Wednesday 7 September 2016

Day Sixty Nine on the Somme

7th September 1916: From our Correspondent in the Field

This morning 56th (London) Division have finally taken over the line vacated by 5th Division. This includes Leuze Wood, which was captured unopposed on 5th and 6th.

Leading on from our concersation of yesterday, the Commanding Officer of 1st Bedfords, Colonel Allason, has sent me a copy of the recommendations he has made in the light of the recent attacks.

1. Orders were not always issued in sufficient time; thus the Order to attack Falfemont Farm at 6.30 p.m. on 3rd, was only received at 6 p.m.

2. Communication between Brigade Headquarters and the Battalion was bad. An Operation Order to make an immediate attack on Falfemont Farm, issued at 12.30 a.m. on the 5th only reached Battalion at 8.0 a.m., though the distance was under a mile. It was taken by a relay runner who lost his way.

Where relay runners are used they should be stationed at telephone test stations, so that the line can be followed. This is especially the case by night. If the shelling is very severe these test stations should be closer together and cover provided. An advanced "exchange" should be made where reports as to progress made, etc., can be duplicated and sent out to neighbouring units. Patrols can very rarely obtain this information.

3. When an important success has been gained, fresh troops should be available to take advantage of it before the enemy has time to re-organise, but where this is not so even tired troops can push on provided their flanks remain secure.

Some sort of signal, such as rockets or flares, visible from an Observation Post should be pre-arranged.

Both field and heavy guns should lift 800 yards or more according to the nature of the signal, and thus enable the advance of our Infantry to continue.

4. One or two Field Guns pushed well forward may be of great assistance in dealing with a counter attack.

5. The "P" Bomb for dug-outs and the arrangement of carrying 2 grenades per man proved invaluable.

6. A machine gun pushed into the front line safeguarded the left flank. Lewis guns were pushed up close behind the line of bombers (the ground was convex) and did excellent work at close range.

7. Military police stationed on main avenues of approach and close to the front line could send back into action cases of pseudo "shell shock" and also men not carrying back their full load.

7th Division made another unsuccessful attack on Delville Wood this afternoon.

Source: X550/2/5

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