38th Division No. G.S.81 30 August 1917

SECRET. R.A., 38th Division No. G.S.81

O.C.
RIGHT GROUP
—————————–

Reference XIVth Corps R.A. No. 685/1/94 paras 4 and 5:-
2 Batteries of 76th Brigade will be withdrawn on night 30/31st August, and the remaining 2 on night 31st August/ 1st September.

1 Battery 122nd Brigade and “C”/121 will go into action on night 30/31st August, and the remaining 2 batteries of 122nd Brigade on night 31st August/ 1st September.

J.E. Marston
Captain R.A.
Brigade Major Right Artillery.
30 Aug 1917

Copies to:-
Left Group.
38th Division.
XIV Corps R.A.
XIV Corps H.A.
20th Div. Arty.
“Q” Group.

20TH DIVISION OPERATION ORDER NO 90. 27 August 1917

SECRET. Copy No……
27th August 1916.

REVISED COPY – FOR REFERENCE ONLY.

20TH DIVISION OPERATION ORDER NO 90.

Reference –
Trench Map, LONGUEVAL Sheet 57c, S.W. – 1/10,000
GINCHY-GUILLEMONT Map 1/5,000

Attack 1. The Fourth Army in conjunction with the French is renewing the attack on September 3rd at an hour ZERO to be named later.

Corps objective. 2. The XIV Corps is to clear GUILLEMONT and establish itself on the line FALFEMONT Farm – WEDGE WOOD – GINCHY Road up to T.20.a.1.5.
This attack will be carried out by the 20th Division on the left and the 5th Division on the right.

5th Division Objective 3. The 5th Division will attack FALFEMONT FARM and the trenches to the South of it up to point 48 at 9.0 a.m.

Objective, 20th Division. 4. The 20th Division will capture GUILLEMONT, clear it and then establish itself on the WEDGEWOOD-GINCHY Road from T.26.a.1.7. on the right to T.20.a.1.5. on the left. Finally it will establish itself on a line – N.W. corner of LEUZE WOOD T.26.b.8.8½. (exclusive) – T.20.a.6.5. where touch will be established with the 5th and 7th Divisions respectively.

Boundaries between divisions. 5. The dividing line between the 20th and 5th Divisions will be:-
S.30.d.5.8 ½. – T.25.a.3½.2. – Strong Point T.25.b.1.5. (inclusive to 20th Division) T.26.a.1.7. – N.W. corner LEUZE WOOD T.26.b.8.8 ½.
The dividing line between the 20th and 7th Divisions will be:-
S.24.b.8½. – T.19.b.2.6. – T.20.a.1.5. – 6.5.

Boundaries between Brigades. 6. The 59th Infantry Brigade and 1 Battalion 60th Infantry Brigade will attack on the right and the 47th Infantry Brigade on the left.
The dividing line between the 59th and 47th Infantry Brigades will be:-
S.24.d.7.1 ½. – Road junction T.20.d.2 ½.5½. – GUILLEMONT – COMBLES Road to T.20.d.2½.5½. (latter point inclusive to right Brigade).

Brigades’ objectives. 7. The objectives allotted to the Brigades are as follows and shewn on the attached map marked ”A” –
(a) 59th Infantry Brigade.
1st Objective – German trenches in Sunken Road from T.25.a.3 ½.3. to T.25.a.2.7½. thence North to MOUNT STREET.

2nd objective. – Trench junction T.25.b.1.4½. (incl) thence SOUTH STREET as far as MOUNT STREET.

3rd objective. – WEDGE WOOD – GINCHY Road from T.26.a.1.7.to cross roads T.20.c.1½.4 ½. (incl) touch being established with 5th Division and the right and 47th Infantry Brigade on the left.

4th objective. – N.W. corner LEUZE WOOD (exclusive), T.26.b.8.8 ½. – GUILLEMONT – COMBLES Road – T.20.d.2½.5½. (incl).

(b) 47th Infantry Brigade.
1st objective – MOUNT STREET at T.19.c.2.2. – Eastern end of QUARRIES – thence German trench to T.19.c.2½.9. – thence BROMPTON Road to T.19.a.8.2. – T.19.a.9.1.

2nd objective – NORTH STREET – T.19.a.9.1. – GINCHY Road, including buildings South of road T.19.c.9.9., – to T.19.b.2.6. where touch will be established with the 7th Divn.

3rd objective – WEDGE WOOD – GINCHY ROAD from cross roads T.20.c.1½.4 ½. (excl) to T.20.a.1.5., where touch will be established with 7th Division.

4th objective – T.20.d.2½.5½. (excl) – T.20.a.6.5.

(c) The advance from the first to the second objective will commence at 0 plus 50.
The advance from the second to the third objective will commence at 0 plus 2 hours.
The advance from the third to the fourth objective will commence at 0 plus 2 hours 45 minutes.
Consolidation of gains.
(d) On gaining each objective they will be consolidated and strong points will be established at the following points:-
Right Brigade.
On 2nd objective – T.25.b.1.5.
T.25.b.1.9.
On 3rd objective – T.20.c.1 ½.4½. and CEMETERY, T.19.d.7.3.
On 4th objective – QUARRY T.20.d.2.1.
Road T.20.d.2.5.
Left Brigade
On 1st objective – QUARRIES.
T.19.a.5½.½.
T.19.a.9.1. to 8.2.
On 2nd objective – T.19.c.9.4.
On 3rd objective – T.20.a.1.2.
On 4th objective – Trench junction T.20.a.6.5.
Reserve at disposal of Brigades (e) Immediately the objectives are reached Bdes will push forward patrols to establish under cover of these patrols a line in touch with Divs on the Right and Left as near as possible to the German positions.

(f) For the capture of the 3rd objective 2 bns of the 61st Inf Bde in reserve will be available to be placed at the disposal of 59th and 47th Bdes if required (para 11) but these Bdes will make their preparations for capturing the 3rd objective without having to call on the reserve.

(g) It may be necessary to employ the two rear battalions of the Divisional Reserve for the final objective, but this will depend on whether the 59th and 47th Brigades have used the two Reserve Battalions from the Divisional Reserve to gain the 3rd objective.

