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  #1  
Old 06 Apr 12, 14:12
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The effectiveness of barrages in World War II

Can anyone point me to research related to the effectiveness of artillery barrages in World War II? Surely the ability to hit specific targets had improved over the first world war making it possible to more effectively remove entrenched forces?
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  #2  
Old 06 Apr 12, 20:21
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Originally Posted by wolfhnd View Post
Can anyone point me to research related to the effectiveness of artillery barrages in World War II? Surely the ability to hit specific targets had improved over the first world war making it possible to more effectively remove entrenched forces?
Not exactly research but a nice article on coordinated artillery usage by the US Army in WW2.
http://www.timeontarget.us/book.html
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  #3  
Old 06 Apr 12, 21:35
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Not exactly research but a nice article on coordinated artillery usage by the US Army in WW2.
http://www.timeontarget.us/book.html
Personal opinion, extremely uncomfortable if you are on the receiving end BUT it is an amazing thing that you take some of the well known barrages of various spots in the 2nd WW from Russia to Normandy and on to other areas of the war and pound them mercilessly for hours until the place is in ruins,the barrage stops and the troops move in and what do they find? Men ready and waiting prepared to fight furiously amongst those ruins. No, artillery was not that crash hot during that little 6 year fracus and that includes Naval bombardment which was supposed to be the 'El Supremo' of them all. You ask some of the blokes that landed in the first waves on the Normandy beaches,or perhaps at Monte Cassino. I am not saying that it was useless it was a terrific spectacle but often did not do half of what it set out to do. lcm1
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Old 06 Apr 12, 21:39
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Thanks!
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  #5  
Old 06 Apr 12, 22:01
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I'll endorse what 1cm wrote. Astute commanders knew the assualt force had to practicaly arrive with the last round of the artillery or mortar attack. Other wise they would find the enemy leaders already out of the bunkers or trench bottoms and at the MG. Even just four or five getting a pair of MG into action could save a company position from being overrun by a assualt. A 1944 report from a USAAF air liasion officer stated that the air attack had to arrive precisely on time. If it came too early the assualt force could not take advantage of it. In this case the report was refering to attacks by medium bomber groups, 25 to 30 bombers dropping concentrations of up to sixty tons. The report noted that 45 minutes was sufficient for the defenders to completely recover.

All this assumes the bombardment is against a prepared position. Deep holes, trenches, bunkers, ect... Where the attack is against men or tanks in the open its a entirely different matter. In many cases massacre might be the best term.

Another factor is that to the inexperinced observer a bit of light artillery fire can look much like a very large attack. I used to see this in training exercises where we would fire a few token cannon rounds to save the tax dollars. Many of the non artillery types would be overly impressed by the big clouds of smoke and dust our hand full of shots raised.
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Old 06 Apr 12, 23:39
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We are currently conducting Barrage testing for an upcoming mod in an SEOW campaign. The campaign is Sarata, additional information on the campaign can be found here http://seowhq.net/seowhqforum/index.php

Barrage data was partially taken from the following link

http://nigelef.tripod.com/wt_of_fire.htm#Quantitative Effects

While the expectation to reproduce real life effects is limited some compensation for the limitations of the simulation engine can be introduced by tweaking morale effects.

I find that participating in these events often increases my interest in history and that is the case with this discussion.

Thanks to everyone for participating.
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Old 07 Apr 12, 02:26
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All depends on conditions.

Hitting troops in the open with well-placed fires of the right shells (VT for instance) could prove devastating. You wanted maximum shrapnellation for hitting troops in the open though.....HE too often dug in deep and made big holes in the ground which didn't kill or maim nearly the troops that a VT attack would....and the HE could also create instant foxholes for men to get into. In the open another key factor is how veteran the troops are. Green troops might be massacred wholesale as they bunched up, but veteran troops would dive into ditches, hollows, holes, cellars, and any other low-lying place they could find, and immediately start digging in deeper if possible.

