20 Division 25 August 1917

Part of a document of which pages 1 & 2 are missing page 3 commences:-

“is recovering from the first effects of the attack.
(iv) Owing to the lack of training which junior members of the Staff now have, it is necessary that all reconnoitring officers should be given a list of questions which the Brigadier wishes answered, in order that important points may not be overlooked through ignorance.

SIGNAL COMMUNICATIONS. 7. The following points were noticed with regard to Signal Communications. More technical details have been sent by my Signal Officer direct to your A.D.A.S.
(i) More use might have been made of wires laid back to Brigade Forward Station by Battalions; whenever this was done, the result was satisfactory.
(ii) All concerned should be warned that if a pigeoneer becomes a casualty, his birds should be immediately released by his comrades if the basket in which they are found has evidently been abandoned and no facilities for transport are available. Although the expenditure of birds is justified, even when a very small proportion deliver their messages, it must be remembered that casualties amongst the birds entail the curtailment of a further supply until new birds have been trained.
(iii) Wireless and power buzzers are best used for supplementing other means of communication, when these have broken down; no attempt should be made to rely on these two methods.
(iv) The amplifiers are useless unless moderately good accommodation is obtainable; i.e., they should not be taken in advance of Brigade Forward Station. If any part of their equipment miscarries, they are out of action.
(v) (a). Arrangements for visual signalling had been made between the leading infantry and selected points in rear, whence information could be carried back to Brigade and Divisional Headquarters.
(b). During the actual battle, the smoke caused by our own and the enemy’s bombardment, prevented visual signalling being extensively used. During the afternoon of the 16th, however, it should have been possible to use this form of signalling to a considerable extent, and thus save the lives of runners, and also time. It was not, however, sufficiently made use of, except by one or two F.O.O’s., R.A.
(c). It has been suggested that visual signallers be separated from the rest of the signalling personnel. If they have other work to do, and only attempt visual when the normal means have failed, the results are not likely to be good.

(i). A considerable increase of gas shelling by the enemy was noticed, both of the ordinary poisonous variety, and of the mustard oil type. A feature of the latter is its persistency.
(ii). The necessity for continual practice in adjusting Box Respirators with the greatest possible speed has been still further emphasised.

STOKES MORTARS. 9. No valuable lessons as regards the employment of trench
mortars were learnt during operations, beyond the fact that it is better to have few guns and a large amount of ammunition, than many guns and a limited supply of ammunition.

RIFLE GRENADES. 10. A small proportion of No. 24, (Improved) Hales, failed to
explode. It has been suggested that the material used in the construction of the tubes through which the brass striker drops is at fault, and that it becomes soft and sticky, this holding up the striker.

Major General,
Commanding 20th Division.
25th August, 1917.

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