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From the Official British Instructions
of August, 1917

u 6-407



Document No. 729.

Office of The Adjutant General.

WASHINGTON, January 14,
The following pamphlet, entitled "Instructions on Wiring (Wire
Obstacles)," is published for the information of all concerned.
[A. G. O. No. 062.1.]



General, Chief of Staff.

The Adjutant General.






Standard patterns 5



Barbed wire 9

Pickets 10

French wire 15

Barbed wire concertinas 19

Method of making barbed wire concertinas 25

Method of preparing loose wire 31

Portable knife rests 37

Man Loads 38


Gloves, running out coils of wire, screw pickets, fixing wire,
holdfasts, windlassing sticks, wirecutters.


Standard French wire (emergency) obstacle 56

Concertina wire 58

Low (or knee-high) wire entanglement 60

Double apron fence 62

Time 66


DRILL I. For 50 yards length of standard French wire (emer-
gency) obstacle 16

DRILL II. For 50 yards length of standard double belt of

concertinas 20

DRILL III. For 50 yards length of standard low (or knee-
high) wire entanglement 22

DRILL IV. For 50 yards of standard double apron fence 24

PLATE 1. French wire coils, carriage of concertinas, frame

for making concertinas 26

PLATE 2. Preparation of loose wire spirals, running out coil

of wire 27

PLATE 3. Fixing wire in eyes of screw pickets, windlassing. . 28

PLATE 4. Standard French wire obstacle 29

PLATE 5. Standard double belt of concertinas 30

PLATE 6. Standard low (or knee-high) wire entanglement. .. 31
PLATE 7. Standard double apron fence 32



1. The object of these notes is to standardize the construction
of obstacles and to limit the patterns taught and used.

2. There are at present too many types of wire entanglements,
and too many "drills" for erecting them in use. Recruits may
learn three or four "drills" at home, and then others at the
Base in France ; yet on reaching his company or battalion the
men may be told to forget all these and to adopt the divisional
standard pattern. When only short training is possible, this can
only lead to inefficiency.

3. To ensure that all training is directed to the same purpose,
four patterns of entanglements have been selected, and these,
and the drills for erecting them, will be the regulation ones.
Units are forbidden to adopt any other without previous sanc-
tion. This does not mean that these four standards may not be
modified if lack of men or materials demand it; e. g., for very
rapid work one of the aprons in the "apron fence" might be
omitted; but such things as aprons with crossed diagonals and
other fancy patterns of wire will not be used.

4. It is only by adopting this course that efficiency in this mat-
ter can be maintained. If in any unit a better type or drill is
discovered, the fact should be reported. The new method will
then be thoroughly tested under G. H. Q. arrangements, and if
found more satisfactory will be adopted officially in place of the
old one, and all units and training schools will be informed.

5. The following are the four standard patterns which have
been selected:

(1) Emergency obstacle (French wire).

(2) Belts of concertinas.

(3) Low (or knee,-high) wire entanglement.
j(4) Double apron fence.

6. These four patterns cover every type of material for en-
tanglements in existence at present, or likely to be found in the



7. Rapidity in wiring depends on :

(a) The confidence with which the men handle the wire
(see 40).

(&) The simplicity of the pattern of wire entanglement em-

(c) Careful organization of parties and material.

8. In working out a drill the following points should be borne
in mind:

(a) No one group of men should ever cross another in
the course of its work; the groups should work in echelon
and in the same direction.

(&) As few men as possible should be employed.

(c) Work must be arranged so that the men are not bunched.

(d) The pattern and method of erecting should be such that
no group has to step over wire previously laid by another group.

O) As far as possible, men should not have to work on the
enemy side of the wire. As a matter of fact, except in diffi-
cult situations, this is not a very important consideration.
There should always be a covering party in front.

(/) The pattern of wire and method of erecting must be
simple. It is an established fact that a broad "light"* wire
obstacle is less easy to cross, less easily destroyed, and less
visible in aeroplane photographs, than a narrow "heavy" one.
If considered necessary, a light simple framework can always
be thickened with loose wire, concertinas, gooseberries, etc.
The tendency to overdo this is very noticeable, and should be
discouraged. Some entanglements have been made so thick
that the wire forms a carpet, and can be walked over with

Barbed Wire.

