HotFreeBooks.com
Lectures on Land Warfare; A tactical Manual for the Use of Infantry Officers
Author: Anonymous
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

(iv) The flanks must be secure, or at least as strong as possible. A flank resting on a deep river or a marsh may be regarded as secure, and a flank extending to the sea, or to the boundary of a neutral State. A flank on high ground which commands all approaches and provides means of distant observation may be called strong. It is a great advantage if one flank can be posted so strongly as to compel the enemy to make his main attack on the other, as this will enable the defender to forecast the direction of the decisive attack and to dispose his General Reserve to meet and overwhelm it.

(v) There should be facilities for cover on the position and concealed avenues of approach from the rear. A crest affords cover on the reverse slopes and woods provide concealment, while time enables artificial means to be adopted. Tactical cover can be provided by cavalry and advanced troops in the early stages of manoeuvre-battle, and in removing this cover the troops can withdraw in such a way as to lure the enemy on {89} to a false position. They can also induce premature deployments by the enemy, and movements across the front of the real position.

(vi) There should be good artillery positions to provide effective fire on all hostile avenues of approach, and counter-battery work on hostile artillery positions. There should also be firm ground and good roads for the movement of guns, and an absence of landmarks for the enemy to range on. Guns of the heaviest calibre take part in all modern battles, their disposition being settled in conference with the artillery commander. A battery of field artillery requires 100 yards frontage for its six guns, and there is usually an interval of 25 yards between batteries.

(vii) There must be depth to allow for the disposal and movement of the Supports and Reserves, and for manoeuvres to recapture the forward defences, or to issue to the counter-attack.

(viii) There must be good lateral and frontal communication in order that any part of the line can be quickly reinforced. A position astride an unfordable stream, or high ridge or deep ravine should therefore be avoided. At the Battle of Dresden (August 26, 1813) the Allies were encamped on the left bank of the Elbe. Their forces were posted on the heights, but the position was cut transversely by a deep ravine, so that the left wing was isolated from the centre and right. This vicious disposition did not escape the penetrating eye of Napoleon, who attacked their isolated wing with superior forces and routed it completely, with the capture of 10,000 prisoners, before any assistance could arrive. The task of creating lateral communications, if none exist, is of the utmost importance, as they enable a commander to achieve the primary object of every military manoeuvre, to meet the enemy with superior forces at the desired point.

(ix) There should be good lines of withdrawal, and these should be horizontal, or only slightly oblique, to {90} the main position, and not parallel with the general alignment. This is a point of the first importance, for if the Lines of Communication lead straight to the rear a force that is overwhelmed by the attack can withdraw to selected positions and towards its base, if it can keep the line intact and prevent its flanks being turned. A wide base, with alternative lines of approach, is of the greatest value, and when there is undue risk of the Lines of Communication to a base being intercepted, an alternative base, with lines of withdrawal thereto from the unexposed flank, is an acceptable safeguard, as the defence can be protracted while the withdrawing force concentrates upon the changed base. Such a change of base was effected by Marshal French during the Retreat from Mons, and amongst many historical examples may be quoted General McClellan's transfer of the Army of the Potomac from the York to the James River in July, 1862, during the Seven Days' Battle around Richmond. General Grant changed his base no fewer than five times during the Campaign in the Wilderness (May, 1864), from Washington to Orange and Alexandria Railroad, then to Fredericksburg on the Rappahannock, then to Port Royal, further east on that river, then to White House on the Pamunkey (a branch of the York River), and finally to the James River. "His army was always well supplied, even his enormous numbers of wounded were carried straight away to the base and thence to Washington, without any difficulty, and he had no obstacles whatever to fight against as regards either feeding his army or keeping up the supply of ammunition" (Henderson). In withdrawing a defeated wing it may even be advantageous to rally the troops at a point distant from the field of battle, and to cause the pursuer, uncertain as to the direction of the retreat, to make detachments which can be overthrown by sudden counter-attacks, or to lure a pursuer from the field where their presence is required, as Grouchy was lured after Napoleon's defeat of the Prussians at Ligny {91} (June 16, 1815). The object of Napoleon's attack on the Allies was the separation of Wellington's Anglo-Belgian force from the Prussian Army under Bluecher, and after the defeat of the latter at Ligny the Emperor directed Marshal Grouchy to pursue the Prussians and to drive them eastwards. Grouchy conducted a leisurely pursuit and engaged an insignificant part of the Prussian Army (The Battle of Wavre, June 18-19, 1815), while the main body of the Prussians moved westwards and assisted in the overthrow of Napoleon at Waterloo.

(x) There should be favourable ground and a good line of advance for the Decisive Counter-Attack. In order, therefore, to overthrow the enemy, a position should not be chosen behind an impassable feature which neither side can cross. At Ramillies (May 23, 1706), one wing of the enemy was posted behind a marsh, where it was both unassailable and unable to attack. Marlborough, therefore, ignored that wing entirely, and bringing his whole force against the remaining wing, won easily a decisive victory. The only occasions when an impassable feature is welcome are in the Passive Defence of a small force against overwhelming odds (as was seen in August, 1914, when the Belgians occupied a position behind the River Gette), and in the Delaying Action of a Rear-guard fighting for time for the Main Body to get away. In such cases a Decisive Counter-Attack is not contemplated.

OCCUPATION OF A DEFENSIVE POSITION.—The framework of the defence is provided by artillery and machine-gun fire; the backbone of the offence is the infantry. The Commander will divide the troops into (a) Troops to hold the position, and (b) General Reserve, the golden rule being to make (a) as small as the tactical situation permits in order that (b) may be as large as possible, and its work absolutely decisive. Under no circumstances {92} should the General Reserve be much below half the available force.

Of these two portions, the Troops to hold the position consist of infantry occupying a series of mutually supporting tactical strong points, not necessarily continuous, and of irregular alignment so as to cover with the defender's fire not only the ground over which the enemy can advance, but the front and flanks of neighbouring strong points. This line will be strengthened, as and when necessary, by throwing in the supports, and it will be assisted at critical moments by the local reserves, which, coming up unseen, will deliver local counter-attacks on the assaulting enemy, and will thus restore the battle at threatened points by relieving the pressure on the front line. Their work completed they will be rallied and withdrawn again into local reserve, and it is highly important that they should be kept well under control, or their successful efforts may be neutralised by local reserves of the attacking force. At Talavera (July 27, 1809) a portion of the British force followed up the repulsed French columns too far, and being in turn broken and driven back, was pursued closely by the enemy and retired in disorder to the position. At the battle of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862) two brigades emerged from the Confederate position and drove Meade's division of the Army of the Potomac out of their lines. But they rushed on with reckless impetuosity and were finally driven back with heavy loss. Local counter-attacks keep alive an offensive spirit in the defenders, exhaust the enemy's powers, draw his reserves into the battle, and thus prepare the opportunity for the Decisive Counter-Attack. The local reserves of flank sections should usually be echeloned in rear of the flank, which can thus be protected at need by determined counter-attacks on the flank of the enveloping force.

The General Reserve is for the Decisive Counter-Attack and is held for this purpose in the hands of the {93} commander of the whole force, in order that it may be used to crush and overthrow the enemy's main attack. The opportunity for this effort is generally obtained only when the enemy has thrown into action his own General Reserve for the decisive attack, and has received a check. A bold and resolute counter-attack at that moment is bound to achieve a decisive success. But the assumption of the grand offensive should not be confined to the General Reserve alone. Commanders of sections of the defence who are permitted by the local situation to do so, must at once join in the decisive counter-attack, unless express orders to the contrary have been received; and any definite success obtained must be the signal for the whole force to press the enemy with the utmost vigour. This opportunity will be fleeting, and there must be no delay in seizing it. Every preparation must therefore be made in anticipation of the opportunity so that a pre-arranged plan may be put into execution. "To initiate a counter-attack on a large scale without due time for preparation, co-ordination, and movement of troops is to court failure, with heavy casualties and resulting demoralisation" ("Field Service Regulations," vol. ii. (1920)).

That the soul of the defence is the counter-attack was shown at the battle of Spottsylvania (May 12, 1864). General Hancock's Corps (from Grant's combined armies) had assaulted and captured part of Lee's entrenchments in the Wilderness of Virginia; 20,000 men had assaulted and captured the Salient, taking 4,000 prisoners; they then pressed forward, and sweeping everything before them, drove a wedge right into the Confederate position. "But Lee, recognising the weakness of the Salient, had caused another line of entrenchments to be constructed about half a mile in rear. By this second line the Federals were suddenly brought up. The confusion was very great, the battalions had intermingled in the excitement of the charge, and the officers could neither make their orders {94} heard nor form their men for another rush. Lee threw in his reserves. He made a tremendous counter-attack. Every single battalion he could collect was ordered to attack, and the vigour of the blow was such that the whole of these 20,000 men were driven back beyond the first line of entrenchments, and the Confederates recaptured their first position" (Henderson).

He will select positions for the Artillery, in consultation with the commander of that arm, the objects in view being: to command lines of approach so that the assailant may be shelled and forced to deploy early and so to indicate his plan of attack; to delay the advance; to combine with the infantry in the close defence of the main position; to support local counter-attacks; to destroy hostile batteries by counter-battery work; and to combine eventually in the Decisive Counter-Attack. The increased mobility of guns of the heaviest calibre owing to motor traction, and the increased defensive power of the protective quick-firing small arms, enable guns to be placed close behind the infantry firing line without undue risk of capture.