Bombardment 8. (a) The attack will be preceded by a bombardment by heavy artillery, commencing at 8 a.m. on morning of September 2nd.
(b) During this bombardment certain trenches may have to be cleared from time to time and arrangements for this will be made between XIV Corps H. A. and 20th Division.
Barrages (c) Fifty per cent of the Field Artillery guns in the division will be employed for stationary barrages and 50 per cent for rolling barrages.
Details of the stationary barrages are shewn on the attached map marked “B”.
(d) At Zero an intense Field Artillery barrage will open on the first objective. This barrage will lift as shewn on the attached map marked ”B”. At the same hour a creeping barrage will be opened one hundred yards in front of the infantry and will advance at the rate of fifty yards per minute in front of the infantry until the objective is reached. When this barrage has passed 200 yards beyond the objective it will become stationary.
Whenever the creeping barrage reaches the stationary barrage, the stationary barrage will lift on to the next barrage line, i.e. the next colour in front of it on the map.
An intensive rate will be continued for fifteen minutes when fire will drop to two rounds a minute per gun.
The barrage on BROMPTON ROAD, objective of Left Battalion, Left Brigade, will lift at ZERO 4 in stead of ZERO 3. the remainder of the barrage will lift at ZERO 3 as ordered.

(e)At the hour of Zero, all heavy howitzers will lift from GUILLEMONT.

Six inch howitzers will continue on the objectives in GUILLEMONT, east of GREEN STREET, HILL STREET and the German trench line from T.25.a.8.7½. to WEDGE WOOD.
(f) At Zero plus 50 the Field Artillery barrage will again become intensive and the infantry will advance to their 2nd objective, and the same procedure as ordered in para. (d) will again be followed.
An intensive rate will be continued for fifteen minutes, when fire will drop to two rounds a minute per gun.

(g) The heavy howitzers and six inch howitzers will, after zero plus 50, not fire on any parts of the third objective except the CEMETERY, and WEDGE WOOD – GUILLEMONT Road, between T.26.a.1.1. and T.20.a.1.5.

(h) At zero plus two hours the Field Artillery barrage will again become intensive and the infantry will advance to the third objective.

(i) The barrage on WEDGE WOOD – GINCHY Road in front of 20th Division will lift at 2 hours 15 minutes and not at 2 hours 25 minutes as shewn on Map ”B”.

An intense rate of fire will be maintained for 25 minutes.

(j) To enable the 4th attack to be made the barrage will again become intensive at Zero plus 2 hours 45 minutes. The creeping barrage will advance at the rate of 50 yards per minute until it has passed 200 yards beyond its final objective.

(k) Detailed orders for the action of the Field Artillery will be issued by the C.R.A. 24th Division (attached to 20th Division).

The movements of the Infantry will conform to the rolling barrages, it being essential that they get up close under the barrage and move along under it.

Pusher mine etc. 9 A “pusher” mine under the strong point at S.30.b.7.1. will be exploded at 0 – 10 seconds and the Flammenwerfer will open fire at the same hour if in position. The front trench will be cleared for 20 yards on either side of SCOTTISH LANE.

R.E. and Pioneers 10. The 96th Field Coy. R.E. and one Coy. Pioneers are placed at the disposal of the G.O.C. 59th Infantry Brigade and 83rd Field Coy. and 1 Coy. of Pioneers at the disposal of G.O.C. 47th Infantry Brigade.
These troops will be used mainly for the construction of strong points and for connecting back the various objectives with communication trenches.

Machine Guns 11. Brigadiers will select positions for their machine guns to cover the advance with either direct or indirect fire.
The 61st Machine Gun Company will also co-operate in the attack by bringing direct and indirect machine gun fire on to the enemy’s approaches to the objectives.

Divl Reserve. 12. The Divl. Reserve will consist of:-
61st Inf. Bde. – Headquarters S.28.b.6.7.
60th Bde. (less one Battn) – H.Qrs. The Craters.
11th Durham L.I. (Pioneers) less 2 Coys.) Trenches W. edge of
84th Field Coy R.E. )BERNAFAY WOOD
)S.28.b.4.0.

At Zero the G.O.C. 61st Inf. Brigade will send 2 Bns. forward to occupy trenches vacated by 59th and 47th Infantry Brigades near the front line. The two Bns. will be prepared to carry out the attack on the 3rd objective from the 2nd objective at 0 2 hours, for which purpose one bn would be placed at disposal of G.O.C. 59th and G.O.C. 47th Inf. Bdes. Respectively.

The G.O.C. 61st Inf. Brigade will keep in close touch with the 59th and 47th Infantry Brigades and will be prepared to act on his own initiative failing communication with Divisional Headquarters.

Note. ADD. Within the boundaries of GUILLEMONT Village creeping barrages will advance at the rate of 100 yards per 4 minutes.

(a) The 60th Inf. Bde. will not move forward from the CRATERS until ordered to do so by Divisional Headquarters.

(b) This Brigade will keep the closest touch with the 61st Inf. Bde. and will be prepared to occupy the trenches vacated by the 61st Inf. Bde. as the latter moves forward from its first battle position.

(c) The 60th Inf. Bde. will not be used except to resist a counter attack on the final objective or to meet any sudden emergency.

(d) The Brigadier, O.Cs. Battns. and Signalling Officers must reconnoitre all the approaches to GUILLEMONT and the several objectives.

(e) G.Os.C. 60th and 61st Inf. Bdes. will detail liaison officers who will move with Brigade H.Qrs.

(f) Visual signalling must be established between the two Brigades.

Aeroplane Co-operation. 13. The 9th Squadron R.F.C. will have two contact aeroplanes in the air from ZERO until three and a half hours after ZERO; after that one contact aeroplane until dark on September 3rd.
On the 4th September they will detail one contact aeroplane from 5.30 a.m. to 8 a.m.

Flares will be lit as follows:-
(a) On attaining each objective.
(b) At 7 p.m. September 3rd.
(c) At 6 a.m. September 4th.

The contact aeroplanes may be recognised by their markings of two long blue streamers, one attached to the end of each plane, and two transverse black bands on the plane, one near each end of the coloured circles.

YELLOW flares will be used, as it is believed the Germans may use RED to mislead us.

Tools for assaulting parties. 14. At least 40 per cent of the attacking Coys. will carry picks and shovels in the proportion of one pick to one shovel.
Men assaulting will not carry more than 120 rounds of ammunition.

Prisoners. 15. All prisoners will be sent to the Divisional Collecting Station at CRATER POST (A.8.a.8.3.) where they will be searched under arrangements of the A.P.M. 20th Divn.
From where they will be marched to the Advanced Corps Cage (F.23.d.0.4.) for preliminary examination.

Medical. 16. Separate detailed instructions have been issued with regard to medical arrangements.
Bearer Posts.
Left Brigade – BERNAFAY WOOD – S.22.d.9.1.
Right Brigade – BRIQUETERIE, A.4.b.5.3.

Adv. Dressing Station – CARNOY A.13.d.3.8.
Walking Cases. Through MONTAUBAN or BRIQUETERIE to A.D.S.

Reports. 17. Reports as to position and progress will be sent every ½ hour after ZERO unless runners and pigeons are the only means of communication, in which case information will be sent as often as possible. In any case important information will be sent at once.
Negative reports are required.

