Forum Replies Created
The figures are support free. Henry Turner has carefully configured the STL files to ensure each layer is fully connected to the previous one during the print process.
The STL files can be scaled up, yes. I chose to print off at 6mm because that is my personal preference. It is a good test too, as the proportions for things like muskets, swords, etc do not scale down in a linear fashion. Super pleased with the results in this case. At 6mm, the figures have the right look, at least from my perspective.
As for French tanks, I wrote up an After Action Report of our replay of the Battle of Matz, 1918. This was a major counter-attack by the French, supported by Schneiders and St Chamonds. The descriptions include quotes from various German regimental histories relating to the experience of facing French tanks:
There is one description that gives credit to Scharfschützen and other heavy machine gunners for knocking out some tanks that advanced onto an exposed reverse slope but the killers were the field guns, not the machine guns.
This series of quotes, mixed with some of my comments, is from ‘Bullecourt 1917’, by Kendall:
“Eleven Mk IIs set out to support the infantry attack on 11th April 1917. They were divided into three sections: right, left and central. The right flank section comprised four tanks. Two of these tanks were to stop German counter-attacks from the Quéant Line, which formed the eastern edge of the German reentrant. ‘Both tanks were the focus of German machine gunners’. Despite this attention, ‘the right-hand tank commanded by Lieutenant Puttock experienced clutch problems, forcing it to return to the railway line’. The railway line was at the start of the attack, so the German machine gun bullets failed to stop the tank. The second tank ‘…was hit by German [shell] fire and abandoned…’. The remaining two tanks (799 and 586) reached the Australian first objective line, which was the trench known as OG1. Tank 586 got stuck at one point. An infantryman observed:
‘I remember a chap standing next to it, with a short piece of iron from amongst the big cogs beneath the wheels, and cursing like a bullock whilst the bullets were rattling like hail on the tank itself.’
The tank got moving again but was then taken under direct artillery fire from the German second line of defences. It was put out of action.
Tank 799 reached OG1 and then moved on. It came under shell and Minenwerfer fire. Leutnant Schabel fired more than 1,200 armour-piercing MG rounds at the tank at a range of 150 yards. As the tank turned, the last three bullets hit the fuel tank. The explosion incinerated some of the crew. The others were captured.
There were three tanks in the centre section. One was hit by a shell, which broke a track. The second tank got stuck in the barbed wire entanglements in front of OG1. A shell hit the fuel tank, causing an explosion. The third tank was also hit by a shell, which decapitated the driver. The tank was abandoned.
The left section was tasked with getting into the village of Bullecourt. One of the tanks was hit by a shell, which tore a hole in the roof. After the tank was abandoned, the crew returned and restarted the engine. The tank was withdrawn back to the starting line. A second tank ‘worked… along the German trenches towards Bullecourt and inflicted casualties. The tank was hit by German shells on two occasions with everyone inside receiving wounds. [It] continued the fight and took out a German trench mortar.’ This tank remained in operation until all the ammunition was used up. The third tank was late in arriving but entered Bullecourt, where it was ‘subjected to heavy German machine gun fire. Little flakes of metal were flying around inside the cabin as the bullets pelted the tank and slightly wounded some of the crew inside. [It] cruised around the village, shooting any Germans visible. The enemy fled in disorder.’ The tank became held up by a crater, whereupon it came under indirect Minenwerfer fire. The crew abandoned the tank and made their way back to the British lines. The fourth tank was hit by German shell fire soon after crossing the start line.
Note that shell fire was the killer of tanks. Note also that the Mk II had the weakest armour, by far, of all the British heavy tank versions. The Germans machine gunners had liberal supplies of SmK ammunition during the Battle of Bullecourt, as you can tell from the record of 1,200 rounds being needed in the one case where a tank was incapacitated by MG fire.
That seems a sensible suggestion for an indirect fire MG barrage.
There are definite examples of a ‘big man’ requesting a change in targeting for MG teams that accompanied infantry forwards to consolidate captured ground. There was an example from Westhoek, in Third Ypres, where a Vickers MG section had gone forward and was laid to cover a potential line of counter-attack. An infantry company commander spotted the Germans coming from a different direction and pointed this out to the MG section NCO, who changed the point of aim.
There are accounts such as you describe but what I have tried to do is to marry such anecdotal accounts with what actually happened to the overall performance of the individual tank as a whole weapons system. I will see what quotes I can pull together to illustrate.
