By John E. Goodwin All wars give rise to change and innovation. In the early years of the 20th century, a short but nasty territorial war erupted between Russia and Japan. Both armies were powerful and fought in accordance with then-current military thinking. Weapons and tactics used during the conflict were watched closely by other nations, and the lessons learned there were taken into account during the Great War 10 years later. A small but significant change in tactics attributed to the Russo-Japanese War was the way in which artillery was used. Traditionally, artillery was deployed to silence enemy guns and disable cavalry by direct fire. This changed when observers realized that smokeless propellants and more powerful guns could fire accurately from hidden positions over longer ranges. Spotters close to the enemy could send back target details by field telephone. The old method of firing over open sights when the gunner could see the enemy in front of him was no longer necessary. European observers of the Russo-Japanese conflict returned home to rethink the training and operational use of artillery in their armies. Flash Spotting When the British Expeditionary Force landed in France in 1914, it quickly discovered that French maps were so small in scale and lacking in detail that they made accurate artillery fire impossible. The Field Survey Battalions of the Royal Engineers decided, of necessity, to map the entire Western Front, an immense task that nevertheless was


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in