Translation of a Gereman Divisional Order 27 February 1915

TRANSLATION OF A GERMAN DIVISIONAL ORDER.

 

REGARDING THE IMPROVEMENT OF FIRST LINE DEFENCE.

 

  1. I.D.

No. 1.441                                                                                        MARQUILLIES, 27-2-15

 

The inspection of the position of the Division (14th) by H.E. the General Commanding VII Corps, the Chief of the Corps Staff, and myself, leads me to make the following remarks:-

 

  1. It must be clearly understood by everybody down to the last man in the company that shelter-trenches fully capable of use as fire-trenches must be made 50 to 100 metres behind the front line. Wherever possible the construction of these shelter-trenches should go hand-in-hand with that of the front line defences. Wherever this is not possible on account of standing water or the backward condition of the front line defences, the construction of these shelter-trenches should be taken in hand as soon as possible.I repeat emphatically that the front line must be held in all circumstances. When a commander voluntarily gives up a portion of the front line he exposes the adjoining sections to the danger of being outflanked and forced to surrender. This commander therefore takes upon himself more responsibility than he is entitled to.
  2. I do not in the least underestimate the moral effect of a bombardment of the front line previous to an attack. The shelter-trenches are to be used from time to time for the occasional relief of the troops occupying the front line, to avoid heavy losses. There is the danger, however, that a reoccupation of the position in order to beat off an attack may become impossible when troops are withdrawn to a flank, or that a sudden change of fire-direction on the part of the enemy on to the densely occupied trenches on either flank, may cause heavy losses and intensify the moral; effect on the troops.
  3. Considering my very clear instructions of 5th February, Section 1, No. 300 (secret) paragraph 1 of the final remarks, I cannot understand how an officer commanding a battalion sector could tell the Corps Commander that he proposed to take up a position behind the front line, giving as a reason that his front line was too weakly held and not sufficiently fortified.
  4. The instructions of 5-2-15, Section 1, No. 300 (secret), concerning the completion of the positions, have not been sufficiently carried out. The following details are noticeable: the parapets in many places are too low and too weak. There are not sufficient traverses or parados.
  5. In many places banquettes are wanting, and a continuous firing line is not arranged for though these could have been provided long ago with little trouble. The possibilities of flanking fire have not been thought of sufficiently. Shelters on the rear side of the trench unless protected by at least 3 metres of earth are to be at once removed. Entrances to shelters are to be traversed.
  6. Greater energy must be shown in pumping water out of the trenches and communication-trenches by means of the small pumps, the position of which should be occasionally changed. I further draw the attention of officers in charge of sectors to the necessity of pumping out old trenches and communications, which will save the labour of constructing extensive new ones.
  7. Troops should not be content with a fairly dry trench, but should ensure that trenches and communication-trenches are kept entirely free of water, so that further rainfall may not lead to a dangerous state of affairs. Whenever the trench has been pumped dry, digging must continue in order to strengthen the parapet, especially in cases where the sole of the trench is on ground level.
  8. I quite realise that great exertions are demanded of the troops, but I have noticed in many instances that the necessity for this amount of work is not sufficiently appreciated. In order to employ the available labour to the best advantage, the following procedure should be observed:- The forces holding the front line trenches are at full strength and must remain so. Any difference, exceeding 100 men, between the fighting strength and the strength shown on the ration return is not justifiable and should not exist. I draw the attention of Commanding Officers to this, and request them to prevent the unnecessary detailing of men for various duties which are not authorized by superior authority. Company Commanders and Colour Sergeants are to be strictly supervised in this matter.Section 1, No. 330). Company Commanders have, against my express orders, kept every loophole occupied and have ordered their men to fire every half hour or “every now and again”; this is an inadmissible alteration of my orders, and if it occurs again I shall have to take disciplinary action. Where these practices continue there is no possibility of sufficient work being done. It depends upon local conditions whether work on the first line trenches is best carried out by day or night. A good deal of work, construction of banquettes, levelling of ground, etc., can be carried out by day.Reserves when used as working parties, are to be at full fighting strength. Complaints have been made to the Corps Commander about the lack of material in the front trenches; this lack of material is mainly due to the fact that the materials were not indented for in time. Indents should be sent in some time ahead, as the Pioneer Parks are frequently unable to cope with demands at short notice.I expect strict compliance with my orders of 5-2-15, Section 1, No 300 (secret), and rely on officers in charge of Battalion Sectors to see that they are carried out.(Sd.) Von DitfurthSent to :-  14th F.A.B.
  9. Hauptmann Bindernagel
  10. 79th Infantry Brigade            11th Jaeger and 2nd Coy. 19th Pioneer Btn.
  11. 27th Infantry Brigade for Regiments and Companies and 3rd Company 7th Pioneer Btn.
  12. (Lt. Gen. Comdg. 14th Divn.)
  13. Battalion Commanders, and not their representatives who temporarily occupy posts in the front line, are responsible for the effective completion and repair of the trenches in their Battalion Sector.
  14. It is the special duty of the Battalion sector Commander to see that repairing and building material is brought up into the front line in good time. The men detailed for this are not to be drawn from the troops in the first line trenches, but from reserves of each sector.
  15. The troops in the front line are there for working purposes in the first instance; only a few posts are needed for the observation of the enemy and they should not fire unnecessarily (see special Divnl. Orders 8th February,
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George Ryan’s letter home dated 25 Feb 1915