It was common if there was warning of the attack coming. SmK rounds were in relatively short supply because of the hardened steel core. The development of the T-Gewehr anti-tank rifle was due to the failure of SmK ammunition.
FWIIW, I read the issue of stoppages during sustained fire as meaning, if there are multiple targets in the fire lane, a stoppage is cleared automatically after each incident. It is very rare to read of incidents where men on the receiving end experienced any let up that could be attributed to a prolonged stoppage.
When an enemy approaches within 12″ of an on-table MG that is utilising sustained fire then the change to direct fire is automatic. This reflects a command decision by the not-so-big-but-bigger-than-his-colleagues-on-the-MG man.
When lines were close together then MGs were not risked in the front line at all. It would have been the most restrictive option for an MG to be used that way – no line of sight; no field of fire.
My comments about indirect barrages related to the comment that you quoted, not to your mention of these being a British tactic. I have studied the other nations and there were definitely instances of German indirect barrages, for example during the Battle of Langemarck in 1917. And the British trained French machine gunners in indirect barrage fire too.
To be honest, the armour-piercing German SAA (Spitzgeschoss mit Kern or S.m.K.) used in machine guns had very little effect at all on the functioning of British tanks. The Battle of Bullecourt saw the use of British MkII training tanks with soft steel armour plate. Although the Germans shipped in stocks of the AP ammo ahead of the battle, the accounts of the tank crews indicate some damage from small arms fire but the effect was limited. Later marks were almost impervious, with spalling being the worst effect. AP rounds were only used in direct fire, not in sustained or barrage fire.
With respect to stoppages and sustained MG fire, the concept only applies when two or more Groups enter the designated MG fire lane. An individual enemy unit may benefit from a ‘stoppage’ but every unit must be fired at individually regardless of whether a ‘stoppage’ occurs for one or more units. IMHO, 8.2.1 should take precedence over the last sentence of 8.2.2. in terms of understanding how stoppages work with sustained MG fire.
As to the question of HMGs having to remain on sustained fire, this was their standard way of operating. HMGs were set up to fire along fixed lines to create a fire lane (at close range) or a beaten zone. Direct aimed fire was used in response to specific threats, hence the 12″ proximity rule enabling an HMG to come off sustained fire. My Grandfather was in the New Zealand Machine Gun Corps and he talked to me a lot about how the Vickers MG was used. It was rare to use direct aimed fire. A change to direct aimed fire could be made by the NCO in charge of the MG section and did not rely on the local infantry commander to order such a change.
Machine gun barrages were not unique to the British army, though these barrages were used far more by the British than the Germans. The French used them too. The barrages were used to interdict the movement of reinforcements. I would not recommend using them on-table in a game like TMB. If you think about the ground scale of a TMB table then a machine gun barrage (i.e. a beaten zone created by several MGs firing by the map in indirect fire mode) would be 5-10 tables away, at least.
The idea of sustained fire MGs relates to the more usual way that HMGs operated. There were a few examples of MGs being set up in the front line itself and firing about knee height in a straight line. This approach was used in some of the 1915/16 battles in French Flanders, where trenches were built above ground and MGs were positioned in hardened nests within the sandbagged trench line. These MG nests were extremely difficult to spot and they were set up to fire along the face of the trench line in enfilade, not across No Mans Land to the enemy trenches immediately opposite.
More typical was for MGs to be located further back or, if in the front line, to fire laterally onto No Man’s Land in front of a neighbouring unit. By this means, interlocking zones of fire were created with one sector being responsible for covering the MGs in another sector. This process was counter-intuitive to infantry commanders, who wanted MGs to focus on the front to which they were assigned in the same way that riflemen did. Hence the move to create separate commands for MGs in all armies.
Off-table sustained MG fire represents by far the most common way that MGs operated in the scale of TMB. The MGs would be situated several table widths away most likely, firing onto the game table in pre-determined lanes of fire or onto beaten zones. The starting point for a lane of fire is within 6″ of the point on the table edge where the friendly trench line meets the edge but between the friendly trench line and the enemy trench line or far table edge if there are no enemy trenches on table. This is designed to represent the MG fire entering the table in enfilade from a MG(s) positioned off to the side of the table, not firing from behind the table. The other point of the fire lane can be marked on the opposite table edge or along the enemy rear edge.
