I am searching for any noticeable orders, doctrine or any piece of information about how an advancing force should be organized. I am interested in the scope 1914-1918, on European and Middle-East fronts.

By "advancing force", I mean:

  • A force of varying size (battallion, brigade, division)
  • That is advancing in an open ground and not in enemy fortifications
  • That had passed first enemy lines.

So the question is not about:

  • Attack or defence tactics
  • Strategic movements

But I am really interesting in how a group of soldiers should advance between two fights, when it is not certain of the position of enemy forces: position in the column of cavalry, artillery, infantry, tanks...

For example:

What was the march order of the French and Serbian infantry after the breakthrough of Salonique? How did Germans or Russians organize their marchs on the Eastern Front? How did British army walked in Mesopotamia?


To clarify the question: Imagine a situation where two armies are, on a strategic plan, closing with each other. Soldiers will come for example by railroad. When they disembark from the station, they adopt a formation and start moving in the forest/mountains/fields. Suddendly, an enemy is seen or sudden fire falls of the column. Orders are given and the formation is broken into tactical moves.

I am interested in what the formation was, in order to minimize damages (in an ambush for example) and maximize the speed of an attack (if enemy is discovered).

  • It's not clear to me that your question makes any sense. The mobility - meaning ability to move under enemy fire - of infantry and cavalry was essentially zero for all of WW1. Once trench warfare was established following the late summer Race to the Sea in France, all movement was always under fire unless a friendly artillery barrage (by 155 mm howitzers with a range of 11 km) was suppressing enemy fire. "Infantry Attacks" by Erwin Rommel is informative. See also Vimy Ridge. Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 12:27
  • This article on how the Americans learned, reluctantly, from the English and French in late '17 and early '18 is good also. Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 12:28
  • @LаngLаngС: Possibly - I have only a passing familiarity with that front. Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 14:52
  • @PieterGeerkens Sorry, but you 're out of the scope of the question. First, I did mention that I am interested in more than Western Front. Second, I did mention I am not speaking of tactical movements (as you say: move under ennemy fire), but rather movements between clashes and exchanges of fire Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 15:28
  • @LаngLаngС I meant exactly what you said: Advance in ennemy territory with close ennemy forces. But not already under fire. The example you gave are what I am interested in. I will edit Commented Feb 9, 2020 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


Callwell, Small Wars. Only a few years before your time window. Flying columns in chapter 11.

USMC, Infantry in Battle. Written after your time window, but a retrospective. Googling only got me a PDF with half the text, perhaps you can find it in a library. Chapter 19 or thereabouts.


John Schindler's The Fall of the Double Eagle has some information on this for the Gaillician and Serbian fronts, especially in 1914. It's scattered throughout descriptions of the campaigns, though, rather than focused on doctrine, so it may not be quite what you are looking for.

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