29 October 1916 – Rawlinson Realizes

The lessons of the offensive on the Somme have finally proved to Sir Henry Rawlinson, the Fourth Army Commander, along with other high ranking military e value of aircraft in artillery work.

rawlinson

Sir Henry Rawlinson

So much so that today, in a letter to General Headquarters he submitted that all artillery squadrons should be placed, except for purely technical matters, under the direct orders of the Corps Artillery Commanders. He went on to describe how matters could be further improved:

“To ensure perfection we require:

(1) Experience on the part of the artillery in matters of organization and executive. This is very important and is being dealt with.

(2) The observers must be highly skilled. Aeroplane observation for artillery purposes is skilled work of a very high order. With an unskilled observer the best trained and best equipped battery is useless. The large percentage of effective shoots carried out with aeroplane observation have been the work of a few men.

(3) The number of observers and machines must be adequate for the tasks to be undertaken. Aeroplane artillery observation is trying work, the amount which one observer can do in a day is strictly limited, casualties are not uncommon, and the observers require rest from time to time.

(4) Intimate relations must exist between the artillery units and the Flying Corps units working in combination.”

There was also some overdue recognition for the work of observers and he urged that steps should be taken to increase the number and quality observers and that, if necessary, officers should be taken from the Corps artillery and trained for air work.

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