Returning to the question about company- or battalion-level actions, my preference is to use Crossfire (see website here). Although it was designed as a WW2 game, there is no need for rulers or measuring anything. This makes the ground-scale totally flexible, so Crossfire does not get caught in the trap of assigning WW2 frontage distances to equivalent strength WW1 units.
Crossfire is dependent on terrain-dense battlefields. Line of sight and targeting of enemy units can occur along the whole length of a wargames table if there is no intervening terrain feature that provides concealment. In practice, the potential for this feature fits with trying to play games that mimic the very long open lines of sight in battles like the Somme (on 1 July 1916 for example, units of XV Corps near Fricourt were taken in enfilade by MGs firing from Fricourt on one side and La Boisselle on the other flank over distances of more than 1,000 yards). Games that are based on these types of battles are either not very satisfying or not very realistic when the line of sight issue is abstracted out of the game to make it workable.
At one level, it doesn’t matter if a rule set abstracts out some of these things. If the game is fun then the main goal is achieved. What follows, therefore, is a personal view only. Many weapons systems in WW1 had very long lethal zones, stretching well beyond a conventional wargames tabletop for a company- or battalion-size game. A company would occupy a frontage of around 125 yds for example, which sets the approximate width of a table for WW1. Rifles, machine guns and artillery could reach out well beyond this sort of distance. The challenge is to find scenarios that legitimately obstruct line of sight by providing plenty of concealment and/or cover.
Here is a first example. It is a fictional encounter, though based on the engagement battles that took place in the final stages of the Race to the Sea in late 1914. The battlefield is based on the terrain that existed near Ypres prior to the war, with farms and fields associated with hedgerows that have been cleared post-war. The table features a small village with four sets of farm buildings (apologies for the French spellings, which use the wrong gender for the colour adjectives). The buildings were supplied by Crescent Root:
Another view of the battlefield:
In this view, the British advance guard (a mix of infantry supported by a squadron of dismounted cavalry, an MG, and an 18 pounder field gun) is advancing in the foreground:
Here is the squadron of German dismounted dragoons advancing to contact near White Farm. The German force also included a company of infantry supported by an MG and by a field gun:
And a photograph of the see-saw action that took place near White Farm as the encounter battle unfolded:
Battles of this nature took place throughout the first 3 months of the war on the Western Front, during the German retreat to the Hindenberg Line in early 1917, and during the last months of the war for example. There are ways to utilise the mechanics of Crossfire for other types of battles during the more static ‘trench warfare’ periods.
Here is the map from RIR 210 history. Kollmann- and Hammer Switch (“Riegel”) trenches are marked on this map. The battalion HQ is ‘Batl. Gef. St.’, which was in 25th Canadian Infantry Battalion’s sector. ‘R.Pi.P’ (top right) is the dump of supplies for the pioneers, located in the quarry. ‘Zuckerfabrik’ is the sugar factory:
I have been going through the German regimental histories again (Reserve-Infantry-Regiments 210, 211 and 212, as well as Reserve Fieldartillery Regiment 45) to piece together as many details about the defence of Courcelette from a German perspective. The histories are very good but, not surprisingly, the information is not complete. RIR 210 was responsible for the Courcelette sector. It had two battalions forward, I. and II. The third battalion was in reserve, at least 2-3 km from Courcelette.
From what I can deduce (I. and II. Battalions took very heavy casualties), II. Battalion was defending Kollmann- and Hammer Switch trenches. Hammer Switch lay in the direct path of the left half of 2nd Canadian Division’s attack in the morning, as did the eastern end of Kollmann Switch. 6th, 7th, and 8th Companies all took heavy casualties in the morning. They amalgamated together eventually, maintaining the defense against the outer flank of 2nd Canadian Division. 5./210 RIR was defending the sugar factory. It appears to have been destroyed completely by the attack there.
