Translation of a Memorandum, dated 11th July, 1915,

Translation of a Memorandum, dated 11th July, 1915,
drawn up by General CASTELNAU, Commanding the Group of Armies
of the Centre.
The Commander-in-Chief in a recent memorandum laid down general principles to be applied and the steps to be taken to deal with the type of attack as practiced at present by the enemy.
These attacks are invariably preceded by a heavy and prolonged bombardment.
Experiments carried out both by ourselves and by the Germans lead one to the conclusion that it is merely a question of employing the necessary amount of heavy artillery in order to ensure the destruction of hostile trenches. Defensive organisations are demolished. Judiciously placed shell-proof casemates and subterranean dug-outs, of which the Germans have rightly made such extensive use, are alone capable of resistance.
Hence it is no longer a question of spreading men all along a line which was considered proof to any attack; it is necessary to keep a large proportion of them in hand so that they can be brought up wherever they may be required.
For an army acting on the defensive the battle has only begun, when the enemy has crossed the front trenches. It lies with the Commander to have in hand the necessary resources in infantry and artillery, to enable him to intervene at the right moment.
Therefore, Army Commanders should take the necessary steps:-
1. To diminish the numbers in occupation of the front line trenches. The onus of defence should fall on small groups, judiciously distributed, supported by machine guns. The number of observation posts, shell-proof flanking casemates and subterranean dug-outs should be increased.
2. To organise sector reserves along the whole front.
3. To keep in reserve complete formations which can be easily moved.
4. To be able to reinforce rapidly the artillery on the front attacked. This implies the preparation of numerous emplacements, the allotment of zones of fire in advance, (destruction of enemy trenches and counter-batteries, tir de barrages.)
But it is not sufficient to pre-arrange the composition of sector and army reserves; it is essential that they should be able to come into action when and where they are wanted.
As a violent and continued bombardment, which is intended to destroy the front lines, generally begins one or more days before the attack proper, the local commander can anticipate this and make his preparations accordingly.
If the front line trenches are demolished, their garrison will be transferred to swell the numbers in the support trenches or redoubts and “points d’appui” situated to the rear. (Defensive organisations in depth are essential).
It is here, that it will be possible to check the enemy’s attack and to counter-attack so as to drive the enemy back. The success of a counter-attack depends on surprise and determination.
If delivered by the sector reserves, it must take place immediately. This is feasible:
1. If the details of execution have been minutely prepared in advance.
2. If these reserves are thoroughly familiar with the sector.
3. If their moral is unshaken (this entails their being kept immune from bombardment).
4. If they are well provided with grenades.
5. If our own artillery has kept up a continuous fire on the trenches which have been lost in order to prevent the enemy from establishing himself there, and has opened a tir de barrage to prevent the arrival of supports.
The counter-attack, carried out by Army reserves, should be as rapid as possible. For this purpose it is necessary to have studied and prepared their mode of action and employment in good time.
The enemy should not be allowed time to reorganize on the ground they have occupied, otherwise the whole thing will have to be started afresh like an ordinary attack against an organized front, which requires working out and preparing in every detail.
In order to use reserves in this way, it will be necessary:-
1. To have been able to withdraw them, if possible, from the effects of the bombardment and of the asphyxiating gasses (numerous alarm posts and shelters).
2. To be able to use them in spite of the enemy’s tir de barrage, (a study being made beforehand of their mode of employment; numerous communication trenches, a proportion of which will be strictly reserved for evacuation of wounded, dividing the ground into sectors etc.)
3. To have foreseen and prepared the action of the batteries specially entrusted with supporting the counter-attack (reinforcing batteries, preparation of emplacements, allotment of zones of fire etc.)

Whether carried out by Sector or Army reserves, the counter-attack must always be driven home. Exploit to the full the confusion and disorganization likely to arise in the enemy’s ranks, in order not only to drive him back to his own line but also to gain as firm a footing as possible in the hostile trenches.
An Army should deal with an attack delivered by a few brigades with its own reserves, without having to draw upon the reserves of the group of armies. The employment of the latter is worthy of consideration for such tasks as penetrating still further into the enemy’s position in the track of the Army reserves, and breaking the front, if opportunity offers.

The last page/pages are missing.


