The employment of quick-firing field artillery in combat





Relationship and duties of the different heads. Giving orders and instructions all the heads were directed only by the tasks that had been assigned them. The responsibility for a correct employment of the artillery bore on the head of the main unit Division or Detachment to whom the artillery was attached. The senior head of artillery assigned to the Detachment or to the Corps was the head of their artillery. He executed the orders and directions of the head of the Detachment. If the Detachment was reinforced with additional batteries, they too were subordinated to the head of the artillery. When some artillery units entered in the composition of a contingent fighting independently, they were tactically subordinated to the head of that sector of the front and the senior officer of the artillery present there took on their direction. Single batteries occupying positions in marginal sectors of the front were subordinated to the head of the sector or to the head of the artillery unit, if he was the only one, who could direct its fire. In combat, the batteries were directed by commands, orders and conventional signs, the Detachment mainly by orders. Signal should not be used.


Communications. Since the quick and sure transmission of order and reports was basic in a modern war, the different heads should be permanently connected by the most modern means of communications, like telephone, telegraph, and heliograph. However since personal communications might be cut off, they could be connected also by orderlies. Having good communications with his subordinates, the head of the artillery was able to influence the action of the artillery with appropriate orders and instructions, and at the same time was constantly informed about the progress of the combat thanks to timely reports. At that purpose, he should ever inform his subordinate about his position, avoiding as much as possible to change it.

Communications were assured by orderlies as follows:

1)    every battery and the first echelon of the park company sent a warrant officers (feuerwerker) to the head of artillery division as soon as the march began;

2)    every head of artillery division sent a reserve officer or a good warrant officer (feuerwerker) to the head of the artillery of the Division or the Detachment as the march began;

3)    every head of the artillery of a Division, Corps or Detachment sent a reserve officer to his superior head of the artillery and to the head of the Division, Corps or Detachment when he left his superior.

As a rule, every orderly was charged to keep communications only with one head; if a head temporary carried out more duties an adequate number of orderlies should be sent to him. Usually orderlies brought orders from the higher heads; coming back, they could be charged to deliver him some verbal or written reports. As a rule, reports to the higher heads were carried out by adjutants, comingback they could be charged to bring some orders.


Choice, reconnaissance, occupation and changes of the positions. The Instructions presented the same indications of the Field service regulations for quick-firing field artillery, detailing the duties of the different heads during the reconnaissance of the position:

   the head of the artillery : 1) gave directives about the enemy and the targets chosen by the head of the Detachment to be shelled, 2) the front and the characteristic of the area assigned to him, 3) choose the positions, distributing them among the units under his command, 4) assigned the target to the batteries that should open fire at first and the areas where the remaining batteries should operate, 5) designated the artillery division, and eventually the batteries, that should occupy observation or awaiting positions, 6) gave to the head of the artillery divisions detailed information about the tactical situation;

   the head of the artillery division 1) reconnoitred the area assigned to his batteries, his primary targets, the front and the area assigned to his unit, 2) assigned the position of every battery, indicating, if necessary, the way to occupy them, 3) designated the batteries that should open fire at first, distributing the targets among them, 4) designated the batteries that should occupy observation or awaiting positions, 5) stated where the ammunition wagons and the reserve should deploy;

   the battery commander : 1) reconnoitred his sector, setting the position of the battery, and the place where he would stay, taking care that from there he could observe the fire and easily control and command the battery, 2) set how the guns should be deployed inside the area assigned to the battery, 3) reconnoitred his target and determined the initial firing data, 4) gave order for the battery entered in action without delay.


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