He will divide the position into sectors, each garrisoned by a distinct unit, under a definite commander. The mutually supporting tactical points (farmsteads, villages, woods, ridges, knolls, etc.) will usually be held in groups, under group commanders, with definite subordinate commanders, and the group commander will probably control the local reserves of that group, with which he can assist any of the units in times of need. The units from which such groups are formed will usually be complete sections.

He will decide the position of the General Reserve. This will be the locality best suited for the advance to the decisive counter-attack, if it is to be delivered from a distance; or near the point where the enemy's decisive attack is expected, if it is intended to hurl the General Reserve into the flank and rear of the enemy's main {95} attack while it is heavily engaged with the troops holding the position. As surprise is essential to success, the position of the General Reserve should be concealed as long as possible. The position of the General Reserve will depend upon the ascertained intentions of the enemy. At the Second Battle of the Somme (March 21, 1918) the intentions of the German commander were ascertained during the first day's fighting. "As by this time (i.e. the evening of March 21) it had become clear that practically the whole of the enemy's striking force had been committed to this one battle, my plans already referred to for collecting reserves from other parts of the British front were put into immediate execution. By drawing away local reserves and thinning out the front not attacked, it was possible to reinforce the battle by eight divisions before the end of the month" (Sir D. Haig's Dispatches).

He must decide the position, and to some extent the action, of the Cavalry. Before defensive action in a War of Manoeuvre the cavalry have been out on reconnaissance, and during the early stages they have endeavoured to lure the assailants on to a false position. During the battle they will frustrate the efforts of opposing mounted troops, will protect a vulnerable flank, and will assist generally by dismounted fire action. After the victorious counter-attack they will emerge in pursuit. In case of a reverse they will delay the enemy's victorious advance by fire action and by mounted tactics to protect the withdrawing forces from the depredations of hostile cavalry. A position near a flank will usually be occupied.

There have been many examples of protection by cavalry of a force that has been worsted. After the Combat of Rolica (August 17, 1808) General Delaborde retreated by alternate masses, protecting his movements by short, vigorous charges of cavalry. At Chancellorsville (May 3, 1863), and on the first day of Gettysburg (July 1, 1863), a handful of United States {96} cavalry held up the pursuit and staved off disaster. At Koeniggratz (Sadowa), (July 3, 1866), the charges of the Austrian cavalry drove back the Prussian Horse and enabled Benedek's defeated troops to get back in safety. At Rezonville (August 16, 1870) von Bredow's Cavalry Brigade was ordered to charge the French batteries and their infantry escort, in order to give some breathing time for the hard-pressed Prussian infantry. The charge was successful and the time was gained, but as at Balaclava (October 26, 1854) there were few survivors from "Von Bredow's Todtenritt" (death ride). After the battle of Le Cateau (August 26, 1918) and during the Retreat from Mons, the British cavalry, under General Allenby, effectively held off the enemy and enabled the British troops to move unmolested. During the great German offensive in the spring of 1918 the withdrawal of the troops at Cugny (March 24, 1918) was made possible by a brilliant mounted charge by a squadron of the 16th Cavalry Brigade, which broke through the German line, taking over 100 prisoners, and sabring a large number of the enemy. During the retreat in that area units of the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry Divisions proved so effective in delaying the enemy's advance that other units were horsed during the progress of the battle in order to increase the supply of cavalry. "Without the assistance of mounted troops, skilfully handled and gallantly led, the enemy could scarcely have been prevented from breaking through the long and thinly held front of broken and wooded ground before the French reinforcements had had time to arrive. . . . The absence of hostile cavalry at this period was a marked feature of the battle. Had the German command had at their disposal even two or three well-trained cavalry divisions, a wedge might have been driven between the French and British Armies. Their presence could not have failed to have added greatly to the difficulties of our task" (Sir D. Haig's Dispatches).

{97}

He must select a rallying place in rear of the main position from which to recapture the front line, as General Lee recovered the "Salient" in the Wilderness of Virginia.

He must arrange for the reorganisation of his victorious forces and for the pursuit and complete overthrow of the enemy.



{98}

PROTECTION AND RECONNAISSANCE

"Surprise consists in the hard fact that the enemy suddenly appears in considerable numbers without his presence having been known to be so near for want of information; and without it being possible to assemble against him for want of protection."—MARSHAL FOCH.

Every commander of a force, however large or small, is responsible for the protection of his command against surprise, and a force can only be regarded as secure from surprise when protection is furnished in every direction from which interference is possible. Detachments are therefore provided by every commander, their duty being to warn him if hostile forces are discovered in the vicinity of such forces, and to gain time, at all risks and at any sacrifice, for the commander of the troops they protect to carry out his plans unimpeded by the enemy. "A mission of protection does not necessarily imply a defensive attitude, it will often be better performed by an offensive" (Marshal Foch). There is the closest connection between Reconnaissance and Protection. It is only by finding out the location, strength and movements of the enemy that a commander can decide how best to protect his troops, and the forces he employs to protect his troops against surprise will very largely prevent the enemy finding out his own strength and dispositions. Detailed and timely information about the enemy and the theatre of operations is a necessary factor in War and the value of the information depends on whether it can reach the authorities in time to be of use.

Facilities for reconnaissance have been enormously increased by the introduction of man-carrying, self-propelled Aircraft. Before their introduction reconnaissance {99} at a distance from the forward troops was limited by the speed and endurance of the cavalryman's horse, and by the skill of the cavalry scout in penetrating the preventive screen of hostile cavalry, and in escaping the net spread out to catch him on the return journey. His radius of operations was comparatively small, that of the aerial observer is practically unlimited, as his machine will carry him over the hostile area, and unless he is driven down by opposing aircraft, or crippled by defensive fire from the ground, he returns in a comparatively short space of time to his base, with his budget of news, and may bring with him a series of photographs.

POSITION WARFARE.—When opposing forces are entrenched at no great distance from one another, photographs taken from the air lead to the discovery of new works from which the intentions of the enemy can be predicted. On the Western Front in the Great War, photographs taken from the air revealed the construction in the German training area of actual sectors of British trenches in facsimile, thus indicating the rehearsal of an attack on a definite part of the line. Hostile aircraft are prevented from carrying out similar observational journeys, the resistance of defending squadrons is overcome, and whenever a favourable target is presented, casualties are caused by bullets and bombs. Observers report all suspicious movements and changes in trench construction, and from photographs taken at daily intervals maps of hostile trenches are constructed and revised. Infantry patrols and raiding parties are sent out by night and by day, and information is gleaned from the uniforms and badges of captured prisoners as to the distribution of hostile troops, while changes in the plan of trenches, in the siting of wire entanglements, or in the emplacements of guns and mortars are duly noted. In addition, troops in observation posts, in or ahead of the front line, in favourable and unsuspected {100} localities, are constantly observing the enemy, and sentries over all posts containing troops are ready at all times of the day and night to alarm the local garrisons. Resistance is afforded by a series of mutually supporting strong points, sufficiently garrisoned by troops who guard against surprise and hold their ground against attack. Entrenchments, with dug-outs and shelters, provide protection from fire, and barbed wire entanglements prevent unbroken rushes by the enemy, and entice him into openings that are swept by rifle and machine-gun fire. Box respirators and other appliances nullify the effects of gas, and camouflage disguises the position of trenches, troops, guns, and dumps, and so screens them from observation and direct bombardment, while it provides unsuspected means of observing the enemy's movements.

MANOEUVRE WARFARE.—In a War of Manoeuvre the steps taken to obtain security against surprise vary with the situation of the troops. Hostile aircraft flying high from the ground are dealt with by counter-attack by armed aeroplanes, but as aerial fighting requires space for manoeuvre hostile machines flying within 3,000 feet of the ground must be dealt with by machine gun, Lewis gun, or concentrated rifle fire, except in cases where it is essential to conceal from the enemy that a certain position or locality is occupied, and where the troops are so well hidden as to escape detection unless they open fire. Movement is easily detected by low-flying aeroplanes, and in fair weather troops can be recognised as hostile or friendly by an observer at 500 feet, while movements of formed bodies on a road are visible at 5,000 feet. Troops remaining stationary in shaded places may easily escape observation, and if small bodies in irregular formation lie face downwards they are difficult to detect, even in the open. When a force is in movement, detachments move with it to afford protection in every direction from which interference {101} is possible; and when a force is at rest, detachments with similar duties secure it from disturbance and keep off attack until it can be met or developed without disadvantage. These phases are dealt with under the headings of "THE ADVANCED GUARD," "FLANK ATTACKS AND FLANK GUARDS," "THE REAR GUARD," and "OUTPOSTS."



{102}

THE ADVANCED GUARD

"Fabius, the saviour of Rome, used to say that a commander could not make a more disgraceful excuse than to plead, 'I never expected it.' It is, in truth, a most shameful reason for any soldier to urge. Imagine everything, expect everything."—SENECA, "De Ira."

Every moving body of troops must be protected by detachments, the force detached to precede the advance being known as an Advanced Guard, and when a body of troops so protected halts, the responsibility for protection during the halts remains with the troops which have been protecting the march until they are relieved, the commander of the Advanced Guard exercising his discretion as to halting at once or moving forward to occupy a position which may be of more tactical advantage.

STRENGTH.—The strength of this Guard depends on the proximity of the enemy, but it must always be strong enough to brush aside slight opposition, so that the advance of the force it is covering may not be delayed by small hostile forces, and to resist the enemy, when encountered in strength, for such time as will enable the force it is covering to prepare to meet or deliver an attack. No general rule as to the numerical strength of an Advanced Guard can be given, as the number of troops required depends almost entirely upon the tactical situation and the country through which the protected force is passing. It should, however, whenever possible be composed of a complete unit or formation under its own commander, and it is found in practice that an Advanced Guard will seldom be less than one-eighth or more than a quarter of the whole {103} force. When a large force is advancing in several columns on parallel roads it will be preceded by a "Strategical Advanced Guard," which protects the front and flanks of all the columns. The "Tactical Advanced Guard" provided by each column may then be reduced in strength.

