The Principles of War Podcast
Fire plan for Vimy Ridge
150th Anniversary of Australian Artillery Artillery Podcast

80 – The Fire Plan for the Battle of Vimy Ridge

This is a special miniseries on Vimy Ridge to celebrate 150 years of Permanent Artillery since the formation of A and B Batteries, Royal Canadian Artillery. 

This episode discusses the 4 phases of the artillery support and discusses how it set the conditions for the infantries successful assault of Vimy Ridge.

Phase 1. Gradual increase in fires and build-up of artillery in the area of operations.

Phase 2. Intensification of the fires. This includes 2 full rehearsals. The Germans described this as the week of suffering. It degraded the morale of the troops in the line. Main Effort – Counter Battery fires.

Phase 3. A rolling barrage preceding the infantry attack. Batteries moved into forward positions to support the infantry in .

Phase 4. Artillery moved forward to support the infantry repel counterattacks. Once the infantry had taken their objectectives the artilly moved up to ensure that they would be able to protect the infantry from German counter attacks.

By the moring of the assualt 50,000 tons of ammunition had been fired. 125,900 had been allocated to counter battery fires and 83% of batteries had been neutralised.

Barrage map for Vimy Ridge
The Map showing the divisional boundaries, objectives, and the timings for the lifts of the artillery.

Artillery firing on Vimy Ridge
Richard Jack was the first Canadian official war artist, appointed in 1916. In this painting, ‘The Taking of Vimy Ridge, Easter Monday 1917’ he depicts the crew of an 18-pounder field gun firing at German positions on Vimy Ridge. To the left, wounded soldiers move past the gun towards the rear.

View from Vimy Ridge
The view from Vimy Ridge, highlighting the amount of German terrain that was visible. Gaining and retaining this key terrain enabled observed fire onto German depth targets.
Vimyt Ridge divisonal attack battle map
This maps details the plan for the attack on Vimy Ridge. The map details Divisional and Brigade lines of advance, phase lines and boundaries.
6 inch naval gun firing at Vimy Ridge
Here a Royal Garrison Artillery 6 inch naval gun fires over Vimy Ridge from behind the Canadian lines. They fired a 45kg round out to 12,500 meters at a rate of 8 rounds per minute. Prior to Vimy, they would have conducted predicted fires off the map. After Vimy, their fire was much more accurate as it could be adjusted by observers who could observe the fall of shot and adjust it.

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