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Trenches

fire, firing, enemy, cover, view, line, yards and troops

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TRENCHES. An entrenched zone con sists of an entire system of trenches and their auxiliaries, composed of wire entanglements and other obstacles, listening posts, lookouts, machine-gun emplacements, fire trenches, com municating trenches, trenches for reserves and supports, command posts, cave shelters, latrines and the like, occupied or susceptible of being occupied by a firing line and by its supports and local reserves.

Firing trenches are those designated prima rily for delivering rifle fire against an infantry attack and are usually constructed in short lengths for a squad, section or platoon, arranged so that they are mutually supporting and thor oughly cover the ground by both frontal and flanking fire. If longer than required for a squad they should be of an irregular or in dented trace and be traversed at intervals of from five to eight yards so as to give protec tion from enfilade fire and localize the effect of shell bursts.

If the firing trenches are located under fire when an attack has been halted the location is determined by the line at which the troops are forced to halt, and dig themselves in. This line may in some cases be a hostile trench captured in the course of the attack. Ordinarily each man will construct individual cover in the form of a lying trench, which he will gradually im prove to a sitting, kneeling or standing trench. Small adjustments of position may be made by the officers with a view to getting the best pos sible line under the circumstances. The individ ual pits are connected up into squad or longer length when night falls, and the trace and loca tion can then be rectified.

If the enemy has been found in a strong defensive position and an attack has not been made, or has resulted in a withdrawal, a line of firing trenches may be located under cover of night from 500 to 600 yards, or even more from the enemy, the exact distance depending upon the ground, the facilities for natural cover and the tactical condition. This line may be made fairly strong and complete before any further advance is attempted.. Then under cover of darkness or fog, or a heavy bombard ment, a new firing trench may be constructed at a distance of 200 to 300 yards from the enemy.

When not in the presence of the enemy a careful reconnaissance should first be made and the firing trenches can then be located with due regard to the terrain, the tactical requirements and economy of men.

The following general rules should govern the location of the firing trenches: (1) The field of fire should be such as to expose an attacking enemy to fire for at least the last 200 to 300 yards of his advance. To ensure this it may be necessary to clear the foreground. With well-trained troops a shorter field of fire may be sufficient, provided it is covered by frontal and flanking fire and is strengthened by a good obstacle, which should be well screened from the distant view of the enemy. (2) Concealment of the trenches is of the greatest importance. (3) The defenders should be screened from the enemy's view and shel tered from his fire by natural or artificial cover so arranged as to afford the maximum develop ment of rifle fire. (4) The foreground should contain natural obstacles to break up the for mations of attacking troops, but not afford them cover. (5) There should be good communica tions within the position and over ground that may be used for counter-attacks. (6) The trenches should not be placed too near unalter able features that reveal their location or fur nish good range marks for the enemy. (7) The location of firing trenches on the crest or forward slope, though exposing them to view and bombardment, gives a feeling of superiority to the troops and increases their morale; en ables the support, reserve, communicating and approach trenches to be well concealed; offers greater facilities for observation and for the assembly of troops for the assault close to the firing trenches and unobserved. (8) The loca tion of firing trenches behind the crest of a slight ridge screens them from view and fire of the enemy's artillery, unless he has in his possession high ground +Diving a view of the reverse slope. Special conditions, such as the enemy's local superiority in artillery, may jus tify the deliberate choice of such a position, but it must not be too far down the reverse slope, arrangements must be made to deny the enemy access to the crest of the ridge and there must be a number of saps forward to the crest to allow a continuous observation of the front slope. (9) In woods the trenches should be located 10 to 20 yards from the front edge; the natural appearance of the woods should not be changed, but a clear field of fire obtained by cutting some of the brush, small trees and low branches.

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