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John D Salt

Dunno how fashionable they are now, but in the old Cold War days smoke grenade use was indispensible to a British Army platoon attack — “Two up and bags of smoke”, as the saying used to be. Even a small coloured signal smoke grenade can provide a surprisingly good screen when conditions are right.
Of course you had to take note of which way the wind is blowing. I recall an Officer Cadet in my university OTC who tried to throw a smoke during a section attack, but a quicker cadet threw smoke before him, and his section commander told him not to throw. Unfortunately he already had the pin out; so he tried to get it back in, an attempt in which he was only partially successful. Then we had a change-round, I was put in charge of the section, and we did another section advance to contact. Unfortunately I had not noticed that OCdt Carruthers was advancing to contact with his rifle in one hand, and the smoke grenade with its half-in half-out pin in the other. When the exercise enemy started potting at us and I shouted “Take Cover!”, OCdt Carruthers took the opportunity to get rid of the recalcitrant smoke, yanking the pin fully out and flinging the grenade as far as possible straight towards the enemy. Not what I wanted, for the wind was blowing straight towards us. In a few seconds, the smoke had built up well enough to visually cut off one half of my section from the other, and I had the interesting experience of trying to command an attack by a section half of whom I now couldn’t see. The enemy’s view of us remained unhindered throughout. I had stern words with OCdt Carruthers at the reorg.

All the best,