Wednesday, 18 April 2018

WW1 artillery - how it should be used.

Shock, horror - we've been deploying and calling in artillery wrongly for WW1 Spearhead.

I checked the Yahoo sight and the correct interpretation is thus;

Artillery that is integral to a regiment or is attached from a regimental heavy weapons company adds to the morale break point and can be called in by any fighting company.

Heavy and Super Heavy artillery can never be deployed on table.

Divisional artillery of less than 150mm or 8" can be attached to a regiment but can only fire as a direct fire weapon OR

It can be brigaded with a FO and attached in support - it does not add to the morale break point and because it is from division it will be called in on the divisional support chart.

The above line is very important and is the difference from WW2 Spearhead from which we are used to cherry picking divisional assets, attaching them to battalions and expecting a better chance of rolling for support.  WW1 is not the same and the rolls reflect the poorer technology and more rigid lines of communication.  As the rules state, in 1914 no army was able to call in indirect artillery unless you were in communication with fortress artillery or naval artillery.  As the war progressed communications and technology improved to allow calling in of artillery but it was nowhere near as sophisticated as WW2.

So, we need to appreciate that artillery is called in on the chart that relates to where it is organised on the ToE.  Divisional artillery can only be called in by designated FO in a regiment that is part of that division.  You may assign divisional artillery to a particular regiment but it is still called in on the divisional support chart - the only benefit is that you don't get a -1 if the divisional HQ has moved.

Artillery at Corps level is called in on the general support chart - again if you do assign it to a regiment the only benefit is that you do not get a -1 if the div HQ moves.

You can assign divisional artillery to general support, and as the rules indicate, this gives greater flexibility as more units can attempt to call it in.

If you buy any artillery assets at Army level then they must be assigned to general support.

The extra artillery allocated for preliminary bombardments are only available for preliminary bombardment.  The paragraph at the back of the rulebook is to emphasise that army level artillery you may have bought in for a scenario may be used in the preliminary bombardment and then must be allocated to general support.

But what about trench mortars I hear you shout (or before Russ contacts E-Bay)?  Divisional mortars can be attached to the regiments regardless of size BUT they are still called in on the divisional support chart.  OR they can be off table, and regardless of their limited range, can only be used against front line barbed wire or trenches.

In general, we have been looking at WW1 from a WW2 perspective.  Of course we want to attach as much artillery as possible to a regiment and punch through with a single unit - but this didn't happen. WW1 is the first period of warfare in which indirect can be called in but it is limited to where it is placed in the organisation.  The reality is that most artillery is preplanned and we will probably get more success with a well thought out artillery plan.

The other main use of artillery, especially for the heavy and super heavy guns is counter bombardment but that's another post..............

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