If given time to build proper field entrenchments, you'd need a VERY long barrage of heavy-caliber HE shells, likely paired with VT shells, to dig them out by fires alone.

If they've built true heavy fortifications and bunkers and such, forget it. Nothing short of Battleship-grade guns (12" plus) is going to have much effect in an indirect capacity, though there are accounts of heavy SPGs (155m or better IIRC) being used at 'medium tank' (meaning VERY close arty) ranges as Direct Fire weapons to knock out individual bunkers or pillboxes.

As lcm1 said, much of what you're getting is actually suppression, not death, so it's absolutely vital to keep the fires coming in until the last moments before contact.....the timing is critical. The heavier and sharper the barrage, the more time they'll need to be back to 100%, and the more exposed they are the more time that will be needed as well. However, you can reach a 'culminating point of success' with an arty barrage, by which entrenched troops will already be virtually back at their stations because the desultory barrage was either too light, or too long, and began to lose its suppressive effects.
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Old 07 Apr 12, 04:37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TacCovert4 View Post
All depends on conditions.

Hitting troops in the open with well-placed fires of the right shells (VT for instance) could prove devastating. You wanted maximum shrapnellation for hitting troops in the open though.....HE too often dug in deep and made big holes in the ground which didn't kill or maim nearly the troops that a VT attack would....and the HE could also create instant foxholes for men to get into. In the open another key factor is how veteran the troops are. Green troops might be massacred wholesale as they bunched up, but veteran troops would dive into ditches, hollows, holes, cellars, and any other low-lying place they could find, and immediately start digging in deeper if possible.

If given time to build proper field entrenchments, you'd need a VERY long barrage of heavy-caliber HE shells, likely paired with VT shells, to dig them out by fires alone.

If they've built true heavy fortifications and bunkers and such, forget it. Nothing short of Battleship-grade guns (12" plus) is going to have much effect in an indirect capacity, though there are accounts of heavy SPGs (155m or better IIRC) being used at 'medium tank' (meaning VERY close arty) ranges as Direct Fire weapons to knock out individual bunkers or pillboxes.

As lcm1 said, much of what you're getting is actually suppression, not death, so it's absolutely vital to keep the fires coming in until the last moments before contact.....the timing is critical. The heavier and sharper the barrage, the more time they'll need to be back to 100%, and the more exposed they are the more time that will be needed as well. However, you can reach a 'culminating point of success' with an arty barrage, by which entrenched troops will already be virtually back at their stations because the desultory barrage was either too light, or too long, and began to lose its suppressive effects.
Hi TC, yes your latest contribution imo is absolutely correct,I was rather 'one eyed' with my previous and was concentrating on prior bombardments to an attack. I know very little about the techniques of artillery (accept for having a great respect for the German 88s) but it was very obvious at times that some fire power put down was completely off of the target required,would that perhaps be due to bad communications? lcm1
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Old 07 Apr 12, 12:28
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wlfhund, if you want a short answer, try the WW2 section of "Firepower", by Shelford and Bidwell (both ex-gunners IIRC), which may feature the data you're looking for.

Web-based, there's this chap's site: http://nigelef.tripod.com/index.htm
which concentrates on artillery in WW2.

For the long (expensive!) answer, try Farndale's history of the Royal Artillery, which comes in 4 volumes.

All the above focus on British and/or Commonwealth artillery.

ETA "The Guns of War" by G. Blackburn is an account of the war in NW Europe by a Canadian gunnery officer. At one point he directs fire on German positions he suspects are abandoned, not for barrage effect but to cheer up the infantry he is supporting. Not a quick read, my paperback edition is about two inches thick.

