Record of the XIth (Service) Battalion (Lonsdale) - Appendix A
Extracts from note for officers and NCO's
(Dated 14/3/16, signed by O.C. Battn.)
Objectives of recent German raids
1. To practise his artillery, and see how much ammunition may be required for a big attack.
(a) D.2 6000 shells fired over a long period and on a wide front.
(b) E. 5000 shells over a shorter period and a narrower front. (The Germans are learning something).
(c) F.2 3000 shells on a narrower front and in less time. (The Germans had learnt more).
(d) D.3 Smaller front and was repulsed.
2. To observe results of artillery fire on real trenches. Our wire was so weak that he did not trouble to cut it, allowing himself only half an hour of daylight to do his job.
3. To teach his infantry to co-operate with artillery in a future big attack. This teaching was done by demonstration and was successful.
4. Retaliation for successful British cutting-out expeditions elsewhere.
5. To obtain definite information.
1. Sentries, replaced as required, much keep watch in spite of shells, and look out carefully for the artillery “lift”. The instant the “lift” takes place, sentries will pass the word, and every available man will at once “stand to” on the fire step. To ensure this, the supremely important point, every officer, N.C.O., and and man in or near the firing line must, at all times, have his arms, ammunition, and equipment with him. A man is no use without his rifle, and the rifle is no use without the man.
2. Lewis guns must be kept handy, and as safe as possible, ready to be put up and fired directly the lift is observed.
3. The artillery must concentrate its fire upon the front of those of our trenches which are being heavily bombarded.
4. Sentries on counter-attack trenches, and reserve companies, if possible, will watch for the direction of the most intense bombardment and for any lift, either on the German side or our won.
- Special sentries must be placed at all dug-outs in rear to get men out in time for a counter-attack, which, if necessary, must be delivered by the O.C. counter-attack company, who will immediately inform his C.O. what he has decided to do.
- Promptitude in counter-attack is all-important, and the Commanding Officer will approve and accept full responsibility for whatever action the officer commanding the company may decide to take. The reserve company will usually await the direct orders of the C.O.
- Rockets, red and green, fired in quick succession, will be used for the S.O.S. signal, as well as the telephone, which may be easily disconnected.
- The great thing to be borne in mind is that not an inch of our trenches must be lost for a minute - we will go forward if necessary, but not one us must go back.
- Having regard to the pace at which shells and bullets travel, it is obviously useless for anyone to imagine that he can save himself by going back. The only thing to do under intense bombardment is to stick it out, and try to be alive when it lifts or ceases. Then get up on the fire steps and get after the Germans as they come across.
- The Officers commanding Companies must endeavour to keep up communications with Units on their flanks.
Attack from our own trenches
- Trench Mortars should be arranged so as to block entrances to German dug-outs.
- Guns. M.G. Emplacements and Observation Posts should not be destroyed until a day or so before a big attack.
- Assault Companies. Company, platoon, and section commanders must study the line of advance from selected points, and each have a definite objective.
- Companies will start in lines of successive platoons, each platoon to have its own objective and its own duty.
- Once the attack starts, there must be no getting down into our own of the enemy communication trenches. We must keep on top and keep him down below.
- The advance must take place at a steady pace, no doubling except when absolutely necessary, so that we may arrive fit to fight or dig.
- The attack drill which we practised at CODFORD is probably the best.
- Before the big attack takes place we will have this all made clear to every one, and rehearse it when in billets if possible.
- Command Post. Company headquarters and command posts near the objectives in the enemy's lines will be selected beforehand, and indicated to all. other Company Commanders and the Commanding Officer will be informed. A Company Commander must appear to be as calm as possible, and will continue to direct his platoons after he has successfully penetrated the enemy's trenches.
- Lewis Guns. Must be forward, but not with leading platoons. Their principle business is to get forward and help their companies to hold ground gained against hostile counter-attacks. They must select good positions and then watch for (a) a target, (b) a better place from which to fire.
- Last Reserve Company. The C.O. will indicate certain important points which must be consolidated against counter-attack.
- The company must also look out for uncut wire, hostile riflemen, detached grenadiers, and enemy machine-guns.
- Our Objective. We are all of us here for one purpose, and that is to kill Germans. When an attack is ordered our opportunity has come. The plan of attack must be carefully explained to every one, so that we may all play together like a well-trained team, and never have a moment's hesitation about what we have to do. But the scheme and the drill are all merely a means to an end. The end we all want is the end of the war, and the only possible way to bring this about is for every one of us to make up his mind whenever he gets the chance to kill as many Germans as possible.