DISTANCE.—The distance at which it moves ahead of the force it is covering depends upon the nature of the country through which the force is moving, upon the strength of the Main Body, and upon the tactical situation, but it must always be sufficient to enable the Main Body to deploy, to get into battle formation—unmolested by the enemy's artillery, if required to do so. It is clear, therefore, that the larger the Main Body the greater the distance must be, as more time will be required for deployment. The Advanced Guard of a Brigade of infantry, with artillery, would move at a distance of 1 to 2 miles between the Main Guard and the Main Body, with the mounted patrols of the Vanguard 4 to 5 miles ahead of the Main Body. These mounted patrols would discover the presence of an enemy, and with the supports of the Vanguard would feel for his strength and ascertain his dispositions. The Main Guard would either assist in brushing him away or would resist, in the best available position, any attempts to attack the Main Body while the latter formed up for battle.

IN ADVANCES.—Infantry forming part of an Advanced Guard to a force advancing must always act with dash and resolution, but their action must always be regulated by the one motive of complying with the intentions of the commander of the force they are covering. Any action contemplated by the Advanced Guard commander must therefore be considered from the point of view of its effects upon the plans of the commander of the main body, but if these plans are not known, the guiding principle will be to regulate his action solely in the interests {104} of the force he is covering, and by driving in the advanced troops of the enemy he will obtain information which will assist his superior in coming to a decision, without interfering with his liberty of action, whereas hesitation and delay may give the initiative to the enemy. For this reason, a wide turning movement by the Advanced Guard troops is seldom possible, as time is thereby lost and the front of the Main Body is uncovered. "The ruling factor should be the discovery of some tactical locality held by the enemy, the capture of which will compel his whole line to fall back. If this point can be discovered the whole energies of the Advanced Guard should be directed against it alone, and elsewhere a defensive attitude should be adopted, to avoid surprise of or interference with the Main Body" (General R. C. B. Haking).

It must always be assumed that the enemy will have taken all the necessary steps to protect himself and to hamper reconnaissance by an adversary. If, therefore, hostile troops are known to be in a certain locality, opposition must be expected before that locality is reached, and study of the map should enable the Advanced Guard commander to determine the approximate neighbourhood in which opposition may be expected.

IN RETREATS.—While it is clear that a force advancing towards the enemy must always be preceded by an Advanced Guard it must not be forgotten that a force withdrawing from the enemy must also be so protected, even when it is moving in or towards friendly territory. Such a force will not only prevent the Main Body being surprised by an energetic enemy, pursuing swiftly and getting round to attack where he is least expected, but will also prevent the Main Body being delayed by obstacles, and can delay the pursuit by preparing bridges, etc., for demolition, which can be completed by the Rear Guard when the Main Body has passed over {105} them. It can also reconnoitre the route to be followed, so that the Main Body can proceed without delay.

TRAINING.—In formulating any scheme for the exercise of troops in Advanced Guard work all officers and other ranks should be made to understand the nature of the scheme, and should be informed (a) whether the force is advancing or retreating, whether it is moving before or after action with the enemy, and whether it is in a friendly or a hostile country; (b) what is known of the enemy; (c) the direction and objective of the march; (d) the general intentions of the commander of the Main Body; and (e) the general instructions issued to the commander of the Advanced Guard. "Unless such exercises are carried out in a practical manner, young officers and inexperienced N.C.O.'s will get the impression that an Advanced Guard consists merely of a procession of small bodies of infantry, strung out at fixed intervals on a single road. It is of the highest importance that the training should be carried out on the lines that would be adopted in action" (G.H.Q. Circular).

TACTICAL PRINCIPLES.—"Speed of advance is the first consideration when not in contact with the enemy. Hence an Advanced Guard will move on a narrow front along roads and other channels of communication, with such distances between advanced and supporting bodies as to avoid possibility of surprise. When in contact with, or in the vicinity of, the enemy, security and speed of advance are equal considerations. Hence the Advanced Guard should move by bounds on a broad fighting front across country" ("Infantry Training, 1921").

Before an Advanced Guard commander moves off in compliance with his instructions he will take certain steps in accordance with these tactical principles. He will divide his troops into two portions, known as the Vanguard and the Main Guard, and as the duties of the {106} Vanguard are reconnaissance in general, as well as the protection in particular of the Main Guard, it will contain a large proportion of mobile troops, with infantry for assault and resistance, and engineers for clearing the way through or over obstacles. Aircraft, in advance of the Vanguard, not only increase the area under search and expedite the discovery of the enemy, but prevent surprise and assist the Advanced Guard as a whole by close co-operation in feeling for and fighting the enemy when encountered. "In order to reconnoitre one must compel the enemy to show himself wherever he may be. To this end he has to be attacked until the extent of his position has been clearly defined. But the attack is made with the intention not to bring on an action. The skirmishing lines will advance, but they must be able to disengage themselves at a given moment. Pressure is exercised from a distance without allowing the forces exerting that pressure to become tied up" (Marshal Foch). The duty of the Main Guard is Resistance, that is to say, fighting. It will therefore consist mainly of infantry, with artillery and machine guns, and the troops will move in the order in which they will come into action. The Vanguard will be preceded by scouts, special attention being paid to roads and tracks parallel with the advance. This screen is followed by the remainder of the Vanguard, in collected formation, until it is in contact with or in the vicinity of the enemy, with protection at all times against local surprise. The Main Guard follows, in touch with the Vanguard, and with local protection. Both portions have definite commanders, and the commander of the whole Advanced Guard will probably move with the supports of the Vanguard. The commander will also determine the relative distances between the Vanguard and the Main Guard, these being regulated by the strength of the Advanced Guard, and being based upon the necessity of one part supporting the other. The distance of the {107} Advanced Guard ahead of the Main Body may have been mentioned in the operation orders, but if it is left to the discretion of the Advanced Guard commander he will be guided solely by the interests of the force he is covering, and his decision will be influenced by the nature of the country (whether it is open, or intersected by woods, hedges, sunken roads, etc., which make observation even by aircraft a matter of great difficulty) and by the tactical situation, such distance being chosen as will suit these conditions, while admitting the fulfilment of the objects in view, viz.:—to obtain information concerning the enemy and to prevent hostile reconnaissance; to prevent surprise and delay; and to enable the Main Body to deploy into battle formation without interruption by the enemy's fire.

It is also the duty of the commander to ensure communication between the various parts of the Advanced Guard and between that force and the Main Body, by arranging for mounted orderlies and cyclists, signallers and connecting files, in addition to the contact patrols furnished by the Air Service, and to such telegraphic and telephonic communication as can be provided in the field by the Signals. This is of the first importance, as the action of the commanders of the Advanced Guard and of the Main Body will depend on information received, and not only must information be gained by every available means, but it must also be communicated without delay to all concerned while it is fresh and before it becomes stale. It must also be remembered that negative information (e.g. that such and such a village has been thoroughly searched and no trace of the enemy found) is at least of equal value to positive information. The repetition or confirmation of information already sent are also of importance, as it is clearly of value to a commander to know positively that the enemy is still absent, or still present, at a certain time in a certain locality. In the American Civil War, during an encounter battle between {108} advanced troops, the commander of the cavalry of the United States Army held up the Confederate advanced troops. A sharp fight took place at Sulphur Springs (October 12, 1863) and the United States cavalry commander became so absorbed in the battle that he failed to send information to headquarters, and General Meade did not learn that he was in contact with the Army of Northern Virginia until late in the afternoon. In the campaign of Fredericksburg, General R. E. Lee, with the Army of Northern Virginia, was confronted by General Burnside, with the Army of the Potomac. On November 15, 1862, a patrol of Confederate cavalry discovered Burnside's troops moving eastwards, and another patrol brought news the same day that gunboats and transports had entered Acguia Creek on the Potomac. These two pieces of information, collected at points 40 miles distant from one another, gave Lee an insight into his opponent's design. Information gained by aircraft on September 4 and 5, 1914, and communicated immediately to General Joffre, led to the discovery of the flank march across the Franco-British front by the German I. Army, and to the decisive counter-attack at the First Battle of the Marne (September 6, 1914).

