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Remembered Today:

Bombardment, Concentration, Barrage ...


Ruth Ward
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Can anyone help explain the meaning and/or difference between some of the following terms used in my grandfather's unit & brigade war diaries (or point me towards a suitable book):

Bombardment, counter-battery work (C.B. shoot ?), Registration, Gas/Neutralisation, Calibration, Harrassing fire, Barrage, Concentration, Instructional shoot, Destrcutive shoot with aeroplane, High explosive, Gas (lacrymatory v lethal - other?), Shrapnel, M.Q.N.F., N.F./G.F./X.X./N.F.A.A./ Call, Y's, Z's, A's, MOK's, NY's, MZ's, MA's.

I'm trying to get my head round how the Siege Battery operated.

Many thanks.

Ruth

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Counter-battery fire is what it sounds like - they were attacking a known gun-position to put it out of action. Registration is firing at a specified point that is intended to be a target at a later time and correcting the settings until the results were as good as they could be, with the intention to be immediately on target when the time came for the big show. It was clearly a warning to the enemy of something brewing so could be somewhat counter-productive. Calibration was an attempt to replace registration. The wear on the gun throughout its life affects its accuracy against standard tables for the type so if the gun could be taken to a range and test firings made the corrections needed for that stage of its life could be calculated and allowances made when the settings were being drawn up to hit a target. This allowed reasonably accurate fall of fire at the start of the operation without the need to fire before that.

HE, gas and shrapnel are different types of shell. HE explodes and hurls shell fragments across the landscape. Gas shells released their contents, of course, and could be very effective at counter-battery fire since the gas could linger if the circumstances were right. Shrapnel shells contain round balls within the shell-case, with an explosive charge at the base of the shell. They were usually fired on a time fuze so that the balls emerged and spread as a cone from the nose.

The letters XX and so on have been discussed in another, recent thread.

Keith

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Hello Ruth

I'll have a go at some of the easier ones!

Bombardment = shelling in general, usually directed at a specific target such as a town; also used to describe the heavy and systematic shelling of enemy positions before a major attack, such as the seven days preceding 1 July 1916.

Counter-battery or CB fire = shelling directed specifically at destroying enemy guns or gun positions.

Registration = the process of firing a few shots at a designated target, so that the distance, angles and fuze-settings could be noted, enabling fire to be quickly and accurately directed on the target when necessary.

Neutralisation = fire on enemy positions, especially guns, designed to restrict their ability to fire back. This could involve the use of gas shells, to make it difficult for the enemy gunners to stay with their guns.

Calibration = similar to registration, but sed of new guns in particular, to collect the data needed to establish what was needed to fire specified distances.

Harassing fire - shelling usually directed at road junctions, railways and the like, designed to inhibit the enemy's use of roads or railways for movements of troops and supplies.

Barrage = a "curtain of fire" used in conjunction with an infantry attack, whereby the target is a line on or behind the enemy trenches. A creeping or rolling barrage moves forward a set distance at set times, e.g. 50 yards every three minutes, so that the infantry can advance behind it.

Concentration = often used of moving troops into a designated area, or in an artillery sense, a number of guns firing intensively on one or more targets.

High explosive = shells filled with a chemical designed to explode violently on impact or after a time delay, producing a shattering effect, with the broken case then producing hot fragments of metal, sometimes wrongly described as shrapnel.

Shrapnel = shells filled with a number of metal balls, about the size of a marble. Designed to explode over the heads of infantry with the same effect as a blunderbuss or farmer's shotgun.

Lacrymatory (tear) gas = gas which irritates the eyes and respiratory passages, e.g. chlorine; lethal gas = gas designed specifically to kill, e.g. phosgene. Other gases such as mustard gas caused blistering of exposed skin.

Ron

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Keith, Ron & Sean - many thanks for the very clear & detailed explanations, & the links to other sources. All very much appreciated.

Regards, Ruth

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Some of the abbreviations look as if they are those in the 'Artillery Code', this provide short groups of letters that could be sent in Morse Code as speciifc orders or reports, particularly for the control of artillery fire.

It's also useful to remember that in WW1 terminology was still emerging, wasn't entirely standardised and wasn't always used 'correctly'.

Bombardment was a somewhat general term, but typically used for the preparatory fire on enemy positions before an attack, it would usually be in a specific timemframe, at a specific target with a specific type and amount of ammunition.

CB (meaning counter battery in WW1) means fire to attack the enemy's artillery, the purpose could be 'destruction' but this was extremely difficult, time and ammunition consuming so more usually the purpose was neutralisation. This was only effective for the period that fire was actually falling on the target. Artillery intelligence broadly meant the activities and product of processes to find, identify and record the enemy's artillery positions and what they were up to.

Harassing fire was directed at targets behind the enemy's front line, particualry at night, to disrupt their resupply, movement and rest. It wouldn't last too long on any one target and might not use a lot of ammunition.

