The Ypres Salient - CWGC

The 55th Australian Siege Battery in action with a 9.2 inch howitzer near VoormezeeleThe effectiveness of British artillery fire had improved markedly since the barrages of 1916 both in the accuracy of standing bombardments and counter-battery work. This was a consequence of developments in new techniques - flash-spotting and sound-ranging, which complemented aerial observation. New patterns of guns were introduced which were fed with better ammunition (including more sophisticated fuzes which allowed shells to explode on impact and more efficient gas shells). 2,266 guns and howitzers were assembled for the operation and during the period of preparation and battle over three-and-a-half million shells were expended (at a cost to the 1917 taxpayer of 17,500,000). The effect of the bombardment on the deep German defence zones with their reinforced concrete strongpoints was outstanding. An additional related factor in suppressing defensive enemy fire was the employment of dense British machine-gun barrages (using indirect overhead fire) against German troop positions.


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