Monday, 7 December 2015

Flying Wheels

British heavy trench mortar at IWM Duxford 

Tuesday 7th December 1915: the adjutant of the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, still near Fricourt on the Somme reports from the front line with some satisfaction that they bombarded their foe with trench mortars yesterday and obviously hit some sort of supply wagon as they saw two wheels flying into the air.

An enemy machine gun emplacement at the same spot was targeted by artillery later yesterday afternoon and has not fired since. Of course, the Battalion does not know whether this is because the gun was destroyed or because the Germans have moved it owing to the shell fire.

Last night.a patrol carried out a long reconnaissance of the ground in front of the enemy lines and managed to bring in a sample of the enemy’s barbed wire. They discovered that the Germans have fixed a rifle to the parapet at one point which they fire remotely, probably to give an idea that the trench is well-manned when, in fact, it is not. This raises the question as to why they simply do not swarm over and take such a thinly manned trench. The reason is that experience has shown that the Germans will make strenuous counterattacks to regain lost ground and do so quickly, so such an attempt would be sure to bring large numbers of casualties to our men and run the risk of the Battalion getting cut off if the units on either side did not also attack and this would require a large scale operation which takes long and meticulous planning if it is to be effective. Perhaps we will see such a large scale attack in the Somme area at some time in the next year.

Source: X550/8/1

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