Drill regulations for quick-firing field artillery
Fire direction. For the firing battery, the duties of the different commanders were as follows :
– the battery commander directed both the adjustment and the fire for effect, taking care of technical features of the conduct of fire (range, height of burst of the shrapnel, and, if the platoon commanders had not a god view of the target, the direction) – he should occupy a place where he could direct the fire and observe the results of firing in the best way;
– the platoon commander 1) controlled that the orders of the battery commander were executed properly and the action of his guns was conducted accurately, 2) verified the firing data for his guns and, if he could see the target, calculated the correction in deflection, 3) during verified whether the shell went over the cover and calculated the lower elevation for firing from the position occupied by the gun, 4) firing in peacetime, verified that the direction of the guns did not constitute a danger to the observers and the guards;
– the gun commander controlled 1) that everything took place properly (loading of the guns, set of the fuzes, firing, supplying of ammunitions…), verifying that the clinometer, the level and the bar sight were set accurately, without slowing down the work of the gunners; 2) checked whether the tube returned in the correct position after firing and eventually ordered the aimer and the breech-blocker to push it by hands; 3) with progressive fire ordered the successive elevations.
Conduct of fire. The text listed the orders that the battery commander gave to prepare the data for firing from open, masked and covered positions or from an observation post, and to direct the adjustment and the fire for effect according with the Direction for firing in field and mountain quick-firing artillery, adding many examples of firing against different targets.
Disposition of the artillery in park. In park the guns were hung to the limber, with the pole forward, the support of the limber lowered, the crossbeam put in the pedestal. The ammunition wagon was placed 15 paces behind the gun, with the pole pointed towards the muzzle of the gun. The gunner, led by the aimer, took their usual places around the gun and the ammunition wagon.
In bivouac the battery was ordinarily arranged in three rows :
1) the fighting unit with the gun before its ammunition wagon, the first supply echelon and the battery reserve with the ammunition wagons paired back to back, and the field forge and the car with the entrenching tools in the last column – if the battery had a spare carriage, it was placed on the left flank;
2) the gunners, the drivers and the horses of the reserve in two lines;
3) the transport train with the field kitchen, the food supply cart, six forage carts, and the officers’ baggage car in a single line.
Ammunition supply. Timely replenishment of ammunition was of the utmost importance and every artillery commander was on duty bound constantly to regulate it :
1) the battery commander should know how many shells were available at the battery and where were located the battery reserve, the park artillery company;
2) the platoon commanders took care of the timely replenishment of the caissons assigned to their guns;
3) the commander of the first supply echelon took care of the timely replacement of his empty ammunition wagons with the ammunition wagons of the battery reserve;
4) the commander of the battery reserve arranged the means to promptly replace the empty ammunition wagons of the first supply echelon and of the battery reserve with shells from the park artillery company;
5) the feldwebel, the gunners and all the battery crews charged with the duty of supplying ammunition should look after to prevent the lacking of shells.
Every battery carried 332 rounds and another 100 rounds were carried by the park artillery company. Three wagons, one of supply echelon and two of the battery reserve, carried H.E. shells, the remainders shrapnel. The ammunition of the caisson that accompanied the gun sections was used first. When only a quarter were of the projectiles was available, the section commander stopped the fire and sent all the gunners, except the aimer, to the shrapnel-carrying wagon of the first supply echelon. Every gunner took one or two rounds and transferred them to the caisson of his gun, aided by the gunners of the supply echelon. The commanders watched that everything took place quickly. Then the empty caisson returned to the battery reserve, where it was refilled by the wagon limbers. The gun limbers were regarded as the last resort and should never be emptied, unless in exceptional cases. At any rate, they should be refilled as soon as possible. When two caissons of the battery reserve were empty, they were sent with a NCO to the park artillery company to be filled. Then they returned as soon as possible to the battery reserve, and their arrival was at once communicated to the head of the supply echelon and by him to the battery commander. The replenishment of ammunition should be carried only out of sight of the enemy, to prevent him to discover the approaches to the artillery position. If this was impossible, the ammunition should be carried by hands or by horses.
Communications. Sure and definite means of communications should be established between the artillery commander, the observation stations, the artillery batteries and the friend troops deployed nearby. The communications could be maintained by orderlies, signals or telephone. For this purpose, every battery had three orderlies and nine signallers, who could work also as telephonists.
By orderlies communications were maintained sending a courier every time the situation required it or arranging a chain of couriers. The chain was composed by some stations, with one or two men each, who should stay out of the enemy sight. Orders and information were transmitted from one station to another by flags or signals.
By signals orders and information were
transmitted by flags in daylight and by lanterns at night, using the Morse
code. Flag signalling was introduced in field artillery by these Regulations for the first time,
previously they were employed only by fortress artillery. Usually two
signalling station were placed, the transmitting one near the post of the
commander, the receiving one near the battery. They should be reciprocally
visible to the naked eye or, exceptionally, with the aid of binoculars, and
should stay always out of the enemy sights. If necessary an intermediate
station might be placed, when the distance was great. Every station had at
least two men, one to read the message, the other to transmit it. The flag
Telephone was regarded as the
most satisfactory means for transmitting orders and information, but it was
not sure enough to replace signals and orderlies, since telephone wires could
be easily cut by enemy fire. Therefore visual signals should be always maintained
in addition, to be employed when the telephone service was interrupted. Every
battery was equipped with 4 field telephones with batteries and
As a rule the battery commander was connected by telephone and by signals with 1) his battery, 2) the observation station, 3) the head of the artillery division; 4) the rear of the battery, 5) the friend infantry unit deployed in front of his sector, 6) the flanking troops.