War Diaries Talk

Unit Movements

  • Jan_Greenslade by Jan_Greenslade

    Can someone please explain the reason why Units always seem to take such long circuitous routes to get from one billeting town to another - this is just one of many I've come across - They often seem to go very far in the opposite direction they are aiming for before returning, very often, via the same towns they've already been through - Jan
    Image AWD0001anx


  • HeatherC by HeatherC moderator

    I can't see a route like this on the page you mention Jan - which one did you have in mind? Bear in mind that the way this diary is written, it seems that the name of the town in the "place" column is where they ended up not where they started from.


  • David_Underdown by David_Underdown moderator

    Routes could be rather indirect, but you have to remember that it would rarely be just one battalion that would be moving, often a whole brigade would be on the move, maybe even a whole division (and if you were coming out of line, there would of course be other units moving up to the line). Routes had to be carefully planned so that units weren't getting in each other's way. There's info here http://www.1914-1918.net/roadspace.html about how much length of road a unit took up, and how fast it could move.


  • cyngast by cyngast moderator

    I've been tagging the 2 Brigade R.F.A. in the 6th Division, and in August or September, 1916 (I don't remember exactly which month) they spent a week marching round in a big circle from Mailly-Maillet north of Albert to Maricourt southeast of Albert. They first went to the northwest, passing Doullens, then turned to the south and then southeast, passing to the north of Amiens. They stopped overnight in Daours, two nights in the Bois des Tailles and then on to Maricourt, where they went into action. I believe it was the whole division that was on the move. I wondered why they made such a big detour, but the logistics of coordinating with other troop movements makes sense.


  • Jan_Greenslade by Jan_Greenslade in response to cgastwein@aol.com's comment.

    That's the type of routing my Unit has made a few times, starting north, then east, south, east again and at times ending up very close to where they started. Before they start diary says 'Regiment' prepare to move to ..... not a particular Battalion or Squadron. Must say I always feel very sorry for the men as how depressing must it have been to make such a circuitous march, it reminds me of the Grand old Duke of York rhyme. Jan


  • Jan_Greenslade by Jan_Greenslade in response to HeatherC's comment.

    Sorry Heather I attached the wrong page, but the reply from cgastwein further down describes a similar route to the one I was referring to. I know the place name is where they billet and some times stay for a period of time, but the diary lists all the towns they go through to get there.


  • HeatherC by HeatherC moderator

    Ah OK Jan - I was trying to work out which one you meant on the page you linked, but I assume David's answer has shed some light on it?


  • Paul_Rapley by Paul_Rapley

    I wonder if this helps:

    The 1914 version of the 'Field Service Pocket Book' devotes 11 closely-printed pages to 'Marches and March Discipline'.

    For example: infantry - usual pace - 98 yards per minute; 18 minutes per mile; 3 miles per hour (including short halts). The precise lengths of five types of pace are given.

    Different distances will be maintained between columns, according to type of company, battalion, squadron, regiment, brigade or division (e.g. a field company: 6 yards; a cavalry or infantry brigade: 30 yards.)

    'Road Space tables' are given for dozens of conceivable columns, divided into 'Home' and 'Indian' establishments and further subdivided according to 'Fighting Portion', 'First Line Transport', 'Ambulance and Trains', etc.

    The chaos at Loos seems to have been attributable, in part, to what Norman Stone describes as 'roads that were jammed axle-to-axle with carts, guns and the ineffable cavalry': the Road Space Tables, for whatever reasons, had been spurned or overlooked, one might suppose, their abandonment contributing to the negative outcome.

    In 'Memoirs of an Infantry Officer' Sassoon includes an amusing section in which his Colonel is berated by the Corps Commander for maintaining the wrong distance between companies (Part 8; II).

    I guess that circuitous routes could have resulted from general staff (working without electronic aids) trying to avoid traffic jams - as David has pointed out.

    Connected to this issue:

    I've just noticed that tags must be cascaded vertically in order for the timeline to come out correctly.

    Is there a thread on this issue?

    It's come as a shock to realise that many of my timelines - for example, those listing the places along the route of a march just as Jan has described - will be coming out in a non-chronological muddle.



  • ral104 by ral104 moderator, scientist

    Thanks, Paul. I assume the march tables in David's link above come from the same source. Interesting reference to Sassoon.

    The general idea with placing the tags is that the dates go in first, which segments the page and allows tags subsequently placed to be built into the timeline. It's a good idea to drop the tags as close to the item they're referring to as possible. Did you check out the tutorial when you signed up? It gives a 10 minute rundown of how the tagging interface works and is quite useful, if you haven't done it already.

    In terms of the data, as long as you're dropping tags into the correct date segment, it doesn't really matter if the timeline on the page looks right or not. We'll have the individual tags classified correctly by date.