In addition to the guns employed to fire on the targets as they are picked up, others are told off to watch particular roads, and to deal with any of the enemy using them.
Both for the location of targets and the communication of the effect of the fire, reliance is placed on observation from aeroplanes and balloons and on information supplied by special observers and secret agents, who are sent out ahead or left behind in the enemy’s lines to communicate by telephone or signal. These observers have been found in haystacks, barns, and other buildings well in advance of the German lines. Balloons of the so-called sausage pattern remain up in the air for long periods for the purpose of discovering targets, and until our aviators made their influence felt by chasing all hostile aeroplanes on sight the latter were continually hovering over our troops in order to register their positions and to note where the headquarters, reserves, gun teams, &c., were located.
If suitable targets are discovered the airman drops a smoke ball directly over it or lets fall some strips of tinsel, which glitter in the sun as they slowly descend to the earth. The range to the target is apparently ascertained by those near the guns by a large telemeter, or other range finder, which is kept trained on the aeroplane, so that when the signal is made the distance to the target vertically below is at once obtained. A few rounds are then fired, and the result is signalled back by the aviator according to some prearranged code.
A Fight in the Clouds.
[Dated Oct. 13.]
From Friday the 9th of October until Monday the 12th so little occurred that a narrative of the events can be given in a few words. There has been the usual sporadic shelling of our trenches which has resulted in but little harm, so well dug in are our men, and on the night of the 10th the Germans made yet a fresh assault, supported by artillery fire, against the point which has all along attracted most of their attention.
The attempt was again a costly failure toward which our guns were able to contribute with great effect.
Details have been received of an exciting encounter in midair. One of our aviators on a fast scouting monoplane sighted a hostile machine. He had two rifles, fixed one on either side of his engines, and at once gave chase, but lost sight of his opponent among the clouds. Soon, however, another machine hove into view which turned out to be a German Otto biplane, a type of machine which is not nearly so fast as our scouts. Our officer once again started a pursuit. He knew that owing to the position of the propeller of the hostile machine he could not be fired at when astern of his opponent. At sixty yards range he fired one rifle without apparent result. Then as his pace was carrying him ahead of his quarry he turned round, and, again coming to about the same distance behind, emptied his magazine at the German.