The Advanced Guard commander must be careful how he becomes seriously engaged, and must avoid any enterprise not strictly in accordance with the known intentions of the commander of the Main Body. The tendency to independent action of this kind, which militates against the success of the best laid plans, was very observable in the early battles of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871. Actions were hastily entered on by Advanced Guards, maintained with varying success by the gradual arrival of reinforcements, and finally concluded with barren results and losses in excess of those inflicted. At the Battle of Spicheren (August 6, 1870) the Advanced Guard of the 14th Prussian Division commenced the battle, which had to {109} be sustained for three hours by 11 battalions against 39. During the next three hours 8 more battalions arrived, and at the conclusion of the battle only 27 battalions and 10 batteries in all had come into action against a whole French Corps, and there were two French Corps within reach of the one engaged. Had these "marched to the sound of the cannon," as Napoleon would have marched, the 14th Prussian Division would have been unable to extricate itself without complete disaster. At the Battle of Worth (August 6, 1870) the Prussian Crown Prince had expressed his intention not to engage the French on that day. Yet the Advanced Guard of the V. Corps brought on a battle into which the Bavarian Corps was perforce drawn. The Crown Prince sent word for the action to be discontinued, but the advanced troops were so seriously involved in the battle that reinforcements had to be sent into action. Although tactically successful the battle was out of accord with the settled plans of the Commander-in-Chief. In the same way the Advanced Guard of the VII. Prussian Corps, contrary to the letter and the spirit of the orders of the commander of the I. Army, precipitated an action at Colombey (August 14, 1870). Other troops were drawn into the fight, and finally the whole of the I. Army was engaged in a battle which its commander not only disapproved but had expressly forbidden. The battle had no tactical or strategical results, and heavy losses were sustained on both sides. "Precipitate action of this kind prevents the troops being engaged in the most advantageous manner. For when a small force is engaged against a larger one it becomes necessary, as reinforcements arrive, to move them up to support some point already hard pressed, and the whole force is thus used up and disseminated, instead of being employed collectively where an effective blow may be struck. Thus the direction of the fight is surrendered to the enemy, as at Spicheren and Colombey. The French positions were so strong that the German {110} reinforcements as they arrived were frittered away in support of troops already engaged, and the state of the latter during the action was frequently very critical. At Colombey the battle resolved itself into a desperate struggle along the front of the French position, where the Prussians made little impression, while their losses considerably exceeded those inflicted on the French" (Clery). It is thus seen that the commander of the Advanced Guard must limit his aggressive action in accordance with his instructions and with the tactical and strategical requirements of the force he is covering. But his action in protecting the Main Body is unfettered by any considerations of prudence, and must ever be vigorous and resolute, any risks being taken that ensure the safety of the Main Body. On the morning of the Battle of Nachod (June 27, 1866) the Advanced Guard of General Steinmetz's V. Corps (of the Army of the Crown Prince of Prussia) was in bivouacs on a plateau, after emerging from a long and narrow defile through which the Main Body must march to the open country beyond. About 8 a.m. the cavalry of the Vanguard was checked by the advanced troops of the VI. Austrian Corps. It was imperative that the Prussian Advanced Guard should hold the plateau until the Main Body had extricated itself from the defile. By the rapid and accurate fire of the infantry and horse artillery, and the co-operation of the cavalry against the Austrian squadrons, the thin line was maintained for more than three hours. Less than 7 battalions of infantry, with 13 squadrons of cavalry and 3 batteries of light artillery, kept in check 21 battalions, 11 squadrons, and 4 batteries. Had the Advanced Guard suffered itself to be driven back on the Main Body in the defile a disaster could scarcely have been avoided, and owing to the steadfast endurance of the Advanced Guard the Main Body was able to drive the Austrian Corps from the field.

ADVANCED GUARD PROBLEMS.—The Advanced Guard commander must be able to appreciate without delay {111} the situation which confronts his force, and to solve the problem before him with regard solely to the interests of the force he is covering.

(a) If the Vanguard is held up by the enemy who is ascertained to be inferior in strength to the Advanced Guard, the commander will transmit information to the Main Body and will attack vigorously to disperse the enemy, in order that the movements of the Main Body may not be delayed. A fire attack would be organised on the front of the enemy, supported by close-range artillery fire, and a turning movement with Lewis guns and rifles on one or both flanks. If the enemy held to a covered position they could be ejected by rifle bombers or light mortars from a flank, while artillery and machine guns prevented aimed fire at the attacking force.

(b) If fire is opened on the Vanguard and definite information as to the strength and dispositions of the enemy cannot be ascertained, such information as had been gained would be transmitted and a bold procedure would be adopted in order that the information might be supplemented as quickly as possible. The commander would reinforce his Vanguard with infantry from the Main Guard, and should be able to force the enemy to disclose his position and strength, but unless ordered to do so would take care not to become so involved in action that the Main Body would be compelled to come up and extricate them.

(c) If the enemy is encountered when the Advanced Guard commander knows that it is the intention of his superior to deliver an attack the information would be transmitted with an outline of the steps taken in seizing and securing all tactical points that will be of service to the Main Body. The Advanced Guard would work on a wider front than would otherwise be used by a force of that strength, and the artillery would be posted with a view to its position being adopted as the main artillery position.

{112}

(d) If, under similar circumstances, the intention not to be drawn into a decisive engagement is known by the Advanced Guard commander he would limit his activities to reconnaissance of the enemy's position and numbers, and while hampering the enemy and preventing him from finding out particulars concerning the Main Body, he must take care not to become involved in a general engagement.

(e) A case may easily occur in which vigorous action is demanded, whether the commander of the Main Body intends to attack at once or to defer an engagement. Such a situation would arise if the Vanguard discovered the approach of the enemy towards a ridge or other position of tactical advantage, and if the Advanced Guard commander could, by a rapid advance, forestall the enemy in the occupation of such a position, his failure to do so, or hesitation in waiting for explicit orders to do so, would be a grave neglect of duty.

(f) In the American Civil War a tactical blunder of another kind, due to the impetuosity of the commander of the Independent Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia, prevented the Southern commander from obtaining a great strategical advantage over the Army of the Potomac. The latter force had been withdrawn by General McClellan, after the Seven Days' Battle around Richmond, to a secure position at Malvern Hill, where the assaults of the Army of Northern Virginia were beaten back with heavy losses. McClellan continued the withdrawal and had reached Harrison's Landing on the James River. The Independent Cavalry of the Southern Army had previously been dispatched on a false scent, but at 9 a.m. on July 3 touch was regained with the Northern forces, which were sighted from Evelington Heights (July 3, 1862), a commanding ridge within two miles of the bivouacs of the Army of the Potomac, which was resting in apparent security, with inadequate precautions against surprise. General J. E. B. Stuart, the Confederate cavalry commander, {113} reached Evelington Heights with 1,200 sabres and carbines and one light howitzer, and the whole Army of the Potomac, 90,000 all arms, was in bivouacs in full view from the Heights, and it was clear that his presence was not suspected. The nearest column of the force he was covering was six miles away, and there remained about ten hours of daylight. It is easy to see, after the event, that this was a case where "Silence is golden." Stuart should have sent the information to Lee and to every column commander, urging them to press on at all speed, while he occupied the Heights with his dismounted men with the determination to hold his position with fire action, if discovered, until the arrival of one or more columns of the Army of Northern Virginia. But he failed to appreciate the situation, and forgetting the larger question, he seized the opportunity to spread panic in the ranks of the Army of the Potomac, and opened fire with his one light howitzer. The Northerners recovered from the panic caused by this unexpected attack, when it was realised that only one gun was in action against them, and attacked and captured the Heights, and were strongly entrenched there before the nearest Confederate column arrived.

(g) Among the examples of Advanced Guard work in Marshal Foch's "Principles of War" is a problem for a battalion as the Advanced Guard of a Brigade. "What is the problem the battalion commander has to solve? It consists in preparing for the brigade to go into action against an enemy who may debouch from Bettwiller. What does the brigade require for such an action? It requires the space necessary for the full employment of its forces, and the time necessary for their arrival and deployment. In order to achieve that double task the battalion commander orders his troops to occupy the whole space necessary, and places them in points where they may hold on for the necessary time."



{114}

FLANK ATTACKS AND FLANK GUARDS

"A man thoroughly penetrated with the spirit of Napoleon's warfare would hardly fail to make his enemy's communications his first objective."—-Col. G. F. R. HENDERSON.

The Flanks are the most vulnerable points of an army, for an attack upon these points subjects the defenders to enfilade fire, and is delivered by troops arrayed in attack formation against an enemy that is not in a position to repel the attack. The consequences of a successful Flank Attack are so far-reaching that every effort will be made by a commander to bring about such a consummation in order that he may sever his adversary's communications, bring him to the end of his resources, and deprive him of the means of replenishing them.

If, therefore, there is any possibility of a column on the march being attacked in flank a force must be detached to protect that flank, and if both flanks are exposed to attack both must be similarly protected. The flank is the most vulnerable part of a moving column, and an attack driven home upon that part has every prospect of success, for it will be delivered by a force that is distributed in depth against a force that is protracted in width after changing front to meet the attack, and the absence of depth in the defending force will deprive the defence of the principal source of strength in resisting attack.

An independent column is liable to attack on either of its flanks, unless the nature of the country through which it is passing provides security for one or the other in the form of an impenetrable feature (such as a wide, {115} trackless marsh), or an impassable barrier (such as a neutral frontier). The outer columns of a force moving on parallel routes will have an exposed flank, while their inner flank is protected by maintaining touch with the neighbouring column.

Flank Guards may be furnished by the Main Body, or by the Advanced Guard, and this point will be made clear in the orders for the operations. Their composition, strength, and distribution, and the interval at which they move on the flank of the Main Body, are similar to those of an Advanced Guard, while their action under all circumstances is governed by the same tactical considerations, the principle underlying every action of a Flank Guard commander being compliance with the known intentions of the commander of the Main Body, and the sacrifice of the interests of the Flank Guard to preserve the interests of the Main Body. The same duties of reconnaissance and protection have also to be carried out, and communication with the Main Body has to be maintained. For the purposes of reconnaissance and communication Aircraft are even more effective than in Advanced Guard work, while observation patrols supplement and confirm the reports of aerial observers. The work of protection varies with the nature of the country through which the Guard and the Main Body are moving at the particular time. In open country the Flank Guard may be keeping pace with the Main Body at a regularly maintained interval, and on parallel lines. In close country, and in hilly or mountainous districts, it may be necessary to occupy a successive series of tactical positions on the exposed flank, any of which can be reinforced and held at need to safeguard the passage of the Main Body. In order that the whole column may be protected, from the head of the Main Body to the train in rear, unbroken touch must be maintained both with the Advanced and the Rear Guard, and incursions between these forces and itself must be prevented by the Flank Guard.

