Saturday, 19 May 2018
Sunday 19th May 1918
The 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, yesterday moved into the front line west of Albert. The adjutant casually mentioned to me this evening that they had successfully carried out a Chinese attack earlier in the day. Now there are large numbers of Chinese labourers in France, doing lifting and carrying tasks for the army so I wondered if the army had armed some of them to replace British losses.
Not so. A Chinese attack, I learned, is a stratagem whereby what seems to be a preparatory bombardment takes place after which troops duly advance into no man's land, but not very far. Then they dash back to the front line and the artillery shoot down the enemy as they line their parapet. A variation to to throw up dummies for the enemy to shoot at immediately after the first bombardment, the second one catching them in the same way. I have no idea why this is referred to as a Chinese attack but it may be a stratagem adapted from The Art of War by the ancient Chinese military thinker Sun Tzu.