I. Battalion appears to have been responsible for the defence of Courcelette. The regimental history shows the battalion headquarters in the village itself. 2nd Company, two platoons of 3rd Company, and ‘part’ of 4th Company (not more than 2 platoons) were assigned to hold Sachsenriegel (see the map above). There is no mention of 1st Company, which was most likely destroyed trying to hold Bayernreigel. The defenders of Sachensriegel took heavy casualties before the combined Canadian assault on Courcelette itself. The defenders lost contact with neighbouring 212 RIR, due to the enfilade fire by the Canadians along Bayernreigel. The losses were so great that, just before the assaults by 22nd and 25th Canadian Battalions went in, the commander of I. Battalion ordered forward all orderlies, ration carriers, and construction company personnel to dig in along the southern edge of Courcelette. They were joined by the two remaining platoons of 4th Company. All communications were lost and the next thing that the Regiment HQ learned was that Courcelette was captured. There are no details of the fighting within the village, almost certainly because all of the German defenders were either killed or captured (22nd Canadian Battalion was credited with capturing 200 prisoners for example). There is reference to a stout defence on the northern edge of Courcelette by orderlies, etc, preventing the Canadians from going beyond Courcelette. This is nonsense because the edge of Courcelette was the objective limit of the Canadian advance.
The MG Company of 210 RIR suffered heavily. Almost all MGs were knocked out. There is mention of one MG that operated near the village, perhaps the one that fired on 25th Canadian Battalion. The MG cooling jacket was perforated multiple times and two of the gunners then managed to escape. They managed to join II. Battalion, which suggests they might have been further to the southeast and therefore a different team.
Based on these details, I think it is possible to estimate the strength of the German force defending against 22nd Canadian Battalion. It will then be possible to work out what was facing our single platoon in the example above.
Here is a German photograph of Courcelette village prior to the September attack. The caption says 1916 but probably before June 1916. The village was hammered heavily before 15 September:
The terrain appears flat in the ‘aerial’ photograph above but it was possible to reproduce the rolling terrain features of the entire battlefield. This is the area around Thièpval:
And a wider angle view along the Ancre river valley, with Thièpval on the right:
It is hard to conceptualise a multi-division attack along a several kilometres front. Here is an example, which illustrates about half of the total length of the Somme battlefield on 1 July 1916:
To give some idea of the scale, you can probably just make out some of the brown colour stands in the bottom right of the photo. Each stand is an infantry company. If you mentally zoom in to that level and then think how each stand would represent 4 platoons and each platoon represents 4 squads then it puts the whole squad-level skirmish game into a different perspective, at least so far as WW1 is concerned.
In relation to company- and battalion-size actions, there is a major problem that needs to be taken into consideration. WW1 saw wider dispersion of troops compared with Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian War battles for example but still significantly more compressed than WW2, by an order of magnitude. Here is a map illustrating the point, with overlapping battles from the three eras that involved roughly the same number of combatants in each case:
The ‘table-top’ example above illustrates the point. The platoon advanced on a very narrow front and over a long distance. I included the approximate location of the German force just south of Courcelette because the single MG in this vicinity could have easily wiped out the 22nd Battalion platoon anywhere en route from the jump-off point to the line of the standing barrage. Based on the table scale, the MG model would have been more than 5 table widths away. Furthermore, if the platoon was the only unit to attack then every German defensive unit within a huge radius would bring converging fire to bear.
The same type of problem impacts on company- and battalion-size games too. The success of the Battle of Flers-Courcelette is that it took place over a frontage of 5.6 km and involved multiple divisions. Some of the narrow frontage battles in 1915 illustrated how the Germans could defeat such attacks with heavy concentrations of artillery firing from three sides – the front and both flanks. Wider frontage battles meant that the German defensive capabilities were diluted, driven by the need to cover the entire width of the attack. Only the outer flanks could be defended with converging fire but only from the front and one side, compared with the three sides mentioned above. Special considerations were needed to manage these flanks from an attacking perspective. These considerations fell to the Canadian Corps on the left flank, specifically to 2nd Canadian Infantry Division as Courcelette lay on the outer limits of the whole British attack scheme.
The Canadian plans for the attacks on Courcelette and Martinpuich benefitted from lessons learned after 1st July 1916. This was the fateful first day of the Battle of the Somme, which was the largest frontage attack ever attempted by the British Army to that point in the war. Two of the British Corps involved on 1 July (XIII and XV) made significant progress on that day. They captured Montauban and Mametz, as well as forced the Germans to abandon Fricourt that night. It is interesting to note, however, that these successes were marred by high casualty rates in some battalions. In some cases, whole companies were virtually wiped within minutes by MGs firing in enfilade from distances of 1000 m plus. These were well off-table from a company- or even a battalion-size game perspective.
