The Breakout Of The 1st Marines From The Chosin Reservoir: An American Epic Of Courage – Part 19

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Corporal Mason Robertson, a fire support man with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, watches for the strike of the artillery fire order he just called in during a recent battalion training exercise on April 17, 2012. The Mt. Airy, MD, native with 2nd Marine Division and his fellow fire support Marines spent the week practicing fire orders for everything from artillery and mortars to close air support and even naval gun fire as they prepare for upcoming deployments to Afghanistan and future deployments with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. (Official US Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James Frazer)

During World War Two, communication troops often strung phone wire from artillery positions to their forward regimental headquarters or other command posts depending on the unit. These wires had to be frequently restrung because the wires were cut by enemy fire.

Why even use a land line? Two reasons: analysis of enemy radio traffic even if you did not have the ability to decipher the messages, gave a good indication of events which were about to happen such as an artillery fire mission. Both sides in World War Two became highly skilled at analyzing radio traffic patterns and interpreting them. Second, weather, geographic formations, atmospheric conditions, sun spots et al, could and did interfere with radio transmissions.

In Korea, the Chinese would often send small groups of men into the rear of the American positions to specifically cut their phone lines to their regimental HQ which made calling in fire missions more difficult.

ARMY PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION 2011. A Fire Support Team from The 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, radio back to head quarters following an air insertion operation with soldiers from D Company of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland and Afghan police, on an operation re-establishing government control in an area of Helmand province previously under heavy Taleban influence. Operation ZAMARY KARGHA (‘Lion Falcon’ in English) saw soldiers from D Company of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and officers from the Afghan National Police win over the local population and drive out insurgents in the area of Hoorzai.

[Images courtesy of 2nd Marine Division II Marine Expeditionary Force Website and the UK Ministry of Defense.]