Distinguishing Badges. 18. Runners will wear distinguishing badges on their shoulder straps as follows:-
20th Division – BLUE.
47th Inf. Bde. – GREEN.
Orders will be issued to all control sentries to pass through priority all men wearing these badges.

Time. 19. Watches will be synchronised at 6.0 p.m., on 2nd September and 6.0 a.m. and 9.0 a.m. on September 3rd.
D.H.Qrs. 20. On the capture of the final objective, 20th Divl, H.Qrs will move forward to the BRIQUETERIE.
21. Acknowledge.

(sd) C.A. MILWARD, Major, for Lieut.Colonel,
General Staff, 20th Division.

Issued at

Copies to
1 XIV Corps (G),
2 XIV Corps (Q),
3 5th Division,
4 7th Division
5 16th Division,
6 C.R.A. 24th Division,
7 C.R.A. 6th Division,
8 C.R.E.
9 59th Inf. Brigade,
10 60th Inf. Brigade,
11 61st Inf Bde.
12 11th Durham L.I.,
13 A.D.M.S.
14 A.A. & Q.M.G.
15 A.P.M.
16 XIV Corps H.A.
17 20th Signal Coy.
18 9th Squadron R.F.C.
19/22 Retained.
47th Infantry Brigade.

53 Infantry Brigade lessons learnt from Recent Operations 27 August 1917

53 Infantry Brigade lessons learnt from Recent Operations 27 August 1917

Appendix “A”
LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE RECENT OPERATIONS.

1. Inadvisability of “long” objectives owing to the confusion and exhaustion of the troops which render them specially vulnerable to enemy counter-attacks.

2. Necessity for the greatest attention being paid to the training of Coy and Platoon Commanders in leadership. Battles are now more than ever “battles of the Coy and Platoon Commanders”. The counter-attack of “B” and “C” Coys 8th Bn. Norfolk Regt. on J.14.a.3.3. on the 11th August, is a good example of the results of good leadership by subordinate Commanders.

3. Necessity for Reserves to be well forward, otherwise they cannot be got up in time.

4. Necessity for immediate re-organization when an attack has failed. Troops who have crowded into trenches must be thinned out at once and re-formed.

5. More initiative required in gaining ground by means of pushing forward small parties covered by the fire of M.Gs, L.Gs riflemen and rifle bombers. Greater activity in sniping required. The 6th R. Berks R. were very active in sniping and inflicted considerable losses on the enemy in GLENCOURSE WOOD.

6. The rapid exhaustion of troops is a factor which must be reckoned with. This is caused by:-
(a) The long distances troops have to march from rest areas.
(b) The lack of accommodation near and in the front line, and also in back areas, such as RAILWAY DUGOUTS, RITZ ST. etc.
(c) The heavy shelling of back areas which prevent troops getting any rest.
(d) The condition of the country which is much torn up, and is very marshy in places.
This physical exhaustion affects the moral of the troops when they are counter-attacked. It also renders their efforts at consolidation of any ground won somewhat feeble.
On this account I advocate the sending up of special consolidating parties of infantry if necessary, as well as R.E. and Pioneers. These should construct S.Ps and trenches to form a Main Line of Defence, a short distance in rear of the line held by the most advanced troops provided that the tactical siting of these is suitable.
7. If an attack has once failed, it is no good launching another without adequate preparation. Fresh troops will probably have to be used.

8. Necessity of good communications: roads and duck-board tracks.

9. Owing to the heavy shelling, it was found impossible to maintain communications by telephone forward of Brigade H.Q.
Power Buzzers were not a success owing to the fact that no suitable dugout existed in the forward area.
Visual signalling was fairly successful, but owing to the shell bursts, dust and smoke, it was unreliable. The Forward Stations were at times heavily shelled, and this interrupted communication by this method.
In future operations it will be necessary to rely largely on runners, signal rockets and pigeons.
The German method of showing the positions of advanced troops by means of white strips might be tried.

10. An increase of heavy guns for counter-battery work is recommended.

11. Special Lewis guns should be provided to deal with enemy aircraft flying low over our front lines: these cannot be dealt with by anti-aircraft guns. They might however be fired on by field hows., in the same manner as the enemy does when our planes are flying low.

12. The effect of the enemy gas shells is most trying to troops. Even if few casualties are caused, the troops are prevented from getting rest, working and ration parties are delayed, reliefs are rendered more difficult etc. The effect of our gas appliances on the enemy must be similar. A greatly increased use of gas on our part in recommended.

13. The bombing raids carried out at night by the enemy aircraft on areas just in rear of the forward area are very disturbing to troops, and prevent them getting a good rest. The work carried out by our air service in this respect is beyond all praise. When however, we are in a position to send over nightly large numbers of aircraft to bomb the enemy’s back areas continuously and harass his marching columns and camps with M.G. fire, it will have a very great effect on the moral and efficiency of his troops, and the results should be far reaching.

14. The provision of dugouts for troops in the forward area is a matter of urgency.
Brigadier General
Commanding 53rd Infantry Brigade.
Aug. 27th 1917.

53 Infantry Brigade Narrative of Operations 26 August 1917

53 Infantry Brigade Narrative of Operations 26 August 1917

Ref. Map. HOOGE. 1/10.000.
53rd Inf Bde No. C 703

53RD INFANTRY BRIGADE NARRATIVE
OF OPERATIONS 9TH TO 18TH AUG. 17

Situation.
9th August. 1. At 12 noon 9th August, the 53rd Infantry Bde was disposed as follows:-

Bde. H.Q. )
8th Norf. R. ) CANAL RESERVE CAMP.
53rd T.M.B. )

8th Suff. R. NEW DICKEBUSCH CAMP.

10th Essex R. ) DICKEBUSCH HUTS.
53rd M.G. Coy. )

6th R. Berks. R. CHATEAU SEGARD.

