Page:EB1911 - Volume 14.djvu/563

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The British Field Service Regulations of 1909 are in spirit more closely allied to the French than to the German. “ The climax of the infantry attack is the assault, which is made possible by superiority of fire ” is the principle (emphasized in the book itself by the use of conspicuous type), and a “ gradual building up of the firing line within closing range of the position, ” coupled with the closest artillery support, and the final blow of the reserves delivered “unexpectedly and in the greatest possible strength ” are indicated as the means?

The defence, as it used to be understood, needs no description. To-day in all armies the defence is looked upon not as a means Defenm of winning a battle, but as a means of temporizing and avoiding the decision until the commander of the defending party is enabled, by the general military situation or by the course and results of the defensive battle itself, to take the offensive. In the British Field Service Regulations it is laid down that when an army acts on the defensive no less than half of it should if possible be earmarked, suitably posted and placed under a single commander, for the purpose of delivering a decisive counter-attack. The object of the purely defensive portion, too, is not merely to hold the enemy's firing line in check, but to drive it back so that the enemy may be forced to use up his local reserve resources to keep the fight alive. A firing line covered and steadied by entrenchments, and restless local reserves ever on the look-out for opportunities of partial counter strokes, are the instruments of this policy. A word must be added on the use of entrenchments by infantry, a subject the technical aspect of which is fully dealt with and illus-En” mch trated in FORTIFICATION AND SIEGECRAFT: Field Defences. at Entrenchments of greater or less strength by themselves me S' have always been used by infantry on the defensive, especially in the wars of position of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the Napoleonic and modern “wars of movement, ” they are regarded, not as a passive defence-they have long ceased to present a physical barrier to assault-but as fire positions so prepared as to be defensible by relatively few men. Their purpose is, by economizing force elsewhere, to give the maximum strength to the troops told off for the counter-offensive. In the later stages of the American Civil War, and also in the Russo- lapanese War of 1904-1905-each in its way an example of a “ war of positions ”-the assailant has also made use of the methods of fortification to secure every successive step of progress in the attack. The usefulness and limitations of this procedure are defined in generally similar terms in the most recent training manuals of nearly every European army. Section 136, § 7 of the British Infantry Training (1905, amended 1907) says: “ During the process of establishing a superiority of fire, successive fire positions will be occupied by the hring line. As a rule those affording natural cover will be chosen, but if none exist and the intensity of the hostile fire preclude any immediate further advance, it may be expedient for the firing line to create some. This hastily constructed protection will enable the attack to cope with the defender's fire and thus prepare the way for a farther advance. The construction of cover during an attack, however, will entail delay and a temporary loss of fire effect and should therefore be resorted to only when absolutely necessary .... As soon as possible the advance should be resumed, &c.” The German regulations are as follows (Infantry Training, 1906, § 513): “ in the offensive the entrenching tool may be used where it is desired, for the moment, to content one's self with maintaining the ground gained .... The entrenching tool is only to be used with the greatest circumspection, because of the great difficulty of getting an extended line to go forward under fire when it has expended much effort in digging cover for itself. The construction of trenches must never paralyze the desire for the irresistible advance, and above all must not kill the spirit of the o Hen riue."


The organization of infantry varies rather more than that of other arms in different countries. Taking the British system first, the battalion (and not as elsewhere the regiment of two, three or more battalions) is the administrative and manoeuvre unit. It is about 1000 strong, and is commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, who has a major and an adjutant (captain or lieutenant) to assist him, and an officer of lieutenant's or captain's rank (almost invariably promoted from the ranks), styled the quartermaster, to deal with supplies, clothing, &c. There are eight companies of a nominal strength of about 120 each. These are commanded by captains (or In February 1910 a new Infantry Training was said to be in preparation. The I.T. of 1905 is in some degree incompatible with the later and ruling doctrine of the F.S. Regulations, and in the winter of 1909 the Army Council issued a memorandum drawing attention to the different conceptions of the decisive attack as embodied in the latter and as revealed in manoeuvre procedure.

