Raids and Their Objects
"Stand To" A Diary of the Trenches, 1915-18, Captain F.C. Hitchcock, M.C., F.R.Hist.S., 1937
Although this article isn't specifically about the CEF, it has been tagged as such to keep it with other First World War material.
Up to this date, raids had been a great form of midnight activity employed by the British and Germans since the middle of 1916. Raids consisted of a brief attack with some special object on a section of the opposing trench, and were usually carried out by a small party of men under an officer. The character of these operations, the preparation of a passage through our own and the enemy's wire, the crossing of the open ground unseen, the penetration of the enemy's line, the hand-to-hand fighting in the darkness, and the uncertainty as to the strength of the opposing forces—gave peculiar scope to gallantry, dash, and quickness of decision by the troops engaged.
The objects of these expeditions can be described as fourfold:
I. To gain prisoners and, therefore, to obtain information by identification.
II. To inflict loss and lower the opponent's morale, a form of terrorism, and to kill as many of the enemy as possible, before beating a retreat; also to destroy his dug-outs and mine-shafts.
III. To get junior regimental officers accustomed to handling men in the open and give them scope for using their initiative.
IV. To blood all ranks into the offensive spirit and quicken their wits after months of stagnant trench warfare.
Such enterprises became a characteristic of trench routine.
After a time these raids became unpopular with regimental officers and the rank and file, for there grew up a feeling that sometimes these expeditions to the enemy trenches owed their origin to rivalry between organisations higher than battalions.