Special Order by, Major General J.A.L. Haldane. C.B. D.S.O. 17 June 1915

Special Order by, Major General J.A.L. Haldane. C.B. D.S.O.
Commanding 3rd Division. June. 17th 1915.
The Major General Commanding cannot adequately express his admiration for the gallant manner in which the attack was carried out yesterday.
The dash and determination of all ranks was beyond praise and that some actually reached the objective in the first rush and remained there under most trying circumstances is a proof of their high superiority over the German Infantry.
That the captured could not all be held is disappointing more especially as the losses incurred were heavy. But these casualties have not been in vain.
The 3rd Division carried out a fine piece of work, and fought splendidly, and their Commander is deeply proud of them.
The bombardment of the Artillery was most effective but unfortunately, a slight mist and the smoke from the shells interfered with observation, and the Infantry flags could not be seen.
This combined with the pace at which the assault was carried out, made it impossible to keep our shells ahead of the advancing Infantry.

Sgd. A.F. Sillem Lieut Colonel.
A.A. and Q.M.G. 3rd Division.

9 Infantry Brigade Operation Order 14 June 1915

SECRET. Copy No…..


Reference Special Map 1/10,000. 14th June, 1915.

1. The 3rd Division will attack the BELLEWADE FM Ridge on the 16th instant. The task of the Division is to seize and hold the line – S.W. corner of BELLEWADE LAKE (I.12.d.3.2.) – Y.18 – Y.7.
This task will be carried out by the 9th Inf Bde, supported by the 7th Bde, and if necessary the 8th Bde.

2. March Table for 9th Bde to places of assembly has already been issued. Two Sections Cheshire Fd Co R.E. will march immediately in front of behind Liverpool Scottish will occupy a position in assembly trenches just behind between Liverpool Scottish and Lincolns.

3. The attack will be divided into three phases as follows:-

FIRST PHASE. Objective – to seize the east edge of Wood (Y.16 – Y.15) and the front line of trenches as far as the N.E. corner of RAILWAY WOOD.
The artillery will bombard the front to be attacked from 2-50 am. to 4-15 am. with 3 pauses at 3-10 am., 3-40 & 4 am.
At 4-15 am. exactly the 4th Royal Fusiliers, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers and 5th Fusiliers will assault the front from the south corner of the Wood Y.16 to the north edge of the RAILWAY WOOD.
The right of the R.F. will be on the stream running west from the south corner of Wood Y16, the left of the R.S.F. on the hedge running east and west from I.11.d.4.8. to I.11.d.8.8. The division of front between these two battalions has already been fixed on the ground.
The right of the 5th Fusiliers will be on above hedge and left on north edge of RAILWAY WOOD.
This attack will be supported:-
(a) On the right, one battalion 7th Bde (WILTS) from the MENIN Road about I.18.a.2.6. who will seize the west end of the trench running from Y.16 to Y.20, and also by covering rifle and Machine Gun fire from the MENIN Road and south of it.
(b) On the left by covering fire of the 6th Division and by rifle and Machine Gun fire from the Railway.

As soon as the front line is gained, the Royal Fusiliers will push strong bombing parties down the trench from Y.16 to Y.17, the R.S.F. in conjunction with 5th Fusiliers will seize the hostile trench from I.12.c.1.5. to I.12.a.2.1., lying between Y.13 – Y.15. and the second objective, and the 5th Fusiliers will work out towards Y.7 with bombing parties.

Second Phase. Objective – to gain and secure the line of the road from the house 100 yards south of Y.17 through Y.17 to BELLEWADE FM and thence through Y.14 and Y.11 to Y.7.
The artillery will, as soon as the infantry have secured the line mentioned in first phase, bombard the second objective.
The Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish, who during the first phase will move up to the front line of the trenches vacated by the three leading battalions, will, as soon as it seen that the first objective has been gained, advance and assault on front House 100 yards south of Y.17 to Y.11. The dividing line between these two battalions will be the hedge running east and west from I.11.d.4.8. to I.11.d.8.8. and thence the track leading to BELLEWADE FM. Having gained this line they will consolidate it, assisted by two sections Cheshire Fd Co R.E., one of which will follow each of these battalions.
The flanks of this attack will be secured on the right by the battalion of the 7th Bde, which will work up towards Y.20 and the trench leading from that point towards the bridge at I.12.c.9.4., and on the left by the 5th Fusiliers, who will work towards Y.7 and Y.8 with bombing parties.
The R.F. and R.S.F. will during this phase re-organise and be prepared to support the attack of the Lincolns and Liverpool Scottish, if necessary, and to push on to the third objective when the second has been made good.

Third Phase. Objective – S.W. Corner of BELLEWADE LAKE (I.12.d.3.2.) – Y.18 – Y.12 – Y.7.
This objective will be bombarded by the artillery as soon as the second objective is secured.
This line will be assaulted by the R.F., R.S.F., and the 5th Fusiliers, who will attack as soon as it is seen that the second line has been secured.
The R.F. will attack from S.W. corner of LAKE to corner of hedge I.12.d.0.8., R.S.F. from this point to road junction I.12.a.7.4. (inclusive), 5th Fusiliers from road junction to Y8.