Aug 10th 2. At 3.39 p.m. the 53rd Inf. Bde received orders to relieve the 54th Inf. Bde. And the 55th Inf. Bde. (less 2 Cos. 7th R.W. Kent R. in CRAB CRAWL) in the line on the night 10/11th August.
Orders were immediately issued for :-the 10th Essex R. to take over the line from J.19.b.9.9. to J.13.d.9.9. (YPRES-MENIN Rd. inclusive) from 7th Queens R.
The 8th Norf R. to take over the line from J.13.d.9.9. (YPRES-MENIN Rd. inclusive) to J.14.a.5.6. from 11th R. Fus. and 7th Bedford R.
The 6th R. Berks R. to take over the line from J.14.a.5.6. – J.14.a.8.4. – J.14.b.4.5. – J.8.c.7.3. from 7th Bedford R.
8th Suff. R. and 53rd T.M.B. to move to CHATEAU SEGARD Area.
53rd M.G.C. 3 Secs. employed on barrage fire on the 10th., to move back to DICKEBUSCH HUTS to refit. 1 Sec to move up early on morning of 11th to take over from 54th M.G.C. in left Sector of the line.
C.Os., Coy. Commanders and Advanced Parties of 8th Norf. R. and 6th R. Berks. R. moved forward at once, and reported at H.Q. 54th Inf. Bde. In RIDGE ST.
Similar details of 10th Essex R. reported at H.Q. 55th Inf. Bde. At DORMY HOUSE.
At 7 p.m. H.Q. 53rd Inf. Bde arrived at H.Q. 54th Inf. Bde. At this moment the S.O.S. Signal was sent up in front and the enemy were reported to be counter-attacking GLENCOURSE WOOD which was held by the 7th Bedford R.
G.O.C. 53rd Inf. Bde. At once placed 8th Norf. R. and 6th R. Berks. R. who had arrived in the RITZ ST Area, under the orders of G.O.C. 54th Inf. Bde. Who ordered 1 Coy of each Bn to move forward to re-inforce 7th Bedford R. and 11th R. Fus.: these 2 Coys were shortly afterwards re-inforced by 2 more (1 from 8th Norf. R. and 1 from 6th R. Berks. R.)
Information regarding the situation on the 54th Inf. Bde. Front was not very definite.
H.Q. 53rd Inf. Bde. Then proceeded to H.Q. 55th Inf. Bde. At DORMY HOUSE.

Aug 11th. 3. At 12.11, 11th Aug a message was received from 6th R. Berks. R. timed at 9.40 p.m. 10th Aug stating that the situation was somewhat obscure on their front but that our troops were still holding JARGON TR. and S.P. J.14.a.8.8.
At 4.20 a.m. a message from 8th Suff. R. timed at 3.15 a.m. was received stating that the Bn had arrived in RITZ ST Area.
At 8.31 a.m. a report timed at 2.15 a.m. was received from 6th R. Berks R. stating they had relieved relief 7th Bedford R. on the line of JARGON TR (J.14.a.5.5. to J.8.c.4.2.).
At 8.54 a.m. a message received timed 8.20 a.m. from 8th Norf. R. stating relief was complete: a further message timed at 3.15 a.m. was received at 7.1 a.m. stating relief was complete at 2.30 a.m.
At 6.34 a.m. a message by runner from the 8th Norf. R. timed at 5.50 a.m., reported S.P. J.14.a.3.3. had been re-captured by the enemy.
Orders were immediately issued by Bde for a counter-attack on this S.P.
At 7.35 a.m. message timed at 6.55 a.m. was received from 10th Essex R. reporting relief complete 6 a.m.
At about 9 a.m. the Brigade Major returned from the front with the news that the S.P. at J.14.a.3.3. had been retaken by the 8th Norf. R., and the line re-established.

The following is a brief account of the loss of the S.P at J.14.a.3.3. and its re-capture by the 8th Norf. R.

At about 4.15 a.m. the enemy opener a light barrage on the front line which had just been taken over by this Battalion. At 4.30 a.m. the barrage became intense and the enemy delivered a strong counter-attack. Shortly after this attack developed, the O.C. 11th R. Fus who had remained at Bn H.Q., received a report that the enemy had penetrated our line just S. of the S.P. J.14.a.3.3. which was held by elements of his battalion and the 7th Bedford R., who had not been relieved owing to the darkness. The S.O.S. signal had been sent up at 4.55 a.m. and Lieut. Col. FERGUSON D.S.O. O/C 8th Norf. R., had thereforeupon ordered 1 Company to be prepared to counter-attack immediately. A message was just then received from the Sergeant Commanding the Right Platoon of the Company holding the line W. of J.14.a.3.3. stating that his right flank had been pushed back, but that the left of the Coy was still holding on. The O.C. 8th Norf. R. having reconnoitred the position, found that the enemy were in possession of the S.P. and had brought 4 M.Gs into action and were in considerable strength. He therefore issued orders for 1 Coy to attack from the direction of SURBITON VILLAS, and 1 Coy to move up towards CLAPHAM JUNCTION and strike the enemy on his left flank. The attack to be carried out under cover of fire from Lewis Guns and snipers. The 6th R. Berks R. also were to assist in the attack by covering fire from the North.
This counter-attack was launched at 5.25 a.m,. and the position was again in our hands at 6 a.m. together with 9 prisoners, 2 of our M.Gs, and some of our troops who had been captured by the enemy were retaken.
This attack was carried out over a distance of some 600 yards of very rough and shell torn ground, the whole of which is dominated by this S.P. at J.14.a.3.3.
Captain J.D. CROSTHWAITE, Brigade Major, was an eye witness of the attack which he describes as having been carried out in a most daring and gallant manner. It was carried out without any artillery preparation and entirely on the initiative of the Commanders on the spot. The assaulting troops advanced by rushes under the cover of fire from Lewis Guns and rifles. The enemy losses were heavy: I myself saw a considerable number of dead Huns when I visited the S.P. afterwards.
I desire to record my appreciation of the able manner in which Lieut. Col. H.. de L. FERGUSON, D.S.O. O.C. 8th Norf R. handled the situation, and the splendid manner in which the assault was carried out. The leadership of the Officers and N.C.Os and the gallantry of all ranks in the assaulting Coys was worthy of the highest praise.
Unfortunately both Company Commanders of these Coys were hit, Captain W. BUNTING, M.C. being killed and Captain F.J. MORGAN, D.S.O. being severely wounded.

At 9.30 a.m. the Brigade Commander went forward to see C.Os, returning at 12.30 p.m.
At 10.15 a.m. orders were issued for the 10th Essex R., 8th Norf. R. and 6th R. Berks R. to attack at 4.25 a.m. on the 12th and capture the line:- J.14.c.10.05. – J.14,c.45. – J.14.c.67. – J.14.c.86. –J.14.b.0.1. – J.14.b.2.3.- J.14.b.28. – J.8.c.62.
At 1.25 p.m. message timed 12.15 p.m. from 8th Norf. R., stated S.P. J.14.a.3.3. re-captured at 6 a.m. Bn has 3 Coys in line from J.13.d.8.9. to J.14.a.45.55. 1 Coy about SURBITON VILLAS.
Divisional Commander visited Brigade H.Q. about 1.30 p.m. and left about 3.30 p.m.
1.30 p.m. 8th Suff. R. ordered to attack to-morrow morning instead of 8th Norf. R. who had lost heavily especially in Officers.
At 8.15 p.m. report timed 7.30 p.m. received from 8th Norf. R. stated that enemy counter-attack failed but that our artillery were slow in responding to S.O.S. Signals.
DORMY HOUSE and RITZ ST. Area heavily shelled from about 4 p.m. till about 7 p.m.
At 11.30 p.m. Gas Cylinders were discharged by us into the CHATEAU HERENTHAGE Area.
Heavy thundershowers during the early part of the night.

