Topic: AIF - Lighthorse
Australian Light Horse
Tactical Training of the AIF at Zeitoun
The following entries dealing with the emerging tactics taught to officers and NCO's at the Imperial School of Instruction, Zeitoun and are extracted from a very informative handbook called Lectures by Commandant, School of Instruction, Zeitoun, 1916. At one time or another, all officers and NCO's within the Light Horse were inculcated with the tenets expounded by the lectures.
Rearguards are used to prevent the march of the mainbody, from being hindered by attack.
A rearguard is above everything a Fighting Force. It is divided into a Main Guard and Rear Party, corresponding to the divisions of an advanced Guard. They are linked up in the same way by connecting files.
If not engaged the duties of a Rearguard are easy, but when attacked by an enterprising enemy the commander has a very difficult and dangerous task to perform.
The chief duties of a Rearguard are:1. To offer enough resistance to allow the main body to retire unmolested.
2. Not to allow the enemy to approach and to engage too closely. The commander must watch his flanks most carefully in order not to let the enemy envelope him and cut him off.
To achieve the above, the Commander must observe the following points:(1) Choose positions with an extended field of fire, to force the enemy to deploy early and so occasion him delay, occupying positions with fiery wile extension.
(2) Open fire very early with the same object as No. 1.
(3) Quit positions before the enemy approaches too closely.
(4) The whole of the Rearguard never retires at the same time.
(5) One portion retires and occupies another position the other portion holding on to the original position, the first portion then retires through the second line and takes up a third position, and so on.
(6) It is better to sacrifice a portion of the rearguard than to allow the evenly to fall on the rear of the mainbody, and so possibly turn the retirement into a rout.
It is essential for a Rearguard to be strong in Artillery as by shelling the evenly at long ranges, the enemy will be forced to extend, which enables the retiring force to gain time, a most important factor.
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Citation: Australian Light Horse, Tactical Training of the AIF at Zeitoun, Rearguards