Something I've been pondering for quite a while, and I wondered if any of the artillery experts on the forum might have any ideas.
On the western front (particularly), in instances where a RGA siege battery moved to a new position (let's use 6" howitzers as an example), apart from the actual movement of the guns and ammunition, I was wondering exactly what other work and logistics were involved?
Presumably if a battery was taking over a position from another battery (i.e. one that had already had the gun pits, dugouts, BC post, etc. prepared) it would simply have been a case of moving the guns into position (though I suppose during the winter of 1916 / 1917 on the Somme and during the 3rd Ypres 'simply' is probably not the right word to use!). But what about instances where a battery was moving to a completely new position? Would the battery members be responsible for preparing and constructing the new pits, dugouts, etc., or would this be done wholy or partly by RE, Labour Corps, or other personnel? Also, would the wooden gun platforms and other material be dismantled from the former position and brought up and reused in the new?
It's not something I've ever seen referred to in text before, and I wondered if anyone on the forum has any insights wrt this.
All the best
The Battery Commander would have been responsible for the reconnaisance of the gun position, position of the Battery Ammunition Column, and ensuring there are routes between them. He will also ensure there are routes from Battery Amminition locations to Divisional Ammunition Colums.
An advance party would have been sent ahead to start to prepare platforms. This is to create a firm and level base for either the gun or in the case of the 8 inch and 9.2 inch, actual gun platforms. If necessary they will also need to lay routes to the gun platform locations.
When deploying I believe the drill adopted was the movement of each gun on to it’s platform was a section task. Men from both guns would bring the first gun onto it’s platform, a few men from that gun would start to prepare it for action, the remainder work together on the second gun.
The Battery Commander woudl have established the Battery Director and with the aid of the Section Commanders start passing line. Once guns were laid on the Battery Zero Line, aming points established, camourflaging could then begin.
The Battery Command Post, Battery Exchange, and if necessary, wirelss station would set up, and it many cases dug in if no suitable location existed.
The Signallers would need to start laying and digging in lineto the OP’s (two per OP including lateral joins). If required, it may have been necessary to prepare OP’s in the front line if none were established.
Ammunition pits would need to be dug, and ammunition moved onto the gun platforms. This could be by hand if ammunition waggons could not be brought up to the guns.
Line would need to established to Brigade / HAG HQ, and if required to other locations depending on the proximity of BC Post etc. Signallers will establish communications and start to obtain the latest metological messages (from 1916 on wards)
If gun pits are required these will need to be dug, or breast work built up. I would suspect in may cases with gun pits this would require establishing one platform, get the gun into action, then start to dig the gun pit and establish that platform.
Crew shelters will need to established, and dugouts prepared. Digging in ernest would begin for some or all of these locations, Battery Command Posts, Battery Exchange, Wireless, Section Commanders, Officers Quarters, Gun Detachements, Officers, and ammunition.
Much of the digging would be part of the development of the position, though the Garrison Artillery Training Manual outlines annunmtion pits as part of the initial deployment.
In the Battery Ammunition Colum ground dumping of ammunition and possible digging in would be underway. Again, provision of crew shelers / dugouts etc would be required.
The logistical chain would need to be established. Ammunition is the priority and the routes to and from the Divisional Ammunition Control points established, and I believe should have been part of the Divisional Orders to all units so that Artillery Ammunition routes are known.
The paperwork trail of reports, indents for rations, forage etc etc need to established.
The Battery Commander will have deployed forward and will be ensuring he becomes familiar with the ground and his zones, as well as liasing with the Infantry. Once the Battery is ready to fire, he will be beging to register targets, and mark the zone.
And….. avoid counter battery fire and being gassed.
And…. Respond to calls for fire
Oh…… and try to eat, sleep, etc
Edited by ianjonesncl