Aug 12th. 4. At 4.25 a.m. our barrage opened. It was a perfect morning and the light just right.
About 4.45 a.m. Lieut. Col. CLARKE Artillery Liaison Officer, reported he had just received a message from his F.O.O. stating “CIVIC Order No 93 cancelled”. Nothing was known about this at Brigade H.Q. and no such order had been issued by Brigade.
At 5.45 a.m. a message from 8th Suff R. timed 4.45 a.m. was received stating that assaulting Coys had lost their way and had failed to form up, and attack had therefore been cancelled. A Visual message to this effect had been despatched at 3.25 a.m. but had not reached Brigade.
The following is briefly the narrative of the movements of the two assaulting Coys of the 8th Suff R. who failed to reach the position of assembly.
Early in the afternoon of the 11th Aug Coy Commanders and guides from these Coys proceeded forward to reconnoitre.
The Coys were to have moved up at 5 p.m.
As the enemy shelled the RITZ ST Area heavily all the afternoon, Col HILL decided to move the Coys up later in order to avoid casualties. About 7 p.m. as these Coys were starting off, an enemy aeroplane came over flying low over SANCTUARY WOOD, and seeing some artillery horses in the Wood, dropped lights whereupon the enemy opened a heavy barrage on the Valley. In order to avoid this, the Coys moved towards HOOGE instead of going through the Wood. It was dark by the time they reached the YPRES- MENIN Road and they lost their way and failed to meet the guides who were waiting to take them up to the position of assembly.
The road is unrecognisable as a road at the point where they struck it, and they got into CHATEAU WOOD. It was not until daylight that they were able to find out their position.

5. At 6.50 a.m. Division asked whether it would be possible to carry out the attack in the afternoon. Brigade Commander replied “No” as it would not be possible to form up unobserved, but that Brigade were prepared to carry it out on the morning of the 13th , although the troops would be very tired by them.
At 11 a.m. Brigade ordered 8th Suff R. to relieve 8th Norf R. in the line on the night 12/13th .
At 12 noon Division ordered 7th Bedford R. to be placed under orders of 53rd Inf Bde and 7th R.W. Kents to be withdrawn.
At 1.5 p.m. Division ordered the attack proposed for morning of 13th to be cancelled.
At 1.15 p.m. orders received that 169th Inf Bde were to take over 53rd Inf Bde front between SURBITON VILLAS – BLACK WATCH CORNER Road (inclusive) and the Road running from HOOGE CHATEAU, along the Northern edge of GLENCOURSE WOOD (exclusive), held by 8th Norf R. and 6th R. Berks R. on night 12/13th.
During the night 12/13th , 2 Coys 7th Bedford R. relieved 2 Coys 7th R.W. Kent R. in CRAB CRAWL. H.Q. and 2 Coys 7th Bedford R. moved up to RAILWAY DUGOUTS.

Aug 13th. About 7 p.m. 12th , Major NOSWORTHY, 11nd Corps, came into Brigade H.Q. and informed the Brigade Commander that the Brigade would be required to attack on the 16th: the latter pointed out that the Brigade was not fresh enough to carry out an attack of this nature and make a really good job of it without some rest.
9th and 16th Bns London R. relieved 8th Norf R. and 6th R. Berks R. in the line during the night: relief completed by 6 a.m. 13th Aug.
Aug 13th. The Brigade Commander went up to reconnoitre the line.
S.P. J.14.a.3.3. was wired by the 79th Field Coy R.E. during the night.
Information from Division stated that Brigade would probably not be required to attack but only to hold the line.
At 10 a.m. the Brigade came under orders of 56th Division.
At 12 noon the Divisional Commander 56th Division, held a Conference at HALFWAY HOUSE, at which the operations ordered for the 16th were discussed. The Brigade Commander pointed out that 53rd Inf Bde were not fresh and that Battalions were not fit to carry out the attack except on a small scale. It was decided that the 7th Bedford R. should carry out the attack on the enemy S.P. at the N.W. corner of INVERNESS COPSE, and that the 8th Norf R. should attack S. of GLENCOURSE WOOD, and form a line of S.Ps from the N.W. corner of INVERNESS COPSE to J.15.a.1.2.
Brigade Commander saw O.C. 8th Norf. R. in the afternoon, and the latter informed him that owing to the heavy losses sustained by the Bn in Officers and N.C.Os he did not feel that his Bn would be fit to carry out the operation.

Aug 14th 7. During the night 13th/14th DORMY HOUSE and vicinity was heavily shelled: gas shells were also sent over and between 1.30 a.m. and 5 a.m. it was impossible to do any work in the Brigade H.Q. dug-out. 8th Norf. R. had 7 casualties amongst Officers during the night, a gas shell having penetrated and burst in a dugout occupied by these Officers.
B.G.G.S. IInd Corps visited Brigade Commander and the latter gave his opinion that the Bns of the 53rd Inf Bde were not fresh enough to carry out an attack.
The Brigade Commander attended a Conference held by Divisional Commander 56th Division at 10 a.m. at HALFWAY HOUSE.
Brigade Commander reported state of 8th Norf. R. and that he did not know how fit the 12th Middlesex R. (54th Inf Bde) was, but that this latter Battalion was very tired when it went out of the line.
It was then decided to place the 1/4th London R. under orders of the 53rd Inf Bde as well as the 12th Middlesex R.
The O.C. 1/4th London R. (Lt. Col. Campbell) was wounded on his way up in the afternoon to see Brigade Commander.
7th Bedford R. relieved 10th Essex R. in the Right Subsector, and 6th R. Berks R. relieved 8th Suff R. in the Left Subsector.
4.5” Hows bombarded N.W. corner of INVERNESS COPSE. About 15 Huns bolted from the concrete emplacement, but the emplacement itself was not destroyed.

Disposition of 53rd Inf Bde 12 mn 14th /15th Aug.

Right subsector ) 7th Bedford R.
J.19.d.9.9. to J.14.a.3.2. )

Left Subsector. ) 6th R. Berks R.
J.14.a.3.2. to J.13.d.9.8. )

8th Suff R. RAILWAY DUGOUTS.

10th Essex R. CRAB CRAWL.
8th Norf. R. CRAB CRAWL.
12th Middlesex R. RAILWAY DUGOUTS.
1/4th London R. CHATEAU SEGARD.