9. The length of barbed wire on a coil differs considerably.
Some coils may be 50 yards long, others as much as 120 yards.
It is hoped that supply will shortly be made in 50-yard or 100-
yard lengths. The weight, including the drum, of 100 yards of
wire is about 28 pounds ; of 50 yards, about 15 pounds.

*'%ight" being used in the sense that the number of strands of wire in
the entanglement is not very large.


10. The lengths of the screw pickets are:

Long pickets, 5 feet, with four eyes.
Medium pickets, 3 feet 6 inches, with two eyes.
Anchorage pickets, 1 foot 6 inches, with one loop.

11. The pickets are supplied in two weights:

Heavy weight, Light weight,

about about

Long .................. 9 Ibs. 6 Ibs.

Medium ............... 6^ " 4j4 "

Anchorage ............ 3*A " 2j4 "

12. The light weight pattern, which has been recently intro-
duced, is said to be apt -to get bent out of shape.

13. In the original pattern of the long heavy screw picket, the
eyes were two on one side of the post and two on the other;
in all pickets now manufactured, the eyes are all on the same side.

14. Angle iron pickets are supplied in two lengths:

5 foot 10^ inches and 3 foot 6 inches.

French Wire.

15. "French wire" is 3 feet 6 inches in diameter when closed
and can be pulled out to form a cylinder of wire 60 feet long.
It is made of plain wire.

16. There are two types : French manufacture and English
manufacture. The former can be distinguished from the latter
by the wire, which is of a smaller gauge and more pliable. Some
of the French manufacture has a few small flat barbs.

17. German manufactured "French wire," which is often avail-
able on the spot where it is required, is made of stouter wire and
is about double the weight of the French and English article.
It is very resilient and is a fair obstacle even without any support
from pickets.

18. If the French wire coils are of French manufacture, one
coil is a man-load. This is not due to its weight (14 Ibs.) but
to its clumsiness. The easiest method of carrying it is to bend
it into a figure of eight. If the French wire coil is of English
manufacture, the figure of eight can be further doubled on itself


to form a circle of about two feet diameter, and then two coils,
28 pounds (see Plate 1, Fig. 1), can be carried by one man. This
cannot be done, with a French manufactured coil as the wire has
not the same spring as the English one ; it consequently gets bent
out of shape and will not pull out easily.

Barbed Wire Concertinas.

19. The chief objection to barbed wire concertinas is that
they are clumsy to carry. The most satisfactory arrangement is
to make them 4 feet in diameter and to have nine pickets in the
circle. Then 24 complete turns taken on the circle of the
pickets will use up 100 yards of light barbed wire, and the concer-
tina will pull out to 18 feet For method of construction see

20. No satisfactory barbed wire concertina has yet been made
for use with medium pickets.

21. No advantage is gained by using iron hoops at the end
of the concertina ; the concertina does not stand up any better ;
it is much heavier and requires more men to erect it. The best
method of keeping the concertinas from sagging when erected
is to run a taut wire along the top of the posts and windlass the
concertina up to it. (See Drill II. for Concertina Wire.)

22. A man must use both hands to pull a concertina out.
Handles wired on at the ends of the coil are not generally suit-
able, and the men do not use them. The best method is to form
a good plain wire end with four turns of No. 14 wire or two
turns of No. 12 wire. (See 28.)

23. The best method of preparing concertinas for carrying is
found to be as shown in Plate 1, Fig. 2. The 6-foot laths must
be tightly wired together. These laths are taken off by the
numbers who carry when the concertinas have been taken out to
the task. If they are left on, the concertinas are more difficult to
erect, and the laths creak and make a noise against the posts.

24. A concertina thus prepared is a one-man load across
country or in wide trenches with easy corners. In narrow
trenches it is a two-man load. (See Plate 1, Figs 3a and 3b.)

Method of Making Barbed Wire Concertinas.

25. Draw a circle 4 feet in diameter. Place nine posts equally
distant, approximately 17 inches centers) round this circle and


drive them in, leaving a height of 5 feet above ground. Angle
iron pickets are much easier to work with than wooden ones.

.26. One 100-yard coil is required per concertina, with short
lengths plain wire for fastening.