{116}

In addition to the protection of a column on the march, Flank Guard work is of the highest importance on the Lines of Communications and in the protection of Convoys. On the Lines of Communications raids from the air or land may always be expected in Manoeuvre Warfare, and one flank is usually more vulnerable than the other. A Convoy, when parked, is liable to attack from any quarter; and when on the march it may be assailed from any direction, especially when the adversary can detach mounted troops, or infantry rendered mobile by motor transport, or raiding bodies carried in Aircraft. Frequently, however, one flank only of the Lines of Communications is vulnerable owing to the geographical or tactical situation, and the work of protecting traffic or Convoys on the Lines of Communications is Flank Guard work, with due precautions against surprise from all quarters, the Main Guard remaining with the Convoy and securing its safe arrival at its destination, rather than seeking an encounter with the enemy. The most efficient way to protect a Convoy is to piquet the road daily with troops sent out from posts on the line; but when it is necessary to send a Convoy by a route which cannot be protected in this way a special escort must be provided. The commander of an escort will not engage the enemy if his task can be accomplished without fighting. If fighting is inevitable the enemy should be engaged as far from the Convoy as possible, and it will not be halted and parked, except as a last resort. In the case of mechanical transport the whole of the escort will be carried in motor vehicles, and except where parallel roads are in existence, little can be done to secure flank protection while on the move. A portion of such escort will move with the Convoy and a portion will be sent ahead to secure any bridges or defiles which have to be passed, the outlet of any defile being secured before the Convoy is permitted to enter the defile. In the case of a horsed Convoy the escort will usually consist of infantry, with a proportion {117} of mobile troops. Small Advanced and Rear Guards will be detailed and sufficient men will be posted along the column to ensure order and easy communication. The remainder of the escort will usually move on that flank from which attack is most likely.

The far-ranging raid on the Lines of Communications was a notable feature of the American Civil War. It was freely employed on both sides and was often harmful to the object of the attack and usually profitable to the raiders, especially to those of the South, by reason of the replenishment of stores. General Turner Ashby, the dashing cavalry leader in the Shenandoah Valley, was a constant source of terror to the Northern Generals, and his death while protecting the movements to Cross Keys (June 6, 1862) was a terrible blow to Stonewall Jackson, who employed his mounted troops with more skill than any other commander, Confederate or Federal. General R. E. Lee possessed a great cavalry leader in J. E. B. Stuart, "but cool-headed as he was, Lee appears to have been fascinated by the idea of throwing a great body of horsemen across his enemy's communications, spreading terror among his supply trains, cutting his telegraphs and destroying his magazines. Yet in hardly a single instance did such expeditions inflict more than temporary discomfort on the enemy; and the Confederate Armies were led more than once into false manoeuvres for want of the information which only the cavalry could supply. Lee at Malvern Hill and Gettysburg, and, on the side of the North, Hooker at Chancellorsville, and Grant at Spottsylvania, owed defeat in great measure to the absence of their mounted troops on raiding excursions. In the Valley, on the contrary, success was made possible because Jackson kept his cavalry to its legitimate duty" (Henderson "Stonewall Jackson"). In the Russo-Japanese War a column of 500 Cossacks, under Colonel Madritov, made a bold raid on the communications of the Japanese I. Army in the last days of April, 1904. The raid involved a {118} ride of 240 miles and was carried out in entire ignorance of the imminent attack upon General Zasulich's force by the Japanese I. Army at the Battle of the Yalu (May 1, 1904). On arrival at his objective Colonel Madritov found nothing to attack, as the base of the Japanese I. Army had been shifted from the Korean frontier to a shorter sea base at the Yalu mouth. On his return he found his General in disordered flight, and had his small force been available at the Battle of the Yalu it could have protected the retreat to Hamatan and Feng-hwang-cheng. Raids and attacks outside the centre of operations, however daring, have no permanent value.

In the South African War a disaster to a Convoy at Sannah's Post, or Koorn Spruit (March 31, 1900), was caused by the absence of precautions in front of a retreating force, the wagons being permitted to enter a defile (the Spruit crossed the road at right-angles and was held by the Boers) before the exit had been secured. Earlier in the same campaign a Convoy of 800 wagons was lost at Ramdam (February 13, 1900). An ambushed force of Boers killed all the transport animals and the wagons were abandoned. No escort had been provided for the Convoy, which entered the ambushed area without previous reconnaissance. Throughout the South African War the activities of De Wet emphasised the vulnerability of the Lines of Communications.

Where the tactical situation permits, arrangements should be made to protect the Lines of Communications by offensive action. An engagement may be invited in a suitable position, the protecting troops holding the raiders with a Delaying Action while reinforcements are summoned to converge on the battlefield for the purpose of surrounding and exterminating the raiders.



{119}

THE REAR GUARD

A Rear Guard is essential to a force advancing in order to pick up the stragglers, to keep off marauders, and to prevent surprise by an energetic enemy who may detach a force for a surprise attack on the rear of the advancing column.

But its most important work is the protection of a retreating force, and this work will vary in difficulty with the freshness and enterprise of the enemy and the spirit and determination of the force that is being pursued. Generally speaking, Rear Guard fighting against an unexhausted enemy is the most difficult and most dangerous of all military enterprises. When a Rear Guard halts to fight it is being separated every minute from the Main Body, which is moving away from it, while every minute brings reinforcements to the enemy. The work requires great tactical skill, as it is the duty of the commander to delay pursuit by occupying positions from which he withdraws at the last moment, without becoming involved in a general engagement, from the meshes of which it may be necessary for the Main Body to return and extricate him. The work also requires great moral courage, as it is the duty of the commander to risk the loss of his force if by so doing he is adopting the only means of saving the Main Body.

STRENGTH.—The strength of the Rear Guard will depend upon the energy, strength, and closeness of the pursuit, the condition of the Main Body (and whether it is withdrawing voluntarily or upon compulsion after an unsuccessful engagement) and upon the nature of the country, but it will generally amount to not less than {120} one-fifth or more than one-third of the whole force, and will be selected, as a rule, from those who have been least severely engaged.

COMPOSITION.—Its composition depends upon the work to be performed, and this calls for detachments of all arms of the land service, in addition to Aircraft, which can prevent surprise by reconnaissance over the hostile area and can harass the pursuing columns by day and by night by fire-action with Lewis guns and bombs. Mounted troops are required to extend the area watched and to prolong the resistance by reason of their superior mobility, in addition to their counter-action as cavalry. Artillery are required to open long-range fire on the enemy's columns and so to cause delay by deployment; and to concentrate upon them while in, or emerging from, a defile. Infantry and Machine-gun Platoons are required for prolonged fire-fights and local counter-attacks, during which sudden bursts of machine and Lewis-gun fire will do the greatest execution. Engineers provide sappers for the creation of obstacles and traps, and for the demolition of bridges and viaducts. Mechanical Transport may be required to add to the mobility of the infantry. The Medical Service is called upon to provide attention and ambulances for the wounded and for the sick and worn-out troops.

DISTRIBUTION.—The Rear Guard is divided into two parts—the Rear Party and the Main Guard. The Rear Party consists, like the Vanguard of the Advanced Guard, of patrols and supports; the rest of the force forms the Main Guard, and marches in the order in which the troops are required, viz.: Artillery (with escort), Mounted Troops (if any remain over from the Rear Party), Infantry, Medical Services and Ambulances, and the Sappers of the Royal Engineers. The guns can thus open fire whenever required, and the sappers, who are furthest away from the pursuit, will have the longer time to prepare obstacles and demolitions, the {121} latter being completed by the Rear Party. Communication must always be secured and maintained between the Rear Party and the Main Guard, and between the Rear Guard and the Main Body.

DISTANCE.—The distance at which the Rear Guard works is governed by the duty it has to perform, viz.: to permit the withdrawal of the Main Body to be carried out without interruption by the enemy, and to effect this it will usually be necessary for the Machine Gun and Infantry Platoons of the Main Guard to keep within effective range of positions from which hostile artillery might molest the Main Body. The commander will probably remain with this part of his force, as its work is of the highest importance; in any case his position must be made known and there should be definite commanders of the Rear Party and the Main Guard. But while the distance separating the Rear Guard from the Main Body must be sufficient, it must not be too great, or the enemy may penetrate between it and the Main Body, and not only will the Rear Guard be cut off and liable to destruction but it will cease to protect the Main Body.

TACTICAL PRINCIPLES.—The tactical work of a Rear Guard is carried out according to the following principles:—

The Rear Party watches, and it must watch all the roads and tracks by which the pursuing force can advance, and is responsible that the enemy does not get round the flanks (which may or may not be specially protected by Flank Guards). Reconnaissance by Aircraft for the discovery of intended outflanking movements is probably of greater value in Rear Guard work than in any other military action. The Rear Party also resists the hostile advanced troops as long as possible, withdrawing before it is outflanked. "An outflanking manoeuvre is specially convenient when attacking a Rear Guard, for the latter cannot fulfil its mission once it has been turned" (Marshal Foch).

{122}

The Main Guard fights for time. If the withdrawal is more or less unmolested, or if such pursuit as is offered can be dealt with by the Rear Party, the Main Guard can continue its march, taking care not to close in on the Main Body; and while falling back it can demolish bridges, create obstacles, prepare ambushes, and so on, employing all devices (within the laws of war) for delaying the enemy. When hotly pursued it must gain time at all costs for the army it is covering, and must not allow itself to be driven back on to the Main Body; or it will hamper that force and cease to protect it. Time can be gained by compelling the enemy to halt to reconnoitre a position, by making him deploy into attack formation, and by making him go out of his way in order to envelop a flank. But before an attack reaches a position in such strength as to ensure success, and before the enveloping force can achieve its object, sub-divisions of the Main Guard will withdraw in succession under covering fire from those still in the line, which also withdraw in their turn under covering fire from the sub-divisions in their new positions, to tactical points further back, from which again they cover the withdrawal of the forces which had protected their own movement.