George Ryan’s letter home dated 25 Feb 1915

9th Middlesex

Barrackpore

Bengal.

India.

25 Feb 1915

 

Dear M & F,

 

Thanks for your letter dated Jan 28th.  I received the Text Book from Mr Ayerst by the same mail.

 

I note that you’ve sold a pair of my shoes.

 

I think we are going to Jaffapore in a day or two’s time to do our firing. It’s 2 or 3 miles from here.  I expect we shall be there 2 or 3 weeks.  We shall live under canvas.  I’m not looking forward to it; it will be very hot out on the range, & the light is so strong, very trying to the eyes.

 

I went to Calcutta yesterday afternoon with C.A.S.  We had a nice time except that it was rather short.  You want a week there really to see the place properly, only of course, you want the “brass” & that’s the stuff we don’t see much of out here.  What little we do get, nearly all goes on grub – suppers, jam etc.  By the way jam is 8d a 1lb tin, marmalade 7½ d.

 

Calcutta seemed a little bit like home, electric trams, motor cars etc but the majority of the population is black.  We went to a music hall in the evening, but we only saw pictures.  I suppose they only have variety turns now & again.  The house was practically empty.  We got a rupee seat half price – 8d.  we got back to Barracks just after 11.0.

 

They are still sticking to the rumour that we are leaving India next month.  In fact they say now that Kitchener stated in Parliament that all T. were to be withdrawn from India.  But of course you’ll know more about that than we do; you get more reliable news.  If we are going to move we ought to have been told officially by now.

Hoping you are all well,

Love to all,

George

 

I suppose you see Cousin Ellen now & again & tell her all the news. I have not written to her since we landed.

George Ryan’s letter home dated 18 Feb 1915

George Ryan’s letter home dated 18 Feb 1915

1945 “D” Co

9th Middlesex

Barrackpore

Bengal.

India.

18 Feb 1915

 

Dear May,

 

Thanks very much for your letter of 21 Jan with the photo enclosed.

 

Yes. I got the parcel safely as I’ve already written.  The things were in as good condition as when they left you, thanks to the tin box.  It’s the only safe way of sending things out here.  A fellow received a parcel; or rather the remains of one, this week in a cardboard box.  The contents, what was left of them, mince-pies, cake etc, were all smashed & some cigarettes were damaged.

 

Guard here is about the same as at Dinapore, in fact they say the Magazine post is worse. I have not been on that post myself yet.  There’s a native village just behind it.  There’s generally a row going on there from 8 – 10 p.m.  After that of course the jackals & hyenas insist on giving their “concert” gratis, & there are dozens of fire-flies about, they look like small stars floating about.

 

My watch dropped off my bed the other day; it’s refused to go since. I’ve been wearing it on my wrist as I can’t wear it on a chain except in my trousers pocket & it takes about a minute to get it out from there, with my tunic & equipment on.  I shall take it to Calcutta when I go but if it’s going to cost much to put right I shall buy a proper wrist watch if I can get one at a reasonable price.

 

We’ve been digging trenches this week, a very suitable occupation in this climate. It doesn’t suit me, I’ve got a blister on each hand already.  One thing about it if I can’t get a job as clerk when I come back I might stand a chance as “Sanitary Inspector” or a Road digger or something of that sort.

 

Has the “egg hand” seen you home yet. I wish I was able to come & meet you; you would be able to say then that your brother was waiting for you.