27. The unit party is three men. No. 1 works inside the
framework; Nos. 2 and 3 run out the coil, No. 2 helping No. 1
if necessary.

Average time per concertina is 20 minutes.

28. (i) Take two complete turns round the nine posts with
No. 12 plain wire, or four turns with No. 14 wire, and bind these
turns together, at each interval between posts so as to form a
secure end for pulling the concertina out.

(ii) Fasten the end of the barbed wire on to the plain wire
and take twenty-four turns with it round the posts in a spiral
form binding two consecutive turns together at every other in-
terval. (Hence the necessity for an odd number of posts 9.)

(iii) Make two turns with plain wire and make fast as in (i).

29. It is a great advantage to have a nonagonal shaped frame-
work, made of three angle iron pickets (5 feet 10^2 inches) or
of wood, to fit over the top of the nine pickets, so as to keep
them properly splayed out. It is easily removed when the con-
certina is finished (Plate 1, Fig. 4).

30. The easiest method of carriage is to wire on two 6-foot
laths and tie two points at right angles to the laths with plain
wire. The laths must be tightly fixed and plenty of end left to
the plain wire so that it can be easily undone. {See Plate 1,
Fig. 3.)

Method of Preparing Loose Wire.

31. The task of throwing loose wire into an entanglement from
a coil is a long and tedious one. It is made very much easier and
quicker if the wire is coiled in a spiral form beforehand.

32. To do this, drive in two 3-foot stakes, 3 feet apart, and
two more at right angles to them 1 foot 6 inches apart, as shown
in Plate 2, Fig. 5. Then wind 100 yards of barbed wire round
this diamond shaped framework gradually working it up the
stakes in a spiral. Finally take the spiral off the stakes and tie
it together in four places with plain wire.

33. A spiral thus made can be easily carried, by a man on his
shoulder, in a trench.

34. To use it as loose wire, undo the plain wire bindings, carry
the spiral on the left arm and walk along throwing two or three
coils at a time into the entanglement.

35. One spiral supplies enough loose wire for a bay 2 yards
wide and 25 yards long. It takes two men 5 minutes to make one
of these spirals, and a man can throw it in as loose wire almost
as fast as he can walk. If spirals are needed in large quantities,
a winch, as shown in Plate 2, Fig. 6, is useful and saves time and

36. If time and opportunity to make spirals are lacking, loose
wire can be placed as follows : Uncoil a 50-yard length on the
ground, cut it, pick it up with a long forked stick, twisting it to
and fro, and throw it on the entanglement. Press it well down
and secure it to the wires already in position by 10-inch lengths
of binding wire.

Portable Knife Rests.

37. A portable form of knife rest copied from the French and
known as Reseau Pliant is available. The distance piece is col-
lapsible, and when it has been removed the two ends can be
closed together by rotating one towards the other. Its length
is 6 feet 6 inches, and in height about 2 feet 6 inches. It forms
a load for one man.


38. The following are found to be convenient man-loads of
various materials used in wire entanglements. The numbers
have been worked out not only as fair loads for the average
infantryman, but also to facilitate wiring parties.

Material No. Weight.

Heavy screw (long) pickets 5' long with four eyes 4 36 Ibs.

Light 6 36

Heavy screw (medium) pickets 3' 6" long with two eyes 6 39

Light 36

Heavy screw (anchorage) pickets 18" long, with loop 26

Light 16 40

Angle iron pickets 5' 10H" long

" 3' 6" " 6 37

Wooden posts 5' long, 3" 3W diameter

Wooden pickets 2' 6" long, 2^j" diameter 16

Coil barbed wire 100 yards length 1

50 " 2 30 "

French wire coils See French wire (para. 15)

Concertinas See Concertinas (para. 19)


39. With Yukon packs heavy loads (including pack which
weighs 8 pounds) from 48 to 64 pounds, and average loads of 40
to 44 pounds can be carried.



Long Screw
(heavy) No.


(heavy) No .

Total Weight
with pack
(Ibs. average)











Heavy loads only
possible for short


















Average loads.








40. Rapidity in wiring depends very largely on the ability of
the men to handle wire. Men must be trained to use it with
confidence and not to be afraid of it. It is like a stinging nettle;
if a man is not frightened of it and treats it as if it were a rope,
it will not hurt him.


