Preparation for the Battle of Epehy Wood:

The following are from documents held at the National Archives as part of the War Diary of the 24th Battalion, London Regiment and originally marked as SECRET. These are instructions to the 173rd Infantry Brigade for the attack on Epehy and dated the 16th September 1918 - two days before the attack and an addendum to the instructions for the attack regarding "paragraph 4 Communications" dated the 17th September 1918. The instructions are type-written and the typewriter used would appear to have a worn 'e' - the letter 'e' sometimes appearing as an 'o'. Where I am sure that the correct letter is an 'e' I have entered an 'e'. Where I am not certain whether the letter is an 'e' or an 'o' I have used an 'o'.     
S E C R E T  





16th Sept. 1918

1. Aircraft
(a) 5th BDo. R.A.F. are supplying aeroplanes for bringing M.G. fire on, and for bombing , hostile batteries or columns of troops and transport, on roads in the rear of the BLUE LINE.

(b) A Contact aeroplane will fly over the front at ZERO plus 2 hrs. 15 mins. when troops are occupying the GREEN LINE. All troops will be especially warned to be on the look-out for these 'planes', and to indicate their location by means of discs, rifles laid in rows, and waving helmets. Planes will call for these signals by sounding Klaxon Horns and firing WHITE Very lights. Ground sheets and strips will be displayed at the Advanced Bdo. and Advanced Bn. H.Q.

(c) A counter-attack plane will be up continuously from daylight onwards with the solo mission of detecting the approach of enemy counter-attacks. The aeroplane will fly in the direction of the enemy dropping a white parachute flare as near to the counter-attacking troops as possible.

2. Anti-Aircraft.
Special care must be taken that full use is made of the four Lewis Guns allotted battalions for anti-aircraft work. These will be posted in suitable positions immediately the objective is reached.

3. Bobby Traps.
O.C., 504 Field Coy. R.E. is arranging to detail six parties of 1 N.C.O. and 2 Sappers each to accompany the attacking troops. Two parties will be attached to 2/2nd Bn. - 3 parties to 2/24th Bn. and 1 party to 3rd Bn. The special task of these parties is to examine all dug-outs and cellars required for use. Until such shelters have been pronounced safe by the R.Es. the greatest care will be exercised not to touch or move any furniture or fittings that may exist. These parties will report to their respective Battalions on the afternoon of the 17th September.

4. Communications
(a) Following methods will be in use :-
          Wireless (between Bde. and Divn. and Flank Bdes. only)
          Cavalry patrols.

No pigeons are available.

4. Communications (Contd)
(b) BDe. Advance H.Q. will be at E.3.c.6.7. BDe. Advanced Report Centre will be at W.29.d.3.3. Bn. H.Q. at ZERO will be located as follows:-
2/2nd Bn.                )  W.29.d.3.3, moving subsequently
2/24th Bn.               )  via W.30.a.2.2 to X.25.a.1.7.
"A" Coy. M.G. Bn.)  (approx) arriving there immediately
173rd L.T.M.B.       )  after capture of final objective.

3rd Bn.                      At W.28.c.7.2 moving after capture of final objective to W.29.d.3.3.

"D" Coy. Northd.Hussars. At Bde. Adv. H.Q. E.3.c.6.7.

(c) Bde. Visual Stations wil lbe established at following points:-

2/24th Bn. will establish a Visual Station at approx. W.24.d.7.0 to maintain connection with Bde. Station at W27.d.8.5. All reports by runner wil lbe sent to Bde. Adv. Report Centre.

(d) 3rd Bn. wil ldetail four runners and 2/24th Bn. 8 runners to report to Bde. H.Q. E.8.a.6.7 at 6 p.m., 17th Septe.

(e) Subsequent to ZERO telegrams will be sent in clear by buzzer - only Fullerphone will be used prior to ZERO.

5. Acknowledge.

The document is signed by a Captain (name unreadable) for, Brigade Major, 173rd Infantry Brigade.
S E C R E T  

173rd Infantry Brigade.

1. Twelve carrier pigeons will be allocated to the Brigade for the purpose of the operation.

2. Eight of these birds (4 pairs) will be allotted to the 2/2nd Battn. and four birds (two pairs) to the 2/24th Battn.

3. Every opportunity should be taken to make use of this means of communication, as experience has repeatedly shown the reliability of carrier pigeons.

4. All messages will be sent in duplicate, the bird being released in pairs.

5. It is useless to release pigeons in the dark or in fog.

6. Care will be taken to keep the birds dry.

7. 2/2nd and 2/24th Battns: will release pigeons on final objectives allocated those Battns:

The addendum by a Captain (name unreadable) for Brigade Major, 173rd Inf. Brigade.