 

Yr loving brother

George

George Ryan’s letter home dated 18 Feb 1915

George Ryan’s letter home dated 18 Feb 1915

Barrackpore

Bengal.

India.

18 Feb 1915

 

Dear Edie,

 

Thanks for your letter dated 14 Jan which I received last Friday, 12th Feb, a day after the mail had gone out.

 

We are beginning to settle down here now. It seems to get hotter every day, but we are still working hard.

 

We’ve seen a few snakes since we came here, only small ones though. Another fellow & I killed one a few days ago, it was 20” long& as thick as your finger.

 

Hope you are getting on with the piano I wish I had the chance of keeping on with it. I expect I shall have forgot nearly all I ever knew by the time I’m able to start again.

 

I have not written to you before as I don’t suppose it matters who I write to, I suppose each letter goes round the house just the same.

 

Remember me to Mr. Clark,

Yr loving brother

George

George Ryan’s letter home dated 18 Feb 1915

George Ryan’s letter home dated 18 Feb 1915
Barrackpore
Bengal.
India.
18 Feb 1915

Dear M & F,

Thanks for your letter of 14 Jan. I’ve acknowledged each one of your letters so perhaps you can tell whether I’ve received them all or not. I know I didn’t receive any for 3 weeks after Christmas but since then I’ve had one each mail either from you or May.

Yes that tale about the bullocks, or rather Buffaloes is quite right. C.S. & I were walking across from one barrack to another. It was a funny thing but just as we got near this heard of buffaloes I said to C.S. “Ump! I don’t like the look of these things.” However we kept on & just as we were passing them one of them ducked down his head & charged at us knocking C.S. over & sending me sprawling. I kept on my legs but neither of us were hurt. They are quite quiet as a rule but both of us have given them a wide berth since.

We’ve been issued out with a hair brush, 2 boot brushes, 1 button brush, clothes brush, a pair of socks, a flannel shirt, a fine sweater & another kit bag. They seem very good things too. The shirt is thinner than what you made but nice & soft & the jersey is a very good one, quite heavy. Perhaps you think it’s not much use out here, but it’s fine to put on after coming back from a route march when you’ve changed your shirt.

There’s a fine church here, much better than the one at Dinapore, better clergyman too, it’s almost like being at home the Sunday Evening service. The vicar has opened an old school-room as a reading room. There’s a good piano there so we have musical evenings. 3 or 4 young ladies sang songs the other night.

I should have thought Mr. C could have taken M. & Edie for 25/-. I asked you in one of my letters what he did about the 10/-, balance of my lessons. I suppose it was in the letter from Aden. I said I expect he kept that as I gave him no notice. I told you not to say anything about it unless he mentioned it.

Glad you are getting a few eggs now. They are cheap here. We get a couple hard-boiled now & again instead of porridge for breakfast & we can buy a couple fried at the supper bar for 6 pice (1 ½ d)

Well I think I’ve done very well this week writing to each of you & saying something different in each.

Hoping you are all well & jogging along alright.
Yr loving son
George

George Ryan’s letter home dated 11 Feb 1915

George Ryan’s letter home dated 11 Feb 1915

9th Middlesex

Barrackpore

Bengal

India.

11 Feb 1915

 

Dear M & F,

 

Thanks very much for the parcel, which I received yesterday. I didn’t expect to get it so soon.  The pudding isn’t the first I’ve tasted this year, but of course it was the best.  Both the pudding & the cake were alright, none the worse for the journey.  The cake smashed up a bit when I cut it, but that’s a sign of good quality isn’t it?  Tell May, as far as I can see, the cherries on top are intact.  The cigarettes are A1 quite a treat, the tobacco ditto repeato.  The handkerchiefs will be very useful, as one or two of my old ones are showing signs of wear, in other words split almost in two.  In fact I’m using one now as a cleaning rag.  Also tell May the piece of rag you put in will come in very handy, she seemed to think it wouldn’t be of much use.  If she would like to know all particulars I’ve torn it in half; one half I’m using as a tea cloth, (I like to wipe my knife & fork etc, myself, then I know it’s done properly) & the other half I wrap my bread in.  (We are given a pound loaf in the morning & have to keep half of it for tea).

 

I didn’t have to pay any duty on the parcel as I expected. Apparently that new order comes into force, that soldiers pay no duty.