Aug 15th. 8. At 3 a.m. gas was discharged from projectors into INVERNESS COPSE.
Orders for the attack to-morrow were issued at 4.30 a.m.
At 6 a.m. 56th Division was asked to arrange for the destruction of the concrete emplacement in INVERNESS COPSE by H.A. Shoot arranged from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. This shoot did not take place.
Brigade Commander saw Officers Commanding 12th Middlesex R. and 1/4th London R., and explained the plan of operations.
1/4th London R. moved from RAILWAY DUGOUTS to Assembly Position.

Aug 16th. 9. Position of Bde at Zero Hour is as shown in para: 3 53rd Inf Bde Warning Order dated 14.8.17 (B.O. 223).

There was intense artillery activity N. of YPRES at 4.15 a.m. Our guns in the DORMY HOUSE Area were also active.
At 4.45 a.m. our barrage opened: the conditions and light were favourable.
At 6.2 a.m. 7th Bedford R. report (timed 5.40 a.m.) that their attack on the N.W. corner of INVERNESS COPSE had failed.
The assaulting Coy formed up N. and S. of JASPER LANE with its centre about J.14.c.25.55. Our shrapnel barrage is reported to have been good, but that immediately the Coy commenced to advance to close up to the shrapnel barrage, our 4.5” Hows opened short and inflicted so many casualties that the attack was broken up. The Officers of the Coy who were not casualties are positive that the shells which did the damage were not 18-pdr shells, and they state that the shells came from directly in rear of them. As the target allotted to the 4.5” Hows was at its most Western point at least 200 yards from the objective of this Coy, it seems almost impossible that it was caught in our barrage. I am inclined to think the shells were enemy 4.2” How fired from the ZANDVOORDE Group. The result however was the failure of the attack.
At 6.7 a.m. report from 1/4th London R. timed 5.30 a.m. stated that no reports from assaulting Coys had been received, but that wounded report S.P. 4 (J.14.c.65.85) was in our possession. Enemy barrage not heavy. A later message timed 5.35 a.m. (received 6.16 a.m.) stated that S.P. 4 was occupied by us and that the Bn had sustained rather heavy casualties leaving assembly area.
At 6.20 a.m. 7th Bedford R. were ordered to organise a fresh attack on the N.W. corner of INVERNESS COPSE.
The O.C. 7th Bedford R. had done so before he received the Bde Order, and reported at 6 a.m. (Received 8.3 a.m.) that the 2nd attack had failed and that he was too weak to carry out a further attempt.
At 7.50 a.m. a message timed 6.30 a.m. from 1/4th London R. stated that the Bn had gained the Brigade 2nd Objective (from J.14.d.9.2. to J.14.a.95.35.) and were in touch with 1/9th London R.
At 6.40 a.m. the Reserve Coy 12th Middlesex R. was moved forward from CRAB CRAWL to JACKDAW RESERVE.
At 7.50 a.m. 56th Division reported attack of 1/4th London R. appears to have failed. A message was therefore sent at 7.55 a.m. to 1/4th London R. ordering it to reorganise and send 1 Coy (or 2 if Companies were weak) round through GLENCOURSE WOOD to about S.P.s 10 and 11, and to attack S.P.s 5 and 6 by moving South from the Wood.
12th Middlesex were ordered to move 1 Coy to TUNNEL at CLAPHAM JUNCTION and 1 Coy to JACKDAW RESERVE.
At 8.35 a.m. 6th R. Berks R. were ordered to be prepared to support 7th Bedford R. with 2 Coys if required, as the latter Battalion was very weak.
At 9 a.m., a message from 1/4th London R. timed 8 a.m. stated “1 Officer and about 35 O.R. holding first Objective. Post 4 held by 15 men. 2nd Objective is roughly held and Post 5.”
At 9.5 a.m. however, Captain J.D. CROSTHWAITE, Brigade Major, reported from personal reconnaissance that the 1/4th London R. did not hold either the 1st or 2nd Objectives as reported by them, but that the assault had failed and they were crowded in JAP AVENUE and about J.14.a.3.2. That he had ordered them to reorganise and to push patrols out through GLENCOURSE WOOD to ascertain whether any of our troops were still on the line of JARGON TR. (J.14.d.2.9. to J.14.a.9.4.)
At 9 a.m. the situation on the Brigade front was as follows:-
7th Bedford R. and 6th R. Berks R. holding our original front line.
1/4th London R. in JAP AVENUE and about J.14.a.3.2.
12th Middlesex R:-1 Coy attached to 1/4th London R. 1 Coy CLAPHAM JUNCTION TUNNEL. 1 Coy about JACKDAW RESERVE. 1 Coy about JAM SUPPORT.
8th Norf. R. 2 Coys CRAB CRAWL. 2 Coys RAILWAY DUGOUTS.

At 9.25 a.m. 1/4th London R. was ordered to consolidate and hold the line gained, and to endeavour to gain S.P. 6 (J.14.d.3.9.) and to re-inforce S.P.s 4 and 5 if they were held by us.

At 9.45 a.m. Brigade Major again reported definitely that S.P.s 4 and 5 were not held by the 1/4th London R.
It was then evident that no further attack would have any chance of success unless carried out by a fresh Battalion. Orders were therefore issued at 10.15 a.m. for the 1/4th London R. to re-organise and reform about CLAPHAM JUNCTION, and for the 12th Middlesex R. to cover the re-organisation and relieve the 1/4th London R.
Reconnaissances made during the morning, ascertained that the N.W. corner of INVERNESS COPSE and S.P. 4 (J.14.c.6.8.) were strongly held by enemy with machine guns.
At 4.25 p.m. the following order was issued:-
1. “53rd Inf Bde will make no further attack to-day.
2. The ground gained will be consolidated, and 1/4th London R. before handing over the line, will endeavour to push down JARGON DRIVE and make good point J.14.a.6.1.
They will get touch with 169th Inf Bde who are establishing a Post at J.14.a.6.2.
They will then by means of small shell hole posts, join up JAP AVENUE with JASPER LANE to the South at J.14.c.2.6. and JARGON DRIVE at J.14.a.5.1. to the North.
3. 79th Field Coy. R.E. will construct “T” heads to the Saps in JAP AVENUE and JARGON DRIVE and wire them to-night, 12th Middlesex R. will provide covering party”.
During the day the 1/4th London R. was re-organised and partly relieved by the 12th Middlesex R. The relief of the advanced troops could not be carried till after dark: it was however, completed by 10.50 p.m., and the 1/4th London R. withdrew to CRAB CRAWL.
12th Middlesex R. also relieved 6th R. Berks. R. at 11.5 p.m.
At 8.55 p.m. 169th Inf Bde on the Left, reported they had lost Posts at J.14.a.9.3. and J.14.b.1.4. and were back in their original line.
The Brigade Major went forward again at 9 p.m. and remained in the advanced trenches all night assisting in the task of re-organising the line.
The Brigade Commander went forward as soon as it was light on the 17th. He ordered O.C. 12th Middlesex R. to thin out the troops in JAP AVENUE, to push a Post down JARGON DRIVE, and establish a line across between JAP AVENUE and JARGON DRIVE by means of posts in shell holes.

