The Allies Advance

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The Allies Advance - 9 j files of ammunition wagons. THE ALLIES'...
9 j files of ammunition wagons. THE ALLIES' ADVANCE. BRITISH r6lE IN THE FIGHTING. HOOGE AND LOOS. THE GREAT MOTE TS CHAMPAGNE. SPECIAL ACCOUNT. ' By JOHN BUGHAN. BRITISH HEADQUARTERS, Sept. 28. It is possible to - day to walk in a trench from the North Sea to the Alps. If some misguided pilgrim, with the proper paaaes, had attempted it, he would have discovered last Friday, wherever he happened to find himself, a certain air of expectancy and preparation. And Saturday the odds were that he would have b entangled in an attack. For on that morning began what may well prove, to be the battle ox the longest continuous line in the world'i history. We do not yet know the strategic plan. But the summer's war has brought certain military facts into high relief, and one is the futility of attacks on a narrow front. Yot may pierce the enemy's line on a front ol several miles, as the Allies did in May at Festubert Festubert and in Artois. But the front closes up before you and hardens like asphalt, and what began as a breach ends as an ordinary salient. You have driven in a wedge, but you farther forward. An attack o front enables the enemy to bring up men and guns and close the port. A gap is ho use unless you have room to manoeuvre in it, and so widen it. But if you can tear a great rent in the enemy's line 20 or 30 miles wide then you prevent him repairing the damage in time, and with luck you may roll up the ragged edges and force the whole front to retreat. That was what von Macksnsen did on the Dunajec in the first days of May. He broke Radko Dmitri efT on a 40 - mile front, and there is no halting till Galicia was lost. A CHANGE OF WIND. The weather in the beginning of last week as of the perfect autumn kind, with the clear cool days that an east wind brings. In the evening the smoke from the little fires of field refuse cloaked the land like a sea fog. But Friday the wind moved to the west, and a Scots mist settled on the countryside. countryside. along the front the roads were full of returning gun teams and long The general bombardment, which had now continued for some weeks, was still in progress, and the Germans were replying. There was a violent cannonade in Artois, and the dust - heap that once was Yores was shelled most of the day and the adjacent roads sprayed with shrapnel. Everywhere one found an atmo sphere of tension and expectancy. Then just before midnight the great guns began. From 30 miles off it sounded like the roll of giant drums. There wae no cessation, but sometimes a crescendo, when it had the volume of thunder near at hand. It seemed to last all night, and about 7 in the morning it died, and far two hours there was a lull A start at dawn did not enable one to get near the front, for every road was crowded with troops and transport. A viewpoint such as a hilltop showed little, The mist hung low, and in the dim light one saw no more than the flashes of bursting shells. Battles in this war pictures for the eye. They are assauli ear, and thai never - ending growl of artillery conveyed a grimmer impression to the brain than any spectacle. Presently news, began to come in. Every section of the British line was engaged, but the two chief advances were at Hooge and beyond Vermelles. At Hooge the action of August 6 had given us the crater north of the Menin road, but the Germans held the BeDe - waarde lake and the chateau, and south of the road they had an awkward fortm at a corner of Sanctuary Wood, which in August had en filaded our right. At 5 o'clock our bombardment began, and at 0 we fired a mine south of the road. We carried the. front trenches and took the Sanctuary Wood fortress, but were unable to hold the Belle waarde lake beyond the morning we took Loos and pressed jjaj towards the Ot St. Augusts, which is the northern suburb of Lens. Between St Augusts and Laos is a hillock marked 70 metres in the map, a trifling rise, but a position of vital importance in that flat country. By the evening we held Hill 70, and were in the western suburbs of Hufluch, It was the most considerable British advance since the war of entrenchments began, fos we had progressed two and a .half miles on a front of five. South of us the French were busy in their old cockpit of Artois. Their artillery "preparation "preparation " was brilliant But the line from Souehea to the Labyrinth is desperately strong, as the Army of Artois learned in May and June, and no such advance was possible as that of the British at Loos. They won the front trenches and held them, but by Saturday even ing they had still heavy defences to overcome. On Saturday every one in the pauses of his own business was asking French officers of his acquaintance for news from Champagne. It came, and it was good. Champagne is in a special sense the Holy Land of French arms. There Theodoric broke the hosts of Attila. From the fringes of the land Joan of Arc came to the rescue of her country. There Vabny, the crucial battle of the Revolution, was won. There Langle do Cary fought one of the determining determining actions of the Battle of the Marne, when he checked the assault of the Wurtem. bergers on the French right centre. There, too, in