 

Well, we got back here from Ishapore last Sunday. We had a very easy time there, I would not have minded the job for good if we had had a few things with us, as we had a chance of mixing with the English people a bit, that’s more than we can do here.  I didn’t have a chance of going over the Factories but perhaps I shall next time, if we go again.

 

We’ve been put through it slightly since we got back here; a four mile run before breakfast, drill, sham battles, etc 9 – 12. Then two afternoons a week we go for a route march at 4.0 p.m.  We went for one on Tuesday, between 7 & 8 miles.  We got back soaked, trousers, tunic & all.  It does take it out of you, it’s too much in the hot sun.

 

The barracks here are not quite so handy, there’s a second floor to them but the beds are a little more comfortable, the corrugated iron being replaced by interwoven strips of iron.

 

I forgot to tell May last week I made my first attempt at darning socks – the last week we were in Dinapore. So my socks lasted well, didn’t they.  I made a very good job of it, but I don’t think the darns looked quite so neat as yours.  I couldn’t get on with putting my hand down the sock, so I pushed a tobacco tin down & did it that way.

 

We have not got the letters here this week yet. The mail boat was 3 days late, then ours will be another day later still as they’ve got to be forwarded on from Dinapore.  It’s a nuisance keep changing our address.  I expect a few weeks after you’ve got this address we shall have shifted again.

 

Hoping this will find you all well,

Yr loving son

George

 

This is the last sheet of that lot of paper you gave me I can’t get any more till the canteen opens this afternoon. But I think you will be able to read this alright.

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne Feb 1915

War Diary of AA Laporte Payne

 

Extracted from

 

Brigade Diary, Personal Diary, Operation Orders, Note Books, Memoranda & Correspondence

—————–

 

1915

 

 

Sunday February 14th 1915

R.P.

“I am Divisional Orderly Officer tonight, and have to sleep in the General’s Office near the entrance to the barracks. I am the only officer left in the Battery, as the others are away on courses, one at Aldershot, and the other at Woolwich.  Part of the Divisional Artillery have moved to huts at Ipswich, the Dexters with them.  I do not envy them in this weather, which is awful.  The Saturday’s half-holiday has been cancelled now, and the work has been stiffened up a lot.

 

Tuesday February 24 1915.   (?)

R.P.

“The scare here now is German air ships. I am on duty every forth night as Divisional Orderly Officer, and there has been a lot of night work lately.  One day I went by road to Ipswich with six guns and full teams.  Another day we had night trench digging.  Other days our time is occupied in gun drill, ranging practices, and reconnaissance rides.

 

My routine for the last few hours has been: last night in the General’s office, when some business turned up which kept me occupied till after midnight. Next morning at 6.30 am stables, breakfast at 8, a.m.  Parade 8.40 a.m.  Brigade ride to various battery positions with Colonel Lushington from 9 to 12 noon.  Demonstration Section Gun Drill noon to 1, p.m.  Lunch at 1, p.m. Battery Parade at 1.40 p.m.  Officer’s Standing Gun Drill from 2 to 3, p.m.  Men’s rifle and marching drill 3 to 4.30 p.m.  Stables 5 to 6 p.m. Battery accounts at 7 p.m.  Dinner 7.30 p.m.  After dinner I read Battery, Brigade, Divisional, Eastern Command and War Office Daily Orders.

 

On Sunday we had Church Parade. Then the Colonel found some dirty harness, and he ordered harness cleaning from 6 to 8 p.m.

 

Then at a late hour we had the excitement of the bomb bursting near by, which we may consider our baptism of fire.

 

It was quite a good shot for our barracks. The bomb fell just between the lower corner of the Artillery Barracks where our Battery has its quarters and the road in which I am billeted.  A portion of the bomb was found in this road, and mine host declares that a portion of lead from his roof came down.  I was not in my billet at the time, but was in another part of the town, so I did not hear much of the noise.

To night there is not a light to be seen anywhere. I hear a rumour that there are seven airships over Ipswich, but I have my doubts.

 

The other morning in the dim light of dawn I had to go down to the station to detrain a large number of kicking horses, which made me tear my hair until I managed to see the funny side of it, but my sense of humour took a long time to operate.  Now we have a lot of vicious mules for the Ammunition Column, and some of the Battery wagons.

 

I expect leave will be hard to get now in case of emergency parades.

 

The 10th Fusiliers move tomorrow to Andover.