4. 7th Bde will support 9th Bde closely, moving forward as the 9th Bde does. They will detail two battalions to occupy and consolidate the line from south corner of Wood Y.16 to Y.7 as soon as units of 9th Bde move forward from this line or any part of it. Parties from these two battalions will be detailed to join up above line with our original front line, immediately this line had been gained.
As soon as third objective is reached, 7th Bde will be prepared to push forward troops to consolidate the line gained.

5. No: 3 Motor Machine Gun Battery will assist the attack by fire from positions south of MENIN Road according to separate instructions issued.

6. R.F., R.S.F., and 5th Fusiliers will establish advanced Medical Aid posts in or near present front line of trenches. Liverpool Scottish and Lincolns will establish similar posts in houses on MENIN Road in I.9.d.
Divisional Collecting Station will be at ECOLE east of YPRES. Advanced Dressing Station will be at ASYLUM I.12.d.

7. Separate instructions regarding communications during the attack have been issued.
8. Brigade Headquarters will be in I.10.d.6.4.

Bde Major, 9th Infantry Brigade.

Copies to:-
Units 9th Bde.
7th Bde.
8th Bde.
18th Bde.
50th Div.
Cheshire Fd Co R.E.
No: 3 Motor Machine Gun Bty.
3rd Div.
C.R.A. 3rd Div.
6th Div.

Operation Order No 1 by Brigd. Genl W. Douglas-Smith, 13 June 1915

Copy No
Operation Order No 1 by Brigd. Genl W. Douglas-Smith,
Commdg 9th Infy. Bde.
1. 9th Bde supported by 7th Bde, will attack the BELLEWADE SPUR at early morning on the 16th inst.
The objectives and positions allotted to battalions have already been explained to C.Os in the instructions issued for reconnaissance on 12th inst.
Detailed Operation Orders and instructions for the attack will be issued tomorrow 14th.

2. Units will march on evening of 15th to places of assembly for attack in 2 Columns as detailed in attached march table.

Brigade Major
9th Bde.

March Table, 9th Brigade (to accompany Operation Order No 1) 13 June 1915

March Table, 9th Brigade (to accompany Operation Order No 1)

Units Starting point Hour of passing Starting point Route to Divnl Starting point Halting Place Divnl Starting point and hour of passing Route to places of Assembly Destination
Right Column
(in order of march)
Commander Major Hely-Hutchinson. 4th R.F.
4th Royal Fuslrs
1st Lincolns Road junction H.13 central 5 pm Road through H.13 H.14 H.15 H.16 H.17 H.23 to KRUISSTRAAT, across No 13 bridge, thence along railway to LILLE GATE Along road near chateau in H.23.b. LILLE GATE 8.30 p.m. ROULERS RAILWAY to I.10.d.0.2. thence by MENIN ROAD (Route B, marked GREEN on sketch to be issued R.F. to assembly trenches I.11.d.7.5. Lines to Cambridge Road Trench (South end)
Left Column
In order of March.
Commander Lieut Col. C. Yatman 5th Fuslrs
1st Royal Scots Fuslrs.
5th Fuslrs
Liverpool Scottish Cross-roads H.7.c.3.5. 5 pm Road joining POPERINGHE – YPRES road in H.8.A, thence by main road through YPRES to MENIN GATE Along YPRES road about H.11.central MENIN GATE 8.30 p.m. Road junction I.9.D.7.4. – Road I.10.Central – I.11.A – I.11.B.3.5. (Route A marked RED on sketch to be issued) R.S.F. to assembly trenches on left of R.F. and up to I.11.D.7.8. 5th Fuslrs Railway Wood, and trenches as far South as I.11.D.7.8. Liverpool Scottish Cambridge Road North End.

1. Times given above must be strictly adhered to, and Columns kept closed up, as 7th Bde has to follow, and time for reaching places of assembly under cover of darkness is limited.
2. Machine Guns of right column must accompany left column as far as road junction I.9.D.8.4. whence they will proceed to ARRET and join their own Units on Route B. it is essential that returning m.g. limbers should not block the advance of troops of 7th Bde on Route A.
3. Units must be careful at halting places to conceal themselves from Aeroplane Observation as far as possible.
4. Guides to trenches from 8th Bde at a rate of 1 Officer and 4 men to each battalion will meet Units at Divisional Starting points.