many Field batteries as possible should be equipped with wireless stations. This can only now be done by withdrawing stations from Siege batteries when no longer required. Squadron Commanders should make early arrangements with their Corps H.A. to withdraw the stations from those Siege batteries which are least likely to require them and reissue them to R.F.A. brigades for allotment to batteries. This must be done under Corps arrangements as R.A.F. transport is inadequate to deal with the situation.
3. Map references and calls from the air. The importance of having squared maps of the back areas ready marked up with zones has been touched on above: without security on this point Artillery will hesitate to fire and golden opportunities will be lost. Another cause of trouble is here dealt with. Owing to the small amount of wireless sending going on calls have in past moving battles been picked up from two map sheets away: the danger of this will be readily seen as the correct zone will not preclude the possibility of the call being taken in and acted on by batteries who should not have been affected: it is essential therefore in moving warfare for the Squadron call to precede any signal sent from the air including SOS, LL, GF, and NF, calls. The Squadron call and battery calls will remain unchanged during the whole period of movement.
4. Message Dropping. Pilots must not hesitate to use message bags to indicate favourable targets to our guns if the wireless produces no response: this practice has a great future before it. Pilots must not forget that if by any means concentrated artillery fire can be brought on to living targets far greater effect will be produced than by a few small bombs.
Commanding 15th Wing,
Royal Air Force.
In the Field.