Page:EB1922 - Volume 30.djvu/286

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The Barrage. This breakdown of communications obliged the contending armies to adopt a simpler means of cooperation, and led to the general introduction of the " creeping barrage " (French barrage roulant, German Feuerwalze). Briefly, it is a screen of shells bursting on and close to the ground, which is moved forward across the country by short leaps according to a pre-determined time-table. It is " halted " on each suc- cessive objective for some 10 minutes before the infantry assaults it, in order to intensify the effect. It is then moved forward again to screen their further progress, and, when the last ob- jective has been reached, it becomes a " standing " barrage to screen and protect the troops while they " consolidate " the ground which has been gained. The infantry follow behind the barrage, keeping just clear of the zone of bursting shell. They are screened from aimed fire by the smoke and the dust thrown up, and the barrage is in- tended to destroy any opposition as it passes on. If it succeeds in doing this, communication between infantry units and the sup- porting artillery becomes superfluous. It has proved practically impossible to control or check the pace of the barrage when it has once started, although the Germans attempted to do so by light signals. This is on account of the difficulty of passing the information from the particular infantry unit which wants a modification of programme to the particular battery or bat- teries concerned with that part of the barrage, through a " chain of command." For at least one gun per 20 yd. of barrage front is used, and the batteries whose concentrated fire forms the bar- rage may themselves be widely dispersed. Similar creeping barrages are used to screen retreating troops, though the problem is then more difficult, since the enemy dic- tates the pace of retirement. Such barrages are therefore made as simple as possible in plan and in execution. Other forms of barrage are used. " Flank " barrages are used to screen the flanks of troops, either halted or in motion. " Standing," as opposed to " creeping," barrages are used for many purposes, such as to prevent the enemy from reinforcing a portion of his line which is being attacked. A form of standing barrage often used for this purpose is the " box " barrage, consisting of one barrage parallel to the front attacked and two at right angles to it, forming three sides of a rectangle. A " preventive " barrage is put down over the enemy's lines when he is supposed to be about to attack. A " counter barrage " is one put down when the enemy is actually attacking, so managed as to take effect on his troops as they follow up their own barrage. In some instances a sham barrage, with no troops behind it, was used to divert attention from the real attack. Important as the barrage is, it cannot be considered a satis- factory substitute for aimed fire; it is an expedient which has to be resorted to when fire of precision cannot be carried out. Mar- shal Foch had occasion to warn the French artillery against trusting too much to it. In a circular issued in the summer of 1918, he writes: " The rolling barrage adopted by the Germans no longer meets the conception of the present war. The artillery cannot pretend to overwhelm the entire terrain of the attack with a rolling barrage, even if redoubled. Its object is not gained by unloosing a brutal fire over a given zone and searching progressively at random with a fire directed straight to its front, without regard as to whether it is followed by the infantry. It is better to attack definite points and intensify the interdiction, the counter-battery, or the crushing fire on certain points, reserving a part of the field batteries for accom- panying the infantry in intimate cooperation with it." In other words, it is unsound to abandon at the outset all fire of precision on important targets, and every endeavour to work in cooperation with the infantry, and, instead, to attempt to mow down all opposition with a machine. The Barrage in Mobile Warfare. Although the creeping bar- rage is primarily used in the deliberate attack on an entrenched position, even in mobile warfare troops are frequently checked by an enemy holding an improvised position, and it may then be necessary to bring up all available artillery at once, and to form a creeping barrage to cover the attack. When an attack is led by tanks, it is necessary to have a barrage to conceal them, other- wise a great many are hit. Wireless telegraphy may possibly be so developed as to be- come both directive and selective, so that a hundred stations may talk at once without mutual interference, or risk of being " jammed " by the enemy. Some progress in this direction has already been made. If this or other reliable means of sending and receiving messages becomes a practical fact, it will solve the problem of communication between infantry and artillery, and the crude method of barrage will fall into disuse. Guns of Accompaniment. As the creeping barrage advances it is intended to destroy all opposition. But it was found in practice that enemy detachments provided with good cover, such as machine-gun sections with overhead protection, got underground while the barrage was passing over them, and then reappeared, causing very heavy losses to the attacking troops. The French ascribe the majority of their losses in the last phase of the war to this cause. Now it would be extremely dangerous, even if it were possible, to bring the barrage back to " pound " such a danger spot. By the time this had been done, the ad- vancing troops might very possibly have disposed of the ma- chmc-guns by bombing, and have resumed their advance, in which case they would come under their own barrage fire. It is manifestly impossible to get the fire of distant guns on to a machine-gun nest in time, though something might be done by an aeroplane dropping a light-ball on it to attract the attention of the guns. The result of the failure of artillery support in this matter has been a general outcry for guns of accompaniment; that is to say light guns, either pack, motor, or hand-drawn, capable of advancing with the infantry, and of dealing with machine-gun nests and strong points that have survived the barrage, and with tanks. The matured German opinion is expressed in the following quotation from a document issued scarcely 10 weeks before the Armistice: " The guns of accompaniment must engage at short range the enemy with whom the infantry is fighting at close quarters. By rea- son of their proximity to the infantry they can be fired at the right moment, and on the right target, more easily than the artillery in rear. Also, being at close range, they can fire on objectives which cannot be observed from the rear." A light g-pounder, firing H.E. shell only, to an effective range of about 2,000 yd., is the type of weapon required. The British used their 3'7-in. mountain howitzer, firing a 2o-lb. shell, when available; but the ammunition was considered too heavy, and troops who possessed captured German light trench mortars, firing a i4-lb. shell, found this a better weapon for the purpose. The latest type of gun is the U.S. " infantry howitzer," which is carried so far forward as possible by a small cross-country motor vehicle, and thence wheeled or carried by hand. It fires a 6-lb. shell for direct fire, and a Q-lb. shell for high-angle fire. These guns are required at the rate of about one per 100 yd. of the front of the advance, or from 12 to 16 per division. The French have decided that a gun of accompaniment is to be intro- duced, and it is understood that it will be motor-drawn or motor- carried, but no further details are available. The Germans, in

and 1918, used a variety of light guns styled " infantry 

guns " in addition to their infantry trench mortars, which were fitted for direct as well as for high-angle fire. But in the great

battles their invariable practice was to detail one, two or 

more batteries of the divisional field artillery, fully horsed, and with their own ammunition carriages, to support the divisional infantry attack by direct accompaniment (sometimes reenforced). After trying other methods, they finally adopted the practice of allotting sections, or even single guns, to the battalions engaged. These single guns or sections followed up the leading lines of infantry, running up by hand when the horses could not get forward. 1

The relation of the artillery commander to the infantry com- 

mander, both being on the spot, was a difficult question which was never definitely solved. In practice, indication of task was as a rule the duty of the infantry commander, and choice of position and method that of the gunner. But the latter remained free to engage any favourable target without waiting for orders. (C. F. A.)