My interest is in higher level games predominantly. The challenges posed by the much more compressed nature of the battlefield are better addressed at division, corps or even army levels IMHO. It is definitely the case that WW2 rules cannot be adapted as a ‘lift and shift’ process for WW1. I have seen examples where WW1 variants of WW2 rule sets have grossly over-estimated the frontages. For example, one Mons scenario had a British infantry battalion defending ten times the frontage of its historical counter-part.
I will post some more thoughts and experiences soon.
I totally understand your point about ‘inspired by actual events’, JozisTinMan. Here is an attempt to represent what an historical scale table might look like for the advance of a platoon. This example is based on the presumed path of the left flank platoon of 22nd Canadian Infantry Battalion during the final assault on Courcelette:
The church and other buildings can be presumed to have cellars and dugouts. Bear in mind that 26th Canadian Infantry Battalion was responsible for mopping these up, so 22nd Battalion likely only engaged those few German defenders who tried to emerge as soon as the creeping barrage passed over. The men of 22nd Battalion followed close behind the barrage once they reached it, suffering a few casualties as a result according to one secondary source.
I will comment on your question about company- or battalion-level actions separately.
Thank you for the confirmation, JozisTinMan. The details of 22nd Infantry Battalion’s attack are very interesting, both from the Canadian and German perspectives. What follows is based on both sets of accounts. It highlights some of the challenges in creating scenarios at this tactical level in WW1. The assault on Courcelette was part of the much larger Battle of Flers-Courcelette. The Canadians were operating on the left flank of this battle. The villages of Courcelette and Martinpuich were key objectives on that flank. 2nd Canadian Division had the task of taking Courcelette. The task was divided into two separate assaults. The first was launched in the morning of 15 September 1916. The German first line trenches were captured, along with the ruins of the sugar factory just south of Courcelette. The sugar factory was the location of German Reserve Infantry Regiment 211 headquarters. The battle for the ruins is commemorated in a famous painting:
A standing barrage was maintained on the southern outskirts of Courcelette after the first phase of the attack was completed. The barrage was in place at 1815 hours, i.e. the late afternoon of 15 September. 25th and 22nd Infantry Battalions were not involved in the first wave attacks but made their way forwards through German barrages to the vicinity of the sugar factory. The assault on Courcelette was then launched at the same time as the barrage starting creeping forwards again:
The above map shows the sugar factory (labelled ‘Chimney’) and the route taken by 22nd Battalion into the right side of Courcelette (blue-dotted line). The standing barrage is marked with a heavy purple line. The one minute lifts are marked with semi-transparent purple lines. The precise formation adopted by 22nd Battalion is not recorded but it likely followed that of its sister battalions, including 25th Battalion on the immediate left. 25th Battalion assaulted the remaining two-thirds of the village. It took casualties from a group of German infantry, including an MG08 team, located near the building furthest south and just outside the standing barrage. 25th Battalion charged these defenders, who were in Reserve Infantry Regiment 210.
The map shows how the elements of 22nd Canadian Infantry Battalion crossed approximately 1400 yards of open ground before entering Courcelette. This move started at 1815 hours; 22nd Battalion was on all objectives and consolidating at 1900 hours. The movement of the creeping barrage shows how this rapid movement was achieved. The barrage threw up huge clouds of dust and smoke; FOOs reported seeing 22nd and 25th Battalions jumping off but then they disappeared from sight. Both battalions were each followed by two companies of 26th Battalion. It was these companies that were responsible for mopping up the dazed defenders in the numerous cellars and dugouts within the village.
Based on the formation adopted by 25th Battalion, I have illustrated the approximate width of 4 infantry sections in 22nd Battalion using the semi-transparent blue lines, one of which goes through the village to the furthest northern objective line and the other goes through and then right to the cemetery. In practice there would have been 4 such lines progressing abreast of each other in the first wave, followed by a second wave about 100 yards or more behind. The left hand line in the map above crosses a trench line and then two sets of buildings before reaching the remnants of a wooded area on the northern side of Courcelette in that sector.
Here is an aerial photograph of Courcelette taken after the map was drawn and around the day of the attack:
I have marked up some of the key features related to 22nd Battalion’s attack, as well as the approximate location of RIR 210’s force outside the barrage in 25th Battalion’s sector.