Certain points must be noted about the positions chosen for these successive fire-fights, and the choice of the positions is so difficult that an experienced staff officer should be specially detailed for the work, Positions chosen must be in the enemy's way and the lines of withdrawal to them must not converge; they must be easy to defend and difficult to attack; the flanks must be secure from direct attack and effective enfilade fire, necessitating a wide detour (and consequent gain of time from the enemy) before they can be threatened; long-range artillery fire on the lines of approach should be possible in order to delay and break up the enemy's advance; and each position chosen for the next line of resistance should be unseen by the {123} pursuing enemy, and sufficiently far away from the line last occupied to induce him to resume his march formation. This will necessitate a repetition on the part of the enemy of all the stages of the attack—the discovery and the report on the position, the decision to attack, and the deployment into attack formation. It will often be of advantage for a Rear Guard to take up a delaying position one or two hours before dark, as the enemy will then have to attack with darkness approaching and may wish to defer the attack until daylight, thus gaining several hours for the protected force.

"The first position taken up by a Rear Guard after an unsuccessful fight must be held longer, as a rule, than the subsequent positions, because when once the defeated army has got well away along the roads and has regained some semblance of organisation, the march continues without interruption unless some obstacle has to be crossed" (General Haking, "Staff Rides"). It can also be noted that as it is seldom the intention of the Rear Guard commander to deliver a decisive counter-attack, he can detail a very large proportion of his force to hold the successive positions, with local reserves, for purely local counter-attacks; and for the same reason, an obstacle in front of his position (which would make that position unsuitable for the Active Defence, as it would prevent the advance of the General Reserve to the decisive counter-attack) is most welcome in the Delaying Action of a Rear Guard fighting for time for its Main Body.

When at length a line of resistance is evacuated, the heavy artillery will be withdrawn first to move to a distant fire position, then the slow moving infantry and the light artillery (under the protective fire of the aircraft and mobile troops), and last the cavalry and other mobile troops, who by reason of their superior mobility, can hang on to the last and can protect the flanks of the Rear Guard as they fall back, before {124} resuming their work as a Rear Party, observing and resisting the advanced troops of the pursuing force.

During a close pursuit the Rear Guard commander will be called upon to exercise all his faculties and to exert all his tactical ability in handling his command. One of the most anxious times before him will be when the Main Body is passing through a defile, as such a passage will not only delay its march but will make its columns particularly vulnerable and helpless. In the case of defiles Napoleon's maxim must be borne in mind: "It is contrary to the principles of war to let one's parks and heavy artillery enter a defile if the other end is not held also." At Sannah's Post (March 31, 1900) the train was permitted to enter a defile caused by the banks of the Koorn River without the previous occupation of that defile, and all the wagons were captured. This not only emphasises the necessity for an Advanced Guard in retreat, but points to the need of tactical knowledge on the part of the Rear Guard commander, especially in mountainous country or in terrain cut up by woods and marshes, where the train is liable to cause delays, as the withdrawing force is compelled to march in a long drawn column. Extra time must be gained by the Main Guard to enable the Main Body to emerge from the defile. The Rear Guard commander must therefore adapt his plans to suit the country through which the Main Body has to pass, as well as the country in which he will himself fight Delaying Actions. A good map and ability to use it, and close co-operation with the Main Body, must be determining factors for success or failure.

TRAINING.—When troops are being exercised in Rear Guard work opportunities should be taken to explain the difficulties of choosing suitable positions, of withdrawing from them when involved in battle, of the paramount necessity for mutual support, and of accepting {125} any risk that may be required to safeguard the Main Body. Stress should be laid upon the importance of Fire Tactics (the judicious combination of Fire and Movement), the greatest of all factors in a successful Rear Guard battle, and upon the ability to read and understand a map, an essential qualification in all movements of troops and indispensable in Rear Guard fighting. From the map a platoon commander must be able to predict the probable line of the enemy's advance against the line of resistance as well as the best route to be taken when, at length, he withdraws his platoon to another fire position in rear; while he must be prepared to throw his platoon in local counter-attack on the flank or rear of an assaulting party that has become detached from its supports and therefore affords a fleeting opportunity for a local fighting success, and a rapid advance for this purpose along a route unseen to the foe, a speedy reorganisation after victory, and a rapid withdrawal to the point of issue, or to a line in rear, can best be achieved by use of the map and reconnaissance of the ground of the encounter.

EYE FOR GROUND.—One of the secrets of Napoleon's extraordinary successes was his "eye for ground." "It was not until I went to Jena and Austerlitz that I really grasped what an important part an eye for ground like Napoleon's, or blindness as to ground like his opponent's at both those battles, may play in Grand Tactics, that is, the art of generalship" (Colonel G. F. R. Henderson, "The Science of War"). The same was true of General R. E. Lee, particularly in the Wilderness Campaign, when it was not only the entrenchments but the natural features of the ground on which he relied in his defensive tactics. "His eye for ground must have been extraordinary. The campaign was fought over a very large area, an area of very close country, with few marked natural features; and yet in the midst of woods, jungles, and streams, with very little time at his disposal, he always seems to have selected positions than which none could have been stronger" (Colonel G. F. R. Henderson, "The Science of War").

EXAMPLES OF REAR GUARD WORK.—During the Retreat from Mons the Rear Guard of the II. Corps of the British Expeditionary Force delayed the pursuit by the daring and devotion of its cavalry and artillery, and by subordinating its plans to the interests of the Main Body enabled the Corps Commander (General Sir H. Smith-Dorrien) not only to throw off the pursuit but to effect a junction with the other wing of the British Army. The retreat took place after the First Battle of Le Cateau (August 26, 1914), and during the period of the retreat the insecurity of the British Army through the breakdown of a co-operating force rendered it liable to disaster. But the moral of Marshal French and his commanders, the stubborn fighting instincts of the British race, and the excellence of the musketry training of the Regular Army in times of peace, prevented the retreat from becoming a rout. The care taken in training the troops in Fire Tactics, and particularly in reloading with "eyes on the mark and butts to the shoulder," was most abundantly justified. The accuracy and volume of the rifle fire deceived the enemy as to the nature of the troops employed against them, and the dismounted troops and infantry with their rifles were reported as "battalions of machine gunners."

During the Second Battle of the Somme (March, 1918), the British III, and V. Armies fought a series of Rear Guard battles, and the enemy's advance was made at a very heavy cost. "Units retreated stubbornly from one position to another as they found them turned and threatened with isolation; but at many points fierce engagements were fought, and whenever the enemy attempted a frontal attack he was beaten off with loss" (Sir D. Haig's Dispatches). The machine gun proved its effectiveness again and again during the British {127} withdrawal, and twelve machine guns of the 63rd Division, posted in Les Boeufs (March 24, 1918), held up the enemy's advance from Morval at a critical period, and enabled the division to reach the position assigned to it. The losses inflicted on the enemy by machine-gun and rifle and Lewis-gun bullets were so heavy that by March 25 Von Below's XVII. Army was described in German dispatches as "quite exhausted." During the same battle a detachment of about 100 officers and other ranks, under the command of the Brigade-Major of the 61st Brigade, held the enemy at bay from early morning until 6 p.m. at Le Quesnoy (March 27, 1918) and enabled the 20th Division to retire to its destined position.

At the Combat of Rolica (August 17, 1808) the French General Delaborde was outnumbered by the Anglo-Portuguese forces under Sir A. Wellesley, and being driven from his first and second positions he withdrew to the mountains. During his retreat "he brought every arm into action at the proper time . . . and retreated by alternative masses, protecting his movements by short, vigorous charges of cavalry . . . and he fell back, disputing the ground, to Quinta de Bugagliera" (Napier).

In December, 1808, and January, 1809, General Sir John Moore withdrew to Coruna before the armies of Napoleon (and when the Emperor returned to Madrid, before those of Marshal Soult). "He conducted his long and arduous retreat with sagacity, intelligence, and fortitude" (Napier), and it is interesting to note that as in the Retreat from Mons in 1914 and at the Second Battle of the Somme in 1918, so in the rear-guard actions which preceded the embarkation of Sir John Moore's Army, the musketry of the British troops was the deciding factor: "the English muskets were all new, the ammunition fresh; and whether from the peculiar construction of the muskets, the physical strength and coolness of the men, or all combined, {128} the English fire is the most destructive known" (Napier).

At Bristow Station (October 14, 1863) during General Meade's campaign in Northern Virginia (after his defeat of General Lee at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863), a surprise attack by Stuart's cavalry and infantry from General Rode's Division caused the withdrawal of the Federal troops. General Warren covered the retirement and eventually withdrew his own forces unmolested after beating off several attacks with close-range musket fire.

