Directive for the artillery reconnaissance

 

 

Observer_2

 

 

Since the main sources of the Bulgarian Instructions for the employment of the field quick-firing artillery in combat (i.e. the French and Russian instructions) paid little attention to the artillery reconnaissance, the Artillery Inspection issued a special Упътване за артилерийското разузнаване (Directive for the artillery reconnaissance), which examined in deep the question, adding some minor changes.

 

Re connaissance. The tasks of the reconnaissance were: 1. to provide information about the enemy; 2. to secure information which would favour the movement and deployment of the guns; 3. to provide for the security of the artillery when such the security was not provided for by the other arms. Every battery had three scouts (разузнавачи) and two observers (наблюдатели), all being NCOs. In addition every artillery officer and as many people as possible should be trained to perform the duties of scouts, and all the officers, warrant officers (feuerwerker) and non commissioned officers of the battery should be trained as observers of the target.

 

Remote reconnaissance (reconnaissance of the targets). The aim of the remote artillery reconnaissance (далечно артилерийското разузнаване) was to inform promptly the head of the artillery about the strength and the position of the enemy at the beginning of the combat. For this purpose, the scouts determined the strength and the attitude of the enemy artillery, examined its position, the ground in front and behind it and its approaches, and followed out the changes in these dispositions that occurred from time to time during the progress of the action.

 

At the beginning of the military operations, the battery dispatched its three scouts, the artillery division the battery scouts under the command of the division scout officer, and larger units like regiments, the division scouts under the command of the senior scout officer.

According with the 1905 Instructions, they were dispatched when the troops entered in the sphere of influence the enemy and a combat was regarded as probable. They moved with the cavalry of the advanced guard, but when the enemy was located, they left the road and occupied a good observation post, moving covertly. The Directives added, that, in order to more successfully and timely perform their tasks, they might go out with main body of the remote surveillance, or even before it, slinking in front of the enemy mounted patrols and reconnoitring even behind them.

The remote artillery reconnaissance should dispatch patrols for its own security, and move away from the main direction of travel, keeping connections with the head of the cavalry, since he might give information about the enemy. Accurate reports should be made not only the enemy was in position, but also when he was moving.

 

After the determination of the enemy’s location, the scouts should as soon as possible submit to the artillery commander an accurate report giving every information which could interest him (strength of the artillery, state of the position, emplacements of the batteries, nature of the ground, deployment of the troops, location of observatories, entrenchments, dummy batteries etc.). If possible, without prejudice of the rapidity, panoramic sketches, that were very useful to understand the situation, since they gave information that the map of the commander did not contain, should accompany the report.

 

After the beginning of the combat, the remote reconnaissance turned into the observation of the battlefield. The observers observed the effect of the fire on the enemy and the attitude of the enemy both in the immediate vicinity of their own artillery and near the target. For this purpose they choose a suitable observation post, from which they could watch at the same time the targets and the batteries.

 

Close reconnaissance (orientation). The aim of the close artillery reconnaissance (близко артилерийското разузнаване) was to collect the most detailed information about the ground features of the battlefield and to perform some technical works to help the lower artillery heads in occupying the position and opening fire. For this purpose, the orienting patrols looked out appropriate positions for the artillery and assisted the head of the artillery in the choice and exploration of the emplacements.

These duties were carried out by the orienting officer (офицер-ориентьор) taken from the battery, one orderly and one scout, equipped with rangefinder and battery telescope. When the troops come into direct contact with the enemy (less than a stage) or the remote artillery reconnaissance had located the enemy, they moved with the advanced guard, informing the head of the artillery of the situation and exploring every possible positions for deploying the artillery in the area he had chosen. When they noticed that the enemy was leaving his position, they leave their observation post and choose another one.

They should secure information as detailed as possible about 1) the location of the enemy, the emplacements of its artillery and the positions of the units deployed nearby; 2) the location and disposition of their own troops; 3) the terrain in the neighbourhood of the position chosen for the artillery and the best methods of approaching it. In addition, they should obtain firing data, prepare perspectival sketches, and tabulate data to assist the head of the artillery in directing and conducting direct and indirect fire.

The head of the artillery dispatched the orienting officer every time the remote artillery reconnaissance reported that the enemy had occupied or was occupying a position, and when he was informed by the head of the Detachment about the task of the artillery and was ready to take a decision. Therefore, to avoid wasting time, he should have close to himself the orienting-officer.

Before sending the orienting officer, the head of the artillery gave him:

1)    essential information about the enemy;

2)    indications on the map about the direction or the position where the main force of the enemy artillery was deployed or was supposed to be deployed;

3)    notes about the area where he assumed that his artillery would come into position;

4)    his assumptions about the forthcoming course of the action of the artillery;

5)    directions about how much time he had at its disposal;

6)    information about the actual position of the remote artillery reconnaissance.

 

Direct reconnaissance and surveillance. The direct reconnaissance (непосредственно разузнаване) included the roads reconnaissance, the fast reconnaissance and the marking of a specific route, the reconnaissance of the approaches and of the ways of retreat, the protection of the flanks.

Usually the heads of the ammunition wagons of the fighting unit and the battery reserve or the supernumerary scouts attached to the staff were designated as scouts of the roads (разузнавачи на пътя). They preceded the advanced guard of the artillery of 1 km, reconnoitring the state and the practicability of a given route or exploring a section of country to select the best routes for traversing it, when the commander indicated only the direction.

Tracing enabled to follow a direction without problems, when the movement was not everywhere possible and orienteering was hard. The head of the artillery designated the route-markers (жалоньори) upon the command of a non-commissioned officer and ordered the route to be traced. The marker indicated the correct route, acting as guide if necessary over terrain where the route was difficult to follow.

As a rule, field artillery, in movement and in position, was guarded by the troops of the other arms; but when this protection was lacking, the head of the artillery should post scouts in the front or on the flank. In combat, the scouts of the roads should guard the flanks of the artillery unit. When the artillery in column of route had to pass the infantry that was going before, the scouts moved forward and advised the infantry commanders to give way.