Reginald Rankin.

In Morocco with General d'Amade online

. (page 2 of 18)
Online LibraryReginald RankinIn Morocco with General d'Amade → online text (page 2 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

at Kasbah bel Aiachi).

The sea-shore column, the stronger of the two,


had its headquarters at Casablanca, and was under
the direct orders of General d'Amade ; the Black
Eiirth column had its headquarters at Ber Rechid,
and was under the command of Colonel Boute-
•••ourd. As many as four independent columns
have combined for a "drive."

Speaking generally, it may be said that when
a forward movement was in progress the garrisons
were denuded of every man who could with safety
be withdrawn ; so that in the middle of January the
force actually in the field amounted to about 8000
men, and in the middle of April to about 11,000.

Staff. — It was the universal opinion amongst
French officers who had served under various gene-
rals that General d'Amade's staff arrangements
were as near perfection as anything can be in this
wicked world.

Bivouacs were found without confusion ; squares
were formed without a hitch ; changes of direction
under fire over a wide frontage were effected with
simultaneous precision ; amid the darkness of the
Ijlackest night-march troops filed into their posi-
tions with a certainty, a speed, and an exactness
that testified to the thought-out excellence of the
work of the staff.

Two main reasons may be assigned for this
Kuj)eriority. The first is the trained lucidity of
mind which is emphatically the characteristic of
the French officer. Tlie second is the system of
co-ordination and devolution between the head-


quarter, regimental and battalion staffs, by means
of which the regiment is kept constantly in touch
with headquarters, and the battalion is provided
with a staff adequate to the importance of the
work it has to do.

The colonel in command of a " regiment de
marche" has attached to him two "officers ad-
joints" (adjutants), both regimental officers, who
are mounted.

Of these one is attached as " officier de
liaison " to the headquarter staff ; the other
remains with the colonel to carry his orders to
the battalions.

Again, the " chef de bataillon," or major in
command of a battalion, has two officers attached
to him; (l) the " adjudant-major " (who is nearly
always the senior captain of the battalion), who
carries orders to the company officers and makes
all arrangements for camps and bivouacs ; and
(2) the " officier d'approvisionnement," a subaltern
whose duty it is to draw battalion rations from
the commissariat and to divide them between the
four companies. During a fight or on the march
he is frequently employed as an " officier de liaison "
with the headquarter staff. The orders issued by
General d'Amade were distinguished by their ex-
treme reticence. He never indicated his plans in
detail beforehand, and often at ten o'clock at night
no one knew whether the force would march at
five the next morning or whether it would remain


all day in its bivouac. The advantages of surprise
and secrecy conferred by this method are obvious.

The following is a specimen of March orders,
usually issued about nine o'clock at night : —

" Headquarters.
''March Orders for the 0th March.

"To-morrow, 9th March, the columns which
have operated against the M'Dakra will proceed to
operate against the M'Zab on similar lines.

" For this purpose they will march towards the
territories of that tribe, and will bivouac in the
district of Sidi Abd-el-Kerim. The starting-point
will be the west entrance to the bivouac of the
coast column.

" Order of march and times of starting : —

Uouui and Cavalry .... 6.30
Black Earth Column .... 6.35
Ambulance and regimental transport 6.55
Coast Column . . . . .7.10
Ber Rechid Column .... 7.25
Bou Znika Column .... 7.35
First hourly halt . .7.50

" The cavalry will cover the movement with the
Goum and one squadron in front. Two squadrons
will i)i

2 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryReginald RankinIn Morocco with General d'Amade → online text (page 2 of 18)