March, General von Einem first felt the terrors of a French bombardment, and lost the bulk of the first line of the Guard. Every Frenchman looked on the chalky downs around the Camp of Attila as a place of destiny for his country, for there it had long been prophesied that the great battle of the future would be fought It was as if a British Fleet were fighting again in the waters off Cape Trafalgar. On Saturday we learned that on a wide front in Champagne much ground had been won, and that subsidiary - operations had done well. THE GERMAN PRISONERS. This morning at a railway station behind the front I saw some 1,400 German prisoners, Prisoners are always to me the most melancholy sight on earth; I think I would rather look on the dead on a battlefield ; for men who have lost their freedom and are subject to an alien will seem, while retaining life, to have dropped out of the ranks of humanity. But these men had nothing pitiful in" their air. They were very dirty and very tired, for they had marched many ce daybreak. A few had wounds which troubled them, and all were eager for the water which some Territorials distributed. They were divided up into sections of 50 by their own noncommissioned noncommissioned officers and given a meal As they filled that dusty station yard a train passed, and the amazed face of a French guard projected itself. With a joyful grin he shouted, " Ah ! you Bochea," and was whisked into the distance, still gesticulating. The prisoners were of good physique, far better than those I had seen before. They in cluded several boys and a fair number of elderly with the black and gold button of the Land - storm on their caps, but meet were stout young fellows of the countryman type. The only towns - I talked to had been a salesman in a London shop. There was no surliness or shyness about em. They did as they were bid with alacrity, id one who blundered was told by his sergeant to remember that he was a German and must show the English how to behave. Most seemed to be in good spirits in spite of their fatigue. Some of the young gunners were prepared to argue about strategy and attribute the British success to our following German models. One made jokes about Scottish soldiers and Highland veterans. An army made up of such materials is not to be treated lightly. But it was impossible to keep from wondering whether the martial spirit of these men was on a level with their physique and obvious good training. Whole companies of them had been ' rounded up." Scarcely one , in 50 had any sort of wound. They seemed actually relieved to be prisoners, so as to be out of the pandemonium. It is difficult to conceive conceive of British or French troops accepting the position quite in this way. There was another curious point about them. The majority had the light eyes and high cheekbones cheekbones of one type of Slav. With the flat forage caps they had almost the air of Russian troops. Clearly these men from the fringes of Germany's ill - assorted Empire were not Inspired with any passionate belief in Qermemcnthum or any virulent antipathy to their opponents. For Germany to succeed she must not only keep her armies at full strength, but she must preserve at white - heat the old fanatical unyield ing spirit Even if she has the numbers of men, has she still enough of tho kind of men the wants ?' Her stalwarts of the first line have for the moat part found graves in Flanders and Champagne and the far - away Polish levels, THE FIGHTING IN ARTOIS. BRITISH - PUSH" AND FRENCH VALOUR. THE CAPTURE OP LOOS, But the big struggle was Just north of Lens, The country, as seen from one of the i slair - heaps to the west, is a dead flat plaiaJ earned with roads, and studded wiit(j(ht A synoptic view of the great battle is possible headgear of collieries and clusters of mean Vry for the High Onsmt - nd No viewpoint little red houses. In the chalky soil the soads and the trench networks show up with extra ordinary ordinary sharpness. The British lines covered Vermelles and Gsonay, and a hundred yards beyond lay the Germans from the La Bessee position south to their stronghold at Souchex, Their fines were the defence of Lens, which in turn was the defence of Lille. The tactical details of this battle and the achievements of tho battalions are stall to come. The main facte are that on the Saturday mom assaulted assaulted the front HuBuoh - Looa, while the troops north of the Canal also attedced to will show more than a little segment of the front. and the nTcn - ments are so many and the thratree so widely separated tlmi even hare one easesot reaUxe the situation of the day only of yesterday yesterday OT the ds befc veeteTday. To - day from a hillock well to the rear of the line I watched the fun - flsahes from La Basses to south of Souchex. Sharp hailstorms drifted acrces the any. and a wet msst cloaked the horizon. Saturday saw a British attack ; Snnday saw the German eOMiitat rdtMishs, which wm repelled. To - day bath French and the high. i east ol Gnvenchy which is I

Clipped from The Times29 Sep 1915, WedPage 25

The Times (London, Greater London, England)29 Sep 1915, WedPage 25
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  • The Allies Advance

    kerryc19 – 24 Jan 2016

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