The Creeping Barrage is the name given to a method of firing artillery. At the beginning of Trench Warfare the basic tactic was to fire lots of artillery at enemy trenches for a sustained period of time and to stop firing just before the infantry attacked. However this method wasn’t very successful as the German had built strong bunkers and were able to man the defences in the time between the bombardment ending and the infantry getting to the trenches. A solution to the problem of the time lag between the bombardment and the arriva of the infantry was to change the way that the artillery was fired. Instead of just aiming at the same target the creeping barrage moved forward at a prearranged pace. In theory this meant that a bmbardment could start in no mans land as infantry left the trenches and move forward, just in front of attacking troops. In this way the enemy would not be able to see the ongoing infantry because of the explosions and smoke and would have much less time to react to the infantry than under conventional bombardments.
The British first used a creeping barrage at the Battle of the Somme. It didn’t work. The Infantry wasn’t able to move as fast as the barrage and as communications with the artilery were limited it left the men exposed to German fire. The creeping barrage was developed as the war progressed and became more effective. It was used successfuly by the Canadians at Vimy Ridge, for example.
About.com – Creeping / Rolling Barrage.
FirstWorldWar.com – The Creeping Barrage