Creeping barrage

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
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Peter H
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Creeping barrage

Post by Peter H » 30 May 2007 10:43

Would it be fair to say that the Ottomans never mastered this tactic?

I have read British accounts of Mesopotamia and Palestine 1917/18 that comment on this i.e a lack of such infantry assaults following closely the artillery barrage.

http://europeanhistory.about.com/od/wor ... epingb.htm
Summary: A slowly moving artillery barrage acting as a defensive curtain for infantry following closely behind, the Creeping/Rolling Barrage is indicative of the First World War, where it was used by all belligerents.

Invention: The creeping barrage was first used by Bulgarian artillery crews during the siege of Adrianople in March 1913, but the wider world took little notice and the idea was invented again in 1915-16, in response to both the static, trench based, warfare into which the initially swift movements of the First World War had stalled, and the inadequacies of existing artillery barrages.

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Bill Woerlee
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Post by Bill Woerlee » 30 May 2007 11:28

Peter

G'day mate

I have thought long and hard over this very issue and tried to come to an answer as to whether it was possible or if they mastered the technique. The only theatre I have looked at is the Palestinian campaign.

In the Sinai, there was no ability to mass the artillery for a creeping barrage for two reasons.

1. The asymetrical nature of the forces opposing each other meant that the Turkish artillery was always on the defensive rather than the offensive. When they tried concentrated offensive fire, urgency of fire support on the flanks force a collapse in the schema.

2. Supply problems ensured that artillery was always short of shells and the batteries were limited in the number of guns they could service. Every shell had to be transported slowly by camels from supply railheads either from Gaza or Auja. Which ever route was used, supply was a long, difficult and arduous affair with the ever present problem of airborne interdiction. The activity of Ben-my-Chree along the coast presented an ever present threat to supply lines.

By the time the fight was taken to Palestine after the fall of Gaza, the Turks were constantly on the backfoot. They had lost nearly all their first line troops and artillery in the disasters against Russia and at Baghdad. There was nothing left in the pantry so artillery support was only for defensive purposes. The last assault of the Turks in Palestine was more by way of a last hurrah at Abu Tellul on 14 July 1918. This was a German attack and a consequent disaster as the Turks pulled out of the attack and left the Germans hanging out to dry. Poor artillery preperation.

So was it a case of no mystery or no opportunity to apply the principles? Probably part of Column A and parly Column B.

Cheers

Bill

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 30 May 2007 14:40

Thanks Bill.

Dr Erickson also stresses that Liman von Sanders had adequate artillery and machine guns on the Palestine front in September 1918 but he did not inact a flexible defensive strategy i.e give ground where needed and then counterattack.If then this then failed,pull back.An inflexible policy of holding all ground was in existence.and once the front was broken everything collapsed.He relates that von Sanders had no experience of German defensive tactics employed on the Western front since after the Somme in 1916,and was still in a 1915 Gallipoli mode of mind.

Counterattacks would have employed creeping barrages as well.I think your right though--part a doctrine lapse,part a shell supply lapse.Also creeping barrages needed communication assets, to be fully effective and done right.Lack of wireless,signal resources may also have played its part.

Regards
Peter

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