41. If gloves are used they should be fingerless, as the fingers,
especially the little one, are apt to catch in the wire. The best
sappers and men who have had long experience in wiring never
use gloves.

Running' Out Coils.

42. A great many drills have detailed two men to run out a
coil. This, is absolutely unnecessary, as one man can do it with
ease. The stake must be so made that the coil revolves easily
on it, and be so held that the wire runs out from underneath the
coil and not from the top (Plate 2, Fig. 7). If the coil is held
the other way and the wire gets caught up at all, the sudden strain
tends to throw it up in the man's face.



Screw Pickets.

43. The following rules should be adopted for all work with
screw pickets :

(i) Laying out pickets. Pickets must always be carried
under the left arm and placed on the ground with the right
hand, and in such a way that the end of the screw faces the
enemy, and indicates the spot at which the picket is to be
screwed in.

(ii) Long pickets must be screwed in so that the eyes are
parallel to the length of the entanglement, and the end of the
top eye points to the direction from which the men are work-
ing, i. e., to the head of the task.

(iii) Medium pickets must be screwed in so that the eyes
are parallel to the length of the entanglement, and in the case
of the heavy pattern the point on the top eye is on the enemy
side; in the case of the light pattern, the point on the top eye
is on the home side.

(iv) Anchorage pickets. Same rule as for "long pickets/''

44. It must be impressed on all that if the above rules are
observed :

(i) It is much easier to fix the wire in the eyes.
(ii) Loss of direction is impossible.

Fixing Wire.

45. For fixing wire on to screw pickets the following rules
should be adopted (see Plate 2, Figs. 8 and 9) :

(i) Men fixing the wire must always work facing the enemy.

(ii) To fix wire in top eye of long pickets, and loop of
anchorage pickets:

Pull the standing end taut and slip the wire up into the

eye; turn the running end up over the eye towards the end

of the eye thus threading the wire in the eye. Then take a

turn with the running end round the picket below the eye.

(iii) To fix wire in lower eyes of long or medium pickets
when there is already a wire in the top eye:

(a) Pull the standing end taut and slip the wire up into

the eye. Then take the bight on the running end, pass ir


round the picket above the eye, then finish off by taking a
turn with the bight on the running end.

(&) In the long picket, one eye is on the opposite side of
the picket to the other three. In this case the wire must be
forced down into the eye and the bight on the running end
passed round the post under the eye.

(iv) All horizontal wires of an apron must be fixed to the
diagonal stays by windlassing (Plate 3, Fig. 10).

46. If these rules are carried out, the wire will be firmly fixed
in the eye and cannot slip up or down the post; also, if one
bay is cut, the wire in the bays on either side remains taut and
does not slip through the eyes.

47. The above methods of fixing wire are found to be far
more satisfactory and rapid than employing short lengths of
plain wire. The latter method is slow, and the plain wire
almost invariably runs short, or is forgotten or lost at night.

48. The above rules apply whichever way the wirers are work-
ing from right to left or left to right.


49. Wooden pickets used as holdfasts should be driven in
roughly at right angles to the stay wire that is attached to them,
but screw anchorage pickets must be put in in the direction of this
stay wire or they will be drawn in the direction of the strain.

50. All bundles of screw and angle iron pickets should be
wrapped round with a sandbag and secured in at least two places
by a turn of plain wire, with the ends twisted together. Enough
end to this wire must always be left so that it can be untwisted
by hand without pliers.

51. Long wooden pickets should be tied together in at least two
places with plain wire. Short wooden pickets are best carried
in sandbags eight in each bag ; the two bags are tied together and
slung over the shoulder.

52. Windlassing sticks. Every man of a wiring party should
carry the helve of the entrenching implement, or a short 2-foot
stake or iron bar (J^-inch diameter). These are necessary for:

(i) Screwing in pickets,
(ii) Screwing out coils of barbed wire,
(iii) Windlassing wire.

53. Iron bars are only necessary when working in hard


ground. They should be bound with whipcord, or a double
thickness of canvas, to avoid noise. If they are used, a short
stick about 9 inches long should be carried for windlassing.