The enemy were fairly quiet during the 17th: there was the usual artillery activity on our back areas.

On the night 17th/18th Aug the Bde was relieved by the 41st Inf Bde and at 7.30 a.m. 18th Aug G.O.C. 41st Inf Bde assumed command of the line.

Brigadier General
Commanding 53rd Infantry Brigade.
Aug 26th 1917.

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.

ANTI-GAS MEASURES. 8.
(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.

LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE RECENT OPERATIONS. 25 August 1917

LESSONS LEARNT FROM THE RECENT OPERATIONS.
1. RESERVES.
(i) The necessity of distributing troops with a view to being able to meet the enemy’s counter-attacks on reaching the final objective, i.e. the provision of a reserve close in rear of the assaulting troops. When the direction of the enemy’s counter-attacks can be foreseen, this can best be done by placing the reserve on the flank where danger threatens.
(ii) In the attack on LANGEMARCK, the counter-attack was expected from the direction of POELCAPELLE, and the distribution in depth of the 60th Infantry Brigade on a one Battalion front gave the latter one Battalion to meet this eventuality. The Divisional Reserve, i.e. 2 Battalions 38th Division, and 59th Inf. Bde. (less 2 Battalions), was distributed so that two Battalions, which had moved up to the neighbourhood of STRAY FARM at Zero hour, could be brought forward to the position of assembly about AU BON GITE in, roughly, half-an-hour.

2. ENEMY STRONG POINTS.
(i) The absolute necessity of thoroughly mastering the methods to be employed in capturing isolated strong points by individual platoons and similar detachments.
(ii) All platoons in the Division had, in a short period of training prior to the attack, carried out such exercises.

3. MOPPERS-UP.
The following system was adopted as regards mopping-up, when the attacking waves were advancing through the village of LANGEMARCK.
(i) The actual attack on the village was made on a frontage of half a battalion (two companies), each Company attacking on a frontage of the platoon. The attacking companies being under strength, only consisted of three platoons each; two platoons were allotted the duty of mopping-up behind the assaulting platoon of each company; i.e. the moppers-up were 200 per cent of the attacking wave. The assaulting platoon acted as a covering party on reaching the GREEN LINE.
(ii) A special study was made of Intelligence Summaries, Aeroplane Photos, etc. before the attack, and definite orders were given to the mopping-up platoons as regards dealing with suspected dugouts, machine gun emplacements, snipers nests, etc.
(iii) Although the mopping-up platoons were supposed to advance in wave formation, the boggy and shell-pocked nature of the ground necessitated them generally moving in file.
(iv) Had the attacking companies consisted of their full complement of four platoons they would have been distributed so that one platoon attacked and three platoons mopped-up.
4. UNDERSTUDIES.
(i) Several instances occurred of sections losing their N.C.Os. and of platoons losing officer and N.C.Os. Fortunately in some cases a private came to the fore and took command with marked success.
(ii) When training, casualties to Officers and N.C.Os. should be more frequently practiced, and the command handed over to a private who has previously been marked down by his platoon or section commander as a likely leader.
(iii) The same applies to a company, the company commander becoming a casualty and the company handed over to each subaltern in turn.
(iv) It so often happens in an action that a junior officer finds himself the only officer left with a company, and unless he has had some previous experience in command, he will find it difficult to act quickly and do the right thing.

5. STAFF ORGANISATION.
(i) Every Staff Officer at Advanced Divisional Headquarters had an understudy, and work for each individual during the battle had been definitely apportioned beforehand. The organisation of the clerical staff had also been carefully arranged. Consequently there were no hitches in the General Staff work at Divisional Headquarters, and no accumulation of work; every matter was dealt with immediately it arose.
(ii) As an example; the greatest stress as regards actual operations occurred between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on August 16th, during which time the situation on the RED LINE was very obscure. Three telephones were constantly in use, and a great many telegrams were received and dispatched. It was during this period that the order for the relief of the Division by the 38th Division – to start next day – arrived. The organisation of the General Staff stood this somewhat severe test well; the operations were handled without any break, and the relief orders were duly issued at 2 a.m. on August 17th.
(iii) The Staff work of Brigades appeared to be too centralised in the Brigade Major, and on several occasions, when the latter Staff Officer was absent from his Headquarters, it was apparent that details connected with the operations, and certain facts resulting therefrom, were not generally known to the whole Brigade Staff.

6. RECONNAISSANCES BY STAFF OFFICERS.
(i) During the initial stages of an attack it is neither possible nor convenient for members of the Brigade Staff to carry out personal reconnaissances, owing to their presence being required at Brigade Headquarters for other duties.
(ii) After the last objective has been captured, however, Staff Officers should personally verify information sent to them through the Signal Service, or by Runners, in order that the exact situation may be definitely known.
(iii) On the conclusion of every battle there are periods of quietude, and opportunities frequently occur for personal reconnaissances whilst the enemy is recovering from the first effects of the attack.
(iv) Owing to the short period 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.

7. SIGNAL COMMUNICATIONS.
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 be 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 buzzer are best used for supplementing other means of a communication, when these have broken down; no attempt should be made to rely directly 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 sent 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.
8. ANTI-GAS MEASURES.
(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.

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

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

(sd) W. DOUGLAS SMITH, Major General,
Commanding 20th Division
25th August, 1917.

G.O.C.R.A. Fifth Army Artillery Barrages 25 August 1917

In Box: G.O.C.R.A. FIFTH ARMY
RA/225
SECRET.
ATTACK BARRAGES
AS MODIFIED BY THE ENEMY’S LATEST TACTICS.

1. As far as can be gathered, the comparative failure of many attacks at present is caused by one of two causes, viz:-
(a). The hostile counter attack delivered shortly after the objective is gained, causing our Infantry to fall back.
(b). M.G. fire during the advance from one objective to another and while consolidating on preliminary objectives causing our Infantry to check, allow the barrage to run away from them, thus losing all its protective value.

The first cause can be remedied by a change in our method of improvement in Infantry training.

As regards the latter cause, a modification in our present Artillery methods may enable us to deal with the matter.

