5 December 1916 – “No more mirrors”

After the changes in management of the Corps squadrons and the introduction of the intelligence corps, RFC HQ has also introduced some changes to the way contact patrols are carried out.

Wireless communication for this purpose has now been formally abandoned. It is seen as too likely to be informative to the enemy and, in any case, has rarely been used. The use of wireless will now be restricted to sending targets to the artillery under the zone call system. Furthermore the targets will be limited to ‘minenwerfers’, machine-guns and strong points holding up the advance, troops massing for counter-attack, or to immediate reserves.

The use of mirrors on the backs of the advancing infantry, has also been abandoned, simply because it is too unreliable due to the myriad of light-reflecting objects on the battlefield. From now on troops will only use flares to signify their position. These locations will be dropped back at HQ by message bag, followed by a personal report from the observer when the mission is over.

Communication between Battalion and Brigade head-quarters and aircraft in he sky will continue to be carried out by by signal panel or by lamp. Experience has shown that this method works, providing the aircraft is expecting the signal. The signalling of coordinates of areas of interest by HQs will cease however, as it has proved confusing and difficult to decipher by aircrews. Instead, the clock-code method will be used.


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