Saturday The cold wind continues & has risen in velocity Heavy snow fell during the afternoon Fritz shelled a little during the night & this a.m. At just before 6 pm Fritz opened up with his T[rench] M[ortars] etc but was soon stopped by counter work The rest of the night passed quiet
“Fritz was soon stopped” – this is the policy of “aggressive defence” at work. (1)
The Field Artillery and Trench Mortars, 5th CDA, will maintain an agressive [sic] spirit, losing no opportunity to inflict as many casualties as possible by systematic Harassing Fire … on areas where movement has been observed or suspected… Destructive Shoots on new enemy work… Sniping at all movement observed… Counter Mortar Work… energetically carried out, either with ground or aeroplane observation. (1)
Meanwhile sobering preparations for anti-tank defence are being set up: the 52nd Battery has been selected to receive an extra 18-pounder specifically to defend against a tank attack. (2) The gun is sited ahead of the other battery gun pits, in a site “specially camouflaged and protected by wire entanglements. Bullet proof cover will be provided, and dugout accomodation [sic] for the crew.” Ominously, a supply of water and rations for 48 hours is to be on hand for the crew. (3)
“Special Officers and men will be selected as crews of Anti-Tank Guns, which will have to be handled with great initiation, [sic] skill and boldness.” (4) Their task will be to deal with tanks appearing on Hill 70, (3) and they are reminded that “Every shot must be deliberate and fired for effect. There must be no indiscriminate gun fire in the rough direction of approaching tanks.” (4)
The photograph of a German tank comes from the German Federal Archives, via Wikimedia. It is an A7V Sturmpanzerwagen, of which only twenty were built, equipped with eight machine guns and a 57 mm gun. (5)
(1) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 13: 19. Defence Scheme February 1, 1918. Library and Archives of Canada.
(2) War Diary of the 13th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery. Vol. 13: 11. February 27, 1918. Library and Archives of Canada.
(3) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 14: 25. Appendix K page 1 (March 9, 1918) to Defence Scheme February 1, 1918. Library and Archives of Canada.
(4) War Diary of the Fifth Canadian Divisional Artillery. Vol. 14: 26. Appendix K page 2.
(5) Description of German tank Elfrieda, a photograph of which is in the Imperial War Museum.
Copyright 2018. See “More about this project.”