2. As far as this Army is concerned there appear to be two essential differences between last year and this year.
(a). The enemy’s M.Gs. have been increased since last year but probably not in much greater proportion than the Artillery which on our part is available to deal with them, provided we recognise the principle that obliteration of trench lines is of minor importance as compared to anti-machine gun work.
(b). M.Gs. are no longer kept chiefly in deep dugouts with only a proportion in shell holes. The deep dugouts we met with last year were chiefly in the various trench line objectives, and the capture of these objectives stopped the bulk of the M.G. fire at once.
This year the dugouts are shallow and small; hence the M.Gs. can be brought out very much more quickly and the team is not impeded by the Infantry of the trench garrison trying to get out at the same time.
The M.G. shelters are moreover, chequered all over the country side.

3. These shelters are so small and so numerous that it takes up much time and an enormous expenditure of ammunition for them all to be destroyed. In some cases they are so strongly constructed that with the means at our disposal it is extremely doubtful if we can destroy them at all.
The shell craters created around them all probably in practice, counterbalance the value of the few actually destroyed.

4. Troops suffer from M.G. fire for two causes:-
(a) Failure to keep so close up to the barrage that the enemy machine gunners can be shot or bayoneted before they can get their gun into action.
(b) M.Gs. placed in depth behind our attack barrage, and firing through the barrage, often from a flank.
5. Failures have undoubtedly occurred from both causes during the recent battle – from the first cause partly owing to the fact that the whole country has been so shot to pieces that it is extremely difficult to keep any sort of formation over the cratered ground, especially so when the shell holes are filled with water.

It must be realised that this year the attacking Infantry must keep even closer to the barrage than last year, since it now takes less time for the hostile M.G. to get into action after our barrage has lifted off it.

Troops who are not prepared to suffer a certain proportion of casualties from our own barrage incur the gravest risk of being decimated by machine gun fire.
The first cause then is again a matter of Infantry training.

6. To turn to the second cause, a great point has been made this year of counter battery work, and rightly so; but without relaxing in any way whatever the vigour and determination with which this work is carried out during the preparatory period it is possible that a waste of power takes place during the actual period of attack.

Our universal experience in past and present battles has been that the hostile artillery may be dangerous when
(a). Troops are forming up, if the intention to attack is discovered by the enemy.
(b). Possibly during a long halt on a subsidiary objective if the enemy has time to find out where our own and his Infantry are.
(c). When we have reached and settled down on our final objective.

The occasions when he has been dangerous during the progress of the actual attack are exceedingly rare, particularly if such attack is on a large scale. Incidentally, on these occasions, it will generally be found that the C.B. work during the preparatory period has been ineffective.

7. The M.G. however, is exactly the opposite. It is dangerous only during the advance and during the preliminary stages of consolidation.

8. Therefore, from about zero plus 15 minutes onwards until such time as our troops have established themselves finally, it would appear that a large proportion of the counter battery guns and a certain number of the howitzers should now be put into the barrage in order to give it both strength as well as depth.
Our barrages at present are deep, but the more advanced portions are apt to be weak.

9. These counter battery guns will return to counter battery work as soon as the Infantry have reached and established themselves on the final objective.

It will probably be advisable to bring them temporarily back in this manner during the stages of a long halt on a subsidiary objective. This can be worked out on a time table if found necessary. A forward counter battery O.P. should be established wherever possible.

This O.P. should be sited where the subsidiary objective can be seen, and the Officer in charge, specially selected for the purpose, be made responsible for reporting at once if the hostile shelling on the subsidiary objective in his opinion was sufficient to warrant the withdrawal of the counter battery guns back to C.B. work. This will be a difficult matter owing to it being often very hard at times to distinguish between the enemy’s shell and our own, and consequently the officer in charge should be selected for his general reliability.

10. The attack barrage will then be organised in depth in four zones, which for descriptive purposes may be called:-
No. 1 The main creeping barrage.
No. 2 The “Combing” barrage.
No. 3 The “Neutralizing” barrage.
No. 4 The “Standing” barrage.

11. The “Creeping” barrage will follow normal lines as at present and consist of the major proportion of the 18-pounders.

12. The “Combing” barrage will consist as at present of the 4.5” Howitzers and a portion of the 18-pdrs. be placed as at present in advance of the “Creeping” barrage, and while dwelling on strong points working up communication trenches etc., be at the same time organised in depth.
The fire should not follow an even cadence and should not lift in regular lines, but be so manipulated that a hostile machine gunner is unable to realise that a lift has taken place and the last shell of the barrage has passed over him.

13. The “Neutralizing” barrage will similarly be organised in depth (from 500 to 1,000 yards), will consist of the 6” Howitzer with non-delay fuzes and the larger proportion of the available 60-pdr guns, and will search the ground behind the “combing” barrage. This fire will similarly be irregular. Its main object will be to search out and neutralise all distant machine guns that may be placed to fire through our “creeping” barrage once the advance has begun.

Special attention must be paid to localities from which flanking machine gun fire can be brought to bear over our front of attack.

All the three foregoing barrages will roll back according to a time table, the main principle being that there should always be searching fire up to 2,000 yards in front of our advancing Infantry.

14. The “Standing” barrage will consist of the heavy Howitzers using non-delay fuzes and a portion of the available 60-pdr guns.
Its object will be to search out for and break up any formed bodies of enemy troops held back for immediate counter attack.
With this object it will from its commencement be placed well back beyond the final objective and come down on all valleys, ravines, woods, hutments, etc., in fact all areas or localities likely to shelter formed bodies. A close study of the map and the enemy’s general dispositions will be necessary in order to place this barrage correctly.

Pin point shooting is unnecessary and persistent and continuous shelling of any one spot (except in case of it being desired to deny the use of some particular route) is useless as the enemy merely avoids that spot – the fire should “search” and “sweep” definite areas.

15. The barrages should search all ground whether seen or unseen as an indirect M.G. barrage may be nearly as dangerous as an aimed one.

In the smoke and dust of a battle it is doubtful if much of the enemy’s back M.G. fire can be aimed.

16. If, as appears to be the case, the enemy put their machine gun fire just this side of our creeping barrage it may be advisable to make No. 1 (Creeping) barrage into a double one with one-third of the 18-pdrs. 200 yards in front of the other two-thirds. This with a view to inducing the enemy to mistake the front one for the real one close behind which the Infantry are advancing.

17. Each operation must, of course be treated on its merits and a varying distribution of guns to the different barrages and also of the depth of the barrages be made in each case according to local circumstances and the accuracy and extent of the information available as to the enemy’s dispositions.

(Sd) H. UNIACKE, Major General
G.O.C., R.A., Fifth Army
25th August 1917.