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I was reading a battle plan and I read that while some battalions went into the front line, some were " in support" what would this mean? and what difference would it make to the chances of the support battalion having a higher rate of survival in a battle?.


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No doubt someone can provide a more erudite explanation but the purpose of a "Support" battalion is precisely that.... to support the unit in the trenches ahead of it.

In attack, they would be tasked with following up the first unit to deal with strongpoints and consolidate the gains where the first unit would be weakened by casualties and otherwise be unable to hold their gains.

In defence, they would provide a refuge for troops forced out of their front line positions and be able to check the attack at their support line.

In battle, it's a fickle thing whether a support battalion would expect lower casualties, but they would still have to cross exposed territory where the enemy was still holding out, plus reprisal barrages of enemy shellfire would often catch the support troops as they moved up, as they would know where our trenches were but not which ones of their own had been captured or still had their troops in them.

I hope that helps

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The German defensive doctrine of immediate counter attack (modified after the Somme but never abandoned) meant that the support troops were often fighting off attacks on recently captured positions whose defences were pointing the wrong way and could suffer heavy casualties With regard to casualties my grandfathers battalion (10th RDF) suffered 50% casualties whilst in support of the RND

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