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Remembered Today:

British Artillery tactics on 21 March 1918


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On the first day of Operation Michael on 21 March 1918. the defending British artillery was greatly hampered by the thick fog and the destruction of telephone lines to forward observation posts behind the forward outposts, which combined to leave many artillery batteries firing blind. Many batteries were blazing away into the fog at the original German trench line and therefore far behind the advancing German troops.

On page 98 of Lyn MacDonald's 'The Last Man' paperback edition which describes the German assault there are some extracts written by Gunner Walter Lugg, MM C 83 Bty, RFA. The extracts suggest that normally the battery engaged in indirect fire on an unseen enemy but on this occasion the advance of the German stormtroopers was so fast that the battery suddenly saw large numbers of German infantry just 300 yards away, causing the battery to fire large numbers of shrapnel shells at almost point blank range with a 0.2 fuse.

Is it possible to know whether these British guns were 18 pdrs firing shrapnel shells? A what range would they normally have been firing?

Thank you for any info on this


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Assuming its C Bty 83 Bde RFA, then it would have been 18-pr. In the lettered bty bdes RFA, A-C were 18pr, D bty was 4.5 How.

How long is a piece of string? Max range for Mks 1 & 2 was 7100m, for Mks 3-5 it was 10100 metres. Allow a few thou for the distance to the forward trenches and 'normal' fighting range would have been anything between that and max.

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