by junior majors), and each captain has or should have two lieutenants or second lieutenants to assist him. Machine guns are in Great Britain distributed to the battalions and not massed in permanent batteries. In addition there are various regimental details, such as orderly-room staff, cooks, cyclists, signallers, band and ambulance men. The company is divided into four sections of thirty men each and commanded by sergeants. A half-company of two sections is under the control of a subaltern officer. A minor subdivision of the section into two “squads” is made unless the numbers are insufficient to warrant it. In administrative duties the captain's principal assistant is the colour-sergeant or pay sergeant, who is not assigned to a section command. The lieutenant colonel, the senior major and the adjutant are mounted. The commanding officer is assisted by a battalion staff, at the head of which is the adjutant. The sergeant-major holds a “ warrant ” from the secretary of state for war, as does the bandmaster. Other members of the battalion staff are non-commissioned officers, appointed by the commanding officer. The most important of these is the quartermaster-sergeant, who is the assistant of the quartermaster. The two colours (“ king's " and “ regimental ) are in Great Britain carried by subalterns and escorted by colour-sergeants (see Cotouns).

The “ tactical ” unit of infantry is now the company, which varies very greatly in strength in the different armies. Elsewhere the company of 250 rifles is almost universal, but in Great Britain the company has about Iro men in the ranks, forming four sections. These sections, each of about 28 rifles, are the normal “ fire-units, ” that is to say, the unit which delivers its fire at the orders of and with the elevation and direction given by its commander. This, it will be observed, gives little actual executive work for the junior officers. But a more serious objection than this (which is modified in practice by arrangement and circumstances) is the fact that a small unit is more affected by detachments than a large one. In the home battalions of the Regular Army such detachments are very large, what with finding drafts for the foreign service battalions and for instructional courses, while in the Territorial Force, where it is so rarely possible to assemble all the men at once, the company as organized is often too small to drill as such. On the other hand, the full war-strength company is' an admirable unit for control and manoeuvre in the field, owing to its rapidity of movement, handiness in using accidents of ground and cover, and susceptibility to the word of command of one man. But as soon as its strength falls below about 80 the advantages cease to counterbalance the defects. The sections become too small as fire-units to effect really useful results, and the battalion commander has to co-ordinate and to direct 8 comparatively ineffective units instead of 4 powerful ones. The British regular army, therefore, has since the South African War, adopted the double company as the unit of training. This gives at all times a substantial unit for fire and manoeuvre training, but the disadvantage of having a good many officers only half employed is accentuated. As to the tactical value of the large or double company, opinions differ. Some hold that as the small company is a survival from the days when the battalion was the tactical unit and the company was the unit of volley-fire, it is unsuited to the modern exigencies that have broken up the old rigid line into several independent and co-operating fractions. Others reply that the strong continental company of 250 rifles came into existence in Prussia in the years after Waterloo, not from tactical reaspns, but because the state was too poor to maintain a large establishment of officers, and that in 1870, at any rate, there were many instances of its tactical unwieldiness. The point that is common to both organizations is the fact that there is theoretically one subaltern to every 50 or 60 rifies, and this reveals an essential difference between the British and the Continental systems, irrespective of the sizes or groupings of companies. The French or German subaltern effectively commands his 50 men as a unit, whereas the British subaltern supervises two groups of 25 to 30 men under responsible non-commissioned officers. That is to say, a British sergeant may find himself in such a position that he has to be as expert in controlling and obtaining good results from collective fire as a German lieutenant. For reasons mentioned in ARMY, § 40, non-commissioned officers, of the type called by Kipling the “ backbone of the army, " are almost unobtainable with the universal service system, and the lowest unit that possesses any independence is the lowest unit commanded by an officer. But apart from the rank of the fire-unit commander, it is questionable whether the section, as understood in England, is not too small a fire-unit, for European warfare at any rate. The regulations of the various European armies, framed for these conditions, practically agree that the fire-unit should be commanded by an officer and should be large enough to ensure good results from collective fire. The number of rifies meeting this second condition is 50 to 80 and their organization a “ section " (corresponding to the British half-company) under a subaltern officer. The British army has, of course, to be organized and trained for an infinitely wider range of activity, and no one would suggest the abolition of the small section as a fire-unit. But in a great European battle it would be almost certainly better to group the two sections into a real unit for fire effect. (For questions of infantry fire tactics see RIFLE: § Musketry.) On the continent of Europe the “ regiment, ” which is a unit, acting

in peace and war as such, consists normally of three battalions, and