Barrages were in various forms, but the basic pattern was to aim the guns of a battery at a straigt line, the lines of differnt batteries' fire would connect to make a long line. A standing barrage would stay in one place but generally the barrage moved, firing at one line, typically for several minutes then lift to the next line 100 yard further on. The fireplanning page of my web site http://nigelef.tripod.com/fireplan.htm deals with barrages in WW2 but they would have been very similar in 1918, a bit cruder earlier.

A concentration was the simpliest type of fire, the righthand gun of the battery (the pivot gun) was aimed at the order target location and the other guns fire parallel to it at the same range. However, to confuse matters concentration had another meaning as a small latteral correction to move the aimpoint of each gun in the battery onto the same as the pivot gun (the battery's artillery board was supposed to have a small table of these concentrationh angles pasted to it).

Not totally sure about an instructional shoot but I think it literally meant a shoot for training purpose, particulary of an new observer.

Registration meant firing at a target with an observer sensing corrections to the fall of shot. One the aim was right then firing stopped and the firing data was 'recorded' in the battery so that it could be attacked later.

Calibration is a bit more complicated, and instead of writing Gunnery 101 here see the Calibration page on my web site for the story http://nigelef.tripod.com/fc_calibration.htm

A destructive shoot from an aircraft merely meant the a/c pilot/observer wartched the fire, corrected it onto the target and if it started to drift off correct it again. Obviously they also watched the effect on the target.

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  • 7 months later...

Some of the abbreviations look as if they are those in the 'Artillery Code', this provide short groups of letters that could be sent in Morse Code as speciifc orders or reports, particularly for the control of artillery fire.

It's also useful to remember that in WW1 terminology was still emerging, wasn't entirely standardised and wasn't always used 'correctly'.

Bombardment was a somewhat general term, but typically used for the preparatory fire on enemy positions before an attack, it would usually be in a specific timemframe, at a specific target with a specific type and amount of ammunition.

CB (meaning counter battery in WW1) means fire to attack the enemy's artillery, the purpose could be 'destruction' but this was extremely difficult, time and ammunition consuming so more usually the purpose was neutralisation. This was only effective for the period that fire was actually falling on the target. Artillery intelligence broadly meant the activities and product of processes to find, identify and record the enemy's artillery positions and what they were up to.

Harassing fire was directed at targets behind the enemy's front line, particualry at night, to disrupt their resupply, movement and rest. It wouldn't last too long on any one target and might not use a lot of ammunition.

Barrages were in various forms, but the basic pattern was to aim the guns of a battery at a straigt line, the lines of differnt batteries' fire would connect to make a long line. A standing barrage would stay in one place but generally the barrage moved, firing at one line, typically for several minutes then lift to the next line 100 yard further on. The fireplanning page of my web site http://nigelef.tripod.com/fireplan.htm deals with barrages in WW2 but they would have been very similar in 1918, a bit cruder earlier.

A concentration was the simpliest type of fire, the righthand gun of the battery (the pivot gun) was aimed at the order target location and the other guns fire parallel to it at the same range. However, to confuse matters concentration had another meaning as a small latteral correction to move the aimpoint of each gun in the battery onto the same as the pivot gun (the battery's artillery board was supposed to have a small table of these concentrationh angles pasted to it).

Not totally sure about an instructional shoot but I think it literally meant a shoot for training purpose, particulary of an new observer.

Registration meant firing at a target with an observer sensing corrections to the fall of shot. One the aim was right then firing stopped and the firing data was 'recorded' in the battery so that it could be attacked later.

Calibration is a bit more complicated, and instead of writing Gunnery 101 here see the Calibration page on my web site for the story http://nigelef.tripo...calibration.htm

A destructive shoot from an aircraft merely meant the a/c pilot/observer wartched the fire, corrected it onto the target and if it started to drift off correct it again. Obviously they also watched the effect on the target.

Nigelfe

This is a very belated apology for not saying 'thank you' up until now for your very helpful and informative post. For some reason this thread does not come up on my list when I search under 'ruthw' & I hadn't figured out how to get notified about new posts when I started it. I had forgotten about this thread until today. (Senility no doubt!). Sorry! Anyway, thank you again. The information is very useful especially regarding 1 or 2 of Skirth's claims.

Ruth

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You'll probably be horrified to learn that a letter in Gunner (the regimental magazine) last month included a very positive letter about the Skirth book. The writer seemed to be pushing it.

Reading thru the posts, I neglected to point out that those before my own all used the post 1965 definition of registration, not the pre 1965 one.

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You'll probably be horrified to learn that a letter in Gunner (the regimental magazine) last month included a very positive letter about the Skirth book. The writer seemed to be pushing it.

Reading thru the posts, I neglected to point out that those before my own all used the post 1965 definition of registration, not the pre 1965 one.

Re the letter in Gunner about Skirth's book, I think I'm more surprised than horrified. Did you think there were any valid points in the letter? Most of the positive book reviews I've read seem to base their opinion on the 'fact' that it is a good read/story rather than on any sort of substantive evidence that Skirth's claims are true/plausible. It will be interesting to see if there are any responses to that letter in this month's Gunner.

Thanks for the note about the dates re registration.

Ruth

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