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Old 07 Apr 12, 20:55
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...... but it was very obvious at times that some fire power put down was completely off of the target required,would that perhaps be due to bad communications? lcm1
"Observer error" is the most common cause there. In the case of the Normandy beaches the error came from not having exact location for the targets. Camoflage, error reading photographs, fake bunkers.... After that it is errors at the battery. At Normandy tiny errors in reading direction and range to the navigation refrence points would put the rounds off target.

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....

If given time to build proper field entrenchments, you'd need a VERY long barrage of heavy-caliber HE shells, likely paired with VT shells, to dig them out by fires alone.

....
For example in average ground a US 105mm has to hit less than a meter from a trench to collapse its side.
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Old 08 Apr 12, 07:35
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'Barrages' were used in WW2, but there is a lot of confusion about the term and what it was. The important point to remember is that basically artillery has two effects. The obvious one, and the way it was used by the British in 1915 and 1916 was to try and pound the enemy to destruction. Thereafter this generally wasn't the purpose by the British Army but it was still official US doctrine in 1944.

From 1917 onwards (and Cambrai is a good example) the purpose of the barrage was neutralisation (or suppression). Basically this did not mean causing enemy casualties (any were a bonus), the purpose was to keep the enemy down and not engaging the attacking troops, ie it was 'covering fire'. The difficult bit was the attacking infantry being sufficiently close to the barrage that they arrived on the enemy position before the enemy were sure that the barrage had moved on and hence were still in the bottom of their trenches. Good divisions like 43 (Wessex) and the New Zealanders could do this (43 had a stunningly successfull victory against German paras in late 1944), but its fair to say that not all infantry were as competant in the combined arms battle.
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Old 08 Apr 12, 10:57
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Originally Posted by Soothesayer View Post
'Barrages' were used in WW2, but there is a lot of confusion about the term and what it was. The important point to remember is that basically artillery has two effects. The obvious one, and the way it was used by the British in 1915 and 1916 was to try and pound the enemy to destruction. Thereafter this generally wasn't the purpose by the British Army but it was still official US doctrine in 1944.

From 1917 onwards (and Cambrai is a good example) the purpose of the barrage was neutralisation (or suppression). Basically this did not mean causing enemy casualties (any were a bonus), the purpose was to keep the enemy down and not engaging the attacking troops, ie it was 'covering fire'. The difficult bit was the attacking infantry being sufficiently close to the barrage that they arrived on the enemy position before the enemy were sure that the barrage had moved on and hence were still in the bottom of their trenches. Good divisions like 43 (Wessex) and the New Zealanders could do this (43 had a stunningly successfull victory against German paras in late 1944), but its fair to say that not all infantry were as competant in the combined arms battle.
For what my opinion is worth,I would say that is a very fair rundown on the subject, lcm1
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Old 08 Apr 12, 16:32
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IIRC, there is an anecdotal description of attacking behind a barrage in Alistair Borthwick's "Battalion". His other ranks had to be compelled to keep up with the barrage, despite the distractions of nearby trenches and cowering German ineffectives.
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Old 09 Apr 12, 13:46
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In the Civil War most deaths were caused by disease. In WWII most deaths were caused by artillery. In Vietnam most were caused by rifle fire. In Iraq it is IED's.
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Old 09 Apr 12, 23:24
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[QUOTE=Carl Schwamberg;2215204For example in average ground a US 105mm has to hit less than a meter from a trench to collapse its side.[/QUOTE]

That would be a poorly constructed trench in a structurally weak soil. With decent revetting or in a laterite type soil you wouldn't get any trench collapsing with the point of impact that far away.

Interestingly in a 1978 article in Voyenniy Vestnik by Col M Avdeev presented the Soviet equation for 'combat recovery' time after artillery fire. Of course the weight of fire is expressed in terms of the standard Soviet 'Norms'. The equation has two elements, probable time for the target to assess the situation and reach a decision and the probable time taken to get into their combat position. For the lightest fire, 1/4Norm, the decision time is 0.6 min for an individual and 1.5 to 2 mins for a group of 4-6 men.
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