Jean Victor Moreau, one of the greatest generals of the French Republic, became a general of division at the age of 33, and by his skill in extricating his forces from apparently certain disaster established in retreat a far greater reputation for generalship than his brilliant victories secured for him. In the spring of 1796 he defeated Latour at Rastatt and the Archduke Charles at Ettlingen, and drove the Austrians back to the Danube, but owing to the defeat and retreat of Jourdan he was compelled to regain the Rhine in a desperate and apparently hopeless effort. Yet he not only preserved his army intact but brought with him over 5,000 prisoners. In 1798 he again saved his army from destruction when hard pressed by the Russians and Austrians in Italy. Retreat was by no means his only or favourite manoeuvre, as he subsequently gained victory after victory over the Austrians in the campaign of 1800, drove them back behind the River Inn, and won the decisive victory of Hohenlinden (December 3, 1800), where the Austrians and their Bavarian allies lost 17,000 men and 74 guns against a total loss of 5,000 on the side of the French.



{129}

OUTPOSTS

Opposing forces come into conflict through the encounter of the Advanced Guards of moving columns; through the approach of a pursuing force to the Rear Guard of a retreating enemy; through the attack of a moving force on an enemy in position; and through the renewal of an engagement which has died down between opposing forces.

Every commander will endeavour to prevent interference with his plans and future movements, and while striving to surprise and outwit the enemy he will exert every endeavour to prevent the application of this vital principle by the enemy. The commander of a force that is at rest will require security for that force in order that its rest may be undisturbed, and he will require the security to be assured in order that his plans for the overthrow of the enemy may be developed. He will, therefore, detach a portion of his force to ensure this security by observation, to prevent the secret occupation of localities the hostile possession of which will interfere with his plans; and by resistance to hostile movements he will secure the rest of the Main Body.

The force detailed to protect troops at rest is known as Outposts, and their duty is to preserve the security of the Main Body. Outposts protect the Main Body from surprise by Observation, and if attacked they gain time by Resistance until the commander of the Main Body can put his plans into execution by the occupation of the position in which he intends to receive attack. Observation is carried out by Aircraft, by Patrols (mobile troops by day and infantry by night), and by Sentries; Resistance is provided by Sentry Groups and by troops {130} in defensive positions, called the Piquets, which have other troops as Supports. In certain cases a Local Reserve and a General Reserve are also provided.

STRENGTH.—Work in the Outpost Line is most exhausting. Not a man or a horse should be employed there if their services can be dispensed with, and although the number of troops allotted for the work depends almost entirely upon the nature of the country and the tactical situation, it is laid down in the text-books that if an unnecessarily large proportion of the whole force is so employed the force will suffer in efficiency. It can also be seen that although the work is of the first importance and fraught with the greatest difficulties, it is clearly possible for a comparatively small body of troops to carry it out. Observation requires intelligence and vigilance rather than numbers; Resistance can be provided by the Delaying Action on a wide front of small numbers of skilled troops with the relative advantage conferred upon them in defence by machine guns and small arms, and with the assurance of support from their Main Body close at hand.

OBSERVATION.—A force can only be regarded as secure from surprise when every body of the enemy within striking distance is so closely watched that it can make no movement by night or day without its becoming known immediately to the observers of the Outposts. By day the Outpost commander will carry out Reconnaissance some distance ahead of his position by means of Aircraft and Patrols of mounted troops and cyclists, while the commander of each Outpost company keeps the approaches to the position under observation by sentries, so posted as to see and hear unobserved by a hostile force. By night, the Aircraft and mounted troops are unable to render much assistance as moving patrols, and the work of Reconnaissance and Observation falls upon the platoons of the Outpost companies.

{131}

RESISTANCE.—For the purposes of Resistance the Outpost commander will rely upon his infantry and upon such artillery and machine guns as may be allotted to him, and if the area he is occupying is that in which the commander of the Main Body will meet attack the Outposts will be provided with a greater proportion of artillery and machine guns. Resistance is offered by the entrenchment of each Sentry Group in an all-round post, and depth and elasticity are given to the defence by the establishment of entrenched Piquets in selected, mutually supporting positions commanding with their fire every avenue of approach, covering the flanks of neighbouring Piquets, and so arranged in plan as to bring converging fire upon the enemy as he advances to the attack. These Piquet positions will be strengthened, when required, by the Supports, who will either assist in manning the defences of the Piquets or will occupy similarly prepared defensive posts on the flank. Local Reserves may sometimes be required for local counter-attacks, and in certain cases a General Reserve is provided. The degree of Resistance to be offered by the Sentry Groups depends on the tactical situation and will be specified by the Outpost commander. In certain cases the Sentry Groups are permitted in face of a heavy attack to fall back to the Piquets, but if they do so they must be warned of the danger of arriving headlong on the Piquet only just ahead of the enemy. In consequence of this danger such retirements are rarely permissible at night. The Piquets are generally posted on the Outpost Line of Resistance, in which case they hold their positions to the last man and the last round, until further orders are received from the commander of the force protected.

DISTANCE.—The distance of the Outpost position from the troops protected is regulated by the time the latter will require to prepare for action and by the importance of preventing the enemy's field artillery from {132} approaching within effective range of the ground on which these troops will deploy if attacked. Heavy guns and mortars, although motor traction gives them great mobility, are unlikely to accompany the enemy's Advanced Guard, and preparation to withstand or prevent their fire will not usually be required from Outpost troops. The effective range of shrapnel is 5,500 yards, the limit of the effective range of machine guns is 2,000 yards, and of Lewis guns and rifles the effective limit is 1,400 yards. The position on which the Main Body will deploy will thus be protected from the shrapnel of field artillery, if the possible fire-positions of that arm are brought under effective fire from machine guns 3,500 yards from the Position of Deployment, with Lewis guns and rifles about 500 yards further forward. On the other hand, especially in the case of small forces (against which artillery will not be likely to be sent), the distance must not be such as would permit of the Outposts being cut off, or as would necessitate the employment of an undue proportion of men on Outpost duty.

THE OUTPOST COMMANDER.—Before halting, a commander should first decide on his dispositions in case of attack, and then arrange the quartering of his command and the general position of the Outposts. In the case of a small independent force the commander of the force will usually himself detail the whole of the Outpost troops, and will either retain the command in his own hand or appoint an officer to command them, In such a case the disposition of the troops will probably be that of a perimeter camp, preparation being made against attack from all directions. In the case of large bodies Outpost troops will usually consist of all arms, and a definite commander will always be appointed. This commander will, when necessary, divide the Outpost line into sectors, delegating responsibility for the holding of each sector to the commander of a subordinate unit or formation, and defining the limits {133} of sectors by distinctive features such as trees, cottages, or streams. The tops of hills or the bottoms of valleys are not suitable as tactical boundaries, and roads should be inclusive to one or other sector, for a road used as a boundary may be neglected by one of the commands it divides under the impression that it is the duty of the other command to patrol it.

INFORMATION AND ORDERS.—The Outpost commander must have definite information on the following points:—

I. What is known of the enemy and information concerning friendly bodies of troops working against the enemy.

II. The intentions of the commander of the force he is protecting, where the Main Body will rest and the period it will stay there, and whether it is intended to engage the enemy if he advances, and if so on what position.

III. The general line of the Outposts, the troops at disposal for the work, and whether there are other troops on the left and right.

IV. The hour at which the Outposts are to be relieved and the place to which reports are to be sent.

After receiving the above information he will give such orders as are immediately necessary for protection against surprise. He will then allot the task of Observation to his mobile troops and will decide on a Line of Resistance for the Outpost troops. He will co-ordinate his arrangements with those of neighbouring Outpost commanders and will ensure that no ground on his flanks remains unwatched.

The Outpost commander will then issue orders to his subordinate commanders on the following points:—

(1) Information concerning the enemy and his own troops so far as they affect the Outposts.

(2) The general line to be occupied and his frontage and limits of each subordinate commander.

(3) The distribution of the mobile troops, artillery, and machine guns.

{134}

(4) Instructions as to the degree of resistance to be offered and the general line of the Outpost Line of Resistance.

(5) Special arrangements by night.

(6) Regulations as to smoking, fires, and cooking.

(7) The hour at which the Outposts will be relieved.

(8) The place to which reports are to be sent.

(9) Instructions as to the accommodation of the Reserves (if any are provided) and whether the Supports (and Reserves, if any) may take off accoutrements, etc.

When he receives information that the Outposts are in position, he will transmit the information to the commander who appointed him.

THE OUTPOST LINE OF RESISTANCE.—Retirements under fire to a supporting line are dangerous, especially at night. As a general rule, therefore, the Piquets should be posted on the Outpost Line of Resistance. Co-operation, intercommunication, and the exercise of command will be facilitated by placing the Piquets along well-defined natural features, or in the vicinity of roads. But the tactical situation may demand that the line adopted should afford facilities for a most stubborn resistance as well as facilities for observation, and the former necessity will far outweigh the latter.

If the force is likely to remain halted for several days, especially if the operations are likely to lapse into Position Warfare, commanding ground is of great value to the artillery, and the Outpost Line of Resistance will probably develop into the Outpost zone of a defensive position. On the other hand, if halted for only one night, artillery will not be largely employed, and commanding ground is not essential.