During the assault, it is reported that 22nd Battalion engaged in about 10 minutes of bayonet fighting within the built-up area but the clearing out the village itself was carried out by 26th Battalion. 22nd Battalion’s major fights were against the multiple counter-attacks throughout the night and early morning of 16 September, which were carried out by Reserve Infantry Regiment 212 and remnants of RIR 210 and 211.
In your Blog post, you mention that the scenario authors included historical details of the game in ‘Play the Game’. The French-Canadian contingent in the Canadian Corps was 22nd Brigade. Is this correct? Do the authors provide the date of the original action that the scenario is based on? Thanks.
Here she is with a primer undercoat:
Getting the right tools was a huge help. Just need a steadier hand when placing the…. whoops.
Thank you, Thomaston. The boats are attached to photo-etched brass derricks. I am slowly mastering the use of photo-etched parts.
Thank you for the feedback.
Here is an example of what can be achieved with Irregular Miniatures 6mm figures. These are WW1 Russians painted up as Bulgarians:
Fraktur becomes easier to decipher if you persevere. The subtle, sometimes indistinguishable, overlap between ‘f’ and ‘s’ can be a bigger issue. The difference between ‘aus’ and ‘auf’ is like night and day.
Glad to see that you can remain John… and not Iohn.
Upper-case ‘J’ was a recognised representation for upper-case ‘I’ in Fraktur, though publishers and writers varied in this use. The use of ‘J’ is illustrated in this map, taken from the German official history of the Battle of Mons. The likes of J.D. Nr. 18 is frequently translated as 18th Jaeger Division as another example. The ‘J’ refers to ‘Infanterie’, as in J.D. = Infanterie Division and J.R. = Infanterie Regiment:
Thank you. The quality of resin 3D printing is improving all the time. The models were printed with 0.025 mm layers, which means there is no visible stepping. With these smaller-end scales, the main consideration is increasing the width of barrels, recuperators, shields, etc disproportionately compared to the true scaled-down measurements. It takes a bit of practice to get these differences sorted but the advantage of 3D printing is that I can quickly organise another print run to test changes.
Thank you for the review. As you surmised at the end, the residual evidence of folds should become even less noticeable over time.
My understanding has come from the same source predominantly. For example, the 9th Cavalry Division war diaries reported on 20 August 1914:
“La Section de Mitrailleuse du 1e Dragons est détaché du 3e Dragons”
For the French machine-guns, you could use ‘SdM’ or ‘CdM’, depending on the scale of the unit. ‘SdM’ is short-hand for ‘section de mitrailleuse’; ‘CdM’ is ‘compagnie de mitrailleuse’.
The term ‘automatic rifle’ was used originally to distinguish between a bipod-mounted direct fire weapon versus the tripod-mounted weapons capable of laying down indirect fire in beaten zones. The ammunition feed mechanisms were not part of the definition.
Robert30/06/2020 at 09:13 in reply to: Any advice on WWI specialist troop employment please? #139183
The Cyclist Company from the French 9th Cavalry Division kept a war diary. The first two paragraphs for August 20, 1914 read:
“The Advance Guard of the 9th Cavalry Division moved towards Neufchâteau via Straimont. A troop from 3rd Dragoons formed the point. At Straimont, the Captain learned that a squadron from the 2nd Hussars (4th Cavalry Division) had been engaged [earlier] in the morning in Neufchâteau against German cavalry, to the disadvantage of the latter. Once the northern exit of Neufchâteau was made secure, the company advanced towards Longlier. The company reached the town, following behind Squadrons Bossut and Pastourel that had been sent on ahead to reconnoitre with two cyclist sections under the commands of l’adjutant Vadel and l’adjudant en chef Leprince respectively.
On exiting Longlier, the men were stopped by fire from dismounted [German] uhlans; Squadron Bossut dismounted with Cyclist Section Sontay to the north of the road, facing the woods 1,500 m northwest of Longlier. The woods had been organised for defence by the enemy [which may be a reference to the triangular wood that was mentioned in the account of the German 87th Infantry Regiment]. Section Fertaud (2nd Platoon) prolonged the line to left with Lieutenant Filippi; 1st Platoon deployed to the right of 2nd Platoon south of the road, with part of a section on the road towards the bridge. The machine gun section from 1st Dragons came into the line north of the road with 2nd Platoon.”
