AN ARTILLERY BATTLE
CLEVEELY-CONCEALED FRENCH GUNS.
[From an American Correspondent of ‘The Times.’]
On September 13 I was able to catch up with the French troops near the little cathedral town of So is so ns. I was in the centre of a French reserve, resting on the crest of some high ground, with the town of Soissons 600 yds m front and below mo. Then came the little river Aisne, beyond which tho German battle lines were drawn. Shells were breaking by tbo hundred in front of us. I was much interested in a brigade of French field artillery, parked about 400 yd» below me and to my left. Their method of concealment was especially interesting. A gently-sloping piece of ground had been taken advantage of, at the bottom or root of which they had cut a deep notch. Tho wheels of their cannons were in this, and tho gun-barrel as it protruded seemed almost to rest on the ground above, so nicely was tho depth of the notch calculated. Obvious as was their position to me from behind, from in front it was unquestionably entirely invisible. I estimated their shells mush have had not more than 2ft clearance from the ground for a distance of over 200 yds. It was amusing to watch the German artillery trying to locate this battery. Tbo wind was blowing too hard for them to get a machine in tho air for observation purposes, eo they were forced to guess. They decided on a place slightly in front, and about 500 yds to the right. This placo they shelled vigorously for over three hours. A young lieutenant came up to mo and said: “Tho interesting part of the battle, sir will take place over there,” pointing still further to the left, in the direction of a little hamlet across tho river. “ Tho Eighth Army Corps," ho continued, “crossed the river last night well to the west, and should be in contact with the Gorman right think in a short time.” Almost immediately t iin battery I had been watching, and another much larger one further to the loft, 1 --an a furious cannonading, which shook i!i ' earth beneath me. Soldiers who had u;, to that time been idling about, some in .'king coffee, some writing letters, all got .v 1 y up and nodded knowingly to one ans i- as they gazed-over towards the little L ..Met. They knew well what was going on. The signal of the infantry contact had been given, and the artillery was supporting it. Some smoke could be seen rising from the village, and in a few minutes it was one mass of flame. It had been swept from the face of the earth like so much dry straw. It had been in the way—that’s allnothing more. "When the Germans found tho Eighth French Army Corps on their right they apparently became greatly alarmed lest the British forces which were occupying Soissons and the river back to the right of it should make a crossing: and simultaneously attack them on the left. In consequence they brought up their llin siege pieces end bombarded*the village and the river to the right for several miles in a most vigorous manner. The river they simply smothered without regard as to whether they saw a target or not. The great llin shells emitted a black smoke, which soon disappeared. Then came a report which almost knocked one down.
Permanent link to this item
AN ARTILLERY BATTLE, Evening Star, Issue 15658, 24 November 1914