54. Marking end of coil. The plain wires securing a coil of
barbed wire must be cut, and a piece of sandbag or white cloth
tied to the running end of the coil, in order that there shall be no
difficulty in finding it at night ; the pieces of tin on the wooden
drums must be broken off to prevent noise. All this should be
done before material is taken forward for work.

55. Wire cutters. It very seldom occurs that there are enough
wire-cutters to give a pair to every man in a wiring party. If
stores have been properly prepared beforehand, there is no neces-
sity for anybody except the officers and noncommissioned officers
to have a pair, and the issue of wire-cutters should be strictly
limited to them.


I. Standard French Wire (Emergency) Obstacle. (See Plate 4.)

56. This is the most rapid form of entanglement (see table
below). It must not be regarded as a permanent obstacle but
merely one that can be rapidly put up and is capable of being
strengthened afterwards. It is a standard to be adopted on
emergency and every man should be trained in its erection.

57. The pattern selected consists of two belts of French wire
one yard apart with a horizontal barbed strand along the top of
each belt; a trip wire windlassed on the front of the enemy
belt; and loose wire thrown in between the belts. Many
drills have included a diagonal wire connecting the two belts
together, instead of loose wire. This diagonal wire is of very little
value, and the erection of it is very slow, as the men have to be
continually stooping under it. It must be remembered that the
essence of a French wire entanglement is rapidity, and its chief
use is in a situation when rapidity is essential. The addition of
loose wire and a trip wire certainly make the entanglement more
efficient, and it can be made as quickly as the French wire itself
can be erected. The organization of the wiring party is so ar-
ranged that two spare men do this. If circumstances therefore
demand that the trip wire and loose wire should be omitted, the
organization of the rest of the party is not affected.


II. Concertina Wire. (See Plate 5.)

58. A very rapid entanglement consisting of concertinas, pickets,
and one horizontal wire along the top of the pickets. It has two
rather serious disadvantages, in that it requires a good deal of
preparation beforehand, and entails large carrying parties.

59. At least two rows of concertinas should be erected (1 yard
apart in the clear) to form an effective entanglement. One row
is not sufficient.

III. Low (or Knee-high) Wire Entanglement. (See Plate 6.)

60. This entanglement consists of three rows of medium
pickets, a horizontal wire along the top of each row, one diagonal
wire in each of the two bays formed by the three rows, and finally
loose wire thrown into the bays.

61. It is not a very effective entanglement, but its chief value
lies in the fact that it is not conspicuous. It is the slowest en-
tanglement to erect at night, if screw pickets are used, as the
latter are very hard to find. This difficulty can be overcome by
laying down a spun yarn line or tracing tape.

IV. Double Apron Fence. (See Plate 7.)

62. This entanglement consists of four horizontal strands on
the fence, and three, including the trip wire, on each apron.

63. Taking into consideration the following points:

(a) Effectiveness;

(b) Amount of preparation required beforehand;

(c) Size of carrying party;

(d) Rapidity and simplicity of erection;

the double apron fence is undoubtedly the best pattern of en-
tanglement yet evolved, and stands up against shell fire or Ban-
galore torpedoes as well as> any other pattern. For very rapid
work over long lengths, the back apron was often omitted at the
beginning of the war, and the entanglement thus modified was
found amply sufficient to hold up the most determined enemy
attacks. The value of the entanglement lies chiefly in the front
apron, which should never be omitted. The men work behind
the wire the whole time, and there is no stepping over wires
previously erected.

64. Belts of double apron fences form an excellent framework


for a wide obstacle. Concertinas, gooseberries, or loose wire
can be thrown in between the bays for thickening purposes.

65. The "drills" given below are equally applicable, whether
screw, wooden or angle iron pickets are used.

The spacing of the posts and pickets has been worked out with
due consideration to efficiency and keeping the size of carrying
parties down as small as possible. The spacing shown in the
plates has been found to give the best mean between these two
conflicting views.


66. On the assumption of work in the following conditions :

(1) Stores are taken up by a separate carrying party as far
as the fire trench only.

(2) The entanglement is erected 35-50 yards from the fire
trench. Stores have, therefore, to be carried out that dis-
tance by the wiring party.

(3) The men work in battle order.

The following data have been arrived at with good average
parties (not picked men) :


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