Robert30/06/2020 at 09:06 in reply to: Any advice on WWI specialist troop employment please? #139182
French cyclists fought alongside their cavalry colleagues. At Longlier, for example, French cyclists were responsible for point guard and then holding Longlier against the German infantry and divisional cavalry patrols. They created barricades and then used fire/manoeuvre to withdraw.
The first British soldier to be killed on the Western Front was a cyclist on recce patrol. Cyclists were used to support infantry division cavalry squadrons in close reconnaissance, whereas the main cavalry brigades were for longer distance recce missions.
One German division saw its regimental MG companies increased from 6 to 15 guns in August 1916. One month later, 6-gun MG companies were then assigned to each battalion. 1916 also saw the emergence of Marksmen MG Companies, which were higher level assets. These companies were parcelled out as required, depending on major offensive or defensive operation requirements.
The Machine Gun Corps (and its variants such as the New Zealand Machine Gun Corps, which my Grandfather served in) was developed to solve a fundamental problem related to the coordination of machine gun fire, particularly on the defensive. Machine guns worked best when fired in enfilade. This meant that if you wanted to protect the frontage of an infantry battalion in the line then it was better for MGs of the two flanking battalions (right and left) to fire across the front of said infantry battalion. This relates to concept of interlocking mutually supportive fire zones. When MGs were under the command of infantry officers in battalions then the tendency was to ignore neighbours and focus the battalion MGs to the front.
Likewise there was a need to coordinate fire during offensive operations too, particularly with the introduction of. MG barrages.
Lewis guns were referred to as automatic rifles by MGC to reinforce the notion that they were short-range automatic weapons. Tripod mounted weapons were needed, along with the skills associated with laying beaten zones, etc, to deliver long-range aimed indirect fire.
And here are details of OP4 near Amiens. It is a quote in ‘Band of Brigands’ from an action that took place on 23 August 1918. This was 15 days after the opening of the Battle of Amiens, when the British Third Army took the lead in the rolling series of battles that characterised the last 100 days:
‘[2/Lt] Bell’s tank had not proceeded very far before a bullet struck the right-hand sponson severely wounding the gunner. He immediately jumped out and nothing more was ever seen of him afterwards. Several more bullets struck the tank and two more gunners were hit. The anti-tank rifle was spotted by the man who had taken the 6-pdr gunner’s place. He immediately layed the gun and fired, blowing the rifleman and all his gear to smitherens. [Another rifle opens up with AP rounds which] penetrated the cast-iron cylinder of the water jacket pouring out boiling hot steam.
Another pierced the front cab and wounded the hotchkiss gunners. There were now only three effective men in the crew; the engine would be too hot to run, so Bell started to return. Armour-piercing bullets still struck and penetrated the tank but so far the driver had escaped. After about 150 yards the engine seized up…’
Based on this one example, it is clear that multiple hits could be absorbed by late war British tanks. In this case, the tank was put out of action because of the hit on the water jacket. Prior to that, the tank (as opposed to individual crew members) could return fire. So long as there was a driver and an engine, it could still squash enemy too (a major part of the offensive capability of WW1 tanks).
Here are the details of the Infanterie-Lehr-Regiment tests, that I have translated from the original:
“In 1918, the German Lehr Infantry Regiment conducted live-firing tests with T-Gewehrs. A British heavy tank was used as the target. On 25.9.1918, Army Group Crown Prince presented a report of the results to OHL:
1) All 4 shots at the fuel tank, which struck at an angle of around 60°, richocheted away. The tank would have remained battleworthy.
2) Four rounds were fired at the door, observations slits and MG port in the sponson from a range of 300 m, impacting at an angle of 45°. One round penetrated and the rest richocheted away. The tank would have been capable of moving and fighting.
3) Four shots were fired as described in 2) but impacted at an angle of about 90° from a range of 200 m; one shot penetrated, one bounced off, and two missed. The tank would have remained battleworthy and would have only become incapacitated by severe damage to the engine.
4) All 3 shots fired from 100 m penetrated the targets described in 2). A tank crewman operating the machine gun or main gun would have been injured or killed and the engine damaged. The tank could possibly have been incapacitated.
5) Three shots fired at observation slits and gun ports from an angle of about 75° and a range of 100m resulted in one round passing through the open gun port, a ricochet and a miss. The first shot would have knocked out the machine gun, injured or killed the gunner, or damaged the engine. The tank would eventually have become immobile.”