REPORT ON COMMUNICATIONS OF 20TH DIVISION DURING THE OPERATIONS.
September 3rd and 4th 1916.
1 Division to Brigades.
Two telephone wires ran to each Brigade in the line. In each case the forward part of the line lay in an open narrow cable trench. The lines were not all completed until the day before the operations so that they could not become too weak for speaking owing to numerous breaks and joints. The lines held throughout the operations save for a line to the Reserve Brigade which was put out of action for nearly an hour by the blowing up of a bomb store close to the line. Lateral communication was provided by wire and held throughout.
In addition both Brigades had wireless stations by them and the Corps wireless station was at Divisional H.Qrs. These stations were used for occasional messages such as requests for motor ambulances to be sent forward. Visual signalling was also arranged. A main visual post on the high ground between MINDEN POST and MARICOURT received direct from the Right Brigade and Reserve Brigade and through two transmitting stations from the Left Brigade. The Visual transmitting stations were placed at test stations along the wires and runner posts were established there also. In the case of one section of the main line being broken two alternative ways of securing communication in that section still held. The runner posts were provided by mounted men from the Corps Cavalry Regiment for the forward portion and motor cyclists for the backward portion. Roads forward of the West end of MONTAUBAN were impassable for motor cycles.
2. Forward of Brigades.
Each Brigade relied mainly on one forward line laid just before the operations in trenches along the route of the runner posts, the Left Brigade to WATERLOT FARM and the Right Brigade to ARROW HEAD COPSE. The lines were divided into sectors at the runner posts and linesmen were stationed at these posts with cable to replace whole sections of the line with fresh cable when necessary. The line to the Left was only broken once, the line on the right was broken several times in the neighbourhood of the SUNKEN ROAD E. of TRONES WOOD but it was never out of action for more than about 10 minutes at a time. Lines were prepared beforehand and taken forward with the attacking troops but these lines did not last long being very soon cut by the enemy’s fire. Information came back to WATERLOT FARM and ARROW HEAD COPSE almost entirely by runners.
Further information from the firemost troops did however come back by pigeons – several valuable messages about dispositions being sent back from the troops in the GINCHY – WEDGE WOOD road – and by aeroplane observations. Not many actual messages were signalled from the ground to the aeroplanes but a few were sent and received including a request for ammunition and a statement that troops at a certain point were being held up by machine gun fire. Flares were used successfully.
To sum up the methods successfully employed, they were:-
(a) Forward of the original front line, pigeons and signals to aeroplanes.
(b) In rear of the old front line accessible telephone wires with relay posts for runners and linesmen along the route of the wires.
7th Sept. 1916
(sd) F.J.M. STRATTON, Major R.E.
O.C. 20th Divisional Signal Coy.