Saturday, 20 June 2015

How to Defend the Front Line

Sunday 20th June 1915: We understand that the recent success by German armies in Galicia against the Russians means that reniforcements will be sent west to fight our lads and their French and Belgian allies. The High Command of the British Expeditionary Force is thus putting plans in place to stem any German attacks.

They say: “It is therefore imperative that all concerned should realize at once the urgent necessity for strengthening and adding to our defences of all kinds, particularly against artillery fire. Attacks and bombardments of an intensity not yet experienced by this Army as a whole, must be expected and provided against. Present circumstances require that much additional work should at once be done and that the improvement of trenches, dug-outs and obstacles should be carried out continuously and systematically. The front system of trenches is the main line of resistance and is to be held at all costs”. Details of the defences to be employed are as follows.

Shelters for the garrisons should be made at frequent intervals and sufficient to accommodate the garrison. They should be, as nearly as possible, bombproof against hostile artillery fire. Special shelters should be constructed for commanders and observation posts.

Communication Trenches should be at intervals of not more than 150 yards between the front and supporting trenches, and enough in the rear to allow of traffic both ways and easy and safe access to all parts of the front system of trenches. All communication trenches should be capable to be used as fire trenches, firing on either flank.

Wire entanglements require much strengthening in many places. A continuous line of these entanglements not only in front of the front line trench, but between the front and supporting line is necessary.

Machine guns should be in bombproof emplacements, well hidden from view and at frequent intervals. Special attention is required to sight some machine gun emplacements to enfilade our own wire entanglements both in front of the front line trench and between the front and supporting line trench.

Adequate trenches, shelters and dug-outs are to be provided for supporting and reserve troops. In constructing bombproof shelters, concrete, reinforced concrete, cement, rails, sleepers and other suitable material are to be freely used and the necessary steps to be taken to carry out such work at once. Demands for materials should be submitted as soon as possible and if necessary, extra civilian labour will be engaged.

Source: X550/3/wd

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