THE OUTPOST COMPANY.—The Outpost Company is the Outpost infantry unit, the company commander providing Piquets, Supports, and Detached Posts as required. Upon receiving his orders the commander will move his command, with due precautions against {135} surprise, to the allotted ground where the men will be halted under cover. Before proceeding to the part of the line assigned to him the commander of the Outpost company will detail a force to precede his advance and cover his operations, and the force so pushed forward will not be withdrawn until his Piquets have entrenched themselves. By the map he can decide the number of Piquets he will require, in accordance with the number of roads to be watched, the facilities for resistance, and the requirements for patrolling. The extent of frontage allotted to an Outpost company depends upon the number of avenues of approach (roads and tracks, and open, unfenced country) to be watched, and under ordinary circumstances a frontage up to 1,500 or 2,000 yards may be allotted to a company with 4 platoons at fighting strength. Each Piquet should consist of a complete unit and should be posted on a good defensive position. The Support (or Supports, if more than one is detailed for the company frontage) should also be composed of a complete unit, and should generally be posted 400 to 800 yards in rear of the Piquets, with good lines of approach to each. Detached Posts may be required, to watch an extreme flank, or to occupy a position in front of the Sentry line, where the enemy might otherwise collect unseen for the attack or initiate steps for hostile reconnaissance. A further use is to deal with traffic through the line, where a main road has no Piquet upon it. The Outpost company commander must inform his Piquet commander, and his immediate superior, of his position, as all reports received by the Piquets require to be sent to him, and his superior commander will need to keep in communication with him at all times. The first duty of a Piquet commander (who is almost invariably a Platoon commander) is to consolidate his position by entrenchment and by all available means, and to prepare a range card, so that the enemy may not approach without heavy loss; and if the Piquet has a Support ordered to reinforce it in case {136} of attack, the entrenchments must be constructed to accommodate the supporting troops (including the Sentry Groups thrown out, if these have been ordered to withdraw to the Piquet in case of a heavy attack). The commander must impress on all men of his Piquet the importance of gaining a clear mental picture of their surroundings while daylight lasts, so that they may the more easily find their way about by night. On his way to the position the Piquet commander will decide from the map what roads he has to watch and where sentries will need to be posted, and he will provide from his platoon, patrols and sentries (with the necessary reliefs for the patrols), will detail the various duties, and will make the necessary sanitary arrangements. His sentries should be posted as expeditiously as possible, and his patrols sent out at once. The number of patrols to be furnished depends upon the nature of the country, and as each patrol requires two reliefs, their number should not be greater than circumstances demand. The duties of infantry patrols are to search the ground and buildings, etc., for about 2,000 yards in front of the sentry line, to find out whether the enemy is there or not, and if the enemy is found to be close at hand to watch his movements and report frequently. The number of Sentry Groups depends upon the nature of the country and the height of the line of observation, but between them the groups must be answerable for the whole of the ground in front of their Piquet (up to its junction on the left and right with neighbouring Piquets). A Sentry Group consists of 6 men under a N.C.O. (2 on duty and 4 off), and groups are usually posted not more than 400 yards from their Piquet, and hold their ground unless ordered to withdraw. If invisible from their Piquet a connecting sentry should be posted by the Piquet commander. Sentry Groups required for night dispositions only will not be posted until after dark. In order to prevent the men of the Piquet being unnecessarily disturbed at night the N.C.O. and {137} men of each relief must be made to bivouac together, apart from other reliefs and from the remainder of the Piquet. A sentry will always be posted over the Piquet, to watch the Sentry Groups and connecting sentries, and ready to alarm the Piquet at any moment of need. Patrols consist as a rule of a complete unit of 3 to 8 men under a N.C.O., and should be formed of men trained as scouts, although it will sometimes be possible to use only single scouts for this purpose, owing to the vigilance of the enemy. Standing patrols may also have to be furnished, if required to watch some special point, particularly at night, or at the junction of roads converging towards the Piquet line, at cross roads, etc., when they are out of sight of the sentries. The Piquet will stand to arms, every man in his allotted place, an hour before dawn, and will remain alert until the patrols (which are invariably sent out about that time) have reported absence of movement by the enemy. Outposts are generally relieved at dawn, so that the force is doubled at the hour of danger. All troops in the Outpost Line must entrench themselves, if posted as sentries, or in the Piquet or Support positions, and must be ready at any moment to resist a sudden attack. A detachment of Royal Engineers will usually be available to superintend the consolidation of the main position.

DAY AND NIGHT WORK.—By day, the work of an Outpost Line will consist in Reconnaissance of the approaches for some miles by the Aircraft and mounted troops and cyclists, while infantry, with artillery and machine guns, hold the Line of Resistance. By night, the mounted troops will be withdrawn, except such "Cossack Posts" (standing patrols of mounted troops) and "Vedettes" (mounted sentries), as it may be deemed necessary to leave established in front of the line, while Aircraft will have much difficulty in discerning movement. The whole work of observation and resistance therefore falls on the infantry, who may be in their day {138} position or may be withdrawn to the reverse slope of a ridge, in order to obtain a sky line by night upon which to train their rifles.

Neglect of the Principles of War is almost inevitably followed by disaster, and Protection is the first of the Tactical Principles. During the later stages of the Franco-Prussian War a French force of the strength of a brigade was billeted in the Chateau of Chambord (December 9, 1870), which stands in a large park, near Blois. No outpost precautions were taken, and the Chateau was captured by two companies of Prussian infantry. The minor disasters suffered by British arms in the South African War were almost entirely due to neglect of the warnings contained in the official text-books. In spite of the established superiority of the Boers in mobility and vigilance the most elementary precautions against surprise were frequently neglected. At Tweefontein (December 24, 1901) a force of Yeomanry was surprised in an unprotected camp by a mobile force of Boers, and heavy losses were suffered. The mystic atmosphere of Christmas Eve was insufficient protection against the militancy of Christian De Wet.

BATTLE OUTPOSTS.—When a battle dies down at night, or when the forces are in close proximity and a battle is imminent, the whole of the troops must be kept in readiness for instant action. Protection by Outposts in the normal formation is generally impossible and can only be provided by patrols, who keep touch with the enemy without causing unnecessary alarms or looking for purposeless encounters, and by sentries over the Forward Troops, which take the place of the Piquets. The troops must be ready at any moment to repel attacks with bullets and bayonets. Unless otherwise ordered, the patrols should refrain altogether from aggressive action and should confine their operations to secret observation of the enemy.

It is, however, essential that touch with the enemy {139} should be maintained as advances, withdrawals, and other surprise movements, are usually prepared and often carried out under cover of darkness when hostile troops are within striking distance. In the American Civil War, by losing touch with the Northern Army, the Southern Army permitted it to escape although it had been very severely mauled. During the Third Battle of Ypres (July 31-November 6, 1917) the Allies renewed the attack on a six-mile front from Zonnebeke to Langemarck (the junction of the Franco-British Armies in Flanders). This action, known as the Battle of Broenbeck, or Brombeek (October 9, 1917), was marked by the successful repulse of counter-attacks by the 1st Battalion Royal Newfoundland Regiment through the correct employment of Battle Outposts. Germans massing for the counter-attack in Taube Farm were pinned by Lewis-gun and rifle fire, while a message sent to the supporting artillery caused the annihilation of the enemy; another attacking force was destroyed by Lewis-gun and rifle fire, before it was launched. A defensive flank was also formed under heavy fire, and from this flank a further counter-attack was similarly dealt with. The casualties of the Newfoundlanders throughout this battle were 50 killed, 14 missing, and 132 wounded out of a total strength of 500 all ranks, and the losses inflicted by them probably exceeded 800.

After the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 13, 1862) the Army of the Potomac under Gen. Burnside eluded the vigilance of Gen. R. E. Lee, who had defeated it on December 13, 1862. Burnside withdrew (December 15, 1862) across the Potomac to Stafford Heights with the whole of his army, under cover of a heavy storm. If special orders had been given by the Outpost commanders for constant and vigorous patrolling, and if scouts had been instructed to penetrate the Federal lines from time to time at all risks, Burnside could have been attacked at a disadvantage while on the move and should have been driven into the Potomac. {140} During the battle itself a Confederate Brigade was surprised in its own front line through failure to patrol a triangular wood which jutted out in front of the position and screened the brigade on the left with which touch was not maintained. At all times of action with enemy forces all ground to the front or flank must be kept under close observation, or surprise may lead to disaster.



{141}

TACTICAL RECONNAISSANCE

Reconnaissance during battle has been dealt with under "Influences on the Battle" and in other lectures, and owing to the close connection between the two subjects a number of points concerning reconnaissance in general have been noted in dealing with Protection. It has also been seen that observation by Aircraft, Patrols, and Sentries is essential to Protection both in Position Warfare and the War of Manoeuvre, and that Reconnaissance is the essence of Protection. There remain, however, two forms of Reconnaissance that have not yet been considered, namely: the Reconnaissance of a Position with a view to attacking it, and the Reconnaissance of an unoccupied position with a view to occupying it for defence.

RECONNAISSANCE FOR ATTACK.—The first of these is the constant duty of all commanders in the line during Position Warfare, and it is carried out by Patrols and Raiding Parties, who provide information which supplements the photographs and reports of the Air Service, and enables a commander to arrive at a decision. In a War of Manoeuvre reconnaissance by the Air Service is equally important, and it is supplemented by the work of the Patrols of the Advanced Guard, but principally by that of specially selected Intelligence Officers, working in conjunction with, or independent of, the Vanguard. Such officers would be in possession of information which it might not be possible to reveal to the commander of the Patrols of the Vanguard, and their special training would give an added value to their report. The chief {142} points to be ascertained concerning a hostile position are:—

I. The extent of the position occupied.

II. Weak points of the position.

III. Points, the capture of which would facilitate enfilade or reverse fire, and would thus render the rest of the position untenable.

IV. Best line of attack.

V. Supporting positions, for covering, converging, enfilade, and traversing fire.

It should be possible to gather this information without alarming the enemy, or giving notice of impending attack.

Information on further points can be gained by fighting, and Reconnaissance by Raids is a common feature of Position Warfare. By such means additional information can be gained, as to:—

VI. Names of regiments holding the position, judged from identity discs, badges, buttons, etc.

VII. Whether preparations are being made for an attack (discoverable by ear as well as eye), or bombardment, etc. (from examination of shell dumps, etc.).

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse