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John Buchan. 

Volume VII. From the Second Battle of Ypres to 
the Beginning of the Italian Campaign. 










PATCH 195 

PATCH 224 


Second Battle of Ypres. Sketch showing position at the 

Ypres Salient on the morning of April 22nd . . 12 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the morning of 

Friday, April 23rd 21 

Second Battle of Ypres. The position on the evening 

of Saturday, April 24th 25 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the evening of 

Monday, April 26th 31 

Second Battle of Ypres. Sketch showing the shortening 

of the line on May 3rd 36 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the evening of 

Sunday, May gth 39 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the evening of 

Wednesday, May i2th 41 

Second Battle of Ypres. The fight on the front held 

by the cavalry, May i3th 44 

Map showing the French Attacks on the St. Mihiel Wedge, 

with Inset Sketch of the Les Eparges Position . . 85 

Sketch showing importance of Douai and Valenciennes 
Junctions in the German Railway Communications 
on the Western Front go 

The French Offensive between Arras and I^ens ... 95 


The Advance against the Aubers Ridge, May gth . .100 

Scene of the Battle of Festubert 104 

The Forcing of the Donajetz-Biala Line 125 

The Passage of the Wisloka and the Wistok. . . .128 
The Russian Retreat from the Donajetz to the San . . 131 
Situation on the Eve of the Recapture of Przemysl . . 140 
The Operations for the Recapture of Lemberg . . .146 
The Russian Front after the Fall of Lemberg . . 150, 151 
Attack on the Krithia-Achi Baba Position, May 6-8 . 158 

Position of Australian and New Zealand Corps at Gaba 

Tepe 164 

Attack on the Krithia-Achi Baba Position, June 4 . . 167 

The Austro-Italian Theatre of War 176, 177 

1. The Trentino Frontier 178, 179 

2. The Central (Alpine) Section of the Frontier. . 181 

3. The Isonzo Frontier and the Defences of the 

Julian Alps 183 

The Austrian Naval Raid in the Adriatic . . . .187 




Position at the Beginning of April Difficulties of the Ypres 
Salient British Dispositions; The Capture of Hill 60 Shell- 
ing of Ypres begun The First Gas Attack Retreat of the 
French Behaviour of Canadian 3rd Brigade The Filling 
of the Gap The Second Gas Attack Stand of Canadian 
and Brigade Loss of St. Julien Failure of Attempt to 
retake it The Canadians relieved Nature of their Achieve- 
ment The Fight of the Northumbrian Division The 
Struggle for Grafenstafel Ridge The Third Gas Attack 
British Line shortened Work of R.A.M.C. Loss of Fre- 
zenberg Ridge The Cavalry replaces the 28th Division 
Cavalry Battle of May i3th Charge of the 8th Cavalry 
Brigade Stand of London Rifle Brigade The Fourth Gas 
Attack, May 24th Death of Captain Francis Grenfell 
Deductions from the Second Battle of Ypres Performance 
of Territorial Troops Spirit of the Army Description of 
Ypres after the Bombardment The Fate of the City and 
the Salient. 

IN April the spirits of the Allies were high. 
Russia was believed to be making way in the 
Carpathians in the direction of the plains of 
Hungary. France was preparing for a great effort 
against the most vital portion of the German front, 
and in Britain it was thought that presently we 
should repeat on an extended scale the tactics of 


Neuve Chapelle, and do more than dint the oppos- 
ing line. Such a season of optimism is often a 
precursor of misfortunes and black depression, and 
within a month's time a series of desperate actions 
on both East and West had convinced us that 
Germany did not intend yet awhile to forgo her 
favourite part of the offensive. So far as the 
British front was concerned, the assault came where 
we were least ready. Our heavy guns had been 
largely taken from the northern section to assist the 
artillery preparation farther south. The French 
regulars had gone from the Ypres Canal to join in 
the great movement in the Artois, and the Salient, 
that old cockpit of war, was held in very moderate 
strength. Suddenly, and almost without warning, 
it became the theatre of an attack which put our 
fortitude to a fiery trial. 

The First Battle of Ypres still the greatest and 
most critical struggle of the Western war began on 
2oth October, and ended with the repulse of the 
Prussian Guard on nth November. The battle- 
front stretched from Bixschoote in the north to 
Armentieres in the south, over a broad salient whose 
first apex was Becelaere, and second Gheluvelt. In 
it we opposed numbers which were never more than 
150,000 to an enemy whose strength was at least 
half a million. During the worst part of the fight- 
ing we had three infantry divisions and some cavalry 
to meet five army corps, three of the first line. We 
had to face not only a perpetual bombardment by 
superior artillery, but a succession of attacks by 
massed infantry delivered with desperate resolution. 
The German aim was the road to Calais ; their assault 
was a deliberate and sustained offensive comparable 


to their first sweep from the Sambre and the Meuse, 
or von Hindenburg's November thrust against 
Warsaw. Its failure marked the end of the second 
phase of the war in the West. 

The Second Battle of Ypres belongs to a different 
category. It was confined to the northern segment 
of the Salient, between the Ypres Canal and the 
Menin road. Probably the Germans had no elabo- 
rate offensive purpose at the start. The battle began 
with a local counter-attack in return for our efforts 
at Hill 60, and when this attack prospered it was 
pushed beyond its original aim. A proof is that 
there was no great massing of troops, as in the 
autumn battle. Local reserves were brought up, 
but the German line was not thinned elsewhere. 
But in two respects the battles are akin. The 
second lasted almost exactly as long as the first 
from Thursday, 22nd April, to Thursday, i3th 
May, when it slackened owing to the British thrust 
from Festubert. Like the first, too, it was fought 
against heavy odds. A crushing artillery prepon- 
derance and the use of poison gas were more deadly 
assets than any weight of numbers. For days our 
fate hung in the balance, dispositions grew chaotic 
in the fog of war, and it became a soldiers' battle, 
like Malplaquet and Albuera, where rules and text- 
books were forgotten, and we won by the sheer 
fighting quality of our men. 

A glance at the map will show the peculiar 
difficulties of the Ypres Salient. Its nominal base 
was the line St. Eloi-Ypres-Bixschoote, but its real 
base was the town of Ypres itself. Ypres was like 
the hub of a wheel from which all the communica- 



tions eastwards radiated like spokes. One important 
road crossed the canal at Steenstraate, and a few 
pontoon bridges had been built nearer Ypres ; but all 
the main routes ran through Ypres to Pilkem, to 
Langemarck, to Poelcapelle, to Zonnebeke, to Ghe- 

Second Battle of Ypres. Sketch showing position at the 
Ypres salient on. the morning of April 22ncf. 

luvelt and Menin, besides the railway to Roulers. 
Virtually all the supplies and reserves for the troops 
holding the Salient must go through the neck of the 
bottle at Ypres. Now, early in November the 
Germans won gun positions at the southern re- 


entrant which enabled them to shell the town, 
and a bombardment was continued intermittently 
throughout the winter. A serious cannonade would 
gravely interfere with our communications, and we 
held the Salient with this menace perpetually before 
us. We could assume that a neavy shelling of 
Ypres would be a preliminary to any German 

From the middle of November to the end of 
January the Salient was held by the French Du- 
bois's famous Qth Corps, and Territorials. On the 
ist of February part or the French were withdrawn, 
and General Bulfin's 28th Division was brought 
north to replace them. By the zoth of A^ r -i 2Q 
April the Allied front was as follows : ** 
From the canal through Bixschoote to just east of 
Langemarck, and covering the latter place, was a 
French division the 45th of Colonial infantry. 
On the right of the French, to a point north-east 
of Zonnebeke, lay the Canadian Division, under 
General Alderson, General Turner's 3rd Brigade 
on the left, and General Currie's 2nd Brigade on 
the right.* From north-east of Zonnebeke to the 

* The Canadian Division was composed as follows : 

ist Brigade (Brigadier-General Mercer) ist Battalion 
(Ontario Regiment), 2nd Battalion (Eastern Ontario), 3rd 
Battalion (Toronto Regiment), 4th Battalion (Central On- 

2nd Brigade (Brigadier-General A. W. Currie) 5th Bat- 
talion, 6th Battalion (Fort Garry's), 7th Battalion (British 
Columbia Regiment), 8th Battalion (goth Winnipeg Rifles). 

yd Brigade (Brigadier-General Turner, V.C.) I3th Bat- 
talion (Royal Highlanders of Canada), I4th Battalion (Royal 
Montreal Regiment), isth Battalion (48th Highlanders of 
Canada), 1 6th Battalion (Canadian Scottish). 

+th Brigade (Brigadier-General Cohoe) o,th Battalion, 


south-east corner of the Polygon Wood was the 
28th Division, the 85th, 84th, and 83rd Brigades 
in order from left to right. At the corner of the 
Polygon Wood was Princess Patricia's Regiment of 
the 27th Division ; and this division, under General 
Snow, continued the front east of Veldhoek along 
the ridge almost to Hill 60, where General Mor- 
land's 5th Division took over the line. The trenches 
we had received from the French were not good, 
especially in the section held by the Canadians and 
the 85th Brigade. They were very wet, and the 
dead were buried in the bottoms and the sides, so 
that to improve them was a gruesome and unwhole- 
some task. Had it been possible, it would have 
been better to construct a wholly new line. Farther 
south the situation was better, and the 83rd Brigade 
and the 27th Division were comfortably entrenched. 
Against this section was arrayed the left wing of 
the army of Wurtemberg, whose headquarters were 
at Thielt. Opposite the British were the 26th and 
27th Corps, reserve formations composed of mixed 
Saxons and Wurtembergers, and the right of the 
1 5th Corps from Alsace, the heroes of Zabern. 
Other detachments appeared during the battle, in- 
cluding a battalion of Marines. 

To understand the significance of the events 
which began on 22nd April it is necessary to go 
back to what happened on the i7th. The opera- 
tions at Hill 60 were not strictly a part of the Ypres 
battle, but they were a link in the chain of causes. 

loth Battalion (Western Canada Regiment), nth Battalion, 
I2th Battalion. 

There was also an unbrigaded iyth Battalion the Nova 
Scotia Highlanders. 


Hill 60 is only a hill to the eye of faith, being no 
more than an earth heap from the cutting of the 
Ypres-Lille railway. Its advantage is that it gives 
a gun position from which the whole German Front 
in the neighbourhood of Hollebeke Chateau can be 
commanded. It is just east of the hamlet of Zwar- 
telen, where the Household Brigade made their 
decisive charge on the night of 6th November. 
About seven in the evening of iyth April /. ., 
we exploded seven mines on the hill, P '' 
which played havoc with the defence, blowing up 
a trench line and 150 men. The ist Royal West 
Kent and the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers 
won the top, entrenched themselves in the shell 
craters, and brought up machine guns. Next day, 
Sunday, at 6.30, the Germans made a * ., 
counter-attack in mass formation, which * 
resulted in a desperate struggle at close quarters. 
Our machine guns mowed down the enemy, but he 
reached our trenches, and there was some fierce 
hand-to-hand fighting. Repeatedly during the day 
the attacks were renewed, but all were driven back, 
and by the evening we had expelled the enemy from 
the slopes of the hill with the bayonet. The 2nd 
West Riding and the 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry 
now relieved the original battalions. In this struggle 
we lost heavily, but the Germans lost more, and all 
the glacis was littered with their dead. 

For the next three days there was no respite. 
The position was vital to the enemy if he would 
keep his Hollebeke ground, and the iQth Saxons 
were hurled against it, with the support of artillery 
and asphyxiating bombs. The hill formed a salient, 
and we were exposed to fire from three sides. On 


the 1 9th and 2oth the terrific cannonade con- 
tinued. On the evening of the latter day, about 

A-hril 6.30, there was another infantry attack 
Apn 20. w jjj c jj i as ted for an hour and a half, 
while all the night parties with hand grenades 
worked their way up to our trenches. Lieutenant 
George Roupell of the ist East Surreys won the 
Victoria Cross for the courage and tenacity with 
which, though several times wounded, he held his 
position with the remnants of his company till relief 
came. Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Woolley of the 
9th London Regiment (Territorial) earned the same 
distinction that night, during which at one time he 
was the only officer on the hill. On Wednesday 

* Y morning, the 2ist, the enemy had estab- 
P ' lished himself at one point on the slopes, 
at the north-east edge, but in the afternoon we dis- 
lodged him. All that evening howitzer shell rained 
on us, and asphyxiating bombs choked and blinded 
our men, while the German field guns were in close 
range. Against an area 250 yards long by 200 deep 
tons of metal were flung, and for four and a half days 
the defenders lived through a veritable hell. But 
on Thursday, the 22nd, the hill was still ours, and 
there came a sudden lull in the attack another such 
dangerous lull as that which on 28th October had 
preceded the launching of the thunderbolt. 

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the 2Oth, the bom- 
bardment of Ypres had begun. Suddenly into the 
streets f the little ci fi^ e( i with their 


normal denizens and our own reserves, 

there fell the great 42 -cm. shells. Fifteen children 
were killed at play, and a number of civilians per- 
ished in the debris. It was the warning for which 


we were prepared, and the high command grew 
anxious. The destruction of Ypres served no mili- 
tary object in itself. It could only be a means to 
the blocking of the routes through which we sup- 
plied our lines on the Salient. It could not be aimed 
at Hill 60, where our communications had a free 
road to the west. It must herald an attack on the 
section between the canal and the Menin road. 

The evening of Thursday, the 22nd, was calm 
and pleasant, with a light, steady wind blowing 
from the north-east. About 6.30 our * ., 
artillery observers reported that a strange * 
green vapour was moving over the French trenches. 
Then, as the April night closed in, and the great 
shells still rained upon Ypres, there were strange 
scenes between the canal and the Pilkem road. 
Back through the dusk came a stream of French 
soldiers, blinded and coughing and wild with terror. 
Some black devilry had come upon them, and they 
had broken before this more than human fear. 
Behind them they had left hundreds of their com- 
rades stricken and dead, with froth on their lips 
and horrible blue faces. The rout surged over the 
canal, and the road to Vlamertinghe was choked 
with broken infantry and galloping gun teams lack- 
ing their guns. No discredit attaches to those who 
broke. The pressure was more than flesh and blood 
could bear. Some of the Zouaves and Turcos fled 
due south towards the Langemarck road, and in the 
early darkness came upon the Canadian reserve 
battalions. With amazement the Canadians saw 
the wild dark faces, the heaving chests, and the 
lips speechless with agony. Then they too sniffed 
something on the breeze, something which caught 

Vll. 2 


at their throats and affected them with a deadly 

The instant result was a four-mile breach in the 
Allied line. What was left of the French were back 
on the canal from Boesinghe to Steenstraate, where 
they were being pushed across by the German 
attack, and between them and the left of the Can- 
adian 3rd Brigade were four miles of undefended 
country. Through this gap the Germans were 
pouring, preceded by the fumes of the gas, and 
supported by a heavy artillery fire. 

The Canadians had suffered from the gas, but 
to a less extent than the French. With his flank in 
the air there was no course before General Turner 
except to refuse his left. Attempts were made to 
rally the fleeing Turcos, and Captain Guy Drum- 
mond of the Royal Highlanders, a gallant and 
popular officer, fell heroically in this task. Under 
the pressure of an attack by four divisions the 3rd 
Brigade bent inwards from a point just south of 
Poelcapelle till its left rested on the wood east of 
St. Julien, between the Langemarck and Poelcapelle 
roads. Beyond it there was still a gap, and the 
Germans were working round its flank. The whole 
ist Canadian Brigade was in reserve, and it was 
impossible to use it at a moment's notice. Two 
battalions, the loth and i6th, were in the brigade 
reserve of the 2nd and 3rd, and these were brought 
forward by midnight and flung into the breach. 

A battery of 4.7 guns, lent by the 2nd London 
Division to support the French, was in the wood 
east of St. Julien. The gun teams were miles away. 
That wood has no name, but it deserves to be 
christened by the name of the troops who died in 


it. For through it the loth Battalion under Colonel 
Boyle, and the i6th under Colonel Leckie, charged 
at midnight, and won the northern fringe. They 
re-captured the guns, but could not bring them 
away ; but they destroyed parts of them before 
they fell again into German hands, when the line 
was forced back by artillery fire. Another counter- 
attack was attempted to ease the strain. Two bat- 
talions of General Mercer's ist Brigade the ist 
and 4th Ontario charged the German position in 
the gap. Colonel Birchall of the 4th was killed 
while leading his men, and his death fired the 
battalion to a splendid effort. They carried the 
first German shelter trenches, and held them till 
relief came two days later. 

A wilder battle has rarely been witnessed than 
the struggle of that April night. The British re- 
serves at Ypres, shelled out of the town, marched 
to the sound of the firing, with the strange, sickly 
odour of the gas blowing down upon them. The roads 
were congested with the nightly supply trains for 
our troops in the Salient. All along our front the 
cannonade was severe, while the Canadian left, bent 
back almost at right angles, was struggling to en- 
trench itself under cover of counter-attacks. In 
some cases they found French reserve trenches to 
occupy, but more often they had to dig themselves 
in where they were allowed. The right of the 
German assault was beyond the canal in several 
places, and bearing hard on the French remnants 
on the eastern bank. All was confusion, for no Staff 
work was possible. To their eternal honour the 3rd 
Canadian Brigade did not break. Overwhelmed with 
superior numbers of men and guns, and sick to death 


with the poisoned fumes, they did all that men 
could do to stem the tide. The i5th Battalion 
(48th Highlanders), who bore the brunt of the gas, 
recovered themselves after the first retreat, and re- 
gained their position. The i3th Battalion (Royal 
Highlanders) did not give ground at all. Major 
Norsworthy, though badly wounded, rallied his men 
till he got his death wound. Captain M'Cuaig, 
who had received a crippling wound, insisted that 
he should be left behind, so as not to encumber 
his men. And all the while there was the yawning 
rent on our left which gave the enemy a clear way 
to Ypres. Strangely enough, they did not push 
their advantage. As in the First Battle of Ypres, 
they broke our line, but could do nothing in the 

Very early in the small hours of Friday morning 
the first British reinforcements arrived in the gap. 
A >, They came mostly from the 28th Divi- 
P * s ion,* which, as we have seen, was hold- 
ing the line from east of Zonnebeke to the south- 
east corner of the Polygon Wood. The line was 
held by three companies of each battalion, with one 
in support, and the supporting companies were sent 
to reinforce the Canadians. This accounts for the 
strange mixture of units in the subsequent fighting. 
In addition they had in reserve the 2nd Buffs, the 
8th Middlesex (Territorials), the ist York and Lan- 

* Its front was formed from left to right by the 3rd Royal 
Fusiliers, the and East Surrey, and the 3rd Middlesex of the 
85th Brigade ; the 2nd Northumberland Fusiliers, the ist 
Suffolks, the 2nd Cheshires, and the ist Welsh of the 84th 
Brigade ; and the 2nd King's Own Royal Lancashires, the 
Monmouths (Territorial), and the ist Yorkshire Light In- 
fantry of the 83rd Brigade. 


caster, the 5th King's Own (Territorials), and the 
2nd East Yorks. These five battalions, under the 
command of Colonel Geddes of the Buffs, took up 
position in the gap, and acted along with the loth 
and 1 6th Canadians, who had conducted the first 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the morning 
.of Friday, April 23rd. 

counter-attack. This force varied from day to day 
almost from hour to hour in composition, and 
for convenience we may refer to it as Geddes's 
Detachment. It picked up, as the fighting went 
on, some strange auxiliaries. Suddenly there were 


added to it two officers and 120 men of the North- 
umberland Fusiliers. They were the grenadier 
company of that battalion, who had been lent to 
Hill 60, and had already been eight days in the 
trenches. Bearded, weary, and hungry, this com- 
pany, marching back to rejoin their division, fell 
in with Geddes's Detachment, and took their place 
in its firing line. That night the old " Fighting 
Fifth " lived up to its fame. 

On the morning of Friday, 23rd, the situation 
was as follows : The 27th Division was in its old 
position, as was the 28th, save that the latter was 
much depleted by the supports which it had dis- 
patched westwards, and was strung out in its 
trenches like a string of beads, one man to every 
twelve yards. The Canadian 2nd Brigade was in- 
tact, but the 3rd Brigade was bent back so as to 
cover St. Julien, whence the supporting Canadian 
battalions and Geddes's Detachment carried the 
line to the canal at Boesinghe. North of this the 
French held on to the east bank ; but the Germans 
had crossed at various points, and had taken Lizerne 
and Het Sas, and were threatening Steenstraate. 
The British cavalry General Allenby's three divi- 
sions and General Rimington's two Indian divi- 
sions were being hurried up to support the French 
west of the canal. That day there was a severe 
artillery bombardment all along the front of the 
28th Division, the Canadians, and Geddes's De- 
tachment, especially from the heavy guns on the 
Passchendaele ridge. But the fighting was heaviest 
against the Canadian 3rd Brigade, which by now 
was in desperate straits. Its losses had been huge, 
and the survivors were still weak from the effects 


of the gas. No food could reach it for twenty-four 
hours, and then only bread and cheese. Holding 
a salient, it suffered fire from three sides, and by 
the evening was driven to a new line through St. 
Julien. One company of the Buffs sent up by 
Geddes to support it was altogether destroyed. 
There were gaps in all this western front, and the 
Germans succeeded in working round the left of 
the 3rd Brigade, and even getting their machine 
guns behind it. By this time the Canadian line 
was held from right to left by the 5th, 8th, i5th, 
i3th, three companies of the yth, and the i4th 
Battalions, from which Geddes's Detachment ex- 
tended to the French. 

About three o'clock on the morning of Saturday, 
the 24th, a violent artillery cannonade began. At 
3.30 there came the second great gas A^.-J 
attack, and of this we have full details. ** 
The gas was pumped from cylinders, and, rising in 
a cloud, which at its maximum was seven feet high, 
it travelled in two minutes the distance between 
the lines. It was thickest close to the ground, and 
filled every cranny of the trenches. Our men had 
still no knowledge of it, and were provided with no 
prophylactics, but instinct taught some of them 
what to do. A wet handkerchief wrapped round 
the mouth gave a little relief, and it was best for 
a man to keep on his feet. It was fatal to run 
backwards, for in that case he followed the gas 
zone, and the exertion of rapid movement com- 
pelled deep breathing, and so drew the poison into 
the lungs. Its effect was to fill the lungs with fluid 
and produce acute bronchitis. Those smitten by 
it suffered horribly, gasping and struggling for 


breath, with blue, swollen faces, and eyes bursting 
from the head. It affected the sight, too, and pro- 
duced temporary blindness. Even a thousand yards 
from the place of emission men were afflicted with 
violent sickness and giddiness. After that it dissi- 
pated itself, and only the blanched herbage marked 
its track. 

That day, the 24th, saw the height of the Cana- 
dians' battle. The much-tried 3rd Brigade, now 
gassed for the second time, could no longer keep 
its place. Its left fell back well to the south-west 
of St. Julien, gaps opened up in its front, and Gen- 
eral Currie's 2nd Brigade was left in much the same 
position as that of the 3rd Brigade on Thursday 
evening. His left was compelled to swing south to 
conform ; but Colonel Lipsett's 8th Battalion, 
which held the pivoting point on the Grafenstafel 
ridge the extreme north-eastern point of our salient 
did not move an inch. Although heavily gassed, 
they stayed in their trenches for two days until they 
were relieved. The 3rd Brigade, temporarily forced 
back, presently recovered itself, and regained much 
of the lost ground. 

About midday a great German attack developed 
against the village of St. Julien and the section of 
our line immediately east of it. The 3rd Brigade 
was withdrawn some 700 yards to a new line south 
of the village and just north of the hamlet of For- 
tuin. The remnants of the i3th and i4th Battalions 
could not be withdrawn, and remained a few hun- 
dred men in the St. Julien line, fighting till far on 
in the night their hopeless battle with a gallantry 
which has shed eternal lustre on their Motherland. 
Scarcely less fine was the stand of Colonel Lipsett's 


8th Battalion at Grafenstafel. Though their left 
was in the air they never moved, and at the most 
critical moment held the vital point of the British 
front. Had the Grafenstafel position gone, the 
enemy would in an hour have pushed behind the 

Second Battle of Ypres. The position on the evening of 
Saturday, April 24th. 

28th Division and the whole eastern section. It is 
told how one machine-gun officer of the yth - 
Lieutenant Bellew with a defiant loaf stuck on his 
bayonet point above the parapet, fought his machine 
gun till it was smashed to pieces, and then con- 


tinned the struggle with relays of rifles. Far on 
the west the French counter-attacked from the 
canal and made some progress, but the Germans 
were still strong on the west bank, and took Steen- 
straate, though the Belgian artillery succeeded in 
destroying the bridge behind them. 

Meantime British battalions were being rushed 
up as fast as they could be collected. The i3th 
Brigade * from the 5th Division took up position 
west of Geddes's Detachment, between the canal and 
the Pilkem road, and they were supported by the 
York and Durham Brigades of the Northumbrian 
Territorial Division, which had arrived from Eng- 
land only three days before. The loth Brigade j- 
from the 4th Division were coming up to support 
the 3rd Canadian Brigade south of St. Julien. To 
support the critical point at Grafenstafel the 8th 
Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade of 
the Northumbrian Division, and the ist Hampshires 
from the 4th Division, took their place between the 
8th Canadians and the left of the 28th Division. 
The Canadians were gradually being withdrawn ; 
the 3rd Brigade had already gone, and the Lahore 
Division and various battalions of the 4th were 
about to take over the whole of this part of the line. 

But meantime an attempt was made to retake 
St. Julien. Early on the Sunday morning, about 
4-3O> an attack was delivered by General 
2 5- Hull's loth Brigade and two battalions 

* 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers, 2nd West Riding, 
ist Royal West Kent, 2nd Yorkshire Light Infantry. All 
four battalions had been engaged in the fight for Hill 60. 

f ist Warwicks, 2nd Seaforths, ist Irish Fusiliers, 2nd 
Dublin Fusiliers, and 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 


of the York and Durham Brigade against the vil- 
lage. It was pushed up through the left centre of 
the Canadian remnant to the very edge of the houses, 
where it was checked by the numerous German 
machine guns. In the assault the loth Brigade had 
desperate casualties, while the York and Durham 
battalions, which missed direction in the advance, 
lost 13 officers and 213 rank and file. On that 
day, so mixed was the fighting, General Hull 
had under him at one moment no less than fifteen 
battalions, as well as the whole artillery of the 
Canadian Division. Farther east the 8th Battalion 
of the Durham Light Infantry Brigade at Grafen- 
stafel was heavily attacked with asphyxiating shells 
less deadly than the gas, but for the moment 
incapacitating and at 2 p.m. a German attack was 
launched against its two front companies. From 
2 to 7 p.m. they hung on, and then the pressure 
proved too great, and they fell back with heavy 
losses. Farther on, at the extreme eastern point 
of the front, the Germans made a resolute attempt 
with artillery and asphyxiating bombs on the line 
of the 28th Division at Broodseinde. The 85th 
Brigade, however, managed to hold its ground, and 
made many prisoners. The position on that Sun- 
day night was that the British line from west to 
east was held by the i3th Brigade, part of the York 
and Durham Brigade, Geddes's Detachment, the 
loth Brigade, more York and Durhams, the Lahore 
Division, the Hampshires, the 8th Battalion of the 
Durham Light Infantry Brigade, and the 28th 
Division. Our front was intact on the east as far 
north as the Grafenstafel ridge, whence it ran in 
a generally western direction through Fortuin. 


Monday, the 26th, was a day of constant and 
critical fighting, but we managed to get our reliefs 

A-b 7 26 m anc ^ ta ^ e out t ^ ie battalions which had 
^ been holding the pass since the terrible 

night of Thursday. The 3rd Canadian Brigade had 
retired on Saturday, the 2nd followed on Sunday 
evening. But on the Monday the latter, now less 
than 1,000 strong, was ordered back to the line, 
which was still far too thin, and, to the credit of 
their discipline, the men went cheerfully. They 
had to take up position in daylight, and cross the 
zone of shell fire no light task for those who had 
lived through the past shattering days. That night 
they were relieved, and on Thursday the whole 
division was withdrawn from the Ypres Salient, 
after such a week of fighting as has rarely fallen 
to the lot of British troops. Small wonder that a 
thrill of pride went through the Empire at the tale, 
and that Canada rejoiced in the midst of her sorrow. 
Most of the officers were Canadian born, and never 
was there finer regimental leading. Three battalion 
commanders died Colonel Birchall of the 4th, 
Colonel M'Harg of the yth, and Colonel Boyle of 
the roth. Many of the brigade staff officers fell. 
From the 5th Battalion only ten officers survived, 
five from the yth, seven from the 8th, eight from 
the loth. Of the machine-gun men of the i3th 
Battalion thirteen were left out of fifty- eight, in the 
7th Battalion only one. Consider what these men 
had to face. Attacked and outflanked by four 
divisions, stupefied with a poison of which they 
had never dreamed, and which they did not under- 
stand, with no heavy artillery to support them, they 
endured till reinforcements came, and they did more 


than endure. After days and nights of tension they 
had the vitality to counter-attack. When called 
upon they cheerfully returned to the inferno they 
had left. If the Salient of Ypres will be for all 
time the classic battle-ground or Britain, that blood- 
stained segment between the Poelcapelle and Zonne- 
beke roads will remain the holy land of Canadian 

The Monday's fighting fell chiefly to the North- 
umbrian and Lahore Divisions, which had taken the 
Canadians' place. Let us glance at the several 
engagements along our front. The i3th Brigade 
on the left was not seriously troubled, nor was 
Geddes's Detachment, which that evening was 
broken up and the battalions returned to the 28th 
Division. Its gallant commander fell mortally 
wounded as he was leaving the trenches. At four 
in the morning the Germans attacked the two 
companies of the 8th Battalion of the Durham 
Light Infantry Brigade at Fortuin and enveloped 
them, so that they were compelled to fall back 
behind the Hannabeeke stream, from which in the 
evening they retired 400 yards to still another line. 
The other battalions of the brigade were ordered to 
advance to the Frezenberg ridge, so as to take the 
enemy in flank. They suffered heavily from shell 
fire, for the Germans were making a curtain behind 
us to prevent our receiving reinforcements. The 
Northumberland Brigade, under General Riddell, 

* Three Canadians won the Victoria Cross in this battle : 
Captain Francis Scrimger, the medical officer of the I4th 
Battalion ; Colour-Sergeant Frederick Hall of the 8th, and 
Lance-Corporal Frederick Fisher of the I3th both of whom 


were ordered at 10.15 a - m - to m ve to Fortuin. 
Along with the Lahore Division they made an 
attack upon St. Julien. It was part of a general 
counter-attack by the Allies, which farther west led 
to the French retaking Lizerne and the trenches 
around Het Sas, and which did much to check 
the enemy's offensive and relieve the desperate 
pressure on our line. But the attack on St. Julien 
prospered ill. The Northumberland Brigade had 
had no time to reconnoitre the ground, it was 
held up by wire, and it received the worst of the 
shell fire. Its 6th Battalion managed to get 250 
yards in advance of our front trenches, but could 
not hold the position. The Brigadier, General 
Riddell, fell at 3.30, and the Brigade lost 42 officers 
and some 1,900 men. Daylight attacks of this kind 
were impossible in the face of an enemy so well 
provided with guns, and the Lahore Division fared 
no better. Most of its battalions never got up 
through the fire curtain to our trenches. The 4oth 
Pathans, the famous " Forty Thieves " of Indian 
military history, were among the chief sufferers. 
Their colonel fell, and nearly all their British officers 
were killed or wounded. There died Captain Dal- 
mahoy, a soldier of exceptional gallantry and skill, who 
still led on his men after he had been six times hit.* 
Farther east, at Grafenstafel, there was fierce 
fighting. The 85th Brigade kept their line intact, 
but on their left, in a wood between the ridge and 
the Passchendaele road, there was a hot corner. 

* Jemadar Mir Dast of the 57th (Wilde's) Rifles led his 
platoon with great gallantry, and when all the British officers 
of the regiment had fallen collected the remnants and con- 
ducted the retirement. He received the Victoria Cross. 


By the evening they were compelled to give up 
the north-west section of the ridge, and our line 
was temporarily pierced at Broodseinde. That 
night we took up a slightly different line, which the 
map will explain. The 28th Division on the right 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the evening of 
Monday, April 26th. 

held its old front from the south-east corner of the 
Polygon Wood to just north of Zonnebeke and the 
eastern edge of the Grafenstafel ridge. Then our 
front bent south-west along the left bank of the 
Hannabecke stream to a point half a mile east of 


St. Julien. There it turned south to the Vamheule 
farm on the Poelcapelle road. That farm should 
be noted ; our men christened it Shelltrap Farm, 
and it played a great part in the later fighting. 
Thence it ran to just west of the Langemarck road, 
where it joined the French. The French line was 
now held by divisions of the Qth regular corps. 
The British line from left to right was held by the 
1 3th Brigade, from the French to Shelltrap Farm ; 
the loth Brigade on to Fortuin ; the Northumbrian 
Division, and the 28th Division, which had now 
for the most part received back its battalions from 
the western and central sections. The Lahore 
Division was being withdrawn, and the nth and 
1 2th Brigades of the 4th Division were on their 
way up. But there were odd fragments of other 
divisions in the front. The 4th Rifle Brigade, for 
example, from the 27th Division, was in support 
of the French ; the Qth Royal Scots (Territorials) 
and the 2nd Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry 
from the same division had been in support of the 
Canadians since the night of the 22nd ; and two 
companies of the Shropshire Light Infantry from 
the 8oth Brigade were used to fill the gap between 
the Hampshires and the Royal Fusiliers at the 
Grafenstafel angle in the front of the 28th Division. 
The patchwork nature of our line made Staff work 
excessively difficult. Units and bits of units were 
brought up and used to strengthen weak places. 
We have seen the experience of the brigadier of 
the loth Brigade on the 25th. General Prowse of 
the nth Brigade a few days later found himself 
suddenly in command of twelve British battalions 
and three French. 


We may pass over the next few days till the 
morning of Sunday, 2nd May. The British and 
French counter-attacked several times during these 
five days, and all our front was heavily shelled. 
On ist May there was a desperate bombard- 
ment against the line of the 85th Brigade be- 
tween Grafenstafel and Zonnebeke. On the last 
day of April the I2th Brigade,* under General 
Anley, took over the line held by the i3th Brigade 
on the extreme left of the British section. On its 
right was the loth Brigade from Shelltrap Farm 
to Fortuin. Then came the nth Brigade,f hold- 
ing 5,000 yards on the right of the northern section. 
On the 29th it was badly shelled, and the London 
Rifle Brigade lost 170 men. Next day it had to 
face a German thrust from St. Julien, which the 
Territorials drove back with machine-gun fire. The 
loth Brigade held the old French second trenches, 
very badly made and awkwardly placed, but it is 
their boast that they never lost a trench. Beyond it 
was the 28th Division, holding 6,000 yards down to 
the Polygon Wood. 

It was obvious that the 4th Division was hold- 
ing far too lone a line, and General Bulfin, who 
was in charge or the operations, resolved to shorten 
the front. The Ypres Salient had always been a 
danger. Now that it had been broken on the north 
there was no reason for maintaining a position which, 

* It had from left to right on its front the 2nd Essex, the 
ist King's Own, and the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, with the 
2nd Royal Irish in support and its two Territorial battalions 
in reserve. 

t The London Rifle Brigade (Territorial), the ist Somer- 
set Light Infantry, the ist Rifle Brigade, and the ist Hamp- 

VII. 7 


as the map shows, was open to assault upon three 
sides. We held what was virtually an oblong, five 
miles long by about three broad, with ugly corners 
at Grafenstafel and the Polygon Wood. Accord- 
ingly preparations were made for a bold retirement 
which would make of the Salient an easy curve 
with its farthest point under three miles from the 

But first, on Sunday, 2nd May, we had to meet 
a new German attack. Gas and asphyxiating bombs 
were discharged both against the French on the 
Ypres Canal and the 4th Division east and west of 
Fortuin. The French were ready for it. Their 
75 mm. guns mowed down the invaders, and the 
German position on that section was in no way 
improved. Against the British they fared little 
better. By this time our men had respirators not 
yet of the best pattern and they managed to let 
the gas blow past with little loss. The Lancashire 
Fusiliers and the Essex in the i2th Brigade suffered 
most, and gave way a little. The and Seaforths 
of the loth Brigade never moved. Their medical 
officer, Lieutenant James, a civilian doctor who had 
been with the regiment in South Africa, behaved 
with conspicuous courage, for, though badly affected 
by the gas, he continued for two days at his post. 
The 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, Terri- 
torials of the loth Brigade, actually charged through 
the gas under Colonel Garden and took a German 
trench. The result was that the 4th Division, 
assisted by the 4th Hussars, who had come up as 
reinforcements from the 3rd Cavalry Brigade, suc- 
ceeded in holding their ground. Many deeds of 
courage were reported for that day and for the fol- 


lowing morning, when the ist Rifle Brigade were 
attacked. Captain Railston of that battalion was 
buried alive by a shell ; then he was hit by a shell 
fragment, and left with only three men. Yet he 
managed to bluff the enemy and hold his trenches 
till relief came in the evening. Private Lynn of 
the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers, a machine gunner 
who had already received the Distinguished Con- 
duct Medal, played on the advancing gas with his 
guns, without putting on his respirator. He con- 
tinued firing even when the cloud caught him. He 
then got his gun to the top of the parapet and kept 
off the German attack. For his heroic stand he 
received the Victoria Cross, but it cost him his life. 

On 3rd May the time came to shorten the line. 
The 1 2th Brigade on our left did not move ; it 
was the pivot of the operation. Bat- ** 
talions were withdrawn piecemeal, and 
picked riflemen from each company were left to 
cover the retirement. This withdrawal, in perfect 
order, in a very short time, and with no losses, 
was one of the most creditable pieces of Staff work 
in the war. The work began as soon as the dark- 
ness fell. Every day of the fighting we had got 
in our wounded under cover of night, and in 
the cellars of Zonnebeke village operations had 
been performed by candlelight. That evening the 
wounded were evacuated, all but a small number 
of very bad cases whom it was impossible to move, 
and who were left behind in charge of two orderlies. 
The Royal Army Medical Corps have never done 
more brilliant work in all their brilliant history. 
Under the guidance of Colonel Ferguson, assisted 


by Major Waggett (the well-known London special- 
ist on throat diseases), the cases were brought from 
the cellars and dug-outs, and silently and swiftly 

Second Battle of Ypres. Sketch showing the shortenfng of 
the line on May 3rd. 

carried along the dark roads beyond the fire zone. 
The difficulty of such a withdrawal may be realized 
from the fact that at some places, such as Grafenstafel 
and Broodseinde, the Germans were within ten yards 


of our line. Not less than 780 wounded were re- 
moved from our front, and the retirement of the 
battalions was equally skilful. Not a single man 
was lost. The 85th Brigade had a difficult task, 
coming from the extreme north-eastern point of 
the Salient. The nth, coming from Fortuin, had 
to move for nearly four miles down lines of parallel 
trenches. Most of the supplies and ammunition 
was removed, and what could not be carried was 

Touches of comedy were not wanting. The 
83rd Brigade, on the right of the 28th Division, 
had constructed new and admirable trenches which 
they were loth to leave. One man solemnly 
cleaned and swept his dug-out before going, like 
a landlord preparing a house for a new tenant. 
The order to retire did not reach the last man of 
a score of picked shots who had been left to the 
end. He belonged to the 2nd Cheshires, and re- 
mained for more than an hour after our retirement, 
a solitary figure facing the whole army of Wurtem- 
berg. Then he suddenly realized that he was very 
lonely, and fled westwards after his comrades. It 
was not till the early morning of the 4th that the 
Germans knew we had gone. For some time before 
that they had been busy shelling our empty trenches. 

Our new line ran from the French west of the 
Langemarck road by Shelltrap Farm, along the 
Frezenberg ridge, and then due south, including 
the Bellewaarde Lake and Hooge, and curving round 
to the Zillebeke ridge and Hill 60. The 27th 
Division held it from near the latter point up to 
the Menin road, the 28th along the Frezenberg 
ridge to just east of Shelltrap, and the 4th Division 


to the junction with the French. This line was 
at least three miles shorter than the old one, so 
it could be held with fewer troops, which gave a 
chance of rest to some of the brigades which had 
been most highly tried. The critical point was 
now our centre on the eastern front of the Salient, 
which ran from the Hannabeeke stream along the 
eastern face of the Frezenberg ridge. This ridge 
covered all the roads from Ypres by which our 
supplies and reinforcements travelled, and if the 
Germans should carry it our position would be 
gravely prejudiced. It is a ridge just as Hill 60 is 
a hill by courtesy only ; for the present writer, who 
visited the neighbourhood a week later, could barely 
detect the gentle swell among the flat meadows. 

For the next three days there was little more 
than a heavy shelling. At the south-western ex- 
tremity of the Salient, Hill 60 was recaptured by a 
German gas attack on 5th May. Early on the 

j.* g morning of the 8th, about 5.30, there 

was an attack on the centre held by the 

28th Division. The result of that day and of the 

jy, next, Sunday, the 9th, was that our line 

* 9' was pushed back west of the Frezenberg 
ridge till it ran east of the well-named hamlet of 
Verlorenhoek, on the Zonnebeke road. The ist 
Suffolks, in the 84th Brigade, were wiped out by 
shell fire, only seven men remaining. The 2nd 
Cheshires held back the enemy most valiantly till 
they had only one officer left. The ist Yorkshire 
Light Infantry, in the 83rd Brigade, also suffered 
terribly. The Monmouths, a Territorial battalion 
who had done most gallantly, were in a precarious 
position, and another Territorial battalion, the i2th 


London, was brought up to relieve them. They 
reached the trenches through a barrage of fire, and 
there they suffered like the Suffolks. The whole 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the evening of 
Sunday, May 9th. 

centre was driven in, all but the ist Welsh, under 
Colonel Marden, who did not retire till they 
were ordered. They sent message after message 
back that theirs was a hot corner, but that they 


were very comfortable, and could remain as long 
as they were wanted. Mention should be made 
also of the 9th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders 
(Territorials), who had 900 8-inch shells in their 
trenches, and still stayed in them. They counter- 
attacked brilliantly on the nth, and lost their com- 
mander, Lieutenant-Colonel James Clark, one of 
the most gallant and well-beloved of leaders. 

On the following Wednesday, the i2th, we made 
certain changes on our front thus further drawn in. 
,, The 28th Division went into reserve. 

It had been fighting continuously since 
22nd April, and its losses had been almost equal 
to those which the yth Division had suffered in the 
First Battle of Ypres. Only one lieutenant-colonel 
was left, and most of its battalions were commanded 
by captains. Its place was now taken by a cavalry 
detachment, the ist and 3rd Cavalry Divisions, 
under General De Lisle.* The line was now held 
from left to right by the i2th Brigade, the nth 
Brigade, and a battalion from the loth Brigade of 
the 4th Division to a point north-east of Verloren- 
hoek. Then came the ist Cavalry up to the Roulers 
railway, and the 3rd Division from the railway to 
the Bellewaarde Lake, whence the 2yth Division 
continued the line to Hill 60. It was not a good 

* Important changes had now been made in the high 
commands. General Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, who had 
acquitted himself so brilliantly in a long series of actions 
from Le Cateau to La Bassee, had relinquished the command 
of the Second Army, and his place had been taken by General 
Sir Herbert Plumer, the commander of the Fifth Corps. The 
Fifth Corps was now under General Allenby, and he in turn 
had handed over the Cavalry Corps to General Julian Byng, 
who had formerly commanded the 3rd Cavalry Division. 


line, for we had no natural advantages, and our 

trenches were to a large extent recently improvised. 

The cavalry took up their ground on the even- 

Second Battle of Ypres. Position on the evening of 
Wednesday, May 12th. 

ing of Wednesday, I2th May. The ist Division 
line was held from left to right by the ist and 2nd 
Brigades, with the newly-formed 9th Brigade in 
reserve ; that of the 3rd Division by the 6th and 


yth Brigades, with the 8th Brigade in reserve. 
Early on the morning of Thursday, the i3th, a 
y* day of biting north winds and drench- 

y 3' ing rains, a terrific bombardment began 
against the cavalry front. The 2nd Brigade of the 
ist Division were affected, and the 9th Lancers 
managed to hold their line, but the brunt fell on 
the 3rd Division. In a short space more than 800 
shells fell on a line of little more than a mile. The 
3rd Dragoon Guards, in the 6th Brigade, were almost 
buried alive, but the remaining regiment, the North 
Somerset Yeomanry, under Lieutenant-Colonel 
Geoffrey Glyn, did not yield their trenches, but 
actually charged and drove back the advancing 
Germans. General David Campbell brought up the 
Royals from his brigade reserve, and the line of the 
6th Brigade remained intact. Not so the yth Bri- 
gade on the right. There the shelling was too des- 
perate for man to endure, and it fell back some 
hundreds of yards, making an ugly dent in our 
front, and leaving a gap between it and the right 
of the 6th Brigade. The loth Hussars and the 
Blues were hurried up to fill the rent, and at 2.30 
p.m. the whole 8th Brigade, under General Bulkeley- 
Johnson the loth, the Blues, and the Essex Yeo- 
manry made a counter-attack to recover the lost 
ground. They were assisted by a detachment of 
the Duke of Westminster's armoured motor cars, 
which did excellent work. 

That charge of dismounted cavalry was one of 
the great episodes of the whole battle. The cavalry 
advanced as if on parade, so magnificent was their 
discipline. The loth Hussars were conspicuous in 
the action, and Major Crichton by his gallantry added 


lustre to a famous fighting name. The Essex Yeo- 
manry, in company with the finest cavalry in the 
world, were equal to the best. The charge suc- 
ceeded, for we took the lost ground ; but it was 
beyond our power to hold it. The German heavy 
guns, exactly ranged, made the place a death-trap. 
By that evening this section of our line had fallen 
back in a sag between the Bellewaarde Lake and 
Verlorenhoek. For that day we paid a heavy price. 
In the ist Division the Qth Lancers and i8th Hus- 
sars suffered much, and in the 3rd Division the 
Royals, the Blues, the loth Hussars, and the three 
Yeomanry regiments were mere shadows of their 
former strength. As always in our battles, the toll 
of gallant officers was lamentably high. 

On the same day the infantry on our left were 
fiercely attacked, but contrived to hold their ground. 
Two exploits may be specially noted. The London 
Rifle Brigade, a Territorial battalion, had lost most 
of its men in the earlier fighting. It began that 
day only 278 strong, and before evening 91 men 
more had gone. One piece of breastwork was held 
by Sergeant Douglas Belcher with four survivors 
and two Hussars whom he had picked up, and 
though the trench was blown in and the Germans 
attacked with their infantry, he succeeded in bluffing 
the enemy by rapid fire, and holding his ground till 
relief came. That gallant stand, for which the Vic- 
toria Cross was awarded, saved the right of the 4th 
Division. Farther on our left the 2nd Essex, the 
reserve battalion of the i2th Brigade, did no less 
brilliantly. Shelltrap Farm, between the Poelca- 
pelle and Langemarck roads, had fallen into German 
hands. The Ksscx cleared it with the bayonet, and 



all that day the place was taken and retaken, but 
we held it in the evening. The Essex, like the 
Welsh a few days before, were perfectly cheerful 
in their greatest peril. They continued to send 

Second Battle of Ypres. The fight on the front held 
by the Cavalry, May 13th. 

back messages by a man who swam the moat that 
they were very comfortable, and getting on well : 
comfort being a tangle of ruined masonry on which 
shells and machine guns played without ceasing. 


Battles in this war did not usually end with a great 
climax, but ebbed away in a series of lesser engage- 
ments. By this time our activity in the Festubert 
region and the vigorous thrust of the French to- 
wards Lens had compelled the Germans to move 
some of their heavy guns farther south. There 
remained, however, the deadly weapon of the gas, 
and before we close our tale we must record an 
instance of its use, the most desperate of all. After 
the 1 3th the 3rd Cavalry Division, which was now 
severely reduced, was withdrawn into reserve, and 
its place taken by the 2nd, under General Briggs. 
The early morning of Monday, the 24th, ,* 
promised a perfect summer day, with a 
cloudless sky and a light north-easterly breeze. 
Just after dawn our front was bombarded with 
asphyxiating shells, and immediately after gas was 
released from the cylinders against the whole three 
miles of line from Shelltrap to the Bellewaarde 
Lake. The wind carried it south-westwards, so that 
it affected nearly five miles of front ; the cloud in 
some places rose to forty feet, and for four and a 
half hours the emission continued. The chief suf- 
ferers were the infantry of the 4th Division, on our 
left. Where our men were handy with their res- 
pirators they managed to hold their ground, and the 
cavalry on the whole suffered little. After the gas 
came a violent bombardment from north, north- 
east, and east. The chief attacks were in the vicinity 
of Shelltrap, where the 9th Argyll and Sutherland 
Highlanders and the 2nd Royal Irish suffered ; 
against our front on the Roulers railway, and along 
the Menin road near Bellewaarde Lake ; and in these 
areas we were forced back for some little distance. 


The three salients which the enemy had now estab- 
lished did not profit him much, and before the 
evening our counter-attacks had re-established most 
of our line except in two places near Shelltrap and 
the Menin road. The day was a triumph for the 
cavalry, and their splendid steadfastness saved the 
infantry on their left and right. 

The Qth Lancers, one of the most hardly- tried 
regiments in the British army, stuck to their trenches 
through the gas and the subsequent shelling, but they 
paid a heavy toll. Among those who fell was Captain 
Francis Grenfell, who had won the Victoria Cross 
for saving a battery of guns at Doubon * on 24th 
August, and who had not less distinguished himself 
in the fight of the cavalry at Messines on ist No- 
vember. In him the army lost one of its most 
heroic figures, a soldier whose influence in his own 
service cannot be overpraised. Francis Grenfell 
was an example of what by the grace of God an 
English gentleman might attain to. He was a 
brilliant sportsman, who played always for his side 
and never for himself, an able and indefatigable 
student of his profession, a leader who inspired a 
unique affection both among his men and his 
brother officers. As Clarendon wrote of Falkland : 
" Whosoever leads such a life need not care upon 
how short warning it be taken from him." His 
courage was no insensibility to danger, but the 
triumph of duty and devotion over all personal 
fears. His simplicity, his gentle courtesy, his ten- 
derness to suffering, his passionate loyalty, his 
unostentatious goodness, will be an abiding and 
fruitful memory long after the last echoes of 
* Vol. II., p. 43. 


the war have ceased. Patriae quaesivit gloriam, 
videt Dei. 

The Second Battle of Ypres, as has been already 
said, was less critical than the first, for it was not 
fought to defeat any great strategical intention. 
It was an episode in the war of attrition, in 
which the Germans, by the use of heavy artillery 
and gas, caused us severe losses without gaining 
any special advantage of position. We still held 
the Ypres Salient a diminished salient ; but we 
lost so heavily that, so far as attrition went, the 
balance of success may be said to have been with 
the German side. On the other hand, the moral 
gain was ours. The Germans had a wonderful 
machine a machine made up of great cannon firing 
unlimited quantities of high explosive shells, an 
immense number of machine guns, and the devilry 
of the poisoned gas. We had no such mechanism 
to oppose to theirs, and our men were prevented 
from coming to grips. The German infantry rarely 
made a serious attack, and when they did they were 
annihilated. Whenever we could get near them as 
man to man we destroyed them. On one occasion 
a battalion, exasperated to madness, stood up on 
their parapets and invited the enemy in abusive 
language to come on. Some accepted the invita- 
tion, upon which we cheered them and accounted 
for them. The Second Battle of Ypres was the 
first event which really brought home to the British 
people the inferiority of our machine which handi- 
capped our man-power, and it led indirectly to that 
reconstruction or the Government which we shall 
deal with in the next chapter. 


The moral gain was ours, because no battle in 
the war so convinced us of our superiority in man- 
hood, and inspired our troops with a stronger opti- 
mism or a more stubborn determination. We 
learned that we had now a homogeneous army, in 
which it was hard to say that one part was better 
than another. The Territorials, infantry and cav- 
alry, whether they had been out since November 
or had left home a few days before, held their ground 
in the most nerve-racking kind of conflict with 
the valour and discipline of veterans. Some of 
their achievements we have recounted ; they were 
not exceptions but the rule. The miners of South 
Wales and North England, the hinds and the me- 
chanics of the Scottish Lowlands, the shepherds 
and gillies of the Highlands, the clerks and shop- 
boys of London and the provincial cities, were alike 
in their fighting value. They were led, and often 
brilliantly led, by men who a little time before had 
been merchants, and solicitors, and architects. The 
present writer had the privilege of meeting most of 
the battalions that fought in the action as soon as 
they were withdrawn from the line, and the impres- 
sion was unforgettable. One lean veteran had a 
year ago been a spruce clerk on the Stock Exchange, 
travelling to the City every morning in the sombre 
regimentals of his class. He looked now like a big- 
game hunter from Equatorial Africa. Another stern 
disciplinarian of a non-commissioned officer was a 
year ago a business man who cultivated tulips in his 
suburban garden. Now from him to Surbiton was 
a far cry. A grimy private from whom one asked 
the way answered in the familiar accents of Oxford. 
Two men, fresh from battle, and full of keen pro- 


fessional interest, were once London shopwalkers. 
The change was very marked in the case of the 
Scots. The kilt as worn to-day has a somewhat 
formal and modern look, suggestive less of Rob Roy 
than of the Prince Consort. But watch that com- 
pany of Camerons returning from a route march. 
The historic red tartans are ragged and faded, the 
bonnet has a jaunty air, the men have a long, loping 
stride. They might be their seventeenth-century 
forbears, slipping on a moonlight night through the 
Lochaber passes. Here is a battalion from the 
Borders. The ordinary Borderer in peace time 
looks like anybody else, but these men seem to 
have suddenly remembered their ancestry. They 
have the lean strength, the pale adventurous eye of 
the old Debatable Land. 

There is an optimism which is far more merci- 
less than any pessimism, for it knows the worst and 
is still unafraid. Our troops at Ypres had dwelt 
long in the valley of the Shadow of Death, and 
had trod the very pavements of hell. They came 
out of it silent, weary, bereaved, but unshaken in 
the faith. They knew themselves the better men 
in all that makes for human worth, and they knew 
that some day the German machine would be 
broken, and that then the human factor, which in 
the last resort gives victory, would prove its quality. 
That day might be delayed, though waited for as 
a sick man waits for morning, but its advent was 
as certain as the rising of the sun. From Ypres, 
too, they brought another bequest. They were 
resolved beyond all suspicion of a doubt to con- 
quer, for they now understood that they were fight- 
ing the enemies of the human race. The news of 

vn. 4 


the sinking of the Lusitania on yth May, added to 
the horrors of the gas, worked a strange transfor- 
mation in our good-humoured and tolerant soldiery. 
It filled them with a seriousness beyond anything 
in their history. It was not hatred, for it had 
nothing personal in it ; it was a resolve that an 
unclean thing should altogether disappear from the 

The present writer first saw Ypres from a little 
hill during the later stages of the battle. It was 
a brilliant spring day, and, when there was a lull 
in the bombardment and the sun lit up its white 
towers, Ypres looked a gracious and delicate little 
city in its cincture of green. It was with a sharp 
shock of surprise that one realized that it was an 
illusion, that Ypres had become a shadow. A few 
days later, in a pause of the bombardment, he 
entered the town. The main street lay white and 
empty in the sun, and over all reigned a deathly 
stillness. There was not a human being to be seen 
in all its length, and the houses on each side 
were skeletons. There the whole front had gone, 
and bedrooms with wrecked furniture were open to 
the light. There a 42-cm. shell had made a breach 
in the line, with raw edges of masonry on both 
sides, and a yawning pit below. In one room the 
carpet was spattered with plaster from the ceiling, 
but the furniture was unbroken. There was a 
Buhl cabinet with china, red plush chairs, a piano, 
and a gramophone the plenishing of the best 
parlour of a middle-class home. In another room 
was a sewing-machine, from which the owner had 
fled in the middle of a piece of work. Here was 


a novel with the reader's place marked. It was 
like a city visited by an earthquake which had 
caught the inhabitants unawares, and driven them 
shivering to a place of refuge. 

Through the gaps in the houses there were 
glimpses of greenery. A broken door admitted to 
a garden a carefully-tended garden, for the grass 
had once been trimly kept, and the owner must 
have had a pretty taste in spring flowers. A little 
fountain still plashed in a stone basin. But in one 
corner an incendiary shell had fallen on the house, 
and in the heap of charred debris there were human 
remains. Most of the dead had been removed, but 
there were still bodies in out-of-the-way corners. 
Over all hung a sickening smell of decay, against 
which the lilacs and hawthorns were powerless. 
That garden was no place to tarry in. 

The street led into the Place, where once stood 
the great Church of St. Martin and the Cloth Hall. 
Those who knew Ypres before the war will remem- 
ber the pleasant facade of shops on the south side, 
and the cluster of old Flemish buildings at the 
north-eastern corner. Words are powerless to de- 
scribe the devastation of these nouses. Of the 
southern side nothing remained but a file of gaunt 
gables. At the north-east corner, if you crawled 
across the rubble, you could see the remnants of 
some beautiful old mantelpieces. Standing in the 
middle of the Place, one was oppressed by the 
utter silence, a silence which seemed to hush and 
blanket the eternal shelling in the Salient beyond. 
Some jackdaws were cawing from the ruins, and a 
painstaking starling was rebuilding its nest in a 
broken pinnacle. An old cow, a miserable object, 


was poking her head in the rubbish and sniffing 
curiously at a dead horse. Sound was a profana- 
tion in that tomb which had once been a city. 

The Cloth Hall had lost all its arcades, most of 
its front, and there were great rents everywhere. 
Its spire looked like a badly-whittled stick, and the 
big gilt clock, with its hands irrevocably fixed, hung 
loose on a jet of stone. St. Martin's Church was 
a ruin, and its stately square tower was so nicked 
and dinted that it seemed as if a strong wind would 
topple it over. Inside the church was a weird sight. 
Most of the windows had gone, and the famous rose 
window in the southern transept lacked a segment. 
The side chapels were in ruins, the floor was deep 
in fallen stones, but the pillars still stood. A mass 
for the dead must have been in progress, for the 
altar was draped in black, but the altar stone was 
cracked across. The sacristy was full of vestments 
and candlesticks tumbled together in haste, and all 
were covered with yellow picric dust from the high 
explosives. In the graveyard behind there was a 
huge shell crater, fifty feet across and twenty feet 
deep, with human bones exposed in the sides. 
Before the main door stood a curious piece of 
irony. An empty pedestal proclaimed from its 
four sides the many virtues of a certain Belgian 
statesman who had been also mayor of Ypres. The 
worthy mayor was lying in the dust beside it, a 
fat man in a frock coat, with side- whiskers and a 
face like Bismarck. 

Out in the sunlight there was the first sign of 
human life. A detachment of French Colonial 
tirailleurs entered from the north brown, shadowy 
men in fantastic weather-stained uniforms. A 


vehicle stood at the cathedral door, and a lean and 
sad-faced priest was loading it with some of the 
church treasures chalices, plate, embroidery. A 
Carmelite friar was prowling among the side alleys 
looking for the dead. It was like some macabre 
imagining of Victor Hugo. 

The ruins of old buildings are so familiar that 
they do not at first dominate the mind. Far more 
arresting are the remnants of the pitiful little homes, 
where there is no dignity, but a pathos which cries 
aloud. Ypres was like a city destroyed by an earth- 
quake ; that is the simplest and truest description. 
But the skeletons of her great buildings, famous 
in Europe for five hundred years, left another im- 
pression. One felt, as at Pompeii, that things had 
always been so ; one felt that they were verily 
indestructible, they were so great in their fall. 
The cloak of St. Martin was not needed to cover 
the nakedness of his church. There was a terrible 
splendour about these gaunt and broken structures, 
these noble, shattered fa9ades, which defied their 
destroyers. Ypres might be empty and a ruin, but 
to the end of time she would be no mean city. 

One of the truest of our younger poets, Rupert 
Brooke, who died while serving in the Dardanelles, 
wrote in his last months a sonnet on the consola- 
tion of death in war. 

" If I should die, think only this of me : 
That there's some corner of a foreign field 
That is for ever England. There shall be 
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed." 

In the Salient of Ypres there are not less than a hun- 


dred thousand graves of Allied soldiers, sometimes 
marked byplain wooden crosses, sometimes obliterated 
by the debris of ruined trenches, sometimes hidden in 
corners of fields and beneath clumps of chestnuts. 
That ground is for ever England ; and it is also for 
ever France, for there the men of Dubois died 
around Bixschoote and on the Klein Zillebeke ridge. 
When the war is over this triangle of meadowland, 
with a ruined city for its base, will be an enclave 
of Belgian soil consecrated as the holy land of two 
great peoples. It may be that it will be specially 
set apart as a memorial place ; it may be that it will 
be unmarked, and that the country folk will till 
and reap as before over the vanishing trench lines. 
But it will never be common ground. It will be 
for us the most hallowed spot on earth, for it holds 
our bravest dust, and it is the proof and record of 
a new spirit. In the past when we have thought of 
Ypres we have thought of the British flag preserved 
there, which Clare's Regiment, fighting for France, 
captured at the Battle of Ramillies. The name of 
the little Flemish town has recalled the divisions in 
our own race and the centuries-old conflict between 
France and Britain. But from now and henceforth 
it will have other memories. It will stand as a 
symbol of unity and alliance unity within our 
Empire, unity within our Western civilization, that 
true alliance and that lasting unity which are won 
and sealed by a common sacrifice. 



Public Opinion in Britain Causes of Uneasiness The Munitions 
Question Disabilities of Politicians Mr. Asquith's New- 
castle Speech Resignation of Lord Fisher Formation of 
a National Ministry Merits of Reconstruction Temper 
of British People The Italian Situation Salandra and 
Giolitti Sonnino The Diplomatic Duel with Vienna Work 
of Prince Buelow Austria's Compensation Proposals 
Salandra resigns Italian Chamber approves War War 
declared against Austria The True Motives of Italy. 

DURING April there was discernible in Britain 
a growing uneasiness about certain aspects of 
the conduct of the war. There was no dis- 
trust of our generals in the field or our admirals 
on the sea ; still less was there any weakening in 
warlike purpose. But it was gradually becoming 
apparent that the mechanism of national effort was 
faulty, and did insufficient justice to the resolution 
of the nation. Ever since the beginning of the year 
certain events had compelled thinking men to re- 
examine their views, and certain other events had 
produced in ordinary people that vague disquiet 
which ends in a clamour for change. 

The Second Battle of Ypres, with its heavy 
casualties, did much to foster this feeling. No 
totals were issued at the time, but the endless lists 
of names published in the press did more to un- 


nerve the public mind than any totals. In June the 
Prime Minister announced the casualties in the war 
by land up to 3ist May as 258,069, of which 50,342 

Mav *i were . dead > I 53^ wounded, and 53,747 
y & missing. On 4th February the total 
had been 104,000, with about 10,000 dead. In 
four months, therefore, without any conspicuous 
success or any battle comparable to the first Ypres, 
we had multiplied our losses by 2j, and our dead 
by five. Then there was the Dardanelles affair, 
for which we were projecting a land expedition. 
Much violent and ill-informed criticism in the press 
and a perpetual tattle in private life had convinced 
many people that a great disaster was imminent, 
and the high hopes of the early spring changed to 

Germany's submarine campaign was also a 
source not of depression, but of irritation, and irri- 
tation means presently a demand for some more 
effective policy. Our losses were indeed trifling, as 

]** compared with German boasting. On 

* "' 1 9th May it was three months since the 
great " blockade " had been instituted, and during 
that time we had lost fifty ships one-sixth per cent. 
of those which had arrived at or left our ports. In 
the later weeks Germany had waged war against 
trawlers to improve her average, and in one week 
no less than seventeen trawlers and drifters were 
sunk. It was relatively a small loss, but it was a 
loss ; it involved many valuable lives ; and, above 
all, we had not succeeded in accounting for any 
considerable number of enemy submarines. Then 
on 7th May came the news of the sinking of an un- 
armed liner, the Lusitania, with nearly 1,500 souls. 


The news threw Germany into transports of de- 
light, and roused in our own people a deep and 
abiding anger, of which anti-German riots in Lon- 
don and elsewhere were the smallest symptoms. 
It was generally felt that the war for the ordinary 
man had taken on a new character. Henceforward 
for the least well-informed it was a strife a outrance, 
and the people began to look about them to make 
sure that nothing was left undone. 

During these weeks, too, the limited number 
who turned their minds to economic problems were 
beginning to be seriously disquieted. We had con- 
ducted the war on a lavish scale, and clearly there 
had been much avoidable waste. The foolish doc- 
trine that expenditure was a good thing in itself, 
since it increased the circulation of wealth, seemed 
to have captured the minds of those responsible for 
our outlay. It was certain that we must find out of 
our savings or our capital at least another 600,000,000 
a year, if we were to provide the Government with 
money to meet our current war expenditure and 
pay other nations for our colossal purchases. It 
was probable that the debit balance against us in 
our external indebtedness would be something like 
400,000,000 a year. This could only be reduced 
By the practice by all classes of a rigid economy ; 
failing that, we should be obliged to export gold 
to balance the account, or see the exchange go 
heavily against us, and perhaps lose our premier 
position as the financial centre of the world. But 
few in authority emphasized the danger. We spoke 
and behaved as if our purse were bottomless. 

More important, because more generally under- 
stood, was the shortage in munitions in rifles, in 


machine guns, and especially in high explosive 
shells. A diligent inquest began to be made about 
this time with a view of fixing responsibility a 
barren and intricate task which might well have 
been left alone. In the last instance the whole 
nation was responsible, for we started the war 
inadequately prepared. At the same time com- 
parison with Germany was futile, for no nation 
can be adequately prepared unless, like Germany, 
it intends war ; and Britain, like France, paid the 
penalty of her honest desire for peace. A more 
serious charge was that, when the nature of the war 
revealed itself, we did not recognize the necessity 
for organizing the manufacture of munitions on a 
scale corresponding to the organization of our new 
armies. It is to the eternal credit of Lord Kitchener 
that he saw from the start the need of preparing 
armies on the grand scale, and with this herculean 
task before him one of the greatest tasks ever 
undertaken by a British Minister it was scarcely 
to be wondered at if he could not spare the time 
to organize munitions in a similar fashion. It is 
the duty of a Government, and more especially of 
its head, to think out questions for which the busy 
departmental officers have not the leisure, to take long 
views, to colligate departmental activities, and to sup- 
plement departmental deficiencies. Clearly this work 
was not adequately performed by Lord Kitchener's 
civilian colleagues. It may be said, and rightly 
said, that a war reveals unexpected needs, and that 
the demand for high explosives which was so urgent 
in April could scarcely have been foreseen. There 
is reason to believe that, till the early spring, artil- 
lery experts spoke with a divided voice ; and when 


the expert is uncertain the civilian Minister is help- 
less. But the charge, for which there seemed good 
foundation, was not that a particular explosive was 
not forthcoming, but that the machinery for pro- 
viding munitions of any sort, on a scale commen- 
surate with the personnel we were providing, was 
not organized when the new armies were first raised. 

Here, again, it was idle to blame individuals. 
Our misfortune was the result of the kind of polit- 
ical system which the British people had tolerated 
for a generation, with its strife between party cau- 
cuses and the consequent disinclination to tell the 
nation unpalatable truths. Again, in a crisis like 
a great war the one thing required is high adminis- 
trative talent. But in normal times this was at a 
discount. What led a politician to fame was skill 
in debate and platform rhetoric. Even if he pos- 
sessed administrative gifts and did well by his 
department, he got less thanks for his work than 
for a hectic platform campaign which did service 
to his party. Now all these pleasing talents were 
valueless. It was unfair to blame the politicians for 
not possessing what they never had claimed to pos- 
sess, for not cultivating a thankless administrative 
efficiency in a world where the prizes fell to him 
who could tinkle most loudly and most continu- 
ously the party cymbal. 

When France after the Battle of the Marne 
realized the nature of the coming war and her lack 
of shells and heavy guns, she set to work at once 
to supply her deficiencies. Every factory which 
could be turned to the purpose was utilized ; every 
scrap of talent in the nation was called upon ; local 
committees were formed everywhere to organize 


the effort ; and the result was that early in the 
new year France had multiplied her material by 
six, and was in the way to multiply it by nine. 
She had one great advantage in her conscript sys- 
tem, which enabled her to produce munitions under 
military law and to bring back her skilled workers 
from the trenches and send the less useful to take 
their place. In Britain our need, not less great and 
far more difficult to meet, was not fully recognized till 
the February strikes brought the matter to a head. 
In a previous chapter we have endeavoured to show 
that these strikes sprang from a variety of causes, and 
were by no means entirely the fault of the work- 
men. Mr. Lloyd George addressed himself to the 
problem with zeal and courage. He spoke the 
naked truth, though his candour was somewhat 
discounted by the official optimism of the press 
and his colleagues. He fastened upon drink as the 
chief cause of the evil, and announced a drastic 
policy of prohibition. Various eminent people pro- 
claimed their intention of foregoing the use of alcohol 
during the war, but their example was not generally 
followed. Mr. Lloyd George, under pressure of 
political opinion, was forced to whittle down his 
scheme into a device for a few new taxes, which 
presently were dropped as manifestly unworkable. 

The truth is that it was idle to seek for any single 
cause of the unfortunate situation. The causes 
were many, but they sprang all from one tap-root 
the fact that the nation had not been organized 
for war, and that so long as it remained unorganized 
we were fighting, whatever our spirit, with one 
hand tied up. Our voluntary recruiting, splendid 
in its enthusiasm, worked unfairly and wastefully. 


Skilled workers in vital industries had been allowed 
to go to the trenches, and others who would have 
been good soldiers in the firing line had been sent 
back to a work in which they had no particular 
skill. The compulsion of recruiting posters and 
public opinion was drastic, but it was unscientific. 
Many men in these days who still believed in vol- 
untaryism as the system best suited to the British 
temper were driven to modify their views, and to 
accept some form of State compulsion as at any 
rate the proper measure for a crisis. A common 
basis of agreement between the different schools 
was found in the desire for some kind of national 
registration, which would enable the State to use 
any special powers it might assume to the best 

Various expedients were tried in the first in- 
stance to meet the difficulty. After our British 
fashion, we appointed a number of committees to 
deal with the munitions question. There were the 
original committee appointed by the Prime Min- 
ister in the second month of war, Sir George 
Askwith's Committee on Production, the Labour 
Advisory Committee, Mr. George Booth's War 
Office Committee, and the combined War Office 
and Admiralty Committee over which Mr. Lloyd 
George presided. These committees occupied the 
time of many very able men, and succeeded in 
getting in their own way and the way of willing 

On 2oth April the Prime Minister made a speech 
at Newcastle in which occurred this ., 
passage : "I saw a statement the other P r 
day that the operations of war, not only of our army 


but of our Allies, were being crippled, or at any rate 
hampered, by our failure to provide the necessary 
ammunition. There is not a word of truth in that 
statement. I say there is not a word of truth in 
that statement, which is the more mischievous be- 
cause, if it was believed, it is calculated to dishearten 
our troops, to discourage our Allies, and to stimu- 
late the hopes and activities of our enemies." Un- 
fortunately the speaker was misinformed, for the 
statement was literally true. Every soldier at the 
front had learned the lesson of Neuve Chapelle. 
High explosive shells were necessary in attack, for 
they alone could destroy the enemy's wire entangle- 
ments and parapets, and enable infantry to advance 
without desperate loss. They were necessary in 
defence, for without them we could not subdue 
the fire of the enemy's heavy guns. 

Presently we had dramatic proof of this truth. 
Two days after the Prime Minister's speech the 
struggle began on the Ypres salient. We were 
almost without heavy artillery, and what we had 
was very short of shells. The Germans had at 
least fifty heavy guns in action, and endless muni- 
tions. We beat off the attack in the end, but with 
a terrible sacrifice. The lives of our soldiers were 
the price we paid for our deficiency in high ex- 
plosives. Again, on Sunday, 9th May, we made 
an attack from Fromelles against the Aubers ridge. 
Our artillery preparation was necessarily inadequate, 
our men were held up by unbroken wire and para- 
pets, and the result was failure and heavy losses. 
On the other hand, the French in their great move- 
ment towards Lens about the same date had 1,100 
guns firing all day with the rapidity of maxims. 


In one restricted area they placed 300,000 shells. 
As a consequence, the whole countryside was steril- 
ized and flattened, nothing remained but a ploughed 
field with fragments of wire and humanity, and 
the infantry could advance almost as safely as on 
parade. The lesson was writ too plain to be mis- 
read. We must pay either in shells or in human 

The temper of the people was becoming in- 
tolerant of smooth speeches. A press campaign 
began, which led to the virulent abuse of certain 
newspapers, but which on the whole did good. 
Unhappily, as is usual in such campaigns, there 
was an attempt to find a scapegoat, and to fasten 
the blame on individuals, and in this case blame 
was apportioned with a singular lack of judgment. 
But the finishing touch was given by a perfectly 
irrelevant episode. Mr. Winston Churchill had 
rendered services to the nation at the outbreak of 
war for which his countrymen can never be suffi- 
ciently grateful. His ardent spirit, his high cour- 
age, and his quick if not always judicious intelli- 
gence made him take great risks and afford endless 
material for his critics. In easy-going ministerial 
circles he moved like a panther among seals. No 
doubt he made mistakes, but he was usually selected 
to be blamed for decisions for which his colleagues 
were not less responsible. For some time there had 
been disagreements between him and the First Sea 
Lord, and on or before May i8th Lord ,* o 
Fisher resigned. This incident brought 
matters to a head. There were no alternatives before 
the Government except to go out of office, or to 
reconstruct on a broader basis. On i9th May the 


Prime Minister announced the formation of a 
,* National Ministry. It would have come 

y 9' with a better grace eight months earlier ; 
but Ministers are human, and so long as things 
seem to be going well they are anxious to keep the 
credit for themselves. It is only responsibility, 
when it looks as if it may be heavy, that they are 
ready to share. Now that the smooth self-confi- 
dence of the early days had gone, they were anxious 
to make all parties responsible for the conduct of 
the war. This, rather than a resolve to mobilize the 
best talent in the country, seems to have been the 
motive of the change. Sir Edward Grey and Lord 
Kitchener of course remained at their posts ; in 
them the country had the completest confidence. 
Mr. Churchill was given the Duchy of Lancaster, 
so that his great abilities were not lost to the Cabinet 
councils. Lord Lansdowne brought to the com- 
mon stock his unique administrative experience, 
Mr. Austen Chamberlain his financial knowledge, 
Mr. Bonar Law his business talents, and Lord Curzon 
his penetrating intelligence and boundless energy. 
By the appointment of Lord Robert Cecil to the 
Under- Secretaryship of Foreign Affairs the Min- 
istry was strengthened by a man of first-rate ability 
and courage. Mr. Balfour, the greatest intellect 
which our time has seen in British politics, went 
to the Admiralty. One of the ironies of the situa- 
tion was the retirement of Lord Haldane, the man 
of all the previous Government who had done most 
for the British army. If he was misled by Ger- 
many, he erred in company with almost the whole 
nation, and at any rate he had given us an Expe- 
ditionary Force, a General Staff, and an admirable 


Territorial levy gifts which those who remember 
the start of the South African War will rate at 
their proper value. The root of his offending in 
the eyes of his critics was that he had owed much 
to German literature and philosophy, and had had 
the generosity to acknowledge his debt. 

The reconstruction of the Government awak- 
ened little interest in the people at large. The old 
political game was out or fashion, and the bitter 
cry of the wire-pullers passed unheeded. The one 
vital fact was the creation of a new department, a 
Ministry of Munitions, which should take over all 
the responsibility for materiel which had fallen upon 
the Secretary for War, and should also assume some 
of the powers hitherto belonging to other depart- 
ments. The selection of Mr. Lloyd George for the 
post it was understood that he would be assisted 
by Lord Curzon was universally approved. His 
imagination, his zeal, and the deep seriousness with 
which he faced the war, had profoundly impressed 
his countrymen. He had not only the power of 
kindling enthusiasm by his remarkable eloquence, 
but he had the courage to speak plain truths to his 
quondam supporters. He did not despair of the 
republic, and he had the intellectual honesty to 
jettison old prejudices and look squarely at 
facts. The Coalition had also the useful result 
that it demobilized the respective caucuses and 
allowed criticism greater liberty. Henceforward 
there was no obligation upon a Liberal to spare 
the Ministry from party loyalty or a Unionist from 
motives of good taste. The Government was now 
the whole people's to applaud or censure. 

A review of political accidents is apt to leave 

VIL 5 


a false impression of the temper of a nation. At 
this juncture the British people were a little dashed 
in spirits, but there was no serious pessimism, and 
there was certainly no weakening. It is instructive 
to remember the history of the great war with 
Napoleon, and to reflect how many of the best 
brains then in England were out of sympathy with 
the national cause. In this struggle we had no 
Fox or Sheridan to lavish praise upon the enemy 
and lament in secret a British victory. The work- 
ing classes and their official spokesmen were most 
earnest and practical in their determination to carry 
the war to the end, and many a man who had 
imagined that he was a cosmopolitan discovered 
that he was a patriot. Such slender opposition as 
there was came from that class whom we call in- 
telkctuels because of the limitations of their intel- 
lect. There were a few honest opponents of all 
war, who imagined that by saying that a thing was 
horrible often enough and loud enough you could 
get rid of the thing. A paradoxical litterateur 
secured a brief moment in the limelight by foolish 
utterances. There were protests from men who, 
physically unwholesome, felt that pain was the worst 
of all evils, and from those who, having no creed 
or faith, and staking everything upon the present 
world, regarded loss of life as the ultimate calamity. 
One or two amiable sentimentalists professed that 
we must not humiliate Germany, apparently under 
the delusion that a barbarian may become a good 
citizen if only you can avoid hurting his feelings. 
A few political declasses attempted to redeem their 
insignificance by venting their spite on their country. 
But the opposition was, in Burke's famous meta- 


phor,* like the twittering of grasshoppers in a 
meadow where the kine graze undisturbed. 

In an earlier chapter we have discussed the 
political situation in Italy during the first months 
of war. The country seemed almost equally divided 
between Interventionists and Neutralists, though it 
is probable that on a plebiscite the former would 
have had a large majority. The latter class was 
composed of the extreme clericals, who distrusted 
France and Russia on religious grounds, a small 
aristocratic section who saw in Germany a bulwark 
against socialism, the extreme socialists who fol- 
lowed a pacificist and anti-national tradition, and 
a great body of ordinary middle-class people who 
asked only for a quiet life. Much of the capital 
employed in the development of North Italy was 
German ; the banking system was largely in Ger- 
man hands ; and at first it seemed as if the conv 
mercial interests of the country would be strongly 
ranged on the side of neutrality. Against this stood 
the potent tradition of the Risorgimento, a national 
antipathy to the Teutonic character, and a popular 
revulsion against the barbarism and arrogance of 
Germany's creed. 

The situation was complicated by what seemed 

* " Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make 
the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands 
of great cattle, reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, 
chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those 
who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field ; 
that, of course, they are many in number ; or that, after all, 
they are other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, 
though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour." Kcflcc- 
tions n the Revolution in I'rance. 


a parliamentary stalemate. In March 1914 Signer 
Antonio Salandra had succeeded Signor Giolitti as 
Premier. He was believed to have favoured war 
from the start ; but his Foreign Secretary, the 
Marquis di San Giuliano, had leanings towards 
Germany, and this fact was instrumental in main- 
taining neutrality. In December San Giuliano died, 
and was succeeded in office by Baron Sidney Son- 
nino, in whose ancestry there were Jewish and 
British elements. Baron Sonnino had been twice 
Premier, and had done much by his upright and 
straightforward methods to purify public life and 
to restore the economic prosperity of his country. 
On the other side stood Signor Giolitti, four times 
Premier, and the most powerful political influence 
in Italy. Of the 508 members of the Chamber of 
Deputies over 300 were believed to be his followers. 
Though he supported Signor Salandra, it looked as 
if he held the Ministry in the hollow of his hand. 
Enthusiasm was foreign to his nature ; he was an 
opportunist, and not without reason, like the ma- 
jority of his countrymen. He desired certain gains 
for his nation, but preferred bargaining to war. 

Baron Sonnino 's appearance at the Foreign 
Office meant the beginning of a long and intricate 
diplomatic duel, in which the Italian Minister con- 
ducted his case with remarkable skill and discretion. 
Early in December he took his stand upon the 
terms of the Triple Alliance, especially Article 
VII.* That clause, he reminded Count Berch- 

* " Austria- Hungary and Italy, who have solely in view 
the maintenance, as far as possible, of the territorial status quo 
in the East, engage themselves to use their influence to pre- 
vent all territorial changes which might be disadvantageous 


told, the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister, bound 
Austria not to occupy any Balkan territory without 
a previous agreement with Italy, and without ade- 
quately compensating her. Italy had the deepest 
interest in preserving the integrity and independ- 
ence of Serbia : Austria had invaded Serbia, and 
so disturbed the whole political gravity of the 
Balkans ; compensation was due to Italy, and he 
invited Austria to discuss its terms. Count Berch- 
told replied that Italy could have no grievance, 
because the Austrian occupation of Serbian terri- 
tory was " neither temporary nor permanent, but 
momentary." Upon this Baron Sonnino reminded 
him that in April 1912 Austria had protested against 
the Italian bombardment of the Dardanelles, and 
had prohibited even the use of searchlights against 
the Turkish coast. She had declared that such 
acts were an infringement of Article VII., and 
threatened that " if the Italian Government desired 

to the one or the other of the Powers signatory of the present 
Treaty. To this end they will give reciprocally all information 
calculated to enlighten each other concerning their own in- 
tentions and those of other Powers. Should, however, the 
case arise that, in the course of events, the maintenance of 
the status quo in the territory of the Balkans or of the Ottoman 
coasts and islands in the Adriatic or the .fligean Seas becomes 
impossible, and that, either in consequence of the action of 
a third Power or for any other reason, Austria-Hungary or 
Italy should be obliged to change the status quo for their part 
by a temporary or permanent occupation, such occupation 
would only take place after previous agreement between the 
two Powers, which would have to be based upon the prin- 
ciple of a reciprocal compensation for all territorial or other 
advantages that either of them might acquire over and above 
the existing status quo, and would have to satisfy the interests 
and rightful claims of both parties." 


to regain its liberty of action the Austro-Hungarian 
Government would do the same." 

The diplomatic honours at this point lay with 
Baron Sonnino. Prince Buelow, the German Chan- 
cellor, was hurried to Rome, and a complex game 
of intrigue began. The aim of the Austrian diplo- 
matists was to play for time, but Baron Sonnino 
pinned them to the question " What compensa- 
tions are you prepared to offer for a breach of the 
Triple Alliance which you are obliged to admit ? " 
Austria was quite willing to offer these from other 
people's territory, but this Italy declined to con- 
sider. Germany now took a hand. Prince Wedel, 
who was at Vienna, pressed Austria to surrender 
the Trentino, and Prince Buelow at Rome urged 
Baron Sonnino not to ask for Trieste. Meanwhile 
Italy was putting her army on a war basis, and 
throughout the winter bought large quantities of 
military stores. In February the Chamber met, 
and the dullness of the sittings led to a general 
opinion that Prince Buelow had succeeded. In 
March rumours of intervention revived with the 
activity of the Allied fleets in the Dardanelles. 
Italians in America began to close their German 
accounts, and many Germans in Italy made prepara- 
tions for departure. 

On 9th March Baron Burian, who had succeeded 
Count Berchtold, under pressure from Germany 
** i accepted the principle that compensa- 
9' tion must be made from Austrian terri- 
tory. Baron Sonnino replied that the negotiations 
must take place at once, and must be between Italy 
and Austria, without any German intervention. 
Prince Buelow tried threats, and drew awful pic- 


tures of the consequences to Italy of a war with 
the Teutonic League ; but on zoth March he in- 
formed Baron Sonnino that he had been authorized 
to guarantee in the name of Germany the execution 
of any agreement that might be concluded between 
Vienna and Rome. This touched the heart of the 
matter. Italy had insisted that the transference of 
any territories agreed upon must be made at once.* 
Austria demurred, and Germany offered to back 
her bills. But Baron Sonnino very naturally asked 
what good the guarantee would be if the Teutonic 

* The concessions which Austria was willing to make were, 
according to the German Imperial Chancellor, as follows : 

1. The part of Tirol inhabited by Italians to be ceded to 

2. Likewise the western bank of the Isonzo in so far as 
the population is purely Italian, and the town of Gradisca. 

3. Trieste to be made an Imperial free city, receiving an 
administration insuring an Italian character to the city, and 
to have an Italian university. 

4. The recognition of Italian sovereignty over Avlona and 
the sphere of interests belonging thereto. 

5. Austria-Hungary declares her political disinterestedness 
regarding Albania. 

6. The national interests of Italian nationals in Austria- 
Hungary to be particularly respected. 

7. Austria-Hungary grants an amnesty for political or 
military criminals who are natives of the ceded territories. 

8. The further wishes of Italy regarding general questions 
to be assured of every consideration. 

9. Austria-Hungary, after the conclusion of the agree- 
ment, to give a solemn declaration concerning the conces- 

10. Mixed committees for the regulation of details of the 
concessions to be appointed. 

11. After the conclusion of the agreement, Austro-Hun- 
garian soldiers, natives of the occupied territories, shall not 
further participate in the war. 


League was defeated. He might have added that, 
after recent experience of Germany's public honour, 
it would be no more than a scrap of paper in the 
event of her victory. 

April was devoted by Austria and Germany 
to playing for time. The Chamber had been 
adjourned till i2th May, and Germany tried to 
intimidate Italy by spreading rumours of an im- 
pending separate peace between herself and Russia. 
Baron Sonnino replied by setting forth his demands 
in the shape of a draft treaty, under which the 
Trentino and several Dalmatian islands would have 
become Italy's, and the Istrian coast and Trieste 
would have been occupied by her, pending their 
constitution after the war as an autonomous state. 

At> 7 6 These proposals were declined by Vienna 

^ ' on 1 6th April. On 3rd May Baron 

Sonnino denounced the Triple Alliance, and it 

jy was decreed that no member of the 

3" Government must for the present leave 

Then came a political crisis. Some of Signor 
Giolitti's followers began an agitation for accepting 
the Austro- German terms, and the attitude of their 
leader was doubtful. It was possible that he might 
turn out the Government and become Premier with 

** an anti-war policy. On i3th May Sig- 

a y 3- nor Salandra placed his resignation in 
the King's hands, on the ground that his Ministry 
did not possess " that unanimous assent of the con- 
stitutional parties regarding its international policy 
which the gravity of the situation demands." The 
King refused to accept his resignation, and he re- 
turned to office. His action had cleared the air, 


and it was now plain that Signer Giolitti did not intend 
to make himself responsible for a policy of neutrality. 
On 2Oth May the Chamber, by 407 votes to 74, 
passed a bill conferring full powers on ^j 
the Government in the event of war. 
On the 22nd a general mobilization was ordered. 
On the 23rd Italy declared war upon ^ 
Austria. Baron von Macchio in Rome 
was handed his passports, the Duke of Avarna was 
recalled from Vienna, and Prince Bue- ,, 
low ended his fruitless diplomacy. That 
day the first shots were fired by the frontier guards 
in the north. 

The Italian Foreign Minister's brilliant hand- 
ling of the negotiations had put Italy technically 
in the right. She went to war on grounds fully 
justified by the public law of Europe. But the dis- 
cussions were in reality academic, for the dominat- 
ing reasons lay elsewhere. Where would Italy have 
been had Germany triumphed ? Supposing she 
had got the territory she had asked for, how long 
would she have kept it in face of a victorious Ger- 
many, which would regard these concessions as 
having been forced from her under duress ? And 
if she had relied on Germany's bond, why should 
that have been deemed sacred by a Power whose 
international ethics were anarchy ? These were 
the true grounds for war which lay behind all 
Italy's ingenious manoeuvring for position. 

She had amply vindicated herself in the eyes of 
the world. So far from coming to the succour of the 
victor,* she had joined the Allies just when their 
* See Vol. III., p. 131. 


prospects were darkening. As she marched to the 
Isonzo, von Mackensen was driving the Russians to 
the San ; and at Ypres, in the West, the British had 
suffered grievously. The Dardanelles expedition 
had not succeeded, and to the eyes of most men 
its prospects were cloudy. We cannot judge the 
temper of a nation by its formal diplomacy or by 
its parliamentary debates, and in Italy as war drew 
near there grew up a popular enthusiasm which 
had very little care for material rewards. The 
Irredentist tradition was less one of territorial 
enlargement than of racial liberation. The nation 
desired to wipe out the memories of Custozza and 
Lissa and of the darker days before, but they also 
fought in the cause of European liberty. It was 
such a crusade as Mazzini might have preached, 
that wise idealist who wrote : ' War is a fact, and 
will be a fact for some time to come, and, though 
dreadful in itself, is very often the only way of 
helping Right against brutal Force." In the spirit 
of Garibaldi and his Thousand, Italy entered upon 
her latest war of liberation, as in the ancient 
days when the streets of her cities heard the war- 
cry : Popolo : Popolo : muoiano i tiranni. 



The Situation at the Beginning of April The German Prepara- 
tions The New German Plan Germany's Reinforcements 
The New " Divisions of Assault " The New Allied Com- 
mands The War in Alsace Hartmannsweilerkopf The 
Struggle for Metzeral The Campaign in the Woevre The 
St. Mihiel Wedge The French capture the Les Eparges 
Heights The Struggle along the Salient Metz shelled 
The Movement in the Artois Its Aim and Cause The 
German Front in the Artois The Great Bombardment 
Capture of the White Works at La Targette Fall of Carency 
and Ablain Capture of the Notre-Dame de Lorette Ridge 
The German " Fortresses " The New Character of the War 
The British Attack from Fromelles The British Attack 
from Festubert The New Siege Warfare. 

BY the beginning of April, as we have seen, 
the world was turning its eyes towards the 
Western front, awaiting the news of some 
great effort on the part of the Allies. The "nib- 
bling " of the winter had given us points of high 
strategic importance. France had new armies wait- 
ing, and her munitions were known to have been 
vastly increased since the Battle of the Marne. 
Britain by her performance at Neuve Chapelle had 
shown that she had mastered the main secret of 
the present war, and a second and greater Neuve 
Chapelle was daily expected. We had had for eight 


months in training at home more than a million men, 
and the first of these new armies must soon be on 
the sea. Already the balance of man-power in the 
West was in the Allies' favour ; soon it looked as if 
our numerical superiority would enable us to force 
the German front eastward to its own country. 
Meanwhile Russia was hanging on the fringe of 
Hungary, and threatening the road to Cracow. 

The issue proved that Germany had judged more 
shrewdly than any of the Allied Staffs. No one of 
her three enemies was really ready or could be ready 
for months. France was the best prepared. She 
had in the field all the men immediately available, 
and had done wonders with her supplies. Britain 
was still backward. Her Government was only 
just beginning to realize that in its present phase 
it was a gunners' war, and especially a war of high 
explosives. She had left her industries unorgan- 
ized, and was behindhand in the most vital matters 
machine guns and high-explosive shells. More- 
over, her splendid new armies were unaccountably 
slow in getting ready, probably because of some 
shortage in equipment. Russia was the most un- 
ready of all. At the best a nation of few industries, 
she had not taken full advantage of what she had. 
She had trusted too much to buying supplies abroad, 
where she competed with her Allies, and had much 
trouble in taking delivery of her purchases. She 
had brilliant leaders and large, gallant, and well- 
trained armies, but she had not the weapons for 

Germany alone was fully awake to the precise 
character of the war. All through the winter, when 
we in Britain were speculating how long her stores 


of food and explosives would last, she had been 
busy preparing her armoury. She found substi- 
tutes ror ingredients which she had formerly im- 
ported, and the whole of the talent of her brilliant 
chemists was mobilized for the purpose. All the 
human strength of the nation, which was not in 
the field, was employed directly or indirectly to make 
munitions. Women and girls and old men took 
their places in the armament factories. The quan- 
tity of shells which she produced is beyond reckon- 
ing. When we remember that she supplied 900 
miles of front (with some assistance from Austria) 
in the East, more than 500 miles in the West, and 
equipped Turkey for the Dardanelles campaign, 
and that her use of shells was five or six times more 
lavish than that of her opponents, we may get some 
notion of the magnitude of the national effort. It 
was more impressive in its way than the muster of 
her great armies in August. 

She had created a machine with which she 
believed she could destroy one enemy and in the 
meantime keep the other at a distance. Her losses 
had been immense a dead loss, perhaps, of little 
less than three millions by the beginning of April. 
She saw clearly what the wiser observers in the 
West had for some time been suggesting that if 
she were conquered it would be because of a short- 
age, not of food or munitions, but of soldiers. She 
was tied to a military theory which demanded an 
extravagant sacrifice of men ; but apart from that 
she was saving of life. She believed that her 
machine could keep the enemy at long range on 
the West till such time as she could turn and deal 
with him. She had no illusions about the Allied 


offensive, or, if she had, it was in the direction of 
under-estimating it. She knew, or thought she 
knew, that no weight of men could break her front 
till the Allies had got a machine as strong as her 
own. She therefore disregarded the West, and 
swung the bulk of her new strength and the chief 
weight of her artillery against Russia the unreadiest 
of her foes leaving in France and Flanders only 
sufficient weight of men and guns to hold the line 
in a long-range contest. 

It was a bold decision, for she took many risks. 
But its boldness must not be exaggerated. Her 
force in the West was at least half her total, still 
not less than two millions, and though it was 
numerically smaller than the Allied armies it was 
better equipped with artillery and far better pro- 
vided with shells. She adopted a novel policy in 
her handling of her fresh levies. The new forma- 
tions which she had begun to create in October 
the Hulfscorps, composed of Landwehr, Landsturm, 
and volunteers of all ages unstiffened by first-line 
troops had been little of a success. Their first 
onslaught was terrible, as we found at Ypres, but 
they did not last. The fresh units which she now 
formed took the shape of divisions, each made up 
of three infantry regiments, several artillery regi- 
ments, and divisional troops. The infantry re- 
quired were taken intact from the old first-line 
corps and the reserve corps formed on mobilization. 
These new divisions were, therefore, the pick of 
the German forces, and of those which we can trace 
at least six were used in the West. Three were 
assigned to von Buelow just opposite Arras, and 
another three were employed in the Woevre. They 


were strictly " divisions of assault," a spearhead to 
be used wherever the chief danger threatened. 

The gaps thus created in the old first-line corps 
were filled up with new levies of the same type as 
the Hiilfscorps raw volunteers and middle-aged 
men. We must remember that, when we speak of 
some famous corps like the yth or the i5th being 
in action, it was no longer the corps which fought 
in the August battles. A considerable part or it 
was made up of very indifferent material. The 
present writer, after the first British attack from 
Festubert, saw several hundred prisoners belonging 
to the 57th Regiment of the 7th (Westphalian) 
Corps, the corps which had at one time been the 
elite of von Kluck's army. They were weedy, ill- 
grown youths and flabby, elderly men. Ir one 
talked with captured German officers one heard 
bitter complaints of the quality of the new 

But Germany was not yet at the end of her best 
material. To fill up the gaps, she had still a certain 
number of Ersatz reserves not yet incorporated, who 
made respectable fighting men, and she had the new 
levies coming forward from the 1915 and 1916 
classes. The latter- her last line in the strictest 
sense were destined for her great movement in 
the East. They were part of the new striking force 
with whom, along with her artillery, she still hoped 
to effect that complete debacle of the Allies, which 
would compel them to call the campaign a draw, 
and accept a peace on her own terms. 

There was one joint in Germany's armour too 
little appreciated at the time. She had lost ter- 
ribly in her officer class considerably more than 


half her effectives ; and since that class was also a 
caste, it was difficult to fill the gaps without a vio- 
lent breach in her whole service tradition. But the 
gaps must be filled, and accordingly there appeared 
a new type of officer, created, so to speak, for the 
war only, an officer on probation, and with limited 
privileges. Now the German officer had his draw- 
backs, but for the purposes of the German theory 
of war he was highly efficient. His vigour, his 

O ** O ' 

ruthlessness, his mechanical perfection, his pro- 
fessional zeal, were all invaluable. The new type 
might be a better and abler man, but he did not 
fit in so well with the machine, and where the 
machine is everything no part of it can safely be 
out of gear. 

The Allied offensive came, and the depleted 
German front was ready for it. Germany had 
calculated rightly. Blows which six months before 
would have driven in the line and compelled a 
retirement were now fruitless because of the mass 
of artillery behind the defence. Germany, knowing 
the superiority of the Allied infantry, struggled to 
keep them at arm's length, and for a time succeeded. 
Her very weakness was part of her strength, for a 
blow which will shatter a steel rod may sink harm- 
lessly into india-rubber. As we shall see, strange 
things happened on the German front. What was 
virtually a broken line managed to check the Allied 
advance by the very fact that it was no longer co- 
hesive. In place of a serried front, there were a 
number of separate fortresses which had to be 
reduced one by one. Germany was playing for 
time, and she played the game with extraordinary 
skill. It was her business in the West to hold the 


Allies at all costs till the hammer of von Mackensen 
had shattered the Russian panoply. 

The Allied armies, as we have seen, had been 
divided into two groups that under Dubail, rang- 
ing from Belfort to Compiegne, and that under Foch 
from Compiegne to the North Sea. This was 
changed now to a tripartite division, North, Central, 
and East, with de Castelnau in charge of the central 
secteur. De Castelnau's place at the head of the 
yth Army was taken by General Petain. Some im- 
portant changes had also been made in the com- 
mands. General Putz, who had commanded the 
ist Army in the Vosges, took over what had been 
d'Urbal's 8th Army from Ypres to Nieuport. 
D'Urbal succeeded Maud'huy in command or the 
loth Army, holding the vital section of the Artois. 
Maud'huy, a former Chasseur, went south to the 
Army of the Vosges, where he would be with his 
old regiments. Let us look first at the movements 
of Dubail. 

The months of April and May saw little progress 
in Alsace. The campaign in the plains had become 
a matter of trench warfare, and the chief incident 
of these months was the struggle for Hartmanns- 
weilerkopf , that spur of the MoTkenrain massif which 
dominates the junction of the 111 and the Thur. 
The summit of this hill had been won by the Ger- 
mans on 2 ist January, but the French held the 
higher ground to the west and the western slopes. 
On 2501 March a grand assault was /!//._ 
made by the French artillery, which was " rc , *~ 
continued during the following day. 
On the 26th the Chasseurs, after six hours' des- 

vn. 6 


perate fighting, succeeded in carrying the top, and 
took more than 400 German prisoners. They were 
not allowed to remain in quiet possession. The 
place was too vital for the control of the 111 valley, 
and for the next few weeks we saw a constant suc- 
cession of counter-attacks. April was ushered in 
with snow-storms, and the struggle on the tangled 
slopes was conducted under winter conditions. It 
was the aim of the French to clear the enemy off 
the eastern side, and of the enemy to retake the 
summit. It would appear that during these days 
the summit was lost on at least one occasion, for 
we heard of the recapture of it by the French on 
7 8 2 ^k April. In May we had many con- 
V r ' ' tradictory accounts, both French and 
German communique's claiming successes. The ex- 
planation seems to be that each side controlled part 
of the hill, and claimed that they held the vital 
part. The French had all the west and the actual 
top, the Germans the east and north-east and part 
of the summit ridge. Till the whole mountain was 
clear of the enemy the French could not be said 
to occupy it so as to use it as a vantage point against 
the communications of the 111 valley. 

The other section of the Vosges fighting was 
concerned with the valley of the Fecht, which flows 
east from the Schlucht and Bramont passes past 
Metzeral and Munster. The railway from Colmar 
runs up its right bank to the terminus at Metzeral. 
The Chasseurs Alpins held the heights in the upper 
reaches of the Fecht valley, and their aim was the 
two towns. During April they made considerable 
progress on both banks of the Fecht. They won 
the spur overlooking Metzeral from the north-west, 


and on iyth April they carried the ridge between 
the two valleys which unite at Metzeral. ., 
This converging attack was pushed on ? ' ' 
by slow degrees during May. The capture of 
the towns or the Upper Fecht would bring them 
within sight of Colmar and the lateral railway which 
served the German front in the Alsatian plains. 

Going north, the next theatre of active opera- 
tions was the wooded plateau between the Meuse 
and the Moselle, where ran the long thin German 
wedge, with its apex across the Meuse at St. Mihiel. 
That apex was strongly held by the position at the 
Camp des Remains, the guns of which commanded 
the country for ten miles round. The communi- 
cations of this salient were curious. On the north 
was the railway running from Metz by Conflans to 
Etain. Twenty miles south another line ran from 
Metz to Thiaucourt along the narrow Rupt de 
Mad. About the centre of the narrows of the 
salient lay the village of Vigneulles, on the only 
practicable road to St. Mihiel, the better road to 
the south by Apremont being controlled by the 
French. From Thiaucourt a strategic railway had 
been constructed by Vigneulles to St. Mihiel down 
the Gap of Spada, a natural opening through the 
hills of the Meuse valley. North of Vigneulles lay 
the plateau of Les Eparges, about a thousand feet 
above the sea, forming the eastern rim of the Heights 
of the Meuse. The southern side of the salient was 
high ground, along which ran the main road from 
Pont-k-Mousson to Commercy. The interior was 
the rough, woody country of the Woevre, the inside 
of a saucer of which Les Eparges and the Apremont- 
Pont-a-Mousson heights were the rim. 


The aim of the French was not to attack the 
wedge at its point, where the guns of the Camp 
des Remains made a strong defence possible, but 
to squeeze it thin by pressing in the sides, and 
ultimately dominating the communications of the 
St. Mihiel apex. At the beginning of April the 
north-western side of the German salient ran from 
Etain in the north by Fresnes, across the Les Eparges 
heights, then by Lamorville and Spada to St. Mihiel. 
The south-eastern side ran from St. Mihiel by the 
Camp des Remains, the Bois d'Ailly, Apremont, 
Boudonville, Regnieville, to the Moselle, three miles 
north of Pont-a-Mousson. Obviously the important 
point was the Les Eparges plateau, which com- 
manded much of the northern interior of the salient, 
and the possession of which was the preliminary to 
an attack upon the vital position of Vigneulles. 

The Germans had seized Les Eparges on 2ist 
September, and had made of it an apparently im- 
pregnable fortress. Its steep slopes were lined with 
trenches, and the hill had been honeycombed with 
shelters and dug-outs. The operations during Feb- 
ruary and March had given the French the village 
of Les Eparges and part of the north-western slopes, 
but they were still a long way from the crest, and 
their advance was terribly exposed, since every 
movement was obvious to the enemy on the upper 
ground. The great attack on the position began 
* 7 r on 5*k April, about four o'clock in the 

^ 5* afternoon. It was raining heavily, and 
the whole hillside was one mass of mud seamed by 
the channels of swollen springs. A considerable 
piece of ground was won, but when the Germans 
counter-attacked early next morning the French 

Map showing the French Attacks on the St. Mihiel Wedge, 
with Inset Sketch of the Les Eparges Position. 


were unable to maintain their positions. That 
Atoril 6 evenm g> 6th April, a second attempt 
* P began, and the French left and right 

made good progress. All night in the driving rain 
the struggle continued, the attackers winning the 
ground foot by foot with the bayonet. By the 
A -j morning of the yth they had captured 
* '* 1,500 yards of trenches, and were near- 
ing the summit. 

That morning the Germans brought up strong 
reinforcements, and made a desperate effort to re- 
gain what they had lost. But the French artillery, 
brilliantly handled, caught the supports as they were 
massing, and kept them off. The German guns did 
the same thing by the French reserves, and nothing 
was done during the rest of the day. On the morn- 
A. -7 g ing of the 8th two regiments of French 
^ infantry and a Chasseur battalion made 

a bid for the summit, and won it after an hour's 
struggle. The Germans fell back to the eastern 
side. All that day the battle continued, and after 
thirteen hours' fighting the whole position was in 
French hands, except a small triangle at the 
extreme east. 

On the morning of the 9th the weary troops on 

the crest were relieved by a fresh regiment, which 

A >j had taken no less than fourteen hours 

P 9- to come up, so difficult was the ground, 

and so violent the weather. That afternoon at 

three the final attack began, and the eastern triangle 

was cleared. Then came a sudden fog which made 

artillery useless, and under cover of it the Germans 

counter-attacked. For a moment the French fell 

back, but only for a moment. The fog lifted, the 


guns came again into action, the fresh regiment 
charged with the bayonet, and at 10 p.m. the great 
spur which dominates the Woe'vre was in the Allies' 

The winning of the height of Les Eparges in 
these five days of tempest was a wonderful feat of 
arms. The Germans were well aware of the value 
of the position, and fought desperately in its de- 
fence. Their troops were no longer the 33rd 
Reserve Division which had held the ground in 
March, but the first-line loth Division of the 5th 
(Posen) Corps. The French had to advance over 
open ground up slopes where men could scarcely 
find a foothold in the slime, and against trenches 
and bastions prepared at leisure through the winter. 
Many a soldier was drowned in mud. An unceas- 
ing hail of projectiles was rained on the advance, 
and the endless machine guns of the enemy from 
carefully-chosen points made the hillside a death- 
trap. So determined were the Germans to hold 
the heights that in many cases the machine-gun 
men had been chained to their weapons. The 
enemy still held the lesser spur of Combres, but 
it was little use to them, for any advance from it 
was caught between French fire from Les Eparges 
and St. Remy. 

The capture of Les Eparges was the main feat 
of this section of the campaign. But the attack was 
kept up on the wedge at other points. The French 
advanced to Etain in the north, capturing the low 
hills on the right bank of the Orne, and thereby 
restricting the German use of the Etain-Conflans 
railway. They pressed in upon Gussainville, the 
northern re-entrant of the salient ; upon Lamor- 


ville, which controlled the Gap of Spada, and upon 
the Bois de la Selouse to the north of it. Especially 
on the southern side of the salient was the fighting 
severe. The French held the upper crest, from 
which the land slopes towards the Rupt de Mad. 
It is a country of thick, scrubby woods, which towards 
the Moselle valley in the east grow into considerable 
forests. The German trenches were well placed, 
and took advantage of the admirable cover formed 
by the inequalities of the ground. The main por- 
tion of the French advance was in the Bois d'Ailly, 
under the Camp des Romains, in the Forest of 
Apremont, in the Bois de Mont-Mare, at the village 
of RegnieVille, and in the Bois le Pretre, on the 
banks of the Moselle. The gains look small even 
on the largest scale map, but cumulatively they 
amounted to a considerable pressing in of the 
southern side of the salient. The French were 
little more than four miles from Thiaucourt, which 
lay in the hollow below them, and to the north 
the possession of Les Eparges, threatening Vig- 
neulles, and the movement against the Gap of 
Spada, jeopardized the whole position at St. Mihiel. 
A little farther, and it looked as if the wedge must 
be squeezed so thin that it must cease to be, and 
the lines of von Strantz's armies fall back to those 
uplands west of Metz which contained the battle- 
fields of Mars la Tour and Gravelotte. 

By this time the French were within gun range 

of Metz. On ist May, as a reprisal for the shelling 

n* of Dunkirk by the German naval gun 

a y x * at Dixmude, the French heavy artillery 

at Pont-a-Mousson threw shells inside the southern 

front of the Metz entrenchments. The successes 


in the Woevre were generally believed to be the 
first step in a great movement of the armies of 
Nancy and the Vosges, which, based on the frontier 
fortresses, would move into Lorraine and Alsace, 
and strike a deadly blow against the German left. 
It is not improbable that this was the view at one 
time of the French Staff. The soldiers of France 
were eager to meet the enemy on that very ground 
where, forty -five years before, Bazaine and Mac- 
Mahon had led them to defeat. Moreover, to out- 
side observers, it seemed as if the southern front 
offered the best chance for that manoeuvre battle 
which was impossible in the congested north. 

If such a policy was ever entertained, it was aban- 
doned by the beginning of May. The reason is 
not far to seek. The seriousness of the movement 
against Russia had by that time revealed itself. 
Something must be done to relieve the fierce pres- 
sure upon our Eastern Allies, and it must be at- 
tempted in the theatre which promised the speediest 
results. A movement upon Lorraine and Alsace, 
however successful, would be slow. It would be 
masked by great fortresses, and it would not strike 
at any vital communications. At the best it would 
threaten the hill country of Baden and Wurtemberg, 
an area far removed from the heart of Germany. 
It was incumbent upon General Joffre to develop 
a strategy which would distract the enemy from the 
Eastern front by putting some vital interest in 
jeopardy. One section was marked out above all 
others for such a venture. If the roth Army in 
the Artois could advance over the plain of the 
Scheldt towards Douai and Valenciennes, the 
communications of the whole of the German front 

9 o 


from Lille to Soissons would be in instant peril, 
and a wholesale retreat would be imperative. Else- 
where a blow might be struck at the local com- 
munications of one army, but here a blow was 
possible against the lines of supply of three 
armies. The history of the Allied offensive in May 

Sketch showing importance of Douai and Valenciennes Junctions 
in the Gernian Railway Communications on the Western Front. 

is, therefore, the history of the thrust of the French 
towards Lens and of the British towards Lille. The 
centre of interest passes from the armies of Dubail 
to the armies of Foch. 

To follow the complicated fighting in the Artois 
we must note with some care the nature of the 
country between Arras and La Bassee. The downs 


which bound on the south the valley of the Scarpe 
are continued on the north by a low tableland which 
falls in long ridges to the valley of the Lys and the 
flat country around Lens. This chalky plateau is 
full of hollows, most of which have their little towns. 
Its highest part is what we know as the ridge of 
Notre-Dame de Lorette, which runs west and east, 
and is scored by many ravines. In the glen south of 
it lies the town of Ablain St. Nazaire, and across 
the next ridge the town of Carency. Then comes 
a broad hollow, with the Bois de Berthonval in the 
centre, till the ground rises again at Mont St. Eloi. 
North of the Lorette ridge is the plain of the Lys. 
East of it the ground slopes in spurs of an easy 
gradient to the trough where runs the main road 
from Bethune to Arras, with the towns of Souchez 
and La Targette on the wayside. Farther east it 
rises again to the low heights of Vimy, beyond which 
runs the Arras-Lens road. The country is in type 
like an outlying part of the Santerre hedgeless 
fields cut by many white roads, with endless possi- 
bilities of defence in the ravines and villages. The 
Lorette ridge is a bare scarp, but its sides are patched 
with coppices which cluster thickly in the gullies. 

At the beginning of May the German lines in 
this part formed a sharp salient. They extended 
from east of Loos, across the Lens-Bethune road, 
east of Aix-Noulette, and reached the Lorette pla- 
teau well to the west of its highest spur, where stood 
the Chapel of Our Lady. They covered Ablain, 
which was the extreme point of the salient, and 
Carency. They then curved sharply back east of 
the Bois de Berthonval, covering La Targette and 
the Bcthune-Arras road. This last section of their 


front was known by the French as the White Works, 
because of the colour of the parapets cut from the 
chalk. The village of Ecurie was inside their line, 
which thereafter fell back to the east of Arras. 

The meaning of this salient was the protection 
of Lens, which was the key of the upper plain of 
the Scheldt, and all the flat country towards Douai 
and Valenciennes. Once they were driven off the 
high ground, their hold on Lens would be endan- 
gered, and the railway which ran behind this front 
would be useless. During the early months of the 
year the French had been nibbling at the positions 
on the Lorette plateau, and had won considerable 
ground. During the first week of May d'Urbal's 
loth Army in the Artois received additions which 
increased it to seven corps. A huge weight of ar- 
tillery was concentrated, not less than 1,100 guns of 
different types, and General Foch, the commander 
of the army group, took personal charge of the 
operations. The Germans seem to have been aware 
that some danger threatened, for they brought up 
three of their new " divisions of assault." We can- 
not state with exactness the nature of von Buelow's 
command at the moment. From prisoners' tales it 
would appear to have consisted chiefly of troops 
from Saxony, Baden, and Bavaria. It was certainly 
outnumbered by the French, and probably out- 
gunned ; but it had the advantage of holding one 
of the strongest positions on either the Western or 
Eastern front. We may describe its line as con- 
sisting of a number of almost impregnable fort- 
resses, manned by machine guns, and linked to- 
gether by an intricate system of trenches. Between 
Ablain and Lens there must have been at least 


five series of trench lines prepared, each with its 
for tins, which would enfilade an enemy advance. 

On Sunday, 9th May, in clear weather, the 
French began their artillery preparation, in the 
section between La Targette and Ca- ** 
rency. That bombardment was the 
most wonderful yet seen in Western Europe, and 
may be compared with the attack which von Mack- 
ensen was at the same time conducting in Galicia. 
It simply ate up the countryside for miles. Para- 
pets and entanglements were blown to pieces, and 
all that remained was a ploughed land and frag- 
ments of wire and humanity. For hours the great 
guns spoke with the rapidity of maxims, and more 
than 300,000 shells were fired in the course of the 
day. About ten in the morning the infantry were 
let loose. On the right they took what remained of 
La Targette, and with it the vital cross-roads. East 
of it, in the hollow below the Vimy heights, lies the 
village of Neuville St. Vaast, with its big church. 
By noon the French had taken the west of it, and 
by three o'clock they were attacking the church. 
The whole place bristled with machine guns, and 
the battle was waged from house to house and from 
cellar to cellar. Farther north, the centre moved 
from the trenches in the Bois de Berthonval, and 
swept like a flood over what had once been the 
White Works. They poured on beyond the Arras- 
Bethune road, and in an hour and a half had won 
more than two and a half miles the most conspicu- 
ous advance made in the West since the war of 
trenches began. Like Jeb Stuart's troopers in Vir- 
ginia, they plucked sprigs of lilac and hawthorn 
and stuck them in their caps as they surged on- 


wards. Had the whole line been able to conform 
to the pace of the centre, Lens would have fallen 
in a day. 

Meanwhile the French left was battling hard for 
Carency. Here progress was slower, owing to the 
endless ravines and nooks of hill. The first move- 
ment carried them into the outskirts of the village, 
whence they pushed east, and cut the road from 
Carency to Souchez. The siege of Carency had 
begun, for the only communication of the German 
garrison was now with Ablain and the north. When 
darkness fell the French had, on a front of five miles, 
carried three German trench lines, and had taken 
3,000 prisoners, ten field guns, and fifty machine guns. 

Next day, the loth, the battle began again 

farther north. After a hard fight the French car- 

j^ ried all the German entrenchments across 

the Loos-Bethune road. Farther south 

they attacked the fortified chapel of Notre-Dame de 

Lorette, and captured' the trenches south of it, 

which connected with Ablain and Souchez. On 

the right they took the cemetery of Neuville St. 

Vaast, and repulsed the German reserves which came 

up in motor cars from Lens and Douai. All this 

was preparatory to the great assault of the follow- 

M v ii m ^ a y* That day, the nth, saw the 

beginning of the end of Carency. The 

ruins of the town, into which 20,000 shells had 

fallen, were surrounded on west, south, and east. 

It was slow and desperate work, for the Germans 

had turned every available place into a for tin, and 

^ each had to be separately carried. On 

2 * Wednesday, the i2th, about 5.30 in the 

afternoon, the German remnants in Carency sur- 

Coel mines 
^^v Entrenchment 

The French Offensive between Arras and Lens. 


rendered, raising the total of prisoners in French 
hands to over 5,000. That same day the summit 
of Notre-Dame de Lorette fell, with its fort and 
chapel, and, late in the afternoon, Ablain, now in 
flames, followed suit, though one or two strong- 
holds still held out. The whole of the high ground 
west of Souchez was now in French hands, with 
the exception of a few German fortins on its eastern 

What the fighting meant, both in attack and 
counter-attack, may be seen from the account of a 
French officer who was engaged in the assault on 
Notre-Dame de Lorette : 

" Enormous shells pounded us dead and living without 
interruption. We who had survived could scarcely breathe 
for the thick nauseating smoke ; the earth shook ; the air was 
alive with the scream of the missiles. The reinforcements 
which had been sent melted away like snow under a burning 
sun, and I applied incessantly for more. Heroes all they were ; 
1 gripped them by the hand when they came, and was hon- 
oured indeed to have such men under my command. 

" There was no opportunity of getting provisions to us, 
and we passed twenty-four hours without food. For five days 
we remained in our positions. My Colonel, so they tell me, 
remarked to his orderly, ' How can a company hold that hell ? 
It's impossible ! ' It wasn't, as you know ; but the experiences 
of those who were in it are indescribable. Day and night, 
every hour, nay, every minute, on hands and feet we crawled 
over nameless heaps which a little before had been living men. 
Solemn thoughts filled the most sceptical of minds. And still 
we held on. There was one moment when a great shell fell 
and burst only eight feet away from myself and five men. 
We were engulfed and buried in the upheaval of earth ; but, 
wonderful to say, not one was wounded. When we had 
extricated ourselves from what might very well have been our 
graves, we knelt with bared heads and gave thanks to Our 
Lady of Loretto for our safety. 

" It was not long after this that we were relieved. I came 


down from that plateau with my handful of men all that was 
left of two companies like the rest, dead with fatigue. Our 
eyes saw little, our lips were drawn, our teeth chattered in- 
voluntarily, our clothes were in rags, our bodies covered with 
dirt and blood. We were frightful to look at, but Notre-Dame 
de Lorette was ours." 

On Thursday, i3th May, the weather changed 
to a north wind and drenching rain. The French 
attack was now mainly directed to Sou- ** 
chez, Angres, and Neuville St. Vaast. 
The situation was peculiar. Technically the Ger- 
man line had been broken. In the direction of the 
Vimy heights all the trenches had been carried, and 
the way seemed open for a passage. What had 
happened was that instead of bending back when 
attacked and maintaining its cohesion, the German 
front had become a series of isolated forts, like 
drops of mercury spilled on a table. The most 
notable of these were the sugar refinery at Souchez, 
the cemetery at Ablain, the White Road on one 
of the Lorette spurs, the eastern part of Neuville 
St. Vaast, and especially the place called the 
Labyrinth, between Neuville and Ecurie, where 
the Germans had constructed an extraordinary 
network of trenches and redoubts in the angle be- 
tween two roads. These for tins were manned by 
numerous machine guns, in some cases worked only 
by officers. They were so placed that it was diffi- 
cult for long-range fire to destroy them, and until 
they were cleared out any advance was enfiladed. 
The battle, therefore, resolved itself into * 
a series of isolated actions against forts. a ^ 

O T 

On zist May the White Road was taken, 

on 29th May the Ablain position fell, on the 3151 



the Souchez refinery was captured, though it 
changed hands several times before it finally fell to 
the French. Eight days later Neuville St. Vaast 
was wholly in their hands. But as one for tin fell 
another revealed itself. The Labyrinth especially 
was a difficult business where the fighting was 
desperate and continuous, and a day's progress had 
to be reckoned in feet. There the German burrows 
were sometimes fifty feet deep, and the struggle went 
on in underground galleries by the light of electric 
torches and flares a miners' warfare like Marl- 
borough's siege of Tournai. 

At the close of May the first stage of what we 
may call the Battle of the Artois had been a brilliant 
though not decisive success for French arms. What 
the losses of the Germans were up to that date we 
can only guess, but in the month's fighting they can 
scarcely have been less than 60,000, and may well 
have been more. The French suffered severely 
in the later hand-to-hand fighting, but their great 
advance was made at little cost. One division killed 
2,600 of the enemy and took 3,000 prisoners, 
while their own loss was only 250 killed and 1,250 
wounded. The German salient had gone, the line 
was straightened, and all but the last defences of 
Lens had fallen. The achievement was a triumph 
for the fighting quality of the French infantry, and 
especially for the French artillery. Here at last was 
an adequate artillery preparation, which did not 
stop till it had flattened and sterilized the whole 
landscape before it. In these days we began to 
realize how formidable a weapon Germany had 
created in her vast accumulation of shells. The 
machine, till it was mastered by a like creation, 


must nullify the valour and discipline of the finest 
soldiers in the world. 

The British advance in May in the Festubert 
region was intended mainly as an auxiliary to the 
French effort in the Artois. It was designed in 
the first place to detain the German yth Corps in 
position, and to prevent reinforcements in men and 
guns being sent south to Lens. But it had also a 
positive if subsidiary purpose. If successful, it 
would win the Aubers ridge, for the sake of which 
we had fought Neuve Chapelle, and so threaten 
Lille and La Bassee, and if the French got to Lens 
we should be in a position to conform effectively 
to their advance. 

The first movement took place on the morning 
of Sunday, 9th May, and the section selected was 
that between Festubert and Bois Gre- ,, 
nier. On the right, part of the First 
Corps and the Indian Corps advanced from the 
Rue du Bois in the direction of that old battle- 
ground, the southern end of the Bois du Biez. But 
the main attack was delivered by the 8th Division, 
from Rouges Banes, on the upper course of the 
river des Layes, towards Fromelles and the north- 
ern part of the Aubers ridge. The artillery pre- 
paration which preceded it was inadequate, and 
our men came up against unbroken wire and para- 
pets. Some ground was won, but most of our gains 
could not be held, and by the evening we had made 
little progress. That day was the occasion for many 
acts of signal heroism. On our right, at Rue du 
Bois, Corporal John Ripley and Lance-Corporal 
David Finlay of the Black Watch received the Vic- 



toria Cross for their gallantry in attack. In the 
Fromelles section the 24th and 25th Brigades 
especially distinguished themselves. Two Victoria 
Crosses were won by Corporal Charles Sharpe of 
the 2nd Lincolns for his brilliant work with bombs, 

The Advance against the Aubers Ridge, May 9th. 

and by Corporal James Upton of the 2nd Sherwood 
Foresters for his heroic services in bringing in the 
wounded. A Territorial Battalion, the i3th (Ken- 
sington) of the London Regiment, on the extreme 
left, performed, according to the general command- 


ing the Fourth Corps, " a feat of arms surpassed 
by no battalion in the great war." They carried 
three lines of German trenches with the bayonet, 
and held them till the German fire made them un- 
tenable, when they fell back with four company 
officers left. The desperate nature of the fighting 
may be realized from the following quotation from 
the letter of one of the few survivors : 

" The minute our bombardment ceased we were over our 
parapet, and, charging right through, captured the first, 
second, and third lines of German trenches on our front at 
the point of the bayonet. We swept straight through while 
two companies, turning right and left, bayoneted and bombed 
the Huns back along their trenches for a couple of hundred 
yards on either side. 

" Then we settled down to hold on to what we had 
taken against steadily increasing German counter-attacks. 
. . . But our right was floating in the air. We stuck it grimly 
for eight hours or more until half-past two on that Sunday 
afternoon. My God, it was a Sunday I should like to forget. 
Their guns and ours kept a continuous deafening bombard- 
ment the whole day. Shells were pitching everywhere and 
anywhere. We had a nasty enfilade fire from machine guns 
we could not locate, and from snipers. We got a message 
in the front trench from the Brigadier, ' You have done 
splendidly, the - - are coming up to reinforce you.' That 
was about 11.15, an d I remember thinking of you people in 
England in church or strolling round the country lanes. 

" Well, we held on with men getting hit in quite an un- 
healthy way. We held on we saw our reinforcements come 
out, we saw them fade away. We found the Germans coming 
up in force on our flanks. Then we got the order to retire. 
There was nothing else to do, and it was bitter and damnable. 

" Moreover, we had to fight our way through the German 
lines again in order to regain our men. I can't go into details 
of the hellish afternoon, for hours above our waists in the 
mud and foul crawling water of the German communication 
trenches, isolated and cut off by an enemy we could not see, 
but who was steadily reducing our numbers by very excellent 


sniping. We were four subalterns in command of thirty to forty 
men. Two of the officers were killed. The other man and 
myself determined to wait until darkness and then try and get 
through the German lines to our own. It was a risk, but 
everything was a risk that day. 

" To cut a long (and in reality too thrilling to be enjoy- 
able) story short, we made the venture and we got through 
back into our trenches about a quarter-past eight. Incidentally, 
I found that I was reported killed. How and why I got through 
without being hit I shall never know. In advancing under 
cross fire men on either side of me within hand's reach of 
me were killed. At one point I had halted my men for a 
breather (it was in the first charge of the morning, after taking 
the first and before reaching the second German trench). The 
two men on each side of me (I could have touched any of the 
four) went in succession. A bullet struck the ground between 
my forehead and the ground (I was lying as flat as possible), 
but it only covered my face and head with dust. When I 
took up the first reinforcements to our front line we had to 
cross a field of a hundred yards of flat, bare ground, with 
scarcely a blade of grass and with a machine gun sweeping 
the place and a sniper doing very pretty shooting too pretty 
for my liking though ; a corporal and myself were the only 
ones of the party who got across without being hit. 

" Our hottest time I think, though, was the final scramble 
back over this ground to the British trench in the evening. 
About 120-150 yards through German barbed wire and across 
ground raked by a withering cross-fire. It was a hailstorm of 
lead, bullets splitting up the ground and filling the air with the 
buzz of angry bees and bursting shells. For one hellish moment 
I was caught in the barbed wire, but managed somehow to 
wrench myself free, my nose almost burrowing the ground. 
Men were being hit all about me. Somehow, I shall never 
know how or why, I got across the foot of our parapet. There 
was a slight ridge there ; lying absolutely flat, it gave cover. 
It was still light about 7.45 and I told the men about to 
wait until it was darker before the last dash over the sandbags 
into our lines. 

" Believe or disbelieve the following, but it is a fact, and 
it surprised no one more than myself. Lying there flat under 
the slightest ridge of earth, with shells bursting and whistling 
overhead, with bullets throwing up earth behind and before 


and around one, and going ' phlat ' against the parapet which 
was my desired haven twenty yards away lying there I fell 
fast asleep from sheer exhaustion. It must have been nearly 
half an hour when I woke. I made the dash, scrambled up 
the parapet, and flung myself over and down among our own 
men. I never said ' Thank God ' as I said it then." * 

The next advance was on the morning of Sun- 
day, 1 6th May, and the ground chosen was that 
immediately east of Festubert, where *. , 
the German front showed a pronounced 
salient. The Battle of Festubert, as it may well 
be called, would in other wars, looking at the casu- 
alties and the numbers engaged, have been a major 
action, but in this campaign is ranked only as an 
episode one link in the long-drawn chain of the 
Allied attack. Our artillery preparation began late 
on the Saturday night, assisted by three groups of 
French 75-mm. guns, and just after dawn the in- 
fantry advanced. The movement was entrusted to 
two brigades of the yth Division, and part of the 
2nd Division and the Indian Corps. The latter 
attacked on the left near Richebourg I'Avoue" ; the 
aoth Brigade moved from the Rue du Bois south- 
eastward ; while the 22nd Brigade on the right 
advanced to the south-east of Festubert against the 
Rue d'Ouvert. 

The left of the movement was held up by a 
tangle of fortified farms. The 2nd Division cap- 
tured two lines of trenches, but the Indian Corps 
found progress impossible. The centre, advancing 
from the Rue du Bois, reached the Rue de Cailloux, 
and progressed some distance beyond till it was 
checked by a severe flanking fire. Reinforcements 

* Quoted by permission of the Times. 



enabled it to proceed, and it reached a point to the 
north-west of La Quinque Rue. Brilliant work was 

Scene of the Battle of Festubert. 

done by the bombers of the ist Grenadiers, for in 
these networks of trenches the old eighteenth-cen- 


tury weapon was the most efficient we possessed for 
close-quarters fighting. One company of the 2nd 
Scots Guards got too far ahead and were cut off. 
The remnants of two Canadian battalions, it will 
be remembered, remained in St. Julien at the 
Second Battle of Ypres, and of the same kind was 
this stand of the Scots Guards. When, some days 
later, we took the ground, we found the Guards 
lying on the field of honour with swathes of the 
enemy's dead around them. 

The most successful movement was that of our 
right, the 22nd Brigade, under General Lawford. 
The 2nd Queens, the ist Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 
and the ist South Staffords, with the 2nd Warwicks, 
and the 8th Royal Scots (Territorial) in support, 
advanced for more than a mile. The German 
trenches at this point were curiously complicated, 
and we reached what was their main communica- 
tion trench near the Rue d'Ouvert. The country 
was dead flat and seamed with watercourses, and 
it was not easy to find the points indicated by our 
air reconnaissance. The enemy attempted to make 
a barrage of fire behind us, so that it was a perilous 
business to get up reserves of men and ammunition. 
The supports in the rear had to sit still during 
hours of shelling the most difficult of duties in 
war. This kind of work puts a premium upon 
individual gallantry, and that day showed a con- 
spicuous example. Company Sergeant- Major Barter 
of the ist Welsh Fusiliers, when his battalion reached 
the first line of German trenches, called for volun- 
teers. With the eight men who responded, he 
cleared with bombs 500 yards of hostile trenches, 
found and cut eleven mine leads, and captured three 


officers and 102 men an exploit worthy to be 
ranked with that of Sergeant Michael O'Leary on 
ist February at Cuinchy. Sergeant-Major Barter 
received the Victoria Cross. 

Rain fell on the following day, and this and the 
marshy character of the ground to some extent nulli- 
fied the effect of the German cannonade, for shells 
often sank into the earth without bursting. For 
three days we fought for the German communica- 
tion trench, and endeavoured to disentangle our 
left from the network of German for tins. On the 
Monday evening we made a second advance on the 
*. right, this time by means of the 2ist 

y '' Brigade. In this fight the farthest point 
was reached by the 4th Cameron Highlanders, a 
Territorial battalion recruited largely from Skye 
and the Outer Islands. Their advance began at 
7.30 p.m., and presently they found themselves 
faced by a deep ditch which could not be jumped. 
It was Sedgemoor over again, when the appearance 
of an unexpected stream threw out a whole move- 
ment. Many of the men swam it, and one com- 
pany reached the farthest German communication 
trench. Here its flanks were in the air ; it had no 
bombs ; reinforcements could not reach it ; while the 
Germans were closing in on both sides and " water- 
ing " the whole hinterland with their fire. In the 
small hours a retirement was ordered no light task, 
for the parapet was high, and there were no com- 
munication trenches (since the trench was itself a 
communication trench). The battalion was re- 
duced to half its strength when, worn out and mud 
covered, it regained the British position. 

This, the first stage of the Festubert fighting, 


was worth the price, for the ground gained was con- 
siderable, and we undoubtedly caused heavy losses 
to the enemy. But the price was high. The 2Oth 
Brigade, for example, lost 45 officers and 1,179 rnen. 
Many battalion commanders fell, including such 
gallant and unreplaceable officers as Lieutenant- 
Colonel Brook of the 8th Royal Scots, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Fraser of the 4th Camerons, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Bottomley of the 2nd Queens, and Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Gabbett of the ist Royal Welsh 

During the rest of May we continued to make 
progress and to consolidate our gains, though we 
were still short of any vital strategical point. On 
1 9th May the 2nd and 7th Divisions were relieved, 
and their place taken by the Canadian Division and 
the Highland Division (Territorial). On the night 
of the 2ist the Canadians made a fine attack, in 
which they advanced our line by several hundreds 
of yards. On the 22nd the Highland Division joined 
with the Indian Corps in a movement on the south 
of La Quinque Rue, and during the three following 
days ground was won by the Canadians and the 
2nd London Division (Territorial). The 26th of 
May has been taken by Sir John French as the 
close of the battle, for on that day he gave orders 
to Sir Douglas Haig to curtail the artillery attack 
and consolidate the ground he had won. 

The Commander-in-Chief thus summed up the 
results : ' Since i6th May the First .-. s 
Army has pierced the enemy's lines on 
a total front of four miles. The entire first-line 
system of trenches has been captured on a front of 
3,200 yards, and on the remaining portion the first 


and second lines of trenches are in our possession. 
The total number of prisoners taken is eight officers 
and 777 of other ranks. Ten machine guns have 
fallen into our hands, as well as a considerable 
quantity of material and equipment." 

Our difficulty was that which the French were 
finding in the Artois that the enemy's line under 
attack did not bend, but broke into isolated forts. 
It had lost its old cohesion, and it was noteworthy 
that many of the prisoners taken were " rounded 
up," and that there were attempts by large bodies 
to surrender attempts checked by the fire of their 
own guns. But the very weakness of the front was 
its strength. These fortins, bristling with machine 
guns, made any general advance impossible till they 
were taken ; and to capture them, short as 'we were 
of artillery, was no easy matter. A new kind of 
stalemate, therefore, appeared on the Western front 
the stalemate not of the trench line but of the 
field fortress. It was siege warfare in its strictest 
sense, .for, as if under a magician's wand, the coun- 
tryside became studded with strongholds. 

Meanwhile in Galicia the clouds had gathered 
and broken. The fiercest German assault since the 
autumn had imperilled the very existence of the 
Russian armies. We must turn to the titanic war- 
fare in the East. 



The Anticipated Russian Offensive The Consequences of the 
Fall of Przemysl The Russian Advance in the Carpathians 
German Activity in Courland The German Concentration 
behind the Donajetz Its Secrecy and Object The Russian 
Dispositions The German Dispositions Von Mackensen's 
Plan Its Merits Its Drawbacks Beginning of the Move- 
ment Von Mackensen forces the Lines of the Donajetz 
and the Biala Dmitrieff retreats to the Wisloka Brus- 
silov's Difficulties Retreat to the Wistok Retreat to the 
San Russian Counter-strategy. 

IN April Western Europe looked with confidence 
to the Eastern front, where Russia seemed to 
be winning her way to a position which would 
give her a starting-place for her great summer 
offensive. We knew that she had abundance of 
trained men, and it was believed that there was 
sufficient equipment to double the force which 
had held the long winter lines. There was some 
division of opinion, indeed, as to where the offensive 
would fall. One school held that the old route by 
Cracow to the Oder promised the best results ; an- 
other considered that, having won fifty miles and 
more of the Carpathian watershed, and in many 
places dominating the southern debouchments of the 
passes, she would sweep down upon the Hungarian 
plains and strike a blow which would detach Hungary 


from her alliance and render her no more a German 
granary. There was little evidence to decide be- 
tween the rival views, for to clear the crest of the 
Carpathians was a necessary preliminary both for 
an advance to Cracow and a descent upon Hungary. 
But on the main point there was no difference of 
opinion. Russia would speedily assume a vigorous 
and sustained offensive, the great offensive of the 
Allied summer strategy. 

What actually happened was, perhaps, the most 
dramatic reversal of fortune which the campaigns 
can show. So far from being the attacker, Russia 
became the attacked. In a second, as it seemed, 
the centre of gravity was changed, and the main 
strength of Germany descended upon her in an 
avalanche not less deadly than the great swing 
from the Sambre and Meuse in the first months of 
war. Under this assault the Russian offensive dis- 
appeared like smoke. Cracow and the Hungarian 
cornlands were forgotten, the gains of nine months 
vanished, and the whole fortitude of the nation 
was centred in a desperate effort to keep the South- 
ern armies from destruction. It was a bitter blow 
to the Allies, for it involved the postponement of 
their main attack, and the lengthening of the war. 
For Russia it meant a long season of peril and 
heart-searching, much suffering, but never a mo- 
ment of weakness or despair. She had been equable 
in success, and she was no less calm and resolute 
in misfortune. She was like that English worthy of 
whom Fuller wrote : " Had one seen him return- 
ing from a victory, he would by his silence have 
suspected that he had lost the day ; and had he 
beheld him in retreat, he would have collected 


him a conqueror by the cheerfulness ot his 

The release of Selivanov's army of Przemysl 
enabled Ivanov to strengthen the front which op- 
posed von Linsingen at Koziowa, and to weight the 
blow of Brussilov's right wing against the Uzsok 
and Lupkow passes. We know that the reinforce- 
ments moved south in two columns, one towards 
Stryj by the Sambor-Stryj railway, the other to- 
wards Sanok for the Lupkow section. A small part 
seems to have gone to Jaslo and Gorlice to reinforce 
Radko Dmitrieffs left on the Biala. But it was not 
possible for Russia to use her army of Przemysl as 
Oyama had used Nogi's army of Port Arthur, which 
decided the Battle of Mukden by its unexpected 
offensive on the Japanese left. In a struggle for 
mountain passes the theatre is necessarily circum- 
scribed, and the number of men employed is strictly 
determined by the slender communications and 
narrow approaches. Ivanov wisely held most of 
Selivanov's force in reserve, and the day was ap- 
proaching when there was need of the ultimate 
reserve in man and rifle. 

Przemysl fell on 22nd March. On the 25th the 
Russian position was well south of the Dukla near 
Bartfeld, just short of the crest of the T/ ; c 
range at the Lupkow and the Uzsok', and 
then among the foothills till the Bukovina was 
reached, where on that day they crossed the Pruth. 
By the end of March the last Austrian position on 
the Lupkow had fallen to them, and they were press- 
ing hard against the village of Uzsok, to the east of 
the pass of that name. Here they were aiming at 


the spurs of the hills running from the glens of the 
Upper Dniester, which would command the Austrian 
right defending the pass. All through the first week 
of April the regions south of the Dukla and Lupkow 
and north of the Uzsok were the centre of severe 
fighting. The last of the winter storms was raging, 
and from the Dukla to the Bukovina there was snow 
to the thighs in all the higher glens. By the middle 
of the month the crest of the range for seventy miles 
was Russia's, but the Uzsok still maintained its 
stubborn defence. Brussilov, while continuing his 
frontal attack, pushed on with his right wing south 
of the watershed, and tried to work his way to the 
rear of the Uzsok position from the Laborcz and 
Ung valleys. The important junction of Eperies 
south of the range was rendered useless to the 
enemy, and the Austrians took some steps to clear 
the inhabitants from the Ung valley. Brussilov was 
now within two or three days' march of the Hun- 
garian plains. From the iyth to the 2Oth the 
/, 7 ^_ Austrian offensive suddenly revived, and 

^ ' there was a vigorous counter-attack 

against Brussilov 's left flank in the 

vicinity of Stryj. By the 22nd the attack had failed, 

/, y and the Russians in turn were pressing 

" ' on the Bukovina border. In somewhat 

less than five weeks of fighting in the Carpathian 
area Ivanov had captured, according to a Russian 
communique, more than 30 guns and 200 machine 
guns, and had taken over 70,000 prisoners, including 
900 officers. 

The last fortnight of April saw one of those 
sudden thaws which Poland and Galicia know well. 
The high valleys became impassable, for the melt- 


ing snow had brimmed every torrent. Fighting, 
therefore, was perforce confined to the foothills, 
and on 25th April another Austrian counter-attack 
developed all along the line from Ko- * ., 
ziowa to the Delatyn Pass, and lasted for * 
the better part of a week. General von Linsingen's 
army appeared to be aiming at the Stryj-Stanislau 
railway, and observers in the West assumed that 
this was the last desperate effort of Austria to save 
the Carpathian line, and with it the Hungarian low- 
lands. A further portion of the Przemysl army was 
hurried to this section, which was precisely what 
the Austrians desired. 

During April, too, there had been a curious 
activity on the extreme north of the Eastern front. 
On iyth March a Russian detachment ,, , 
had occupied the East Prussian town of '* 

Memel, and had held it till the 2ist, when they re- 
tired before a German relieving force. On the 25th 
the Germans retaliated by bombarding ,, , 
the villages of the Courland coast by 
means of their Baltic squadron, and sending a body 
of East Prussian Landsturm, under Prince Joachim, 
across the frontier, which captured Tauroggen, 
north of the Niemen. On the last day of March 
Libau was heavily shelled by the Ger- ** , 
man fleet, and during April the East 
Prussians made some progress towards the line of 
the Dubissa. 

Observers in the West read in this northern 
activity and the counter - attack towards Stryj 
the same lesson. Both were attempts to relieve 
the pressure on the Carpathian line, which threat- 
ened at any moment to collapse and uncover Hun- 

vii. 8 


gary. The observers were wrong ; they were feints 
to mislead Russia. For in the very region which 
was confidently expected to be the scene of that 
great offensive that should give her Cracow, a 
mighty blow was preparing which was to wring all 
Galicia from her hands. 

Rarely has a secret been better kept. No accu- 
rate details were known till the blow had fallen, 
but curiously enough the possibility had been widely 
canvassed for weeks, and very generally dismissed. 

Abr'l A ^ e ^ rst ^ mt came a b ut 4th April, 

* '" when fighting was reported on Dmi- 
trieff's right on the Biala. Small attacks were 
undertaken there, in order that when the great move- 
ment began it should not at first be recognized for 
what it was, but assumed to be merely a continua- 
tion of the sporadic assaults of the past. On 6th 

Ai) 7 6 April came a story that a German corps 

* had been sent from Flanders by way of 
Munich to the Carpathians, and that Austria was 
withdrawing troops from Tirol for the same pur- 

. -i pose. On 1 3th April large bodies of 
* 3* German troops were reported to be 
passing through Czestochowa. Then, from the 
iyth onward, came the attacks on Brussilov's left 
in the Stryj neighbourhood, and all the rumours 
seemed adequately explained. The enemy had been 
making a last effort to keep the invaders north of 
the mountains. On the 23rd the Russian newspapers 
discussed frankly the appearance of new German 
armies round Cracow. From the 24th for several days 
there was an almost complete absence of news.. The 
reason was that the German censorship had suddenly 
been drawn tight, for the bolt was ready to launch. 


From the fall of Przemysl onward Germany had 
been busy behind her frontiers. Her Landsturm 
might go raiding with Prince Joachim, and her 
Bavarians battle with von Linsingen for the passes, 
but these were only the fringes of a mighty effort. 
Three-fourths at least of the winter's accumulation 
of shell were brought to Cracow and carried out 
by night to the Donajetz line. Guns of every 
calibre came from everywhere on the Eastern and 
Western fronts and from Essen and Pilsen and 
Budapest, and in one section alone of about twenty 
miles along the Biala over 1,000 pieces were placed 
in position. Train after train kept bringing material 
and pontoons, and all the supplies of the Engineers, 
for the land before them was a land of rivers. New 
hospital stations and new depots for food and muni- 
tions were prepared close behind the front ; a new 
telegraph network was established ; great bands of 
cattle were driven up to their pens under cover of 
darkness. And then came the troops from the 
East and the West fronts, and new levies from 
Austria and Hungary and Germany all silently 
getting into place in a great hive of energy from the 
Nida to the Carpathians. Meanwhile Dmitrieff, in 
the Donajetz lines half a mile off, inspected his 
trenches and conducted his minor attacks and 
counter-attacks without an inkling of what was 
brewing. German organization had put forth a 
supreme effort. The world has never seen a greater 
concentration of men and guns more swiftly or more 
silently achieved. 

How came Russia to be caught napping ? The 
question is easier to ask than to answer. There 
were rumours in the West during March and April 


that the next German thrust would be eastward 
from Cracow. The activity in Germany, the troop 
trains passing up the Oder valley, might be directed 
to this end ; but, on the other hand, they might not. 
They might pass through the Gap of Moravia, to 
the south side of the Carpathians, to reinforce 
Boehm-Ermolli, or von Linsingen, or von Pflanzer. 
This possibility of a double interpretation for a 
movement which was known, at any rate in part, 
to the Russian Staff was exactly what Germany had 
counted on. That was why the counter-attack upon 
Stryj was undertaken. Up to the very eve of the 
great blow Russia's eyes looked south and east for 
the enemy rather than west. 

At the same time, it was undoubtedly anticipated 
that a blow would be struck against the Donajetz, 
but the Grand Duke Nicholas had no notion of the 
strength in which it would be delivered. Like every 
other Allied commander, he was ignorant of the 
gigantic artillery strength which it had been Ger- 
many's winter work to accumulate. He expected no 
more than the ordinary attack of von Woyrsch's army, 
a little reinforced, perhaps, by German troops, which 
Dmitrieff had for four months beaten off with ease. 
The Donajetz position, with the river big with melt- 
ing snows, was believed to be impregnable. So, in- 
deed, it was to any ordinary attack. Dmitrieff had 
dug himself in securely since that day in December 
when he first took up the ground. Unfortunately, 
confident in the strength of his defence, he had 
neglected to create second and third lines to which 
in an emergency he could retire. Behind him was 
a series of rivers the Wisloka, the Wistok, and the 
San. The first would give a good straight river line 


covering the main western passes which Brussilov 
held. But if he was forced from the Wisloka, there 
was no river in the rear to afford complete cover to 
his front, and the situation of Brussilov in the 
mountains would be dangerously compromised. 
Dmitrieff, a brilliant and audacious leader in a 
manoeuvre battle, showed himself too little prescient 
and cautious in a war of positions. 

In the last week of April there had been no 
change in the Russian commands, except in the 
northern army group, where General Ruzsky, whose 
health had suffered gravely from the winter cam- 
paign, gave place on Easter Day to General Alexeiev, 
who had commanded the little army , 
in the Bukovina. Alexeiev had begun " 
his military career in the Turkish war of 1877, an( ^ 
had been Chief of the General Staff in the Kiev 
command. In the south, in Ivanov's group, Ewarts 
commanded the army on the Nida, Dmitrieff that 
on the Donajetz and the Biala, Brussilov the main 
army of the Carpathians, and Lechitsky the forces 
in the Bukovina. Ivanov's aim was to clear the 
passes and the southern foothills of the mountains, 
after which a movement south into Hungary or west 
towards Cracow could be undertaken at his dis- 
cretion. The spring had brought him large new 
armies, not yet fully equipped, and especially lacking 
in heavy artillery. He may have considered that 
until he was better supplied with shells the valley 
warfare of the Carpathians was more suitable to 
his forces than an attack upon the entrenchments 
of Cracow. 

During April there was a very complete read- 
justment of the commands and forces of the Teutonic 


League from the Nida to the Sereth. Until then 
von Woyrsch, in succession to Dankl, had com- 
manded on the Nida, the Archduke Joseph Ferdi- 
nand on the Donajetz, Boehm-Ermolli and the 
German von Linsingen in the Central Carpathians, 
and von Pflanzer in the Bukovina. Now the whole 
group was placed under direct German control, 
von Hindenburg's former lieutenant, von Macken- 
sen, taking up the work of group commander. Von 
Woyrsch still commanded north of the Upper Vis- 
tula. Then, tightly packed in the narrows between 
the river and the hills, came the army of the Arch- 
duke Joseph Ferdinand and the German army of 
von Mackensen. Boehm-Ermolli, with whom were 
Boroevitch von Bojna and von Marwitz,* faced 
Brussilov's right in the Carpathians, von Linsingen 
was opposite Koziowa and the road to Stryj, while 
to the east von Bothmer and von Pflanzer com- 
manded the front towards the Sereth. These, 
with one exception, were the armies of the previous 
month, with the commands slightly rearranged. 
The exception was von Mackensen's force on the 
left centre, which was the operative part of the 
whole machine. 

Von Mackensen's army was probably the strong- 
est which Germany had ever mustered under one 
general. We cannot yet with any exactness deter- 
mine its size or its constitution. Its nucleus was the 
force with which he had delivered his famous thrust 
against the Bzura and Rawka lines, swollen with some 
divisions from the East Prussia command. He re- 

* He had commanded the German cavalry in the advance 
on Paris the previous August, and had subsequently been a 
corps commander in the German forces north of Przasnysz. 


ceived in addition the rest of the Prussian Guard 
Reserve Corps from the Western front, the loth Corps 
(Hanover), which had once been with von Kluck, 
and the 4ist Reserve Corps. We saw in the previ- 
ous chapter that the Germans had created fourteen 
new " divisions of assault " by skimming the cream 
from their first-line corps. How many of these von 
Mackensen received is still in doubt ; two for cer- 
tain were with him, and it is possible that as the 
fight continued he received not less than eight. 
His units had been brought up to full strength by 
the inclusion of recruits from the classes just called 
to the colours, and these recruits, be it remembered, 
were of the best quality. Altogether it is probable 
that his thrusting weapon, his phalanx of assault, 
was not less than ten corps strong, and its artillery 
supports were far superior to those of the whole 
Russian southern front. One report put his heavy 
batteries as high as 2,000 pieces, and they cannot 
have been less than 1,500. The Austrian strength 
the total army except the two corps facing Serbia 
was at the moment something over a million, and 
scattered among the different commands to give 
them stiffening were at least six German corps, 
mostly new formations like the 3ist and 33rd, but 
including one first-line Bavarian corps. The total 
force from the Nida to the Sereth we may esti- 
mate as not less than two millions. Against this 
Russia could, if she chose, produce an equivalent 
number of men, but she had not the equipment. 
Her immense man-power was still hampered by an 
inadequate machine. It was her fate to play the 
part of von Winkelried at Sempach, and draw a 
multitude of spears to her naked breast. 


Von Mackensen, soon to be made a field-marshal 
for his services, was one of the ablest of the German 
generals. A Saxon by birth, he had risen, like 
von Kluck, by sheer merit to high command. 
He had been responsible for the great offensive 
of November which had given Germany Western 
Poland, and had gravely threatened Warsaw. It 
is an idle task to speculate upon the special re- 
sponsibility for a strategic scheme. Von Hinden- 
burg had accustomed the world to look for sledge- 
hammer blows, and much of the new offensive was 
after the true Hindenburg fashion. But there were 
elements of ingenuity which were not in his manner, 
and these, and the skilful tactical handling, should 
probably go to von Mackensen's credit. Germany 
had never played her traditional game to more 
brilliant effect than in the movement which we 
have now to relate. It was more dramatic than 
her great sweep on Paris in August, for then she 
was working in the heyday of her first enthusiasm ; 
whereas now she was stemming a hostile tide after 
long months of drawn battles. There was no de- 
generacy in the fighting quality of a Power which 
could thus belie the expectation of the world, and 
out of set-backs and checks snatch the materials 
for a sounding triumph. 

The elements of von Mackensen's plan were 
simple, like the elements of all great strategy. The 
main fact was that, for all her success, Russia's 
southern position was not a good one. She was 
holding the southern side of a salient, and so was 
virtually enveloped ; only the mountain barrier of 
the Carpathians and the weakness of the Austrian 
armies prevented her from suffering the usual effects 


of envelopment. Now in such a position a strong 
blow does not merely dint a line ; it may compel 
a wholesale retreat of remote parts of the front. 
Russia's communications were the main railway 
through Przemysl and Lemberg, and the southern 
line which follows the foothills by Jaslo, Sanok, and 
Stryj. A thrust from the Bukovina which recap- 
tured Lemberg would mean the retreat of the 
whole Russian front in Western Galicia. A blow 
from the central passes which reached Jaroslav 
would cut off Dmitrieff on the Donajetz and the 
bulk of Brussilov's army. Finally, a thrust from 
the Donajetz which succeeded would uncover the 
Galician outlets of the passes which Russia held, 
and drive Brussilov back from the watershed. Ob- 
viously the first and second of these plans, if they 
could be compassed, would be the most fruitful. 
But Germany's trump card was her mass of artil- 
lery, and this could not be handled with precision 
among the wooded glens of the Bukovina or the 
strait valleys of the Central Carpathians. The place 
for it was the rolling plateau of Galicia. Accord- 
ingly the thrust was made from the Donajetz. 

The ultimate aim was clear. If the German 
guns were numerous enough and fully supplied 
with ammunition, there would be no rest for the 
Russian armies till they were outside the zone of 
good Austrian railways, and back among the in- 
different communications beyond their own frontier. 
It was a mathematical calculation. A certain weight 
of shell would make any position untenable. This 
meant that Przemysl and Lemberg would be re- 
taken and handed back to Austria as a proof of the 
potency of her ally. It meant that the valuable 


oil-fields of Galicia would once again be in German 
hands. It meant that the Hungarian cornlands 
would be safe, and Count Tisza would be appeased. 
It meant that the coquetries of Rumania with the 
Allies would be summarily ended. She would no 
longer be disposed to attack Austria, and, if she had 
the disposition, she would not have the power. 

These were political ends, important, but still 
secondary. The main purpose was military not 
the reoccupation of territory, but the crippling 
of Russia's field armies. If von Mackensen could 
push Ivanov out of Galicia, a time would come when 
the Russian front would have to fall back everywhere 
to conform. The ultimate position would be south- 
west of the railway from Rovno by Cholm, Lublin, 
and Ivangorod to Warsaw, which would provide it 
with lateral communications. If that position was 
broken, then Warsaw must fall, and the whole front 
retire behind the Polish Triangle. This would mean 
that the armies of the north, based on Petrograd 
and Moscow, and the armies of the south, based 
on Kiev, were in danger of being separated by that 
triangle of lake and swamp called the Marshes of 
Pinsk or Pripet, over which lay no communications for 
large masses of modern troops . If that happened , then 
Alexeiev and Ivanov would be out of touch. It was 
not the capture of Warsaw which would damage 
Russia's position, but this isolation of her army 
groups. No offensive would be possible for months 
if such a fate was hers. The German high com- 
mand had at the moment no desire to risk the 
fortune of Charles XII. and Napoleon, and embark 
on a serious invasion of Russia. Enough for them 
to put the Russian armies temporarily out of action. 


The plan was bold and sagacious, but it had 
one drawback. It demanded nothing short of com- 
plete success. If the Russian forces could be driven 
over their border, and so split up that concentrated 
action was impossible for many months, then indeed 
a great thing would have been gained, and a million 
men might be spared to reinforce the Western front. 
But it was not enough merely to drive them out of 
Galicia. It would be a costly process, and even 
though the Russians lost more heavily, they could 
afford it better. Somewhere in the not very dis- 
tant future lurked for Germany the spectre of 
shortage of men, and, if she wasted her manhood 
in her costly methods of war for the sake of any- 
thing but the most decisive successes, her case 
would be evil. A new trench line on the eastern 
Galician frontier would be no real change in the 
situation. It would be more difficult to hold, for 
her lines of communication would be several hundred 
miles longer, and as the result of her efforts she 
would have fewer men to hold it with. Russia 
would still be permitted a dangerous offensive. 
Therefore it was incumbent upon von Mackensen 
to carry out the whole of his plan. Nothing less 
would suffice. A partial success, however splendid 
it might appear, would be a failure, for it would 
leave him weaker and in a worse position than 
when he started. 

On the morning of Wednesday, z8th April, the 
Austrian-German front lay along the left bank of 
the Donajetz to its junction with the j. / o 
Biala ; then along the left bank of the "?' 
Biala to the foothills of the Carpathians, where 


it crossed to the right bank in the vicinity of Ropa. 
Its communications were good, for it had for its 
left the Vistula, for its centre the main railway from 
Cracow, and for its right the line which runs through 
Novo Sandek to the junction at Grybow, on the 
Biala. The possession of Tarnow, then held by 
Dmitrieff, would give it a valuable cross line up 
the Biala valley. 

During these last days Dmitrieff was growing 
anxious. He began to realize that a great effort was 
pending, and he applied to Ivanov for two further 
corps. By some blunder of a staff officer, the request 
never reached Ivanov. Dmitrieff was left to meet 
the enemy with no more than his winter strength. 

On the 28th the action began with an advance of 
von Mackensen's right on the Upper Biala towards 
Gorlice. The place was skilfully chosen, for it had 
already been the object of some minor attacks, and 
the additional pressure did not at first reveal the 
importance of the movement. It is a vital advantage 
for a general not only to keep his concentration 
secret, but to get the actual fighting begun before the 
enemy realizes what it means. Further, a success 
here would outflank DmitrierFs position, and would 
threaten the rear of Brussilov's right wing, now well 
south of the Dukla Pass. 

For two days the attack progressed, positions 

were won, and Dmitrieff was compelled to weaken 

, his front in order to support his left. 

y If Then on Saturday, ist May, the great 

batteries were loosed. The centre of the attack was 

now the village of Ciezkowice, half-way between 

Grybow and Tarnow. Under cover of a prodigious 

artillery fire bridges were pushed across the Biala, 

'" ,. 







forced. May 2 



Ropa ^^ Openng 
^ attack 
Apr. 28 

r P a t 


6 ? 




, Miles 

The Forcing of the Donajetz-Biala Line. 


and Ciezkowice was taken. Its oil tanks were set 
on fire, and soon it was a heap of smouldering ruins. 
Hundreds of guns were unmasked northward along 
the valley, and the Russian position was simply 
blown out of existence. Over 700,000 shells were 
said to have been hurled into the Russian trenches. 
It was Neuve Chapelle over again, and a greater 
than Neuve Chapelle. The Russians had no 
artillery powerful enough to check the awful 
storm. Taken by surprise, they made what fight 
they could, but the bravest of men cannot continue 
in trenches which have ceased to exist. Meanwhile 
the force which had crossed at Ciezkowice acted in 
conjunction \vith the advance from Ropa, took 
Gorlice, and turned the whole of DmitriefFs front. 
jyr On Sunday, 2nd May, the defence col- 

lapsed. Masses of the enemy had forced 
the Donajetz-Biala line at various points, and by 
that afternoon the Russians were retreating twenty 
miles to the line of the Wisloka. 

Von Mackensen had won an indisputable vic- 
tory. The retreat to the Wisloka was not far from 
a rout, and Dmitrieff paid the penalty in guns and 
men for not having prepared a series of alternative 
positions. Especially in the south the Russians 
fared ill. The troops in the Carpathian foothills 
extricated themselves only with heavy losses, which 
fell especially upon the 48th Division. The Wis- 
loka was a river and no more ; no entrenchments 
had been made ready ; and the guns which had 
driven in the Donajetz line would have little diffi- 
culty in annihilating one so conspicuously weaker. 

But by this time the Russians had recovered 
from their first surprise, and they made a wonderful 


stand on the Wisloka. Reinforcements had been 
hurried up, including General Irmanov's famous 
Caucasian Corps from the Bzura front. The 
Caucasians, taking counsel from the valour of 
their hearts, defied the artillery storm and got to 
grips with the enemy. They lost 10,000 men, for 
they had no heavy guns ; but in close-quarter fight- 
ing, though reduced to 6,000 men, they captured a 
heavy battery, took 7,000 prisoners, and slew many 
thousands more. But in spite of this more than 
mortal courage, the case was hopeless. For five days 
from Sunday, 2nd May, to Friday, 7th May the 
Russians clung to their shallow trenches on its eastern 
bank. Von Mackensen delivered his main attack 
against the railway crossing at Jaslo, and forced it 
early on the morning of the 7th. Had the Wisloka 
been held the Dukla might still have ,* 
been saved, but when it went the troops '' 

in the hills were in deadly danger. They fell back 
in something of a rout, and von Mackensen's right 
gave them no rest. Their goal was the upper glen 
of the Wistok, and the Germans followed along the 
two railways which branch eastward from Jaslo. 

By the Saturday evening the enemy had n/r 
*u ixr . u .u -i M0y 8. 

won the Wistok, crossing by the railway 

bridge east of Rymanow, and lower down at the 
sharp bend of the river near Frysztak. Only the 
Russian right succeeded in making a stand. It ran 
from Debica, on the Cracow-Jaroslav line, to the 
Vistula, a few miles west of the point where it re- 
ceives the Wisloka. Ewarts' army on the north 
shore had meantime fallen back from the Nida to 
the Czarna, to conform with the southern retirement. 
The forcing of the Upper Wistok had in effect 

The Passage of the Wisloka and the Wistok. 


broken the Russian line. For a moment it looked 
as if von Mackensen were about to roll up the two 
halves and effect a second Sedan. But the Russians 
were now alive to the German purpose, and had 
devised a strategy to meet the danger. At all costs 
they must prevent a disaster to their left, so they 
pushed out strong forces from Sanok, on the Upper 
San, to stem the enemy's tide, which was surging 
now beyond the Upper Wist ok. This temporary 
check enabled Brussilov's army, after much desperate 
fighting during the Sunday and Monday, to extri- 
cate itself from the Carpathian foothills. The 
troops from south of the Dukla and Lupkow passes 
had a long way to travel, and the Germans naturally 
made many prisoners. At the same time Ivanov's 
right centre was compelled to fall back from the 
Wisloka to the Lower Wist ok. 

Next day, Tuesday, nth May, the retirement 
to the San began. The Russian left was already 
across its upper waters, and by the ** 
Wednesday evening the bulk of the line 
lay just west of the Lower San as far as Przemysl 
and then south across the broken country to the 
Upper Dniester, whence it was continued to the old 
Koziowa position, which was still intact. During 
the two following days the San was crossed, except 
in its extreme lower course, and the front ran from 
Przemysl northward along the right bank of the 
river. That was on the evening of Friday, i4th 
May. The latter part of the retirement ,, 
was managed with great skill and in 
perfect order. The bridge-head at Jaroslav was 
held till troops and guns were safely across, in spite 
of all von Mackensen *s efforts to turn the retreat 



into a rout. In a fortnight the army of Dmitrieff 
had fallen back eighty-five miles, and had lost heavily 
in prisoners and in material losses exceeded by 
Brussilov's troops, who had to cut their way out of 
the hills. In some cases a corps lost three-fourths 
of its strength. But both armies were still in being. 
Ivanov's southern front had not been broken. 

The Russian alignment along the San marked the 
end of the first stage of the great German offensive 
in the East. That stage had within itself two phases. 
There was first the overwhelming thrust and the 
huddled Russian retreat till the Wist ok was reached. 
They stayed not upon the order of their going, 
outnumbered as they were, and blasted and scorched 
by the fiercest artillery bombardment which the 
world had seen. We know what was the result of 
Neuve Chapelle and Carency, and here the fire was 
greater, more universal, and more sustained. In 
these circumstances the stand for five days on the 
Wisloka, which enabled the guns to get away and 
saved Brussilov from destruction, must rank as a 
surprising feat of arms. Like the brother of ^Eschy- 
lus, who at Salamis grappled a Persian ship, and 
when his hands were cut off clung by his teeth, 
thereby earning immortal fame among his country- 
men, the Russians in their uttermost peril showed 
all the craggy fortitude of their race. Their rear- 
guards held the pass till the army could make good 
its escape. Not less fine was the dash of Brussilov's 
troops through the Carpathian foothills. They 
fought their way to safety as Bulgakov's remnant 
had fought in February through the Augustovo 
forests. Their losses were terrible, but it was still 
an army that assembled on the Wist ok. 


From the Wistok onward the case was changed. 
The Grand Duke Nicholas had mastered the facts 
of the situation. It was idle to hope to withstand 
von Mackensen's onslaught. That terrific phalanx 
of men in close formation, preceded by a thunder- 

The Russian Retreat from the DonajeU to the San. 

storm of shell, could only be countered by a machine 
of the same quality, and that Russia did not possess. 
The German Stan was right. The laws of mathe- 
matics apply universally, and this was a mathe- 
matical calculation. Russia must give way before 
the blast. But the most elaborate accumulation of 


war material will some day be expended, and a 
phalanx is the weaker for every thrust. It was 
Russia's business to exhaust the great machine by 
drawing it out to full stretch, though hundreds of 
miles of territory should be sacrificed in the pro- 
cess. The danger was from von Mackensen. If 
we may judge by the stand of the Russian right, 
the army of the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand had not 
proved over formidable ; and it is obvious that that 
of Boehm-Ermolli had blundered, or Brussilov, 
caught between two fires, would never have been 
able to bring away most of his forces. Before von 
Mackensen retreat must be the only course, but it 
must be retreat in close contact with the enemy, 
drawing his fire, exhausting his munitions, and de- 
pleting his ranks. It could not be such a retreat 
as lured on Charles XII. and Napoleon, but one in 
which the Austro-German troops had to fight for 
every mile and halt again and again on bloody battle- 
fields. From the Wistok onwards the Grand Duke 
Nicholas had the reins tight in his hands. His 
object was to save the most for Russia at the greatest 
cost to the enemy. 

But he made no mistake about the German 
strength. His policy involved a retreat not of miles 
and days, but of leagues and weeks. Behind Ivanov's 
line lay Przemysl, for whose capture ten weeks be- 
fore all the bells in Russia had rung, and Lemberg, 
which had been the first spoil of Russian arms. 
Two hundred miles north was the great city of 
Warsaw, for which Germany had thrice striven in 
vain. Such a retreat as the Grand Duke contem- 
plated might give all three to German hands, and 
one at least was doomed when his armies fell back 


on the San. But it has always been a trait of that 
great nation that it sits loose in its territorial affec- 
tions. The words which Kutusov, in Tolstoy's 
War and Peace, speaks to his council on the ques- 
tion of the sacrifice of Moscow, have always been 
the creed of Russia's generals.* No province or 
ancient city was to be weighed for a moment against 
the safety of the armies of Russia. The Grand 
Duke was aware that von Mackensen must succeed 
fully or not at all, and he knew that success did not 
mean the occupation of territory. Though the 
Russian armies were to be forced back to the Bug 
and the Sereth, and Warsaw, Lemberg, and Przemysl 
were to be prize of the conqueror, yet if these 
armies were still intact the adventure had failed. 

* " The ancient and holy capital of Russia ! Allow me 
to remind your Excellency that the phrase conveys absolutely 
no meaning to Russian hearts. ... It is simply a military 
problem, to be stated as follows : Since the safety of the country 
depends on the army, is it more advantageous to risk its 
destruction and the loss of Moscow by fighting a pitched 
battle, or to withdraw without resistance and leave the city 
to its fate ? ... In virtue of the power placed in my hands by 
the Czar and my country, I command that we shall retreat." 



Situation on i4th May Meaning of von Mackensen's " Phalanx " 
Ewarts' Counter-attack at Opatow Russian Success on 
Bukovina Frontier Unimportance of Flank Battles The 
Battle of the San Situation of Przemysl Russians evacu- 
ate the Fortress Von Mackensen enters Przemysl Value 
of his Success Von Linsingen crosses the Dniester 
Brussilov forces him back Von Mackensen swings North- 
east Capture of Mosciska Russians retire on Grodek Posi- 
tion Russian Left forced back from the Pruth Von 
Mackensen turns Lemberg on the North Fall of Lemberg 
Its Significance Ivanov's Position on 2ist June Von 
Mackensen's Aim German Movement in Courland and on 
the Narev German Dispositions Beginning of Second 
Phase in German Attack. 

IT was now the morning of Friday, i4th May. 
Ivanov's right, under Ewarts, was being pushed 
towards the Vistula, but was still in the neigh- 
bourhood of Opatow. His right centre was west of 
jy, the Lower San, his centre east of the 

river had looped forward so as to cover 
Przemysl, his left centre was along the Upper 
Dniester, while his left was conducting a counter- 
offensive in the district between the Dniester and 
the Pruth. The Russian wings, as we shall see, 
were having some success, but the main movement 
was in the centre, where von Mackensen's phalanx 
was slowly coming once again into action. It 
travelled leisurely, for with the best communications 


in the world you cannot move 2,000 heavy pieces 
and a great weight of shells with the speed of in- 
fantry. It had for its passage the two good rail- 
ways of Western Galicia, and along the highroads 
light rails had been laid to facilitate its transport. 
May on the Eastern front was a month of constant 
rain, and rivers and floods clogged the mobility of 
the great machine. Once again the Russians drew 
some assistance from the weather. 

What are we to understand by a " phalanx " as 
used in this supreme German thrust ? To the 
minds of most people the word brings the picture 
of a compact oblong of men, packed like sardines, 
and gaining their effect by the sheer weight of human 
bodies. Ii they elaborate the idea they still think 
of the phalanx of Pyrrhus or Alexander, or the dense 
infantry masses of mediaeval battles. But the whole 
conception is erroneous in modern war. The Ger- 
mans believed in massed attacks,* but the density 
of their order was relative to the British practice, 
and had always in view the conditions laid down by 
modern weapons. A mass is a good target, and its 
striking power is at any one moment only the strik- 
ing power of the men in its front rank. Von Mack- 
ensen would seem to have launched his infantry in 
successive lines, perhaps a score of yards apart. In 
each line the men were in what we should regard 
as close order, probably one man to the yard, which 
would appear to be the limit of density compatible 
with free individual movement. This formation 
had the moral effect of weight : each man felt that 
he was closely supported to left and right and 
behind. We must therefore think of von Mack- 
* See Vol. II., p. 30 and p. 206. 


ensen's tactics as a series of efforts by lines of men 
in close order, and not the impulsive power of a 
serried mass. 

Such tactics, according to the British view, 
would not prevail against well- disciplined and well- 
entrenched infantry. The experiment was tried at 
Mons and at Ypres, and failed. But von Macken- 
sen calculated upon the disintegrating effect of his 
artillery bombardments. It was not an attack of 
massed infantry upon infantry in position, but of 
fresh troops against a dazed and broken foe. The 
phalanx was destined to perform the work usually 
assigned to cavalry to complete an action by dis- 
integrating the last remnants of the defence. On 
this theory von Mackensen's tactics were sound, 
but the artillery preparation beforehand had to be 
sufficient. Otherwise, if anything was left to the 
defence, the attack lost terribly. In this advance 
there were places where the bombardment was in- 
complete, and the German infantry came upon trench 
lines still held and machine-gun positions, and went 
down like corn before the scythe. In spite of their 
many guns, there is reason to believe that between 
the Donajetz and the San the German ranks paid a 
toll scarcely less heavy than the Russian. 

It was Ivanov's aim to check the enemy till such 
time as Przemysl could be cleared of supplies and 
armament. His method was a holding battle on his 
centre and a vigorous counter-thrust on his wings. 
Let us look first at the battles on the flanks. 

Ewarts' army, the right wing of Ivanov's com- 
mand, had been compelled by the retirement of the 
centre to fall back from the Nida towards the Vis- 
tula. It was opposed by von Woyrsch's Austrian 


army, which had not the fighting value of von Mack- 
ensen's centre, and its retreat was determined by 
the strategical necessity of conforming, rather than 
by superior pressure. It retired behind Kielce, 
which gave von Woyrsch the railway junction and 
the branch line to Ostrowiecs. It will be remem- 
bered that in the first assault on Warsaw this line 
had played a great part, since from Ostrowiecs a 
good road led to the easiest crossing of the Middle 
Vistula at Josef ov. On Friday, i4th May, the Rus- 
sian right was well in front of Ostrowiecs, and ran 
through the town of Opatow to the Vistula, west of 
its confluence with the San. 

Ivanov resolved to attempt a counter-attack 
which would both check the dangerous move on 
Josefov and, if fortune favoured, do something to 
relieve the pressure on his centre. Von Woyrsch's 
advance guard, consisting from left to right of two 
German divisions, the Austrian 25th Division under 
the Archduke Peter Ferdinand, an Austrian Land- 
wehr division, and a Hungarian Honv6d division, 
was progressing comfortably under the impression 
that the Russians would not make a stand till the 
Vistula was reached, when, on the morning of 
Saturday, I5th May, Ewarts suddenly ,* 
struck. His blow was aimed at both 
flanks of the advance, while his Cossacks fetched a 
wide circuit and fell upon the Austrian communi- 
cations. The result was that, in a three days' battle, 
von Woyrsch was well beaten with nearly 30,000 
casualties, and fell back to west of Iwaniska, where 
he received reinforcements which enabled him to 
make a stand. This action was fought largely with 
the bayonet, and since the enemy was caught in the 


open, the traditional Russian pre-eminence in this 
arm had full play. The troops just south of 
Ewarts along the San, infected by the activity on 
their right, delivered a fierce attack, which drove 
back the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand to the town 
of Tarnobrzeg, on the Vistula. Here the action 
was stayed, rather because of Ivanov's general orders 
than because the Russian energy was exhausted. 
With his right wing much depleted for supports to 
his centre, he had not the troops to attempt a true 
enveloping action on a flank. 

On the extreme Russian left, on the frontiers of 
the Bukovina, von Pflanzer's forces had been gradu- 
ally pushing back the Qth Army of General Lechit- 
sky. He had a position which on his left was about 
half-way between Nadworna, on the Delatyn rail- 
way, and the important junction of Stanislau. His 
right centre was on the Lower Dniester, holding 
the railway crossing of Zalestchiki. On Qth May 
,* the Russians struck at this extended 

a y * front, which can scarcely have been less 
than a hundred miles long, and in five days' fight- 
ing cleared von Pflanzer from the Dniester line. 
jyr By Saturday, the i5th, the Austrian left 

a y **' was back on the Pruth, and Nadworna 
was in Russian hands. The Russians, too, were on 
the south side of the Pruth at Sniatyn, and they 
had cut the railway between Austria and the Buko- 
vina. They were threatening, but had not taken, 
the towns of Kolomea and Czernowitz. 

It was a considerable success. They had driven 
back the enemy in some places as much as thirty 
miles, and had for the moment checked a move- 
ment which might have cut one of their communi- 


cations with southern Russia. On a different kind 
of front these two rapid and effective blows at the 
wings would have compelled a halt in the centre. 
But in the situation of the Galician armies they had 
only a local effect. The Russian right, as we have 
seen, was too weak to attempt an enveloping move- 
ment or the cutting of von Mackensen's and the 
Archduke Joseph's communications. The Russian 
left, though it drove the enemy back to the hills, 
could incommode von Pflanzer only, and not the 
whole Austro-German command. To strike at the 
main enemy communications it would have to ad- 
vance over the passes into the Hungarian plains, 
and for this it had not the men or munitions. The 
Carpathian barrier had the effect of making the 
central enemy advance singularly insensitive to what 
happened on its right wing. We may, therefore, 
regard Ivanov's two counter-attacks as merely efforts 
to gain time. The centre of gravity was on the 
San, where von Mackensen's success would render 
nugatory the losses of von Woyrsch or von Pflanzer. 
The Battle of the San began on Saturday, I5th 
May, and must rank as one of the major conflicts 
of the war. It is important to note the Austro- 
German dispositions, and the direction of the con- 
verging attacks. On the left the Archduke Joseph 
Ferdinand was operating against the Lower San, 
from the Vistula up to the neighbourhood of Jaro- 
slav. The Russians held the left bank close to the 
stream from Jaroslav down to Sieniawa, and from 
that point ran well to the west till the Vistula was 
reached at Tarnobrzeg. From Jaroslav they fol- 
lowed the San in front of Przemysl, bent round 
in a shallow salient to the railway junction of 



Dobromil, and then ran east by Sambor, Droho- 
bycz, and Stryj, covering the upper waters of the 
Dniester. Against the section Jaroslav-Przemysl 
von Mackensen's phalanx was advancing on a 
narrow front, with the corps of Boroevitch von 
Bojna supporting its right. Boehm-Ermolli's forces, 
having crossed the Dukla and Lupkow passes, were 

Situation on the Eve of the Recapture of Przemysl. 

moving against the re-entrant of the salient, just 
south of Przemysl ; and his right wing, under von 
Marwitz, was aiming at the railway between Dobro- 
mil and Sambor. Von Linsingen, having at last 
forced the Koziowa position, was moving upon Stryj 
and the line of the Dniester, with his right flung out 
in the direction of Halicz, where contact was at- 
tained with the extreme right, under von Pflanzer. 


About midnight on Saturday Jaroslav fell. The 
Russian rearguard was driven from the low heights 
west of the town, but it had fought a delaying action 
sufficient to ensure the passage of the San for the 
rest of the Russian centre. All Sunday *, , 
the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand battled j 
for the San crossings, and on Monday '" 
160,000 men had forded the river at several places, 
principally by the bridges of Jaroslav and by the 
shallows of Lezachow. Next day, Tuesday, he had 
taken Sieniawa, and the Russian right ** 
was two miles back from the eastern 
bank, astride the tributary stream of the Lubaczowka. 
Here it made a new stand. It would appear that 
von Mackensen's phalanx had not yet come up into 
line, for during these days there was no strong attack 
upon Przemysl from the west. 

It was otherwise with the re-entrant on the 
south. On Saturday, the i5th, von Marwitz cap- 
tured the railway junctions of Dobromil and Sambor, 
and pushed northward against the Przemysl lines. 
On the 1 8th he captured Hussakow and presently 
lost it, and next day took Lutkow and held it. This 
attack was clearly most dangerous, for an advance 
of a few more miles would give the enemy control 
of the main line between Przemysl and Lemberg, 
and cut off the troops in the city. The hazard of such 
a position, as we have already seen, is not the apex 
of the salient, but the angles at which it joins the 
main front. At Ypres in October the most deadly 
German attacks were on Bixschoote in the north 
and the Klein Zillebeke ridge in the south. At 
Lodz in November the German salient was almost 
destroyed by the Russian pressure on the two sides 


of its base. The chief danger, therefore, came at 
the moment from Boehm-Ermolli. Farther east von 
Linsingen was attacking Stryj and the Dniester line, 
which was now held by Brussilov's army of the 

Przemysl, after its capture by Selivanov on 22nd 
March, had not been put in a state of defence. It 
is improbable that anything had been done to re- 
store the forts, but the western works, which had 
not been seriously assailed, remained as they were 
when von Kusmanek held the city. Inside the 
place, however, were a number of guns, captured 
from the Austrians, which had not been removed, 
a quantity of supplies, and a good deal of rolling 
stock, which had accumulated in the great junction. 
Such materials cannot be removed in a few hours, 
and it was Russia's aim to hold Przemysl long enough 
to permit her to get them clear away by the Lemberg 
railway. Ivanov was well aware of the danger of 
the salient, and had no sentimental desire to hold 
the fortress. All he asked for was a week or so 
to complete its evacuation. 

From the 2Oth of May till Wednesday, the 2nd 
of June, the work of clearance went on, while von 
Mackensen hammered at the western forts and the 
river line as far as Jaroslav, and Boehm-Ermolli 
attempted to force the southern re-entrant, or at 
any rate get the Lemberg railway under his fire. 
Von Marwitz, on his right, made no progress, being 
held up by the impassable marshes of the Dniester 
between Drohobycz and Komarno. Von Mack- 
ensen succeeded in crossing the San at Radymno, 
just below its junction with the little river Wisnia, 
a success which made the neck of the Przemysl 


salient no more than twelve miles across. But 
meantime the Russian right pushed the Archduke 
Joseph Ferdinand out of Sieniawa and Lezachow, 
forced him in some places back across the San, 
and threatened the flank of von Mackensen's posi- 
tion at Radymno. The consequence was that what 
might have been a most dangerous attack upon the 
northern re-entrant was for the moment foiled. It 
was clear that von Mackensen had weakened the 
armies on both sides of him for the attack upon 
the salient itself. 

The days of Przemysl were now numbered. 
The Austro- German lines were pressing in on three 
sides, and during the last two days of May the 
outer defences began to crumble. By the evening 
of Monday, 3ist May, the Bavarian in- ,* 
fantry had carried the northern forts, 
and on the Tuesday afternoon the southern forts 
were evacuated. At 3.30 on the morning of Wed- 
nesday, 2nd June, von Mackensen en- ~ 
tered the city. The Russians had held * 
it a little over two months. 

It is idle to underrate the significance of von 
Mackensen's success. He had won back a city 
whose capture had been the occasion of rejoicing 
in every Russian town and village. If Russia rated 
Przemysl lightly, why, Germany might ask, did she 
exult over its fall in March ? Germany was enabled 
to hand back to her ally her chief fortress, and 
thereby greatly strengthen Austria's loyalty to the 
alliance. But it is equally idle to rate the exploit too 
high. The recapture of Przemysl was without mili- 
tary significance except as an incident in the Russian 
retreat. No booty to speak of fell into Austro- 


German hands. The rolling stock, the stores, and 
most of the captured guns had gone eastward, and 
only a few useless pieces remained to be magnified 
in German communiques into an arsenal of artillery. 

We can now see something of the method of the 
great German advance. Von Mackensen's phalanx 
travelled slowly. The wings pushed out beyond 
the centre, and against them the Russians fought 
delaying actions with some success. But so soon 
as the heavy guns arrived retreat became necessary, 
and only the fortifications of Przemysl enabled the 
Russian centre to make so long a stand. It was this 
slowness of the phalanx which enabled Przemysl to 
be evacuated with little loss. Had von Mackensen 
been in Boehm-Ermolli's place about the 2Oth of 
May the consequences would have been very dif- 

One result of the method was a constant shifting 
of the main centre of operations. Now it was 
Jaroslav, now the southern re-entrant, now the 
western front of the salient, and, after Przemysrs 
fall, it travelled many miles to the south. While 
the great machine was getting in order for a further 
movement, it fell to another army to take the next 
step in the offensive. 

It was the turn of von Linsingen. Stryj fell to 
him on Tuesday, ist June, after an attack in which 
<v a division of the Prussian Guard played 

June i. t j ie mam p art The place was import- 
ant as a railway centre, and Brussilov seems to have 
held on too long, for he lost some guns and several 
thousand prisoners. The fall of Przemysl a day 
later compelled an alteration in the Russian front. 
It now ran west of the Lower San, crossing to the 


east bank below Radymno, and following the valley 
of the Wisnia, west of Mosciska, till it reached the 
Dniester, west of the great marshes. After that its 
line was the canon of the Dniester till it dipped 
south by Stanislau and Nadworna to the Pruth. 

On Monday, yth June, von Linsingen forced the 
crossing of the Dniester at Zurawno, and occupied 
the high ground north of the river. The ~ 
place should be noted, for it was the -^ 
key to the river line. The river Stryj, descending 
from the Carpathians and passing the town of that 
name, enters the Dniester at Zydaczow, a village 
which marks the eastern end of the main Dniester 
marshes. To cross there meant that an army had 
to ford both the Stryj and the Dniester, which run 
for a short way parallel before they join. East of 
Zydaczow is a lesser belt of marsh, and then comes 
Zurawno, with firm land on both sides, an easy ford, 
and good roads from railhead. Von Linsingen 
chose his front well, forced a passage, and got the 
bulk of his army across. Von Bothmer commanded 
the main advance, and succeeded in taking the 
northern heights and advancing some way into the 
forests towards the railway from Stryj to Tarnopol. 
He was now little more than forty miles as the crow 
flies from Lemberg. 

On 8th June Brussilov turned and caught him. 
It was the old story, so familiar in these campaigns, 

a repetition of what happened at Augus- <y 

T ^ June 8- 

tovo in oeptember and at Kazimirjev J 

in October. The German machine got 
too far from its railways, its guns and ammunition 
travelled too slowly by the bad country roads, and 
the more mobile Russians caught it at a disadvantage. 

VII. 10 

bO S 


.0 M 


Von Bothmer, in a three days' battle, was flung back 
across the Dniester with heavy loss 17 guns, 49 
machine guns, and more than 15,000 prisoners, in- 
cluding an entire company of the Prussian Guard. 

But this success could have no influence upon 
the general situation. About the same time von 
Pflanzer began to move in the east, and he had 
against him a force much depleted to supply rein- 
forcements for the centre. Von Linsingen's right 
forced a crossing of the Dniester at Zaleszky above 
Halicz ; von Pflanzer pushed Lechitsky from the 
Pruth to the Dniester, took Stanislau, and near 
Czernowitz forced the entire Russian left back to 
the Russian frontier. Meanwhile von Mackensen's 
phalanx was again moving, this time in a north- 
easterly direction. He cleared the Russians from 
the San between Sieniawa and Jaroslav, and, pivoting 
on Sieniawa, swung round his right towards Mos- 
ciska. In this advance he made many prisoners, for 
the sudden change of direction made the Russian 
retirement difficult. At first the line of the Lubac- 
zowka was held, and thence by Mosciska to the 
Dniester. But there there could be no continuance. 
On I4th June von Marwitz captured ~ 
Mosciska, and the whole Russian centre J 
began to retire on the famous Grodek positions. 
Ewarts was now back from Opatow and Ostrowiecs, 
and approaching the left bank of the Vistula, the 
right centre was on the San and the Tanev, the 
centre among the Grodek ponds, and Brussilov and 
Lechitsky along the Dniester as far as the frontier. 

The GrodeK position is a line of shallow, swampy 
lakes, in all some fifteen miles long. Few roads cross 
the tangle, and the place is impregnable to most 


armies. It was the district where the Russian com- 
manders anticipated that von Auffenberg would 
make a stand after the capture of Lemberg in Sep- 
tember. But such a position, if it cannot be forced, 
can be turned, and Ivanov was unable to hold it 
now for the same reason as von Auffenberg in the 
autumn. Then Ruzsky had turned it on the north, 
and now von Mackensen followed the same strategy. 
Lemberg was doomed as soon as the phalanx forced 
the Sieniawa-Jaroslav line, and swung its right to- 
wards Mosciska. Moving along the Jaroslav-Rava 
Russka railway, it was certain, unless checked, to 
outflank the Lemberg defence on the north. Boehm- 
Ermolli advanced against Grodek, von Linsingen 
and von Pflanzer battled for the Dniester crossings, 
but the operative part of the movement was that 
of the great phalanx, advancing steadily north-east 
across the Lubaczowka, in a country where there 
could be no real defence short of the valley of the 

By the i6th the army of the Archduke Joseph 
had compelled a Russian retreat from the east bank 
<Y r of the Lower San, and was already, in 
J part, inside the borders of Russian Po- 

land, with its right nearing Tarnogrod. Von Mack- 
ensen was moving on a broad front towards Rava 
Russka, while Boehm-Ermolli advanced directly 
upon the Grodek position. The evacuation of 
v Lemberg had begun, and thousands of 

'* passports were issued for Russia. On 
the iyth von Mackensen's right was in the town 
<Y of Javorov. On the iQth his advance 

J 9' guard was very near Rava Russka, the 
scene of Ruzsky 's great victory in September, 


and von Linsingen had forced the crossing of the 
Dniester at Nizniov. On Sunday, the 2Oth, there 
was a fierce battle for Rava Russka, and <y 
by the evening the Russians had been * 
driven north of the road and railway which connect 
the town with Lemberg by way of Zolkiev. Late 
that evening Rava Russka and Zolkiev were in von 
Mackensen's hands. 

The key of Lemberg had been won, and the 
Grodek position was turned. That night the Rus- 
sians fell back in good order from the Grodek lakes, 
and at the same time Brussilov evacuated the ground 
he had held south of the Dniester between the 
marshes and the mouth of the Stryj. The Upper 
Dniester position was obviously untenable, and 
Halicz was now the western limit of the Russian 
stand on that river. The centre fell back east of 
Lemberg to a line between the upper waters of 
the Bug and the Gnila Lipa, the very position which 
Dmitrieff had stormed before the capture of the city 
in September. The way to Lemberg was open, 
and on the afternoon of Tuesday, 22nd June, the 

army of Boehm-Ermolli entered with- 

T . j tune 22. 

out opposition. It was a proud mo- J 

ment for the Austrian general, to whom Germany 
gave the privilege of first entry. After nine months 
the capital of Galicia was once more in Austrian 

Lemberg was worth a score of Przemysls both 
in sentimental and practical value. It controlled a 
network of lines, and was the last post of a civi- 
lized railway system before the Russian frontier 
was reached with its two barren routes of com- 
munication. The Power which held Lemberg held 


a strong fortress against any invasion from the east, 
for it had six lines whereby to bring up supports to 
one at the disposal of the invader. With the fall 
of Lemberg the reconquest of Galicia was com- 
plete. Let this achievement be set down unre- 
servedly to von Mackensen's credit. But, as we 
have pointed out, territorial reconquest was not his 
aim. He had not yet shattered the Russian armies. 
He had not yet split the northern and the southern 
commands. He had not yet even uncovered Warsaw. 
If we take the 2ist day of June as a viewpoint, 
we find Ivanov's forces in the following position. 
,v Ewarts was back near the west bank of 

J the Middle Vistula, running from west 

of Radom to the junction of the Vistula and the 
San. He had against him von Woyrsch's army, 
which made little progress except when assisted by 
the victories of its right-hand neighbours. The 
Russian line ran along the east bank of the San 
and the north bank of the Tanev, and thence south 
of Zamosc to the valley of the Bug. It left the 
Bug at Kamionka, and continued due south by 
Przemyslany and down the Gnila Lipa to Halicz, 
on the Dniester, whence it followed that river to 
the Russian frontier. In the seven weeks of fight- 
ing it had suffered heavy losses. Dmitrieff's ori- 
ginal army of the Donajetz had been much broken, 
as had also been Brussilov's right wing ; but before 
the San was reached both forces had been renewed 
by some of the picked corps from Alexeiev's com- 
mand. We may, therefore, regard the armies which 
lay in position on 2ist June as still strong and 
unbroken forces, ready for any work to which they 
might be called. Ever since the San the retreat 


had been premeditated. From before the fall of 
Przemysl steps had been taken to prepare positions 
far in the rear of those held on zist June. Ivanov 
knew well that his problem was something very 
different from the derence of a political frontier. 

With the fall of Lemberg the second great stage 
begins of the Austro-German offensive. The thrust 
had succeeded brilliantly up to a point, but the cost 
had been heavy. We shall, perhaps, not be far 
wrong if we estimate the dead loss of the invaders 
during the seven weeks' campaign at 400,000 men, 
and a large part of the winter's accumulation of 
shells had been shot away. The Austrian troops, 
even when advancing triumphantly, had fought half- 
heartedly, and only the German stiffening kept 
them to their work. Von Mackensen's problem 
was now not the clearing of territory, but the cul- 
minating blow at the heart of the Russian position. 
Let us be clear as to what this signified. 

We have spoken in the past of the Polish salient, 
the wedge of Russian territory thrust out between 
Galicia and East Prussia. But there was an inner 
salient, which was the vital one. Warsaw was at 
its apex, and the northern side was the railway 
running by Bialystok and Grodno to Petrograd ; 
the southern was the line by Ivangorod, Lublin, 
Cholm, Kovel, and Rovno to Kiev. If the northern 
or southern line were cut Warsaw must fall ; if both 
were pierced, then the whole Russian force must fall 
back behind the Polish Triangle, and not improbably 
behind the marshes of Pripet, in which case the 
two halves would be hopelessly severed. The cap- 
ture of Lemberg was only an incident in von Mack- 
ensen's sudden swing to the north-east ; his main 


object was an attack upon the Warsaw-Kiev line. 
Accordingly Ivanov in his retreat saw to it that the 
railway was covered. He was still not closer to it 
at any point than fifty miles, and it provided him 
with what von Mackensen now lacked, a good line 
of lateral communication. 

Meanwhile there had been activity at other parts 
of the Eastern front. In the middle of May the 
Germans were in strength on the Dubissa, twenty 
miles from Kovno. Libau had fallen to them on 
yi^ 9th May, they had reached the Windawa, 

? "" and throughout May and early June they 
made steady progress in the Courland province. 
They attacked north of Przasnysz towards the Narev 
~ x- line, and on 6th June they made a vio- 
^ lent but ineffective gas assault upon the 

Rawka position. These attacks were part of a per- 
sistent pressure along the whole front to prevent 
Russia reinforcing her harassed southern command. 
But the time was drawing nigh when the assault on 
the southern side of the Polish salient was to be 
balanced by a no less fierce assault on the north. 
Not less than forty-one German corps were dis- 
posed for this crowning stroke. In the far north, 
in Courland, there were seven under General von 
Buelow. On the Niemen there were five in von 
Eichhorn's loth Army. Von Gallwitz and von 
Scholtz on the Narev had seven. In Central Poland, 
in the forces of Prince Leopold of Bavaria, von 
Woyrsch and the Archduke Joseph Ferdinand, 
and in von Mackensen's command, there was the 
equivalent of fourteen ; and under Boehm-Ermolli, 
von Linsingen, and von Pflanzer there were eight. 
With the twenty-six Austrian corps which can be 


identified, the total force reached the enormous 
figure of sixty-eight corps more than two and 
a half million men. 

Russia could produce equal numbers, but she 
had not the arms, and above all she had not the 
heavy guns and the shells. Her retreat had taught 
her that whenever her men could get to grips with 
the enemy they broke him, but so long as he could 
determine the battle at long range she was helpless. 
The situation spurred the Russian people to a 
mighty effort. Hitherto they had trusted for muni- 
tions mainly to foreign imports ; now in their des- 
perate need they set every unit of their sparse 
industrial machinery to the task of improvisation. 
Meanwhile far in the south France and Britain were 
struggling to open a passage to their hard-pressed 
Ally. We must turn to the difficult campaign in 
the Dardanelles. 



The Position at Gallipoli on 28th April The Turkish Communi- 
cations Exploits of British Submarines in the Sea of Mar- 
mora The Turkish Attack on ist May The Allied Counter- 
attack on and May The Second Battle of Krithia Its Results 
The Australian Fight at Gaba Tepe The Third Battle 
of Krithia The Nature of the Allied Problem The Need 
for Reinforcements The Work of the Fleets The Sinking 
of the Goliath Arrival of the German Submarines Loss of 
the Triumph and Majestic The Larger Battleships are With- 

"\ TT 7 E left the Allied forces, after the first move- 
\X/ ment against Krithia on 28th April, extended 
VV on a line running from a point on the Gulf 
of Saros, three miles north-east of Capa Tekke, to 
a point one mile north of Eski Hissarlik, whence it 
bent back a little to the shore of the Dardanelles. 
For the next months the story of the campaign 
is concerned with a slow and desperate struggle for 
Krithia and the Achi Baba heights, which were the 
first step towards the conquest of the peninsula. 
Before we enter upon the details of that struggle 
it may be well to glance at the problem of the 
Turkish communications, for it had a direct bearing 
upon the Allied strategy of the campaign. 

General Liman von Sanders had in the butt-end 
of the peninsula not less than 200,000 men and a 


lavish provision of artillery. To feed his troops 
and supply his guns he needed ample communica- 
tions, and these could not be found in the narrow 
road from Rodosto across the Bulair isthmus, a road 
bad at the best, and now commanded by the fire 
of the Allied ships in the Gulf of Saros. His true 
communications lay by water down the Sea of Mar- 
mora to the ports of Gallipoli and Maidos. If this 
water transport could be hampered, the only re- 
maining plan was to bring his reserves and supplies 
along the Asiatic coast to Chanak, and have them 
ferried over in the darkness of the night. This was 
a practicable route, but slow and circuitous. If 
he wished for free and speedy transport he must 
keep the Sea of Marmora inviolate. 

It was the object of the Allies to make that Sea 
impossible. The only means at their disposal was 
the submarine. An attempt was made by the Aus- 
tralian submarine AE 2, but on 3Oth April it was 
unfortunately sunk in a bold effort to enter the 
Marmora. On 2yth April, 14, under * ., 
Lieutenant-Commander Edward Court- P r '' 
ney Boyle, dived under the mine fields, entered 
the Marmora, and for some days operated brilli- 
antly in those waters right up to the entrance to 
the Bosphorus. It was hunted hourly by Turkish 
patrols, and had many difficulties with currents, but 
it contrived to sink two Turkish gunboats and one 
large transport full of troops. A few days later, 
E n, under Lieutenant-Commander Eric Naismith, 
followed the same course, and sunk one large gun- 
boat, two transports, one communication ship, and 
three store ships, and drove a fourth store ship 
ashore. It exploded a torpedo right under the 


wharves of Constantinople. On its return it was 
well down the straits when another Turkish trans- 
port was discovered astern, and it returned and 
torpedoed it. It became entangled with a floating 
mine, and towed the thing behind it to the mouth 
of the Straits, where it managed to cast it off. These 
brilliant feats, for which Lieutenant-Commanders 
Boyle and Naismith received the Victoria Cross, 
were performed with signal humanity. They in- 
volved a prolonged risk and tension which it would 
be hard to parallel from the annals of war. Their 
results, too, were singularly fruitful. The Sea of 
Marmora was no longer regarded as safe, and the 
Turkish supplies began to travel by the Asiatic 
shore and the ferries of the Narrows. This involved 
a certain dislocation and delay which were of inesti- 
mable service to the Allied troops which faced the 
formidable batteries of Achi Baba and Kilid Bahr. 

On 3oth April two further battalions of the 

Naval Division disembarked, and next day came 

-T the ZQth Brigade of Indian Infantry. By 

' that evening the French corps on our right 

had landed all their troops and all but two of their 

batteries. These were just in time, for the night 

had scarcely fallen when the Turks attacked in 

force. They began with a bombardment, and then, as 

* the moon rose, their infantry charged. 

* ' Their German officers had issued an 

invocation to a counter-crusade : 

" Attack the enemy with the bayonet and utterly destroy 
him. We shall not retire one step, for, if we do, our religion, 
our country, and our nation will perish. Soldiers ! the 
world is looking at you ! Your only hope of salvation is to 
bring this battle to a successful issue or gloriously to give 
up your life in the attempt ! " 


The plan of the attack was for the Turks to crawl 
forward under cover of their artillery fire till the 
time came for the final rush. They came on in a 
three-deep formation, and the first line had no 
ammunition, so that it might be forced to rely on 
the bayonet. 

The Allied front from left to right was held by 
the 8yth, 86th, and 88th Brigades, and on the right 
was a French division, with the Senegalese in the 
first line. The bombardment had fallen most 
heavily on the right of the 86th Brigade, and this 
part suffered also the chief impact of the Turkish 
charge. A gap opened up in our line, which was 
promptly filled by the 5th Royal Scots, the Terri- 
torial battalion of the 88th Brigade. They faced 
to their left flank, and with the bayonet cleared the 
enemy from the trenches he had occupied. The 
ist Essex came to their assistance, and presently 
our front was restored. 

The attack now swung against the French left, 
where were the Senegalese. Here ground was lost, 
and some British gunners and the 4th Worcesters 
came up in support. All night long we maintained 
our position here with difficulty, and at two in the 
morning a battalion of the Naval Division was sent 
to strengthen the French right. 

The counter-attack was ordered for dawn. At 
5 a.m. the whole line advanced, and on the British 
left and centre progressed fully 500 ^ 
yards. The Senegalese on the French 
left were able to conform to this movement, in spite 
of their heavy fighting during the night, but the 
French right were held up by barbed wire and 
cunningly-concealed machine guns. The result was 



that the advance was enfiladed upon the right, and 
about ii a.m. had to withdraw to its former line. 
At one moment the Turkish retirement looked like 
a rout, and Sir Ian Hamilton was of opinion that 

C. Ttkke, 

_ Attack on the Krithia-Achi Baba Position, May 6-8. 

but for the barbed wire and the machine guns on 
the right we should have carried Achi Baba. 

That afternoon the enemy buried his dead under 
a flag of truce. In the evening the French front 


was again assailed, and the following night the 
attack was repeated and repulsed. On ,* 
the 4th, part of the French line was taken 
over by the 2nd Naval Brigade, and on the 5th the 
East Lancashire Territorial Division arrived, and 
was added to the reserves. Since the 25th of April 
the British losses had been just short ^ 
of 14,000, of whom no less than 3,593 
were prisoners. In attack in such a country, where 
the movement is not uniform, troops which lead 
the advance are in great danger of being cut off. 
From the 3rd to the 5th we were busy readjusting 
our line in preparation for a fresh offensive. 

What may be called the Second Battle of Krithia 
began on the morning of Thursday, 6th May, and 
lasted for three days. The Allied dis- , , 
positions at the beginning of the action 
were as follows : On the extreme left the 8yth 
Brigade held the hollow, down which a small stream 
flows to Beach Y, and was entrenched on the heights 
above it. Then came the 88th Brigade and a Naval 
Brigade, and then the French to the Straits. In 
reserve were the 86th Brigade, the 29th Indian Bri- 
gade, a brigade of Australians and New Zealanders 
brought down from Gaba Tepe, and the East Lan- 
cashire Territorial Division. Our plan of attack 
was for the left and centre to attempt to occupy 
the Krithia ridge, while the French should assault 
the high ground on the right across the valley of 
the Kereves Dere the small stream which enters 
the Dardanelles just beyond Eski Hissarlik. The 
French were to begin the movement, since, until 
they had made some progress, the British advance 
on Krithia would be enfiladed by the Turkish left. 


The French 75 -mm. guns opened fire from the 
neighbourhood of Sedd-el-Bahr about eleven in the 
morning, aiming at the southern spur of Achi Baba 
and the broken ground in front of it towards the 
Krithia road. At the same time the battleships in 
the Straits, among which were the Agamemnon, 
plastered the upper slopes of Achi Baba and the 
Turkish trenches in the Kereves valley. After half 
an hour of artillery preparation the Senegalese at- 
tacked in open order, while their field guns dropped 
shells fifty yards in front of them. As they reached 
the top of the slope overlooking the Kereves Dere 
they came suddenly upon Turkish trenches skil- 
fully concealed behind the crest. This compelled 
part of the line to wheel to the left, where they 
advanced by a bridle path which traverses the 
upper end of the Kereves hollow. Part of the 
Naval Brigade was sent forward to reinforce the 
French left, but they too fell in with concealed 
Turkish trenches. The ships' guns and the French 
field artillery rained shrapnel and high-explosive 
shells on the Turkish position, but could not check 
its fire. Again and again through the afternoon 
the Senegalese struggled to advance, but the place 
was too strong, and with heavy casualties they had 
to be withdrawn and their place taken by a brigade 
of Colonial infantry. At 5.30 p.m. the fighting died 
away. The result of the day was that the French 
had pushed forward a mile, and had dug themselves 
in on the slopes above the Kereves Dere, but had 
failed to carry the Turkish trenches on the reverse 
slope or the redoubt at the top of the valley. That 
night the Turks counter-attacked between 10 p.m. 
and 2 a.m., but the French held their ground. 


Next day, jth May, about ten o'clock, the ships 
began a bombardment of the Turkish right ,, 
on Achi Baba. They directed special 
attention to the ground at the head of the ravine 
leading to Beach Y. A quarter of an hour later the 
British left attacked, the 8yth and 88th Brigades 
towards the slopes between Krithia and the sea, 
and the Naval Brigades in the centre towards 
Krithia village. They carried the front Turkish 
trenches, but the second line held them up, and 
their supports were heavily shelled by Turkish 
guns from the heights. One battalion got well 
ahead of the rest, but at 1.45 p.m. was caught by 
machine-gun fire, and forced to retreat. By 2 p.m. 
we seemed to have reached an impasse. 

Meantime the French on the right had lain 
quiet till noon. Then they began an elaborate 
bombardment, and at 3 p.m., supported by part of 
the Naval Brigade, attacked over the same ground 
as the day before. During the afternoon they made 
some progress, but about 5 p.m. their advanced in- 
fantry was caught on the slopes by such a hail of 
shrapnel that the line wavered and broke. The 
Turks counter-attacked and took the French trenches 
on the crest. D'Amade flung in his reserves, and 
after an hour's severe fighting they recovered the lost 
ground, and held it till nightfall under a heavy fire. 

During the afternoon the British had done little. 
At 3.15 p.m. we strengthened our left, and at five 
a second time bombarded the Turkish position. 
Our infantry advanced, and about six attempted to 
carry the hill between Krithia and the sea. It 
proved too strong, but as a result of the dday we 
had got our front entrenched within 800 yards of 



Krithia. It was desperately costly fighting. Our 
artillery fire seemed to have no effect upon the 
enemy, who had trench lines cunningly hidden 
over the whole position. 

Next day, 8th May, the battle was renewed at 
ten o'clock. Again the ships in the Gulf of Saros 
,* bombarded the Turkish right and the 
ground behind it, and after half an 
hour's " preparation " the British left and left 
centre attacked. The Syth and 88th Brigades gained 
further ground in the broken bush country between 
Krithia and the sea. The 86th Brigade and the 
Australian and New Zealand supports were then 
pushed in to strengthen the line. Nothing hap- 
pened on the right of our front, and during the 
afternoon there was a lull. We were reorganizing 
our forces, with a view to a last attempt upon 
Krithia valley. 

At 5.15 p.m. all the available ships and the shore 
batteries united in a terrific bombardment. From 
the report of an observer, the Turkish position was 
smothered in flame and smoke. " According to 
all preconceived theories of artillery fire, the enemy 
should have been wiped out and so stunned by the 
exploding lyddite that he would not be capable of 
resisting the advance of our infantry. Not a Turk 
was to be seen, and their artillery had not fired a 
shot." Once again we were to learn the strength 
of scientifically-prepared entrenchments. At 5.30 
our advance began, and no sooner did we move 
than the Turks opened fire along the whole front 
with artillery, machine guns, and rifles. On the 
left we, moved a little way towards Krithia, but 
soon reached our limit. The French on the right 


carried the first Turkish trenches, and there stuck 
fast. Confused fighting continued till 7.30 p.m., 
when night put an end to the battle. 

The result of the three days' struggle was that 
our front had been advanced over a thousand yards, 
but we had not touched the enemy's main position. 
We had realized its unique strength, and all idea of 
rushing it was abandoned. 

We must turn to the doings of the Australasian 
corps* at Gaba Tepe. During the battles of 6th-8th 
May they were persistently attacked ; but, though 
they had lent part of their forces to the Krithia 
front, they held their ground at all points. On the 
morning of oth May the i5th and i6th ,^ 
Battalions of the 4th Australian Brigade 
stormed with the bayonet three lines of trenches 
on Sari Bair. Next day, at dawn, the Turks coun- 
ter-attacked and retook the trenches, ** 
but were repulsed with heavy losses when 
they continued their attack against the main Aus- 
tralian position. After that nothing of importance 
occurred till the night of i8th May. The Australian 
line lay in a semicircle, with the enemy's ** o 
trenches close up to it in some places 
as near as twenty yards except in that part ad- 
joining the shore where the ships' guns kept him 
off. A wide hollow, which our men called Shrapnel 
Valley, divided the position into two sections. On 
the northern section the Turkish trenches were on 

* This corps comprised the Australian Division (General 
Bridges) ist, 2nd, and 3rd Australian Infantry Brigades ; the 
New Zealand and Australian Division (General God ley) 4th 
Australian Brigade, New Zealand Brigade, and Composite 
Mounted Brigade. 



much higher ground than ours. The curious align- 
ment may be seen from the attached sketch, which 
gives a rough plan of the main situation. Our posi- 
tion at Gaba Tepe was of great strategical value, 
for it divided the enemy's efforts. He could not 
attack or defend at Achi Baba in full force, since 

Position of Australian and New Zealand Corps at Gapa Tepe. 

he was compelled to leave a large part of his army 
to hold the Australian corps. 

On the night of i8th May General Liman von 
Sanders brought fresh troops from Constantinople, 
and drew off part of his Krithia garrison. About 
midnight a heavy fire from rifle and machine guns 
broke out against the Australian trenches, and at 
various points attacks were made which crumbled 

away before our defence. At 5 a.m. on the 

the Turkish artillery began, and all ^ 
morning the enemy attempted to rush our 
lines. The cool and steady shooting of the Aus- 
tralians kept him at bay, and by eleven o'clock the 
battle died down. In the evening there were re- 
newed attacks, in one of which Lance-Corporal 
Jacka of the i4th Battalion retook a trench occu- 
pied by seven Turks, killing all seven single-handed 
a deed for which he received the Victoria Cross. 
On that day, the i9th, the Turks were believed to 
have lost over 7,000 men, while the casualties of 
the Australians were only some 500. An observer 
who saw the action thus described the field : ' The 
ground presents an extraordinary sight when viewed 
through the trench periscopes. Two hundred yards 
away, and even closer in places, are the Turkish 
trenches, and between them and our lines the dead 
lie in hundreds. There are groups of twenty or 
thirty massed together as if for mutual protection, 
some lying on their faces, some killed in the act of 
firing, others hung up in the barbed wire. In one 
place a small group actually reached our parapet, 
and now lie dead on it, shot or bayoneted at point- 
blank range. Hundreds of others lie just outside 
their own trenches." 

To return to the main front in the south. Little 
happened between Qth and iath May. On the night 

of the 1 2th Major - General Hunter- ,, 

Weston, with some troops of the 2Qth 

Division and a double company of Gurkhas, operat- 

ing close to the sea, drove in the extreme ., 

Turkish right, and won some ground. 

On the iyth the 2Qth Division advanced their 


trenches 200 yards, and next day the French on 
the right, supported by a Naval Brigade, made some 
progress. During the following fortnight there was 
nothing to record, except small local advances. On 
j.f ^ the night of 28th May the Turks had a 
slight success, and advanced in some 
force to press it further. But our guns caught their 
supports, and demoralized them, and their bombers 
threw their grenades into their own first-line trenches. 
The Turkish casualties were estimated at about 
2,000. That same night the French carried the 
redoubt, which they had named " Le Haricot," at 
the head of the Kereves Dere, that same redoubt 
which had held up their advance with its machine 
guns in the battle of 6th-8th May. 

The third great attempt upon Krithia and Achi 

Baba was made on 4th June. Our front was formed 

<v by the 29th Indian Brigade on the left, 

ju e 4. t ^ e 2 ^ t k Dj v j s i on on {fog i e f t ce ntre, the 

East Lancashire Territorial Division in the centre, 
the Naval Division on the right centre, and the 
French 2nd Division on the right. After a prepara- 
tion by all our shore batteries and ships' guns, the 
advance began at noon. The Indian Brigade at 
first made good progress, and captured two lines 
of trenches. Unfortunately, on their right a part 
of the 29th Division had found itself faced with a 
heavy wire entanglement which our artillery had not 
cut. This checked their progress, and the Indians 
were compelled by enfilading fire to retire to their 
original line. The rest of the 29th Division cap- 
tured a redoubt and two trench lines beyond it, and 
advanced the front by 300 yards. The Territorials 
in the centre captured three lines of trenches, and 


advanced 600 yards, but they were too far beyond 
the rest for comfort, and after holding an advanced 
captured trench for a day and a night, had to fall 
back to the second trench. The Naval Division 

C TeJck* 1 


Attack on the Krithia-Achi Baba Position, June 4. 

progressed for 300 yards, taking a redoubt and a 
line of trenches, but was obliged to yield its gains 
owing to the position on its right. There the French, 
charging with desperate gallantry, retook for the 


fourth time the redoubt of " Le Haricot," but were 
driven out of it by shell fire. Their right was more 
fortunate, and captured a strong trench line, which 
they were able to hold. 

There were many counter-attacks during the 
night, which forced us out of one of the captured 
trenches. At the same time General Birdwood 
attacked from Gaba Tepe, in order to divert rein- 
forcements which were coming from Maidos, and 
carried a trench line, inflicting heavy losses upon the 
enemy. The fruits of this third attempt on Achi 
Baba were an advance of some 500 yards on a front 
of three miles, and the occupation of two lines of 
Turkish trenches. 

It was after the battle of 4th June that the need 
for large reinforcements became too urgent to be 
denied. After five weeks' struggle, in which the 
fighting had been as desperate as any in the war, 
we had not yet touched the outer Turkish position. 
The German engineers had turned the terrain to 
brilliant defensive uses, and even when long lengths, 
of trenches were carried by our infantry attacks, there 
remained redoubts, like the for tins on the Western 
tront, to make a general advance impossible. It 
may be questioned whether a more abundant supply 
of high explosives would have greatly altered the 
case. Our bombardments had been lavish enough, 
but they had scarcely touched the enemy. The 
Gallipoli campaign had revealed itself as a slow and 
deadly frontal attack, in which yard by yard we 
should have to fight our way across the ridges. 
jtf Such warfare was costly beyond all reck- 

oning. Up to 3ist May the casualties 
in the Dardanelles exclusive of the French 


reached a total of 38,636, of whom 1,722 were 
officers. The battle losses for the three years of 
the South African War were only 38,156. This 
figure, it will be noted, covers only the landing and 
the first two attempts on Achi Baba. The Turkish 
losses were estimated at some 60,000. 

The Allied Fleets had shared in every land attack, 
and the Goeben, on the Turkish side, from farther 
up the Straits, took part in at least one engage- 
ment. These large vessels, stationary or moving 
very slowly along the coasts, were a superb target 
for under- water assault, and presently news came 
that some of the large ocean-going German sub- 
marines, which had been commissioned early in 
the year, were on their way to the Mediterranean. 
About the middle of May one was reported near 
Malta, and there were many spots on the long 
indented Anatolian coast where they could find 
a base. 

This possibility gave much anxiety to the Allied 
admirals. Meantime, on the night of i2th May, a 
Turkish destroyer performed a singu- ,, 
larly bold feat on its own account. It 
found the old British battleship, the Goliath* pro- 
tecting the French flank just inside the Straits, sunk 
it by torpedo fire, with a loss of the captain, 19 
officers, and 500 men, and managed to return safely. 
Such an exploit was only possible under cover of 
darkness, and the risk of it did not interfere with 
the daylight operations of the fleet. But presently a 
far more formidable foe arrived, a foe whose pres- 

* Built in 1900. 12,950 tons, 19 knots, four 12-in. and 
twelve fo-in. guns. 


ence made naval support so far at least as con- 
cerned the great battleships a very doubtful and 
costly undertaking. 

About midday on 26th May the Triumph was 
moving slowly up the northern shore of the penin- 

** , sula in support of the Australasian troops. 
Apparently her nets were out, and there 
were destroyers close at hand. A torpedo from 
a German submarine tore through the nets, struck 
the vessel amidships, and sank her in nine minutes. 
Nearly all the officers and men were saved, and the 
submarine was chased unsuccessfully by the de- 
stroyers. Here was an incident to give serious 
thought. The enemy in broad daylight, in water 
full of shipping, had broken through all our safe- 
guards, and destroyed a battleship. The hunt for 
the submarine there seems at the moment to have 
been only one was vigorously conducted, but 

jU nothing was heard of it till next day, 

* ' * when the Majestic, steaming very close 
to the shore, was sunk in the same fashion. 

The Allied Fleets, compelled by the necessities 
of gunnery to move slowly, were obviously at the 
mercy of an enemy under water. From this date, 
therefore, the larger vessels began to withdraw. 
The Queen Elizabeth returned home, and there 
remained only a few of the older battleships, a 
number of cruisers, French and British, like the 
Euryalus, Minerva, Talbot, Phaeton, Amethyst, and 
Kleber ; and a flotilla of destroyers, including the 
Scorpion, Wolverine, Pincher, Renard, and Chelmer. 
In addition we had the Humber, one of the monitors 
which had operated in October off the Flanders 
coast a type of vessel whose shallow draught made 


it most suitable for coast bombardment and least 
vulnerable to submarine attack. 

The strength of the Gallipoli position and the 
menace of the German submarines had turned the 
operations in the Eastern Mediterranean into some 
of the most difficult of the war. Farther west the 
situation was brighter. Two days before * 
the Triumph went down, the shores of a ^ 2 ^' 
the Adriatic had seen the opening of Italy's cam- 



The Military Strength of Italy The Italian Army The Italian 
Navy General Cadorna The Duke of the Abruzzi The 
Italian-Austrian Frontier The Trentino The Carnic Alps 
The Isonzo The Railway Communications Italian 
Strategical Necessities Napoleon in 1797 The War of 
1866 The Austrian Raid on the Italian Coast The Austrian 
Plan The Advance to the Isonzo The Fight for the Dolo- 
mite Passes Fighting in the Trentino The Campaign up to 
the End of May. 

A PARALLEL might be drawn between the 
/\ antecedents of the Italian kingdom and those 
JL .Lof the modern German Empire. Both in 
their present form were less than half a century 
old. Both had been built up round the nucleus 
of a long-descended monarchy, and the House of 
Savoy had curious points of kinship with the House 
of Hohenzollern. Its rulers ascended from being 
Counts of Savoy to being Kings of Sardinia and 
then Kings of Italy, as the Hohenzollerns were first 
Electors of Brandenburg, then Kings of Prussia, 
and then German Emperors. William II. of Ger- 
many and Victor Emmanuel III. of Italy were each 
the third of their line to hold their high positions. 

But the military strength of the two states had 
not developed on the same lines Italy's problem 


since 1870 had been one of peculiar difficulty. Her 
creation as a kingdom had left her with an unsatis- 
factory northern frontier. The additions of Lom- 
bardy and Venetia to the dominions of Savoy had 
been acquired less by overmastering victories in the 
field than by the diplomatic difficulties in which 
Austria found herself at the moment. The French 
victories in 1859 were discounted by the Emperor 
Napoleon's divided aims, and Venetia was ceded 
because of the Prussian victory at Sadowa, though 
Austria had been successful in her Italian campaign. 
In their acquisition, therefore, Italy exhausted her 
purchase ; the situation was too delicate to insist upon 
that rectification of boundaries which would have 
made them secure. All the Alpine passes and all the 
crossings of the Isonzo were left in Austrian hands. 
Accordingly for fifty years she had rarely been free 
from anxiety about the north. Again, her population 
was from the military point of view curiously hetero- 
geneous. Districts differed in their military value 
as widely as Sparta differed from Corinth. These 
circumstances the overwhelming strategic import- 
ance of the north and the mixed character of the 
recruits made it impossible to follow the German 
plan of an army on a territorial basis. A regiment 
was recruited from all parts of the country, but on 
mobilization reservists joined that regiment which 
happened to be quartered in their district. In 
time of war, therefore, about half of those serving 
had no previous connection with the units in which 
they served. 

Service was universal and compulsory, and the 
liability began at the age of twenty, and lasted for 
nineteen years. Recruits were divided into three 


classes. The first formed the first line ; the second 
were also regulars, but with unlimited leave ; while 
the third passed into the Territorial militia. The 
second class corresponding to the German Ersatz 
Reserve received a few months' annual training 
for eight years, and then passed into the Mobile 
Militia and the Territorial Militia. The third class 
received only thirty days' annual training. The 
first class the first line of the regular army served 
for two years with the colours, six in the Reserve, 
four in the Mobile Militia, and the remaining seven 
in the Territorial Militia. 

The unit of organization was the army corps, 
which consisted normally of two divisions. Each 
division comprised two brigades of infantry and 
a regiment five batteries of field artillery. A 
brigade contained two regiments, and a regiment 
three battalions. The peace establishment showed 
twelve army corps, half of which had their stations 
near the northern frontier.* A cavalry division 
consisted of two brigades of two regiments each, 
and two batteries of horse artillery. There were 
twenty-nine cavalry regiments on the peace estab- 
lishment. The light infantry was the Bersaglieri, 
corresponding to the French Chasseurs and the 
German Jaegers. A regiment of four Bersaglieri 
battalions three of infantry and one of cyclists- 
was part of each army corps. Two other formations 
must be noted. The six battalions of the Cara- 
bineri were a force of military police, selected from 

* I. Corps, Turin; II., Alessandria; III., Milan; IV., 
Genoa ; V., Verona ; VI., Bologna ; VII., Ancona ; VIII., 
Florence ; IX., Rome (three divisions) ; X., Naples ; XL, 
Bari ; XII., Palermo. 


the regular army. The Alpini twenty-six bat- 
talions of the first line, organized in eight regiments, 
with thirty-six batteries of mountain artillery 
were special frontier troops for the defence of the 
northern borders. The line regiments suffered to 
some extent from the best men being taken for the 
picked corps of Carabineri, Bersaglieri, and Alpini. 

The peace strength of the army of Italy in the 
year before the war was approximately 15,000 offi- 
cers and 290,000 other ranks. On mobilization a 
division of Mobile Militia was added to each corps, 
bringing up its strength to 37,000 men and 134 
guns. The war strength was approximately 700,000 
in the first line that is, from the two classes of the 
regular army and 320,000 in the Mobile Militia, 
with a reservoir of something over 2,000,000 in the 
Territorial Militia. Italy's field force might, there- 
fore, be reckoned at something over 1,000,000 
trained men. Her field artillery was armed with a 
75-mm. gun, and she had a large number of batteries 
of Krupp howitzers, and a siege train of very 
high calibre. So far as can be judged, she organ- 
ized her war strength in fourteen first-line corps. 

The Italian Commander-in-Chief was King Vic- 
tor Emmanuel, a monarch whose gallantry and 
straightforward simplicity had won him a high 
degree of popular confidence. The Chief of the 
General Staff and the Generalissimo in the field 
was General Count Luigi Cadorna, a native of 
Pallanza, and a man of sixty-five at the outbreak of 
war. He was the son of that Rafaele Cadorna who, 
in September 1870, led the Italian army into Papal 
territory and blew in the Porta Pia. He had served 
on his father's staff during that expedition, had 


commanded the roth Bersaglieri, and had been a 
corps commander at Genoa. He succeeded Gen- 
eral Pollio in 1914 as Chief of the General Staff. 
He had won fame throughout Europe as a writer 
on military science, and he had a unique knowledge 
of the terrain of the coming war. As von Hinden- 
burg had studied the East Prussian bogs, so had 
General Cadorna mastered the intricacies of Italy's 
northern frontier. 

A word must be added on the Italian navy, 
which now took over from France the task of hold- 
ing Austria in the Adriatic. It contained four 
Dreadnoughts, and two more were on the verge of 
completion. These ships were all armed with 12- 
inch guns. It possessed also ten pre-Dreadnought 
battleships and a number of older vessels. Its 
armoured cruisers were none of them faster than 
22 knots, but it contained three very fast light 
cruisers, as well as twenty submarines, a large 
number of torpedo boats, and forty destroyers. At 
the lowest computation it showed a considerable 
superiority over the fleet of Austria-Hungary. The 
Admiral-in-Chief was the first cousin of the King, 
the Duke of the Abruzzi, perhaps, after the Grand 
Duke Nicholas, the most brilliant member of any 
reigning house in the world. A man of forty- two, 
he had won fame as an explorer, a mountaineer, and 
a scientific geographer. He had shown extraor- 
dinary skill in organizing expeditions in the most 
difficult latitudes from Alaskan and Himalayan 
snows to the mountain jungles of Ruwenzori, and 
in the Tripoli War had commanded with distinc- 
tion a division of the Italian fleet. 

The strategic position of Italy was disadvanta- 

The Austro-ltali.' 

Ifheatre of War. 


geous, as we shall presently see ; but she began the 
war with two assets. In the first place, both her 
army and navy had had recent fighting experience. 
For nearly a generation her colonial adventures had 
involved her in small campaigns on the Red Sea 
littoral, and the disaster of Adowa was fruitful in 
its teaching. Her Tripoli War had given her much 
difficult fighting, but it had afforded invaluable ex- 
perience to her officers. The transport work which 
it entailed and her bombardments and blockades 
in the /Egean had kept the fleet in good practice. 
In the second place, she did not begin her campaign 
till nine months and more after the first shots had 
been fired in Flanders. All through the winter she 
was busy equipping her army, and remodelling it in 
the light of the lessons which the campaign revealed. 
The German strength in artillery and machine guns, 
with all its consequences, was patent to her ; she 
could draw upon the experience of both sides in the 
winter war of attrition ; and she could revise and 
bring up to date at her leisure her military pre- 
conceptions. Her position as a spectator was of 
incalculable advantage, and it was reasonable to 
assume that she would begin with a stock of know- 
ledge which the other combatants had only acquired 
at a desperate cost. 

The strategy of General Cadorna was deter- 
mined by hard geographical facts, and it is neces- 
sary to examine in detail the configuration of the 
Italian-Austrian frontier. It has a length of about 
480 miles, and the map will show that it is divided 
naturally into three parts the re-entrant angle of 
the Trentino ; the great wall of the Dolomites, the 
Carnic and the Julian Alps ; and the space on the 

VII. 12 


east between the main Alpine chain and the Adri- 
atic. The Trentino forms a salient the sides of 
which are mountain buttresses. It is drained to- 
wards the Po by the Adige and the Sarca, which 
flows into Lake Gar da. An enemy attempting its 
conquest must advance principally by the Adige 
valley, and would presently find himself confronted 
with the strongly fortified town of Trent, which in 
the Middle Ages so long defied the attacks of Venice. 
If Trent were safely passed, he would struggle for 
long in a wilderness of lateral valleys, and would 
still have to force the main ridge of the chain at 
the Brenner. Now, a salient may be a cause of 
weakness in war, as Russia found in Western Poland, 
for it is open to assault on both flanks. But the 
containing walls of the Trentino make flank attacks 
all but impossible. On the western side, high up 
in the hills, is the Stelvio Pass, leading from the 
Upper Adige to the vale of the Adda. Over this 
pass in March 1799 Dessolles led the army of Italy. 
But it is the loftiest carriage pass in the Alps, more 
than 9,000 feet high, and even if a modern army 
could win its strait defiles it would find itself in a 
lateral valley, with many difficulties before it ere it 
reached Bozen and the main road to the north. 
Going south, we find the Tonale Pass, south of the 
Ortler massif, which carries the road from the Noce 
to the Oglio ; but for a great army that is no better. 
Close to Lake Garda is the road pass of Cornelle, 
too narrow in its debouchments for any considerable 
force. On the eastern side of the salient the con- 
ditions are still worse for invasion. The railway 
from Venice to Innsbruck crosses the Valsugana at 
Tezze, but the Brenta valley which it traverses gives 



a difficult road to Trent. Farther north the road pass 
from Caprile to Campitello leads into the defiles of 
the Dwarf King's Rose-garden a possible passage, 
for these passes of the Western Dolomites are 
bare and open, but one useless for an invader, since 
the road bends away to Bozen, and there is no route 
north to the Pusterthal. The salient of the Tren- 
tino is a fine offensive and defensive position for 
those who hold it. It is a hollow headland of 
mountain jutting into the plains, and it is hard for 
the plain-dwellers to pierce its rim. The deep 
hollow of the Lake of Garda is no real opening in 
the barrier. The breach, so far from weakening 
the defence, is in reality a source of strength, for 
it compels an attack from the Italian plain to be 
made on divergent lines from different bases, east 
and west of the lake. 

The second part is a shallow arc of sheer rampart 
the Dolomite and Carnic ranges. The main pass 
is that of Ampezzo, where the great highroad known 
as the Strada d'Alemagna runs from Belluno to 
Toblach through the heart of the white limestone 
crags at an altitude of little over 5,000 feet. But 
between Cortina and Toblach it makes a sharp de- 
tour westward to circumvent the mass of Cristallo, 
and that part is no better than a defile commanded 
by a hundred danger points. The adjacent passes 
of Misurina and Monte Croce are no better, and as 
we go east the Val d'Inferno and the Plocken are only 
bridle paths. The main pass in the chain is that 
which leads from the valley of the Fella by Pon- 
tcbbo to the upper streams of the Drave. It carries 
the railway from Venice to Vienna, and its highest 
point is only 2,615 feet. It was the old highroad 


of invasion from the north ; but, though the easiest 
of the great routes, it is still narrow and difficult, 
a gate which a modern army should with ease be 
able to close and hold. South-east of it among the 
buttresses of the Julian Alps there is no pass of any 
military value. 

The third section of the frontier the low 
ground between Cividale and the sea is not the 
natural avenue of movement which small-scale maps 
would suggest. It is a narrow front, less than 
twenty miles wide, and behind it is the line of the 
river Isonzo, with hills along its eastern bank. The 
upper part of the stream above Salcana is a ravine ; 
then come six miles of plain in front of Gorizia ; 
then the hills begin again and sweep round to the 
sea-coast by Monfalcone. The value of such a 
position for the defence is obvious. A strong field 
force with a full complement of artillery could make 
of the Isonzo a front as impregnable as any river 
line in Europe. 

For a modern army the natural strength of a 
position is not enough ; there must be adequate 
lateral communications. In this respect Italy had 
the advantage, for she had the elaborate railway 
system of her northern plains behind her, while 
Austria had only the restricted railways of moun- 
tain valleys. The main Italian line runs from 
Verona by Vicenza and Treviso to Udine. It sends 
off numerous branches up to the base of the hills 
from Verona up the Adige, from Vicenza to Torre- 
belvicino, from Cittadella to the Valsugana, from 
Treviso up the Piave to Belluno, from S. Vito to 
Pontebba, and from Udine to Cividale. It is backed 
by a coast railway, and between the two there are 


many connecting branches. Austria possessed a 
railway system running round the whole half-moon 
of frontier, but it had few feeders, for the hill valleys 
in which it ran made branches difficult. From west 
to east it ran from the point of the Trentino salient 
by Trent and Bozen to Franzenfeste, then east along 
the Pusterthal by Lienz and Spittal to Villach. It 
then bent back from the frontier, ran down the 
Upper Save, rounded the massif of Monte Nero, and 
descended to Gorizia, where it connected by two 
routes with Trieste. This encircling line was well 
fed from its main bases, like Innsbruck, Salzburg, 
Vienna, and Trieste, but it sent off very few branches 
to the edge of the frontier. One ran from Trent to 
the Valsugana; after that there was nothing for 150 
miles till Tarvis was reached, when the Pontebba 
line began. Branches went west for Gorizia to 
Udine, and from Monfalcone to San Giorgio, and 
these four were the only feeders on the Austrian 
side of the hills. 

This paucity of branch lines meant that the 
Austrian offensive must concentrate at certain defi- 
nite places Trent, Tarvis, and Gorizia. It meant 
conversely that an Italian offensive must aim at the 
same points and at one more. This was Franzen- 
feste, the junction of the Pusterthal line with that 
which runs from Innsbruck to Trent. If that point 
could be taken the communications of the whole 
of the Trentino salient would be cut. Unfortunately 
for Italy, this nodal point of Franzenfeste was just 
the one which it was hardest to reach, for south and 
east of it was the whole complex system of the 
Dolomites. The long space without branch lines 
was as awkward for the one offensive as for the 

3. The Isonzo Frontier and the Defences of the Julian Alps. 


other. What seemed a lengthy and precarious line 
of communication was in reality defended by an 
almost insuperable mountain wall. 

The problem before General Cadorna was, 
therefore, by no means simple. Austria had her 
hands full in the Carpathians, and it was unlikely 
that she would be able to take that swift offensive 
for which her frontier had been designed. It was 
a sovereign chance for an Italian forward movement, 
and the direction of that movement was not in 
doubt. It must be mainly towards Trieste, the 
Istrian peninsula, and the wooded hills of Styria 
which sweep to Vienna. There Austria was most 
vulnerable, and there lay a terrain where modern 
armies could manoeuvre. But the configuration of 
the frontier made it impossible for a commander to 
direct all his forces upon one section. The whole 
northern border must be watched and held, else 
Austria from the Trentino salient might cut his 
communications and take him in the rear. Ac- 
cordingly he resolved to attack at all the salient 
points towards Trent, across the Dolomite passes 
against the Pusterthal railway, at the Pontebba Pass, 
across the Julian buttresses in order to threaten the 
Tarvis-Gorizia line. Such a series of movements 
would keep the enemy busy and prevent any flank- 
ing strategy. And meantime with his chief army 
he would strike at the Isonzo and the road to Trieste. 

The military history of that frontier during the 

past century is an exposition of the difficulties which 

General Cadorna was now called upon to face. In 

1797 Napoleon, having overrun North- 

'97- ern Italy the year before, resolved to 
force Austria to sue for peace by a threat against 


Vienna. He marched what we would now call a 
small army into Carinthia, where the country was 
open and defenceless. Austria had no adequate 
force with which to oppose him, and an armistice 
was concluded when he reached Klagenfurt. It 
was an easy victory, but the point to note is that 
he did not dare to cross the eastern frontier till he 
had pushed forward an army as strong as his own 
from Verona to Trent to protect his rear and his 
communications. The campaign of 1866 showed 
the strength of the Trentino position. /-,- 
In that year the Austrian commander, 
General Kuhn, left only small detachments to guard 
the passes, and kept his main force at Trent, which 
he made the pivot of his defence. He easily de- 
feated the Garibaldian columns which attacked on 
both sides of the Lake of Garda and by the Tonale 
Pass. The main Italian advance was made from 
Padua up the Brenta valley, and this was not seri- 
ously opposed till it was near the watershed. There 
Kuhn was waiting with his reserves ; but the action 
was never fought, since the first shots had scarcely 
been fired when news came that an armistice had 
been signed at Vienna. But it was the general im- 
pression at the time that if the forces had been 
engaged, Kuhn would have held his own. From 
the first he had been greatly outnumbered, but, 
thanks to his central position, he was always able 
to secure a local superiority against attacks made 
from widely divergent points. 

At that time, it must be remembered, the passes 
were not fortified, for the simple reason that Venetia 
had been Austrian territory for half a century, and 
the Trentino border was not a state frontier. Trent, 


too, was then an open town. Now the conditions 
were more favourable for the defence. An Italian 
army attacking the Trentino would have to fight its 
way up narrow valleys, all of which converged upon 
Trent, the central fortress. The defence would, 
therefore, be able to mass its reserves for a counter- 
attack against one line of advance after another, and 
need not strike till the invaders had already suffered 
heavily in breaking down the advanced fortifications 
of the passes. 

War began, as we have seen, on 23rd May, and 
the first serious blow was struck by Austria. This 

-^ was a well-organized raid on the Adriatic 

* 3- coast, the object of which was to delay 
the Italian concentration by damaging vital points 
on the coast railway from Brindisi to the north. 
The attack began a little after four on the morning 
of Monday, 24th May, and was carried out by a 

*, , squadron from Pola made up of two 
4* battleships, four cruisers, and some 
eighteen destroyers, strongly supported by aircraft. 
The line, which runs along the Adriatic shore, is at 
many points much exposed to attack from the water. 
Ancona station, for example, is on the high ground 
outside the town, and most of the river bridges are 
within sight of the sea. 

The assault extended from Brindisi to Venice, 
and at the latter place airmen threw bombs into 
the Arsenal and attacked the oil-tanks and the 
balloon sheds on the Lida. In the Western press 
the movement was interpreted only as a barbarous 
attempt to send St. Mark's the way of Rheims and 
Lou vain ; but it was in reality a serious military 


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The Austrian Naval Raid in the Adriatic. 


operation. In the north the cruiser Novara, with 
a flotilla of destroyers, attacked Porto Corsini, north 
of Ravenna, in the hope of wrecking the Italian 
torpedo-boat base. The destroyers were driven off, 
and one was seriously damaged. Farther south the 
cruiser St. George bombarded the railway station 
and bridges at Rimini. In the centre the battle- 
ship Zrinyi attacked Sinigaglia, and claimed to have 
wrecked the railway station and railway bridge and 
part of the railway line, while south of Ancona the 
battleship Radetzky wrecked the bridge over the 
Potenza River. In the south the cruisers Helgoland 
and Admiral Spaun, assisted by destroyers, attacked 
in the neighbourhood of Manfredonia and Viesti. 
They shelled a railway bridge, a railway station, 
and several signal stations, and did some damage 
to the coast towns. It was all over before 6 a.m., 
and the squadron sailed back to Pola in safety. 
The Italian fleet seems to have been taken by sur- 
prise, and the marauders were unmolested. It was 
a well-conceived and well-executed enterprise, and 
achieved much of its purpose. 

On the same day, 24th May, the Austrians blew 
up two bridges in the Adige valley, thereby revealing 
their plan of campaign. They were resolved to 
stand on the defensive at the outset in the strong 
positions which fortune had given them. They 
would hold the crests of the passes along the fron- 
tier of the Trentino and the line of the Carnic Alps. 
On the Isonzo front they would abandon all the 
country west of the river line, and make their stand 
on a fortified line well to the east, which only touched 
the Isonzo at Gorizia (Gorz), where they held a 
bridgehead on the western bank. Their best troops 


were busy in Galicia, including the famous i4th 
Tirol Corps, and they had only Landsturm and a 
few reserve divisions wherewith to meet the army 
of Italy. The Archduke Eugene, not the most suc- 
cessful of generals, had taken over the command, 
and his aim was to risk nothing till von Mackensen 
had finished his Galician enterprise and first-line 
troops could be spared for this frontier. 

On the 24th General Cadorna began his advance. 
His main army moved against the Isonzo, and was 
directed to the isolation and capture of Gorizia, a 
necessary prelude to an advance on Trieste. A 
second army was concentrated on the Trentino 
frontier, with the capture of Trent as its nominal 
aim. Its purpose, however, was largely defensive. 
It aimed to acquire positions that would check that 
counter-attack from the Trentino which would frus- 
trate, if successful, the whole eastern movement. 
Between these armies, detachments began to work 
through the Dolomite and Carnic passes also with 
a purpose mainly defensive, until Cadorna's success 
in the east should make feasible an offensive move- 
ment against the Franzenfeste-Villach line. 

The Italian mobilization was slow, and till the 
close of May the actions were only affairs of cover- 
ing troops, and little ground was won except that 
which the Austrians had voluntarily yielded. On 
the evening of the 24th the eastern army was well 
inside Austrian territory, its left pushed forward to 
Caporetto on the Isonzo just under Monte Nero, 
its centre looking down on Gorizia from the high 
ground between the Indria and the Isonzo, and its 
right between Cormons and Terzo. On the ex- 
treme right, among the islands of the coast, the 


Italian destroyers were busy. In the following week 
and onward till the end of the month the record is 
one of slow and cautious advance. It was a wet 
season, and the Isonzo, fed from the hills, floods 
easily, thereby making operations difficult when the 
enemy has destroyed the bridges. The Italian left 
about Caporetto was reinforced, preparatory to an 
attack on the height of Monte Nero, which over- 
looks the northern line from Gorizia. Italian avia- 
tors persistently bombarded Monfalcone and the 
railway between Gorizia and Trieste, in order to 
cut off supplies and reinforcements for the troops 
on the river line, while destroyers shelled the Mon- 
falcone shipyards, and the coast town of Grado was 
taken. By the end of May the Isonzo had been 
reached, but had not been crossed, by the Italian 

In the central section of the frontier there was 
much scattered fighting, and the Italians succeeded 
in occupying several of the passes. On the 24th 
the Val d'lnferno pass at the head of the Degano 
valley was carried by a bayonet attack. More im- 
T^r portant was the capture, on the 3oth, of 

Cortina, on the great Strada d'Ale- 
magna. The place is not more than fifteen miles 
as the crow flies from the Franzenfeste-Villach rail- 
way, but in these fifteen miles are included the 
highest peaks of the Dolomites, and the road one 
of the finest in Europe runs through a narrow 
defile which gives every advantage to the defence. 

The Trentino fighting began also on the 24th. 
Detachments on that day pushed forward to the 
frontier on both sides of the Lake of Garda ; up 
the Chiese valley to Caffaro, which is just on the 


frontier under the guns of the Italian fort of Rocca 
d'Anfo ; and up the Oglio valley to the Tonale 
Pass. Troops moved along the Italian ridge of 
Monte Baldo, east of Lake Garda, towards the 
Austrian summit of Monte Altissimo. On the east 
side of the salient in the Brenta valley an advance 
began, and on the 2jth it had reached ^ 
a point five miles from Borgo. On the 
same day the frontier town of Ala, on the Adige, 
was captured, and by the end of the month the 
Italians held the high ground on the south which 
commanded the forts of Rovoreto. So far the suc- 
cesses, though small, had been continuous. Trent 
is girdled by a number of lesser fortresses com- 
manding the converging routes. Such is Rovoreto 
on the Adige ; such are Lardaro on the Chiesi, 
Levico on the Brenta, and the important fort of 
Riva at the head of Lake Garda. The closing in 
upon these outworks by the Italian armies meant 
that daily the offensive power of the enemy in the 
salient was declining. He no longer held the rim 
of the cup from which he could descend at will 
upon the plains. 







From the Field-Marshal Commanding-in-Chief, The British 

Army in France. 
To the Secretary of State for War, War Office, London, S.W. 

General Headquarters, isth June, 1915. 


I have the honour to report that since the date of my 
last dispatch (5th April, 1915) the Army in France under 
my command has been heavily engaged opposite both flanks 
of the line held by the British Forces. 

I. In the North the town and district of Ypres have 
once more in this campaign been successfully defended 
against vigorous and sustained attacks made by large forces 
of the enemy, and supported by a mass of heavy and field 
artillery, which, not only in number, but also in weight and 
calibre, is superior to any concentration of guns which has 
previously assailed that part of the line. 

In the South a vigorous offensive has again been taken 
by troops of the First Army, in the course of which a large 
area of entrenched and fortified ground has been captured 
from the enemy, whilst valuable support has been afforded 
to the attack which our Allies have carried on with such 
marked success against the enemy's positions to the east 
of Arras and Lens. 


II. I much regret that during the period under report 
the fighting has been characterized on the enemy's side by 
a cynical and barbarous disregard of the well-known usages 
of civilized war and a flagrant defiance of the Hague Con- 

All the scientific resources of Germany have apparently 
been brought into play to produce a gas of so virulent and 
poisonous a nature that any human being brought into con- 
tact with it is first paralysed and then meets with a linger- 
ing and agonizing death. 

The enemy has invariably preceded, prepared, and sup- 
ported his attacks by a discharge in stupendous volume of 
these poisonous gas fumes whenever the wind was favourable. 

Such weather conditions have only prevailed to any 
extent in the neighbourhood of Ypres, and there can be no 
doubt that the effect of these poisonous fumes materially 
influenced the operations in that theatre, until experience 
suggested effective counter measures, which have since been 
so perfected as to render them innocuous. 

The brain power and thought which has evidently been 
at work before this unworthy method of making war reached 
the pitch of efficiency which has been demonstrated in its 
practice shows that the Germans must have harboured these 
designs for a long time. 

As a soldier I cannot help expressing the deepest regret 
and some surprise that an Army which hitherto has claimed 
to be the chief exponent of the chivalry of war should have 
stooped to employ such devices against brave and gallant 

HILL 60. 

III. On the night of Saturday, April lyth, a commanding 
hill which afforded the enemy excellent artillery observa- 
tion towards the West and North-West was successfully 
mined and captured. 

This hill, known as Hill 60, lies opposite the northern 
extremity of the line held by the 2nd Corps. 


The operation was planned and the mining commenced 
by Major-General Bulfin before the ground was handed over 
to the troops under Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Fer- 
gusson, under whose supervision the operation was carried 

The mines were successfully fired at 7 p.m. on the ijth, 
and immediately afterwards the hill was attacked and gained, 
without difficulty, by the ist Battalion, Royal West Kent 
Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion, King's Own Scottish 
Borderers. The attack was well supported by the Divisional 
Artillery, assisted by French and Belgian batteries. 

During the night several of the enemy's counter-attacks 
were repulsed with heavy loss, and fierce hand-to-hand 
fighting took place ; but on the early morning of the i8th 
the enemy succeeded in forcing back the troops holding the 
right of the hill to the reverse slope, where, however, they 
hung on throughout the day. 

On the evening of the i8th these two battalions were 
relieved by the 2nd Battalion, West Riding Regiment, and 
the 2nd Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 
who again stormed the hill under cover of heavy artillery 
fire, and the enemy was driven off at the point of the bayonet. 

In this operation 53 prisoners were captured, including 
four officers. 

On the 20th and following days many unsuccessful attacks 
by the enemy were made on Hill 60, which was continuously 
shelled by heavy artillery. 

On May ist another attempt to recapture Hill 60 was 
supported by great volumes of asphyxiating gas, which 
caused nearly all the men along a front of about 400 yards 
to be immediately struck down by its fumes. 

The splendid courage with which the leaders rallied their 
men and subdued the natural tendency to panic (which is 
inevitable on such occasions), combined with the prompt 
intervention of supports, once more drove the enemy back. 

A second and more severe " gas " attack, under much 


more favourable weather conditions, enabled the enemy to 
recapture this position on May 5th. 

The enemy owes his success in this last attack entirely 
to the use of asphyxiating gas. It was only a few days later 
that the means, which have since proved so effective, of 
counteracting this method of making war were put into 
practice. Had it been otherwise, the enemy's attack on 
May 5th would most certainly have shared the fate of all the 
many previous attempts he had made. 


IV. It was at the commencement of the Second Battle of 
Ypres on the evening of the 22nd April, referred to in para- 
graph i of this report, that the enemy first made use of 
asphyxiating gas. 

Some days previously I had complied with General Joffre's 
request to take over the trenches occupied by the French, 
and on the evening of the 22nd the troops holding the lines 
east of Ypres were posted as follows : 

From Steenstraate to the east of Langemarck, as far 
as the Poelcappelle Road, a French Division. 

Thence, in a south-easterly direction toward the 
Passchendaele-Becelaere Road, the Canadian Division. 

Thence a Division took up the line in a southerly 
direction east of Zonnebeke to a point west of Becelaere, 
whence another Division continued the line south-east 
to the northern limit of the Corps on its right. 
Of the 5th Corps there were four battalions in Divisional 
Reserve about Ypres ; the Canadian Division had one bat- 
talion in Divisional Reserve, and the ist Canadian Brigade 
in Army Reserve. An Infantry Brigade, which had just 
been withdrawn after suffering heavy losses on Hill 60, was 
resting about Vlamertinghe. 

Following a heavy bombardment, the enemy attacked 
the French Division at about 5 p.m., using asphyxiating 
gases for the first time. Aircraft reported that at about 


5 p.m. thick yellow smoke had been seen issuing from the 
German trenches between Langemarck and Bixschoote. 
The French reported that two simultaneous attacks had 
been made east of the Ypres-Staden Railway, in which these 
asphyxiating gases had been employed. 

What follows almost defies description. The effect of 
these poisonous gases was so virulent as to render the 
whole of the line held by the French Division mentioned 
above practically incapable of any action at all. It was at 
first impossible for anyone to realize what had actually hap- 
pened. The smoke and fumes hid everything from sight, 
and hundreds of men were thrown into a comatose or dying 
condition, and within an hour the whole position had to 
be abandoned, together with about 50 guns. 

I wish particularly to repudiate any idea of attaching 
the least blame to the French Division for this unfortunate 

After all the examples our gallant Allies have shown of 
dogged and tenacious courage in the many trying situations 
in which they have been placed throughout the course of 
this campaign it is quite superfluous for me to dwell on this 
aspect of the incident, and I would only express my firm 
conviction that, if any troops in the world had been able to 
hold their trenches in the face of such a treacherous and 
altogether unexpected onslaught, the French Division would 
have stood firm. 


The left flank of the Canadian Division was thus left 
dangerously exposed to serious attack in flank, and there 
appeared to be a prospect of their being overwhelmed and of 
a successful attempt by the Germans to cut off the British 
troops occupying the salient to the East. 

In spite of the danger to which they were exposed the 
Canadians held their ground with a magnificent display of 
tenacity and courage ; and it is not too much to say that 


the bearing and conduct of these splendid troops averted a 
disaster which might have been attended with the most 
serious consequences. 

They were supported with great promptitude by the 
reserves of the Divisions holding the salient and by a Brigade 
which had been resting in billets. 

Throughout the night the enemy's attacks were repulsed, 
effective counter-attacks were delivered, and at length touch 
was gained with the French right, and a new line was formed. 

The 2nd London Heavy Battery, which had been at- 
tached to the Canadian Division, was posted behind the 
right of the French Division, and, being involved in their 
retreat, fell into the enemy's hands. It was recaptured by 
the Canadians in their counter-attack, but the guns could 
not be withdrawn before the Canadians were again driven 

During the night I directed the Cavalry Corps and the 
Northumbrian Division, which was then in general reserve, 
to move to the west of Ypres, and placed these troops at the 
disposal of the General Officer Commanding the Second 
Army. I also directed other reserve troops from the 3rd 
Corps and the First Army to be held in readiness to meet 

In the confusion of the gas and smoke the Germans 
succeeded in capturing the bridge at Steenstraate and some 
works south of Lizerne, all of which were in occupation by 
the French. 

The enemy having thus established himself to the west 
of the Ypres Canal, I was somewhat apprehensive of his 
succeeding in driving a wedge between the French and Belgian 
troops at this point. I directed, therefore, that some of the 
reinforcements sent north should be used to support and 
assist General Putz, should he find difficulty in preventing 
any further advance of the Germans west of the canal. 

At about 10 o'clock on the morning of the 23rd connexion 
was finally ensured between the left of the Canadian Division 


and the French right, about eight hundred yards east of 
the canal ; but as this entailed the maintenance by the 
British troops of a much longer line than that which they 
had held before the attack commenced on the previous night, 
there were no reserves available for counter-attack until 
reinforcements, which were ordered up from the Second 
Army, were able to deploy to the east of Ypres. 


Early on the morning of the 23rd I went to see General 
Foch, and from him I received a detailed account of what 
had happened, as reported by General Putz. General Foch 
informed me that it was his intention to make good the 
original line and regain the trenches which the French Divi- 
sion had lost. He expressed the desire that I should main- 
tain my present line, assuring me that the original position 
would be re-established in a few days. General Foch further 
informed me that he had ordered up large French reinforce- 
ments, which were now on their way, and that troops from 
the North had already arrived to reinforce General Putz. 

I fully concurred in the wisdom of the General's wish 
to re-establish our old line, and agreed to co-operate in the 
way he desired, stipulating, however, that if the position was 
not re-established within a limited time I could not allow the 
British troops to remain in so exposed a situation as that 
which the action of the previous twenty-four hours had 
compelled them to occupy. 

During the whole of the 23rd the enemy's artillery was 
very active, and his attacks all along the front were sup- 
ported by some heavy guns which had been brought down 
from the coast in the neighbourhood of Ostend. 

The loss of the guns on the night of the 22nd prevented 
this fire from being kept down and much aggravated the 
situation. Our positions, however, were well maintained by 
the vigorous counter-attacks made by the 5th Corps. 

During the day I directed two Brigades of the 3rd Corps, 


and the Lahore Division of the Indian Corps, to be moved 
up to the Ypres area and placed at the disposal of the Second 

In the course of these two or three days many circum- 
stances combined to render the situation east of the Ypres 
Canal very critical and most difficult to deal with. 

The confusion caused by the sudden retirement of the 
French Division, and the necessity for closing up the gap 
and checking the enemy's advance at all costs, led to a mixing 
up of units and a sudden shifting of the areas of command, 
which was quite unavoidable. Fresh units, as they came 
up from the South, had to be pushed into the firing line in 
an area swept by artillery fire which, owing to the capture of 
the French guns, we were unable to keep down. 

All this led to very heavy casualties ; and I wish to place 
on record the deep admiration which I feel for the resource 
and presence of mind evinced by the leaders actually on the 

The parts taken by Major-General Snow and Brigadier- 
General Hull were reported to me as being particularly 
marked in this respect. 

An instance of this occurred on the afternoon of the 24th 
when the enemy succeeded in breaking through the line at 
St. Julien. 

Brigadier-General Hull, acting under the orders of Lieu- 
tenant-Gen era! Alderson, organized a powerful counter-attack 
with his own Brigade and some of the nearest available units. 
He was called upon to control, with only his Brigade staff, 
parts of battalions from six separate divisions which were 
quite new to the ground. Although the attack did not suc- 
ceed in retaking St. Julien, it effectually checked the enemy's 
further advance. 

It was only on the morning of the 25th that the enemy 
were able to force back the left of the Canadian Division 
from the point where it had originally joined the French 



During the night, and the early morning of the 25th, 
the enemy directed a heavy attack against the Division at 
Broodseinde cross-roads which was supported by a powerful 
shell fire, but he failed to make any progress. 

During the whole of this time the town of Ypres and all 
the roads to the East and West were uninterruptedly sub- 
jected to a violent artillery fire, but in spite of this the supply 
of both food and ammunition was maintained throughout 
with order and efficiency. 

During the afternoon of the 25th many German prisoners 
were taken, including some officers. The hand-to-hand 
fighting was very severe, and the enemy suffered heavy loss. 

During the 26th the Lahore Division and a Cavalry 
Division were pushed up into the fighting line, the former on 
the right of the French, the latter in support of the 5th Corps. 

In the afternoon the Lahore Division, in conjunction 
with the French right, succeeded in pushing the enemy back 
some little distance towards the North, but their further 
advance was stopped owing to the continual employment by 
the enemy of asphyxiating gas. 

On the right of the Lahore Division the Northumberland 
Infantry Brigade advanced against St. Julien, and actually 
succeeded in entering, and for a time occupying, the southern 
portion of that village. They were, however, eventually 
driven back, largely owing to gas, and finally occupied a line 
a short way to the South. This attack was most success- 
fully and gallantly led by Brigadier-General Riddell, who, I 
regret to say, was killed during the progress of the operation. 

Although no attack was made on the south-eastern side 
of the salient, the troops operating to the east of Ypres were 
subjected to heavy artillery fire from this direction which 
took some of the battalions, which were advancing North 
to the attack, in reverse. 

Some gallant attempts made by the Lahore Division on 


the 27th, in conjunction with the French, pushed the enemy 
further North ; but they were partially frustrated by the 
constant fumes of gas to which they were exposed. In spite 
of this, however, a certain amount of ground was gained. 

The French had succeeded in retaking Lizerne, and had 
made some progress at Steenstraate and Het Sas ; but up 
to the evening of the a8th no further progress had been made 
toward the recapture of the original line. 


I sent instructions, therefore, to Sir Herbert Plumer, who 
was now in charge of the operation , to take preliminary measures 
for the retirement to the new line which had been fixed upon. 

On the morning of the 2gth I had another interview with 
General Foch, who informed me that strong reinforcements 
were hourly arriving to support General Putz, and urged me 
to postpone issuing orders for any retirement until the result 
of his attack, which was timed to commence at daybreak 
on the 30th, should be known. To this I agreed, and in- 
structed Sir Herbert Plumer accordingly. 

No substantial advance having been made by the French, 
I issued orders to Sir Herbert Plumer at one o'clock on May 
ist to commence his withdrawal to the new line. 

The retirement was commenced the following night, and 
the new line was occupied on the morning of May 4th. 

I am of opinion that this retirement, carried out de- 
liberately with scarcely any loss, and in the face of an enemy 
in position, reflects the greatest possible credit on Sir Herbert 
Plumer and those who so efficiently carried out his orders. 

The successful conduct of this operation was the more 
remarkable from the fact that on the evening of May 2nd, 
when it was only half completed, the enemy made a heavy 
attack, with the usual gas accompaniment, on St. Julien 
and the line to the west of it. 

An attack on a line to the east of Fortuin was made at 
the same time under similar conditions. 


In both cases our troops were at first driven from their 
trenches by gas fumes, but on the arrival of the supporting 
battalions and two brigades of a Cavalry Division, which were 
sent up in support from about Potijze, all the lost trenches 
were regained at night. 

On the 3rd May, while the retirement was still going on, 
another violent attack was directed on the northern face of 
the salient. This was also driven back with heavy loss to 
the enemy. 

Further attempts of the enemy during the night of the 
3rd to advance from the woods west of St. Julien were frus- 
trated entirely by the fire of our artillery. 

During the whole of the 4th the enemy heavily shelled 
the trenches we had evacuated, quite unaware that they were 
no longer occupied. So soon as the retirement was discovered 
the Germans commenced to entrench opposite our new line 
and to advance their guns to new positions. Our artillery, 
assisted by aeroplanes, caused him considerable loss in carry- 
ing out these operations. 

Up to the morning of the 8th the enemy made attacks 
at short intervals, covered by gas, on all parts of the line to 
the east of Ypres, but was everywhere driven back with 
heavy loss. 

Throughout the whole period since the first break of the 
line on the night of April 22nd all the troops in this area 
had been constantly subjected to violent artillery bombard- 
ment from a large mass of guns with an unlimited supply 
of ammunition. It proved impossible whilst under so vastly 
superior fire of artillery to dig efficient trenches, or to properly 
reorganize the line, after the confusion and demoralization 
caused by the first great gas surprise and the subsequent 
almost daily gas attacks. Nor was it until after this date 
(May 8th) that effective preventives had been devised and 
provided. In these circumstances a violent bombardment of 
nearly the whole of the 5th Corps front broke out at 7 a.m. 
on the morning of the 8th, which gradually concentrated on 


the front of the Division between north and south of Frezen- 
berg. This fire completely obliterated the trenches and 
caused enormous losses. 


The artillery bombardment was shortly followed by a 
heavy infantry attack, before which our line had to give way. 

I relate what happened in Sir Herbert Plumer's own 
words : 

" The right of one Brigade was broken about 10.15 a.m. ; 
then its centre, and then part of the left of the Brigade 
in the next section to the south. The Princess Patricia's 
Canadian Light Infantry, however, although suffering very 
heavily, stuck to their fire or support trenches throughout the 
day. At this time two battalions were moved to General 
Headquarters 2nd line astride the Menin road to support 
and cover the left of their Division. 

" At 12.25 p.m. the centre of a Brigade further to the left 
also broke ; its right battalion, however, the ist Suffolks, 
which had been refused to cover a gap, still held on and 
were apparently surrounded and overwhelmed. Meanwhile, 
three more battalions had been moved up to reinforce, two 
other battalions were moved up in support to General Head- 
quarters line, and an Infantry Brigade came up to the grounds 
of Vlamertinghe Chateau in Corps Reserve. 

"At 11.30 a.m. a small party of Germans attempted to 
advance against the left of the British line, but were destroyed 
by the 2nd Essex Regiment. 

" A counter-attack was launched at 3.30 p.m. by the ist 
York and Lancaster Regiment, 3rd Middlesex Regiment, 
2nd East Surrey Regiment, 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and 
the ist Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The counter-attack 
reached Frezenberg, but was eventually driven back and held 
up on a line running about north and south through Ver- 
lorenhoek, despite repeated efforts to advance. The I2th 
London Regiment on the left succeeded at great cost in 


reaching the original trench line, and did considerable exe- 
cution with their machine gun. 

" The 7th Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the 
ist East Lancashire Regiment attacked in a north-easterly 
direction towards Wieltje, and connected the old trench line 
with the ground gained by the counter-attack, the line being 
consolidated during the night. 

" During the night orders were received that two Cavalry 
Divisions would be moved up and placed at the disposal of 
the 5th Corps, and a Territorial Division would be moved 
up to be used if required. 

" On the gth the Germans again repeated their bom- 
bardment. Very heavy shell fire was concentrated for two 
hours on the trenches of the 2nd Gloucestershire Regiment 
and 2nd Cameron Highlanders, followed by an infantry 
attack which was successfully repulsed. The Germans again 
bombarded the salient, and a further attack in the after- 
noon succeeded in occupying 150 yards of trench. The 
Gloucesters counter-attacked, but suffered heavily, and the 
attack failed. The salient being very exposed to shell fire 
from both flanks, as well as in front, it was deemed advisable 
not to attempt to retake the trench at night, and a retrench- 
ment was therefore dug across it. 

" At 3 p.m. the enemy started to shell the whole front 
of the centre Division, and it was reported that the right 
Brigade of this Division was being heavily punished, but 
continued to maintain its line. 

" The trenches of the Brigades on the left centre were 
also heavily shelled during the day, and attacked by infantry. 
Both attacks were repulsed. 


" On the loth instant the trenches on cither side of the 
Menin-Ypres Road were shelled very severely all the morn- 
ing. The 2nd Cameron Highlanders, cjth Royal Scots,* and 
Query, <jth Argyll and Sutherland Highlander. 


the 3rd and 4th King's Royal Rifles, however, repulsed an 
attack made, under cover of gas, with heavy loss. Finally, 
when the trenches had been practically destroyed and a 
large number of the garrison buried, the 3rd King's Royal 
Rifles and 4th Rifle Brigade fell back to the trenches imme- 
diately west of Bellewaarde Wood. So heavy had been the 
shell fire that the proposal to join up the line with a switch 
through the wood had to be abandoned, the trees broken by 
the shells forming an impassable entanglement. 

" After a comparatively quiet night and morning (loth- 
nth) the hostile artillery fire was concentrated on the trenches 
of the 2nd Cameron Highlanders and ist Argyll and Suther- 
land Highlanders at a slightly more northern point than on 
the previous day. The Germans attacked in force and gained 
a footing in part of the trenches, but were promptly ejected 
by a supporting company of the gth Royal Scots.* After 
a second short artillery bombardment the Germans again 
attacked about 4.15 p.m., but were again repulsed by rifle 
and machine-gun fire. A third bombardment followed, and 
this time the Germans succeeded in gaining a trench or 
rather what was left of it a local counter-attack failing. 
However, during the night the enemy were again driven out. 
The trench by this time being practically non-existent, the 
garrison found it untenable under the very heavy shell fire 
the enemy brought to bear upon it, and the trench was 
evacuated. Twice more did the German snipers creep back 
into it, and twice more they were ejected. Finally, a re- 
trenchment was made, cutting off the salient which had been 
contested throughout the day. It was won owing solely to the 
superior weight and number of the enemy's guns, but both our 
infantry and our artillery took a very heavy toll of the enemy, 
and the ground lost has proved of little use to the enemy. 

" On the remainder of the front the day passed com- 
paratively quietly, though most parts of the line underwent 
intermittent shelling by guns of various calibres. 

* Query, gth Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. 


" With the assistance of the Royal Flying Corps the 
3 ist Heavy Battery scored a direct hit on a German gun, 
and the North Midland Heavy Battery got on to some German 
howitzers with great success. 

" With the exception of another very heavy burst of 
shell fire against the right Division early in the morning 
the 1 2th passed uneventfully. 

" On the night of the I2th-i3th the line was re-organized, 
the centre Division retiring into Army Reserve to rest, and 
their places being taken in the trenches by the two Cavalry 
Divisions ; the Artillery and Engineers of the centre Division 
forming with them what was known as the ' Cavalry Force ' 
under the command of General De Lisle. 


" On the I3th the various reliefs having been completed 
without incident, the heaviest bombardment yet experienced 
broke out at 4.30 a.m., and continued with little intermission 
throughout the day. At about 7.45 a.m. the Cavalry Brigade 
astride the railway, having suffered very severely, and their 
trenches having been obliterated, fell back about 800 yards. 
The North Somerset Yeomanry on the right of the Brigade, 
although also suffering severely, hung on to their trenches 
throughout the day, and actually advanced and attacked 
the enemy with the bayonet. The Brigade on its right also 
maintained its position ; as did also the Cavalry Division, 
except the left squadron which, when reduced to sixteen 
men, fell back. The 2nd Essex Regiment, realizing the 
situation, promptly charged and retook the trench, holding 
it till relieved by the Cavalry. Meanwhile a counter-attack 
by two Cavalry Brigades was launched at 2.30 p.m., and 
succeeded, in spite of very heavy shrapnel and rifle fire, in 
regaining the original line of trenches, turning out the Ger- 
mans who had entered it, and in some cases pursuing them 
for some distance. But a very heavy shell fire was again 
opened on them, and they were again compelled to retire 
vn. 14 


to an irregular line in rear, principally the craters of shell 
holes. The enemy in their counter-attack suffered very 
severe losses. 

" The fighting in other parts of the line was little less 
severe. The ist East Lancashire Regiment were shelled out 
of their trenches, but their support company and the 2nd 
Essex Regiment, again acting on their own initiative, won 
them back. The enemy penetrated into the farm at the 
north-east corner of the line, but the ist Rifle Brigade, after 
a severe struggle, expelled them. The ist Hampshire Regi- 
ment also repelled an attack, and killed every German who 
got within fifty yards of their trenches. The 5th London 
Regiment, despite very heavy casualties, maintained their 
position unfalteringly. At the southern end of the line the 
left Brigade was once again heavily shelled, as indeed was 
the whole front. At the end of a very hard day's fighting our 
line remained in its former position, with the exception of 
the short distance lost by one Cavalry Division. Later, the 
line was pushed forward, and a new line was dug in a less 
exposed position, slightly in rear of that originally held. 
The night passed quietly. 

" Working parties of from 1,200 to 1,800 men have been 
found every night by a Territorial Division and other units 
for work on rear lines of defence, in addition to the work 
performed by the garrisons in reconstructing the front line 
trenches which were daily destroyed by shell fire. 

" The work performed by the Royal Flying Corps has 
been invaluable. Apart from the hostile aeroplanes actually 
destroyed, our airmen have prevented a great deal of aerial 
reconnaissance by the enemy, and have registered a large 
number of targets with our artillery. 


" There have been many cases of individual gallantry. 
As instances may be given the following : 

" During one of the heavy attacks made against our 


infantry gas was seen rolling forward from the enemy's 
trenches. Private Lynn of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers at 
once rushed to the machine gun without waiting to adjust 
his respirator. Single-handed he kept his gun in action the 
whole time the gas was rolling over, actually hoisting it on 
the parapet to get a better field of fire. Although nearly- 
suffocated by the gas, he poured a stream of lead into the 
advancing enemy and checked their attack. He was carried 
to his dug-out, but, hearing another attack was imminent, 
he tried to get back to his gun. Twenty-four hours later he 
died in great agony from the effects of the gas. 

" A young subaltern in a cavalry regiment went forward 
alone one afternoon to reconnoitre. He got into a wood, 
1,200 yards in front of our lines, which he found occupied by 
Germans, and came back with the information that the 
enemy had evacuated a trench and were digging another 
information which proved most valuable to the artillery as 
well as to his own unit. 

" A patrol of two officers and a non-commissioned officer 
of the ist Cambridgeshires went out one night to reconnoitre 
a German trench 350 yards away. Creeping along the parapet 
of the trench, they heard sounds indicating the presence of 
six or seven of the enemy. Further on they heard deep 
snores, apparently proceeding from a dug-out immediately 
beneath them. Although they knew that the garrison of the 
trench outnumbered them, they decided to procure an iden- 
tification. Unfortunately in pulling out a clasp knife with 
which to cut off the sleeper's identity disc, one of the officer's 
revolvers went off. A conversation in agitated whispers 
broke out in the German trench, but the patrol crept safely 
away, the garrison being too startled to fire. 

" Despite the very severe shelling to which the troops 
had been subjected, which obliterated trenches and caused 
very many casualties, the spirit of all ranks remains excellent. 
The enemy's losses, particularly on the loth and I3th, have 
unquestionably been serious. On the latter day they evacu- 


ated trenches (in face of the cavalry counter-attack) in which 
were afterwards found quantities of equipment and some of 
their own wounded. The enemy have been seen stripping 
our dead, and on three occasions men in khaki have been 
seen advancing." 


The fight went on by the exchange of desultory shell 
and rifle fire, but without any remarkable incident until the 
morning of May 24th. During this period, however, the 
French on our left had attained considerable success. On 
the I5th instant they captured Steenstraate and the trenches 
in Het Sas, and on the i6th they drove the enemy headlong 
over the canal, finding two thousand German dead. On the 
I7th they made a substantial advance on the east side of the 
canal, and on the 2Oth they repelled a German counter- 
attack, making a further advance in the same direction, and 
taking one hundred prisoners. 

On the early morning of the 24th a violent outburst of 
gas against nearly the whole front was followed by heavy 
shell fire, and the most determined attack was delivered 
against our position east of Ypres. 

The hour the attack commenced was 2.45 a.m. A large 
proportion of the men were asleep, and the attack was too 
sudden to give them time to put on their respirators. 

The 2nd Royal Irish and the gth Argyll and Sutherland 
Highlanders, overcome by gas fumes, were driven out of a 
farm held in front of the left Division, and this the enemy 
proceeded to hold and fortify. 

All attempts to retake this farm during the day failed, 
and during the night of the 24th-25th the General Officer 
Commanding the left Division decided to take up a new line 
which, although slightly in rear of the old one, he considered 
to be a much better position. This operation was success- 
fully carried out. 

Throughout the day the whole line was subjected to one 
of the most violent artillery attacks which it had ever under- 


gone ; and the 5th Corps and the Cavalry Divisions en- 
gaged had to fight hard to maintain their positions. On the 
following day, however, the line was consolidated, joining 
the right of the French at the same place as before, and 
passing through Wieltje (which was strongly fortified) in a 
southerly direction on to Hooge, where the Cavalry have 
since strongly occupied the chateau, and pushed our line 
further east. 


V. In pursuance of a promise which I made to the French 
Co;nmander-in-Chief to support an attack which his troops 
were making on the gth May between the right of my line 
and Arras, I directed Sir Douglas Haig to carry out on that 
date an attack on the German trenches in the neighbourhood 
of Rougebanc (north-west of Fromelles) by the 4th Corps, 
and between Neuve Chapelle and Givenchy by the ist and 
Indian Corps. 

The bombardment of the enemy's positions commenced 
at 5 a.m. 

Half-an-hour later the 8th Division of the 4th Corps 
captured the first line of German trenches about Rougebanc, 
and some detachments seized a few localities beyond this 
line. It was soon found, however, that the position was 
much stronger than had been anticipated, and that a more 
extensive artillery preparation was necessary to crush the 
resistance offered by his numerous fortified posts. 

Throughout the gth and loth repeated efforts were made 
to make further progress. Not only was this found to be 
impossible, but the violence of the enemy's machine-gun fire 
from his posts on the flanks rendered the captured trenches 
so difficult to hold that all the units of the 4th Corps had to 
retire to their original position by the morning of the loth. 

The ist and Indian Divisions south of Ncuve Chapellc 
met with no greater success, and on the evening of the loth 
I sanctioned Sir Douglas Haig's proposal to concentrate all 
our available resources on the southern point of attack. 

214 APPENDIX 1. 

The 7th Division was moved round from the 4th Corps 
area to support this attack, and I directed the General Officer 
Commanding the First Army to delay it long enough to 
ensure a powerful and deliberate artillery preparation. 

The operations of the gth and loth formed part of a 
general plan of attack which the Allies were conjointly con- 
ducting on a line extending from the north of Arras to the 
south of Armentieres ; and, although immediate progress 
was not made during this time by the British forces, their 
attack assisted in securing the brilliant successes attained by 
the French forces on their right, not only by holding the 
enemy in their front, but by drawing off a part of the German 
reinforcements which were coming up to support their forces 
east of Arras. 

It was decided that the attack should be resumed on the 
night of the I2th instant, but the weather continued very 
dull and misty, interfering much with artillery observation. 
Orders were finally issued, therefore, for the action to com- 
mence on the night of the I5th instant. 


On the I5th May I moved the Canadian Division into 
the ist Corps area and placed them at the disposal of Sir 
Douglas Haig. 

The infantry of the Indian Corps and the 2nd Division 
of the ist Corps advanced to the attack of the enemy's 
trenches which extended from Richebourg L'Avoue in a 
south-westerly direction. 

Before daybreak the 2nd Division had succeeded in cap- 
turing two lines of the enemy's trenches, but the Indian 
Corps were unable to make any progress owing to the strength 
of the enemy's defences in the neighbourhood of Richebourg 

At daybreak the yth Division, on the right of the 2nd, 
advanced to the attack, and by 7 a.m. had entrenched them- 
selves on a line running nearly North and South, half-way 


between their original trenches and La Quinque Rue, having 
cleared and captured several lines of the enemy's trenches, 
including a number of fortified posts. 

As it was found impossible for the Indian Corps to make 
any progress in face of the enemy's defences, Sir Douglas 
Haig directed the attack to be suspended at this point and 
ordered the Indian Corps to form a defensive flank. 

The remainder of the day was spent in securing and con- 
solidating positions which had been won, and endeavouring 
to unite the inner flanks of the yth and 2nd Divisions, which 
were separated by trenches and posts strongly held by the 

Various attempts which were made throughout the day 
to secure this object had not succeeded at nightfall in driving 
the enemy back. 

The German communications leading to the rear of their 
positions were systematically shelled throughout the night. 

About two hundred prisoners were captured on the i6th 

Fighting was resumed at daybreak ; and by n o'clock 
the yth Division had made a considerable advance, capturing 
several more of the enemy's trenches. The task allotted to 
this Division was to push on in the direction of Rue D'Ouvert, 
Chapelle St. Roch, and Canteleux. 

The 2nd Division was directed to push on when the situa- 
tion permitted towards the Rue du Marais and Violaines. 

The Indian Division was ordered to extend its front far 
enough to enable it to keep touch with the left of the 2nd 
Division when they advanced. 

On this clay I gave orders for the 5ist (Highland) Division 
to move into the neighbourhood of Estaires to be ready to 
support the operations of the First Army. 

At about noon the enemy was driven out of the trenches 
and posts which he occupied between the two Divisions, the 
inner flanks of which were thus enabled to join hands. 

By nightfall the 2nd and 7th Divisions had made good 


progress, the area of captured ground being considerably 
extended to the right by the successful operations of the 

The state of the weather on the morning of the i8th 
much hindered an effective artillery bombardment, and 
further attacks had, consequently, to be postponed. 

Infantry attacks were made throughout the line in the 
course of the afternoon and evening ; but, although not 
very much progress was made, the line was advanced to the 
La Quinque Rue-Bethune Road before nightfall. 

On the igth May the yth and 2nd Divisions were drawn 
out of the line to rest. The 7th Division was relieved by the 
Canadian Division and the 2nd Division by the 5ist (High- 
land) Division. 

Sir Douglas Haig placed the Canadian and 5ist Divisions, 
together with the artillery of the 2nd and 7th Divisions, under 
the command of Lieutenant-General Alderson, whom he 
directed to conduct the operations which had hitherto been 
carried on by the General Officer Commanding First Corps ; 
and he directed the 7th Division to remain in Army Reserve. 

During the night of the igth-2oth a small post of the 
enemy in front of La Quinque Rue was captured. 

During the night of the 2Oth-2ist the Canadian Division 
brilliantly carried on the excellent progress made by the 
yth Division by seizing several of the enemy's trenches and 
pushing forward their whole line several hundred yards. 
A number of prisoners and some machine guns were captured. 

On the 22nd instant the 5ist (Highland) Division was 
attached to the Indian Corps, and the General Officer Com- 
manding the Indian Corps took charge of the operations at 
La Quinque Rue, Lieutenant-General Alderson with the 
Canadians conducting the operations to the south of that 

On this day the Canadian Division extended their line 
slightly to the right and repulsed three very severe hostile 


On the 24th and 25th May the 47th Division (2nd London 
Territorial) succeeded in taking some more of the enemy's 
trenches and making good the ground gained to the east 
and north. 

I had now reason to consider that the battle, which was 
commenced by the First Army on the Qth May and renewed 
on the i6th, having attained for the moment the immediate 
object I had in view, should not be further actively pro- 
ceeded with ; and I gave orders to Sir Douglas Haig to cur- 
tail his artillery attack and to strengthen and consolidate 
the ground he had won. 


In the battle of Festubert above described the enemy 
was driven from a position which was strongly entrenched 
and fortified, and ground was won on a front of four miles 
to an average depth of 600 yards. 

The enemy is known to have suffered very heavy losses, 
and in the course of the battle 785 prisoners and 10 machine 
guns were captured. A number of machine guns were also 
destroyed by our fire. 

During the period under report the Army under n.y 
command has taken over trenches occupied by some other 
French Divisions. 

I am much indebted to General D'Urbal, commanding 
the loth French Army, for the valuable and efficient support 
received throughout the battle of Festubert from three groups 
of French 75 millimetre guns. 

In spite of very unfavourable weather conditions, render- 
ing observation most difficult, our own artillery did excel- 
lent work throughout the battle. 


VI. During the important operations described above, 
which were carried on by the First and Second Armies, the 
3rd Corps was particularly active in making demonstrations 


with a view to holding the enemy in its front and preventing 
reinforcements reaching the threatened area. 

As an instance of the successful attempts to deceive the 
enemy in this respect it may be mentioned that on the after- 
noon of the 24th instant a bombardment of about an hour 
was carried out by the 6th Division with the object of dis- 
tracting attention from the Ypres salient. 

Considerable damage was done to the enemy's parapets 
and wire ; and that the desired impression was produced 
on the enemy is evident from the German wireless news on 
that day, which stated " West of Lille the English attempts 
to attack were nipped in the bud." 

In previous reports I have drawn attention to the enter- 
prise displayed by the troops of the 3rd Corps in conducting 
night reconnaissances, and to the courage and resource shown 
by officers' and other patrols in the conduct of these minor 

Throughout the period under report this display of 
activity has been very marked all along the 3rd Corps front, 
and much valuable information and intelligence have been 


VII. I have much pleasure in again expressing my warm 
appreciation of the admirable manner in which all branches 
of the Medical Services now in the field, under the direction 
of Surgeon-General Sir Arthur Sloggett, have met and dealt 
with the many difficult situations resulting from the opera- 
tions during the last two months. 

The medical units at the front were frequently exposed 
to the enemy's fire, and many casualties occurred amongst 
the officers of the regimental Medical Service. At all times 
the officers, non-commissioned officers and men, and nurses 
carried out their duties with fearless bravery and great de- 
votion to the welfare of the sick and wounded. 

The evacuation of casualties from the front to the Base 
and to England was expeditiously accomplished by the 


Administrative Medical Staffs at the front and on the Lines 
of Communication. All ranks employed in units of evacua- 
tion and in Base Hospitals have shown the highest skill and 
untiring zeal and energy in alleviating the condition of those 
who passed through their hands. 

The whole organization of the Medical Services reflects 
the highest credit on all concerned. 


VIII. I have once more to call your Lordship's attention 
to the part taken by the Royal Flying Corps in the general 
progress of the campaign, and I wish particularly to mention 
the invaluable assistance they rendered in the operations 
described in this report, under the able direction of Major- 
General Sir David Henderson. 

The Royal Flying Corps is becoming more and more an 
indispensable factor in combined operations. In co-operation 
with the artillery, in particular, there has been continuous 
improvement both in the methods and in the technical 
material employed. The ingenuity and technical skill dis- 
played by the officers of the Royal Flying Corps, in effecting 
this improvement, have been most marked. 

Since my last dispatch there has been a considerable 
increase both in the number and in the activity of German 
aeroplanes in our front. During this period there have been 
more than sixty combats in the air, in which not one British 
aeroplane has been lost. As these fights take place almost 
invariably over or behind the German lines, only one hostile 
aeroplane has been brought down in our territory. Five 
more, however, have been definitely wrecked behind their 
own lines, and many have been chased down and forced to 
land in most unsuitable ground. 

In spite of the opposition of hostile aircraft, and the 
great number of anti-aircraft guns employed by the enemy, 
air reconnaissance has been carried out with regularity and 


I desire to bring to your Lordship's notice the assistance 
given by the French Military Authorities, and in particular 
by General Hirschauer, Director of the French Aviation 
Service, and his assistants, Colonel Bottieaux and Colonel 
Stammler, in the supply of aeronautical material, without 
which the efficiency of the Royal Flying Corps would have 
been seriously impaired. 


IX. In this dispatch I wish again to remark upon the 
exceptionally good work done throughout this campaign by 
the Army Service Corps and by the Army Ordnance Depart- 
ment, not only in the field, but also on the Lines of Com- 
munication and at the Base ports. 

To foresee and meet the requirements in the matter of 
Ammunition, Stores, Equipment, Supplies, and Transport 
has entailed on the part of the officers, non-commissioned 
officers, and men of these Services a sustained effort which 
has never been relaxed since the beginning of the war, and 
which has been rewarded by the most conspicuous success. 

The close co-operation of the Railway Transport Depart- 
ment, whose excellent work, in combination with the French 
Railway Staff, has ensured the regularity of the maintenance 
services, has greatly contributed to this success. 

The degree of efficiency to which these Services have 
been brought was well demonstrated in the course of the 
Second Battle of Ypres. 

The roads between Poperinghe and Ypres, over which 
transport, supply, and ammunition columns had to pass, 
were continually searched by hostile heavy artillery during 
the day and night ; whilst the passage of the canal through 
the town of Ypres, and along the roads east of that town, 
could only be effected under most difficult and dangerous 
conditions as regards hostile shell fire. Yet, throughout the 
whole five or six weeks during which these conditions prevailed, 
the work was carried on with perfect order and efficiency. 



X. Since the date of my last report some Divisions of 
the " New " Army have arrived in this country. 

I made a close inspection of one Division, formed up on 
parade, and have at various times seen several units belong- 
ing to others. 

These Divisions have as yet had very little experience 
in actual fighting ; but, judging from all I have seen, I am of 
opinion that they ought to prove a valuable addition to any 
fighting force. 

As regards the Infantry, their physique is excellent, 
whilst their bearing and appearance on parade reflects great 
credit on the officers and staffs responsible for their training. 
The units appear to be thoroughly well officered and con.- 
manded. The equipment is in good order and efficient. 

Several units of artillery have been tested in the firing 
line behind the trenches, and I hear very good reports of 
them. Their shooting has been extremely good, and they 
are quite fit to take their places in the line. 

The Pioneer Battalions have created a very favourable 
impression, the officers being keen and ingenious, and the 
men of good physique and good diggers. The equipment is 
suitable. The training in field works has been good, but, 
generally speaking, they require the assistance of Regular 
Royal Engineers as regards laying out of important works. 
Man for man in digging the battalions should do practically 
the same amount of work as an equivalent number of sappers, 
and in rivetting, entanglement, etc., a great deal more than 
the ordinary infantry battalions. 


XI. During the months of April and May several divisions 
of the Territorial Force joined the Army under my com- 

Experience has shown that these troops have now reached 


a standard of efficiency which enables them to be usefully 
employed in complete divisional units. 

Several divisions have been so employed ; some in the 
trenches, others in the various offensive and defensive opera- 
tions reported in this dispatch. 

In whatever kind of work these units have been engaged, 
they have all borne an active and distinguished part, and 
have proved themselves thoroughly reliable and efficient. 

The opinion I have expressed in former dispatches as to 
the use and value of the Territorial Force has been fully 
justified by recent events. 


XII. The Prime Minister was kind enough to accept an 
invitation from me to visit the Army in France, and arrived 
at my Headquarters on the 3oth May. 

Mr. Asquith made an exhaustive tour of the front, the 
hospitals, and all the administrative arrangements made by 
Corps Commanders for the health and comfort of men behind 
the trenches. 

It was a great encouragement to all ranks to see the 
Prime Minister amongst them ; and the eloquent words 
which on several occasions he addressed to the troops had a 
most powerful and beneficial effect. 

As I was desirous that the French Commander-in-Chief 
should see something of the British troops, I asked General 
Joffre to be kind enough to inspect a division on parade. 

The General accepted my invitation, and on the 2yth 
May he inspected the yth Division, under the command of 
Major-General H. de la P. Gough, C.B., which was resting 
behind the trenches. 

General Joffre subsequently expressed to me in a letter 
the pleasure it gave him to see the British troops, and his 
appreciation of their appearance on parade. He requested 
me to make this known to all ranks. 

The Moderator of the Church of Scotland, the Right 


Reverend Dr. Wallace Williamson, Dean of the Order of the 
Thistle, visited the Army in France between the 7th and 
17th May, and made a tour of the Scottish regiments with 
excellent results. 


XIII. In spite of the constant strain put upon them by 
the arduous nature of the fighting which they are called upon 
to cany out daily and almost hourly, the spirit which ani- 
mates all ranks of the Army in France remains high and 

They meet every demand made upon them with the 
utmost cheerfulness. 

This splendid spirit is particularly manifested by the 
men in hospital, even amongst those who are mortally 

The invariable question which comes from lips hardly 
able to utter a sound is, " How are things going on at the 
front ? " 


XIV. In conclusion, I desire to bring to Your Lordship's 
special notice the valuable services rendered by General Sir 
Douglas Haig in his successful handling of the troops of the 
First Army throughout the Battle of Festubert, and Lieu- 
tenant-General Sir Herbert Plumer for his fine defence of 
Ypres throughout the arduous and difficult operations during 
the latter part of April and the month of May. 

I have the honour to be, 

Your Lordship's most obedient Servant, 



The British Army in France. 



From the General Commanding the Mediterranean Expe- 
ditionary Force. 
To the Secretary of State for War, War Office, London, S.W. 

General Headquarters, 

Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, 
zoth May, 1915. 


I have the honour to submit my report on the operations 
in the Gallipoli Peninsula up to and including the 5th May. 

In accordance with your Lordship's instructions I left 
London on I3th March with my General Staff by special 
train to Marseilles, and thence in H.M.S. Phaeton to the 
scene of the naval operations in the Eastern Mediterranean, 
reaching Tenedos on the I7th March shortly after noon. 

Immediately on arrival I conferred with Vice-Admiral 
de Robeck, Commanding the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet , 
General d'Amade, Commanding the French Corps Expe- 
ditionnaire ; and Centre Amiral Guepratte, in command of 
the French Squadron. At this conference past difficulties 
were explained to me, and the intention to make a fresh 
attack on the morrow was announced. The amphibious 
battle between warships and land fortresses took place next 
day, the i8th of March. I witnessed these stupendous events, 
and thereupon cabled your Lordship my reluctant deduction 



that the co-operation of the whole of the force under my 
command would be required to enable the Fleet effectively 
to force the Dardanelles. 


By that time I had already carried out a preliminary 
reconnaissance of the north-western shore of the Gallipoli 
Peninsula, from its isthmus, where it is spanned by the Bulair 
fortified lines, to Cape Helles, at its extremest point. From 
Bulair this singular feature runs in a south-westerly direction 
for 52 miles, attaining near its centre a breadth of 12 miles. 
The northern coast of the northern half of the promontory- 
slopes downwards steeply to the Gulf of Xeros, in a chain 
of hills, which extend as far as Cape Sulva. The precipitous 
fall of these hills precludes landing, except at a few narrow 
gullies, far too restricted for any serious military movements. 
The southern half of the peninsula is shaped like a badly- 
worn boot. The ankle lies between Gaba Tepe and Kalkmaz 
Dagh ; beneath the heel lie the cluster of forts at Kilid 
Bahr ; whilst the toe is that promontory five miles in width, 
stretching from Tekke Burnu to Sedd-el-Bahr. 

The three dominating features in this southern section 
seemed to me to be : 

(1) Saribair Mountain, running up in a succession of 
almost perpendicular escarpments to 970 feet. The 
whole mountain seemed to be a network of ravines and 
covered with thick jungle. 

(2) Kilid Bahr plateau, which rises, a natural fortifi- 
cation artificially fortified, to a height of 700 feet to 
cover the forts of the Narrows from an attack from the 

(3) Achi Babi, a hill 600 feet in height, don. mating 
at long field gun range what I have described as being 
the toe of the peninsula. 

A peculiarity to be noted as regards this last southern 
sector is that from Achi Babi to Cape Helles the ground is 
vn. 15 


hollowed out like a spoon, presenting only its outer edges to 
direct fire from the sea. The inside of the spoon appears to 
be open and undulating, but actually it is full of spurs, nul- 
lahs, and confused under-features. 


Generally speaking the coast is precipitous, and good 
landing-places are few. Just south of Tekke Burnu is a small 
sandy bay (W), and half a mile north of it is another small 
break in the cliffs (X). Two miles farther up the coast the 
mouth of a stream indents these same cliffs (Y 2), and yet 
another mile and a half up a scrub-covered gully looked as 
if active infantry might be able to scramble up it on to 
heights not altogether dissimilar to those of Abraham, by 
Quebec (Y). Inside Sedd-el-Bahr is a sandy beach (V), about 
300 yards across, facing a semi-circle of steeply-rising ground, 
as the flat bottom of a half -saucer faces the rim, a rim flanked 
on one side by an old castle, on the other by a modern fort. 
By Eski Hissarlik, on the east of Morto Bay (S), was another 
small beach, which was, however, dominated by the big 
guns from Asia. Turning northwards again, there are two 
good landing-places on either side of Gaba Tepe. Farther 
to the north of that promontory the beach was supposed to 
be dangerous and difficult. In most of these landing-places 
the trenches and lines of wire entanglements were plainly 
visible from on board ship. What seemed to be gun em- 
placements and infantry redoubts could also be made out 
through a telescope, but of the full extent of these defences 
and of the forces available to man them there was no possi- 
bility of judging except by practical test. 

Altogether the result of this and subsequent reconnais- 
sances was to convince me that nothing but a thorough and 
systematic scheme for flinging the whole of the troops under 
my command very rapidly ashore could be expected to meet 
with success ; whereas, on the other hand, a tentative or 
piecemeal programme was bound to lead to disaster. The 


landing of an army upon the theatre of operations I have 
described a theatre strongly garrisoned throughout, and 
prepared for any such attempt involved difficulties for which 
no precedent was forthcoming in military history except 
possibly in the sinister legends of Xerxes. The beaches were 
either so well defended by works and guns or else so restricted 
by nature that it did not seem possible, even by two or three 
simultaneous landings, to pass the troops ashore quickly 
enough to enable them to maintain themselves against the 
rapid concentration and counter-attack which the enemy 
was bound in such case to attempt. It became necessary, 
therefore, not only to land simultaneously at as many points 
as possible, but to threaten to land at other points as well. 
The first of these necessities involved another unavoidable 
if awkward contingency, the separation by considerable 
intervals of the force. 

The weather was also bound to play a vital part in my 
landing. Had it been British weather there would have 
been no alternative but instantly tu give up the adventure. 
To land two or three thousand men, and then to have to 
break off and leave them exposed for a week to the attacks 
of 34,000 regular troops, with a hundred guns at their back 
was not an eventuality to be lightly envisaged. Whatever 
happened the weather must always remain an incalculable 
factor, but at least by delay till the end of April we had a 
fair chance of several days of consecutive calm. 


Before doing anything else I had to redistribute the 
troops on the transports to suit the order of their disembar- 
kation. The bulk of the forces at my disposal had, perforce, 
been embarked without its having been possible to pay due 
attention to the operation upon which I now proposed that 
they should be launched. 

Owing to lack of facilities at Mudros redistribution in 
that harbour was out of the question. With your Lordship's 


approval, therefore, I ordered all the transports, except 
those of the Australian Infantry Brigade and the details 
encamped at Lemnos Island, to the Egyptian ports. On 
the 24th March I myself, together with the General Staff, 
proceeded to Alexandria, where I remained until yth April, 
working out the allocation of troops to transports in minutest 
detail as a prelude to the forthcoming disembarkation. 
General d'Amade did likewise. 

On the ist April the remainder of the General Head- 
quarters, which had not been mobilized when I left England, 
arrived at Alexandria. 

Apart from the rearrangements of the troops, my visit 
to Egypt was not without profit, since it afforded me oppor- 
tunities of conferring with the G.O.C. Egypt and of making 
myself acquainted with the troops, drawn from all parts of 
the French Republic and of the British Empire, which it was 
to be my privilege to command. 

By the 7th April my preparations were sufficiently ad- 
vanced to enable me to return with my General Staff to 
Lemnos, so as to put the finishing touches to my plan in 
close co-ordination with the Vice- Admiral Commanding the 
Eastern Mediterranean Fleet. 

The covering force of the 2gth Division left Mudros Har- 
bour on the evening of 23rd April for the five beaches, S, V, 
W, X, and Y. Of these, V, W, and X were to be main land- 
ings, the landings at S and Y being made mainly to protect 
the flanks, to disseminate the forces of the enemy, and to 
interrupt the arrival of his reinforcements. The landings 
at S and Y were to take place at dawn, whilst it was planned 
that the first troops for V, W, and X beaches should reach 
the shore simultaneously at 5.30 a.m. after half an hour's 
bombardment from the Fleet. 

The transports conveying the covering force arrived off 
Tenedos on the morning of the 24th, and during the after- 
noon the troops were transferred to the warships and fleet- 
sweepers in which they were to approach the shore. About 


midnight these ships, each towing a number of cutters and 
other small boats, silently slipped their cables and, escorted 
by the 3rd Squadron of the Fleet, steamed slowly towards 
their final rendezvous at Cape Helles. The rendezvous was 
reached just before dawn on the 25th. The morning was 
absolutely still ; there was no sign of life on the shore ; a 
thin veil of mist hung motionless over the promontory ; the 
surface of the sea was as smooth as glass. The four battle- 
ships and four cruisers which formed the 3rd Squadron at 
once took up the positions that had been allotted to them, 
and at 5 a.m., it being then light enough to fire, a violent 
bombardment of the enemy's defences was begun. Mean- 
while the troops were being rapidly transferred to the small 
boats in which they were to be towed ashore. Not a move 
on the part of the enemy ; except for shells thrown from the 
Asiatic side of the Straits the guns of the Fleet remained 


The detachment detailed for S beach (Eski Hissarlik 
Point) consisted of the 2nd South Wales Borderers (less one 
company) under Lieut. -Colonel Casson. Their landing was 
delayed by the current, but by 7.30 a.m. it had been success- 
fully effected at the cost of some 50 casualties, and Lieut. - 
Colonel Casson was able to establish his small force on the 
high ground near De Totts Battery. Here he maintained 
himself until the general advance on the 2j\. h brought him 
into touch with the main body. 

The landing on Y beach was entrusted to the King's Own 
Scottish Borderers and the Plymouth (Marine) Battalion, 
Royal Naval Division, specially attached to the zgth Division 
for this task, the whole under the command of Lieut. -Colonel 
Koe. The beach at this point consisted merely of a narrow 
strip of sand at the foot of a crumbling scrub-covered cliff 
some 200 feet high immediately to the west of Krithia. 

A number of small gullies running down the face of the 


cliff facilitated the climb to the summit, and so impracticable 
had these precipices appeared to the Turks that no steps 
had been taken to defend them. Very different would it have 
been had we, as was at one time intended, taken Y 2 for this 
landing. There a large force of infantry, entrenched up to 
their necks, and supported by machine and Hotchkiss guns, 
were awaiting an attempt which could hardly have made 
good its footing. But at Y both battalions were able in the 
first instance to establish themselves on the heights, reserves 
of food, water, and ammunition were hauled up to the top 
of the cliff, and, in accordance with the plan of operations, 
an endeavour was immediately made to gain touch with the 
troops landing at X beach. Unfortunately, the enemy's 
strong detachment from Y 2 interposed, our troops landing 
at X were fully occupied in attacking the Turks immediately 
to their front, and the attempt to join hands was not per- 
severed with. 

Later in the day a large force of Turks were seen to be 
advancing upon the cliffs above Y beach from the direction 
of Krithia, and Colonel Koe was obliged to entrench. From 
this time onward his small force was subjected to strong 
and repeated attacks, supported by field artillery, and owing 
to the configuration of the ground, which here drops inland 
from the edge of the cliff, the guns of the supporting ships 
could render him little assistance. Throughout the after- 
noon and all through the night the Turks made assault after 
assault upon the British line. They threw bombs into the 
trenches, and, favoured by darkness, actually led a pony 
with a machine gun on its back over the defences and were 
proceeding to come into action in the middle of our position 
when they were bayoneted. 

The British repeatedly counter-charged with the bayonet, 
and always drove off the enemy for the moment, but the 
Turks were in a vast superiority and fresh troops took the 
place of those who temporarily fell back. Colonel Koe (since 
died of wounds) had become a casualty early in the day, 


and the number of officers and men killed and wounded 
during the incessant fighting was very heavy. By 7 a.m. 
on the 26th only about half of the King's Own Scottish Bor- 
derers remained to man the entrenchment made for four 
times their number. These brave fellows were absolutely 
worn out with continuous fighting ; it was doubtful if rein- 
forcements could reach them in time, and orders were issued 
for them to be re-embarked. Thanks to H.M.S. Goliath, 
Dublin, Amethyst, and Sapphire, thanks also to the devotion 
of a small rearguard of the King's Own Scottish Borderers, 
which kept off the enemy from lining the cliff, the re-em- 
barkation of the whole of the troops, together with the 
wounded, stores, and ammunition, was safely accomplished, 
and both battalions were brought round the southern end of 
the peninsula. Deplorable as the heavy losses had been, 
and unfortunate as was the tactical failure to make good 
so much ground at the outset, yet, taking the operation as it 
stood, there can be no doubt it has contributed greatly to 
the success of the main attack, seeing that the plucky stand 
made at Y beach had detained heavy columns of the enemy 
from arriving at the southern end of the peninsula during 
what it will be seen was a very touch-and-go struggle. 


The landing-place known as X beach consists of a strip 
of sand some 200 yards long by 8 yards wide at the foot of 
a low cliff. The troops to be landed here were the ist Royal 
Fusiliers, who were to be towed ashore from H.M.S. Im- 
placable in two parties, half a battalion at a time, together 
with a beach working party found by the Anson Battalion, 
Royal Naval Division. About 6 a.m. H.M.S. Implacable, 
with a boldness much admired by the Army, stood quite 
close in to the beach, firing very rapidly with every gun she 
could bring to bear. Thus seconded, the Royal Fusiliers 
made good their landing with but little loss. The battalion 
then advanced to attack the Turkish trenches on the Hill 114, 


situated between V and W beaches, but were heavily counter- 
attacked and forced to give ground. Two more battalions of 
the 87th Brigade soon followed them, and by evening the 
troops had established themselves in an entrenched position 
extending from half a mile round the landing-place and as 
far south as Hill 114. Here they were in touch with the 
Lancashire Fusiliers, who had landed on W beach. Brigadier- 
General Marshall, commanding the 8yth Brigade, had been 
wounded during the day's fighting, but continued in command 
of the brigade. 


The landing on V beach was planned to take place on the 
following lines : 

As soon as the enemy's defences had been heavily bom- 
barded by the Fleet, three companies of the Dublin Fusiliers 
were to be towed ashore. They were to be closely followed by 
the collier River Clyde (Commander Unwin, R.N.), carrying 
between decks the balance of the Dublin Fusiliers, the Munster 
Fusiliers, half a battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, the 
West Riding Field Company, and other details. 

The River Clyde had been specially prepared for the rapid 
disembarkation of her complement, and large openings for 
the exit of the troops had been cut in her sides, giving on 
to a wide gang-plank by which the men could pass rapidly 
into lighters which she had in tow. As soon as the first tows 
had reached land the River Clyde was to be run straight 
ashore. Her lighters were to be placed in position to form a 
gangway between the ship and the beach, and by this means 
it was hoped that 2,000 men could be thrown ashore with the 
utmost rapidity. Further, to assist in covering the landing, 
a battery of machine guns, protected by sandbags, had been 
mounted in her bows. 

The remainder of the covering force detailed for this 
beach was then to follow in tows from the attendant battle- 

V beach is situated immediately to the west of Sedd-el- 


Bahr. Between the bluff on which stands Sedd-el-Bahr 
village and that which is crowned by No. I Fort the ground 
forms a very regular amphitheatre of three or four hundred 
yards radius. The slopes down to the beach are slightly 
concave, so that the whole area contained within the. limits 
of this natural amphitheatre, whose grassy terraces rise 
gently to a height of a hundred feet above the shore, can be 
swept by the fire of a defender. The beach itself is a sandy 
strip some 10 yards wide and 350 yards long, backed along 
almost the whole of its extent by a low sandy escarpment 
about 4 feet high, where the ground falls nearly sheer down 
to the beach. The slight shelter afforded by this escarp- 
ment played no small part in the operations of the succeed- 
ing thirty-two hours. 

At the south-eastern extremity of the beach, between the 
shore and the village, stands the old fort of Sedd-el-Bahr, 
a battered ruin with wide breaches in its walls and mounds 
of fallen masonry within and around it. On the ridge to the 
north, overlooking the amphitheatre, stands a ruined barrack. 
Both of these buildings, as well as No. i Fort, had been long 
bombarded by the Fleet, and the guns of the forts had been 
put out of action ; but their crumbled walls and the ruined 
outskirts of the village afforded cover for riflemen, while from 
the terraced slopes already described the defenders were 
able to command the open beach, as a stage is overlooked 
from the balconies of a theatre. On the very margin of the 
beach a strong barbed-wire entanglement, made of heavier 
metal and longer barbs than I have ever seen elsewhere, ran 
right across from the old fort of Sedd-el-Bahr to the foot of 
the north-western headland. Two-thirds of the way up the 
ridge a second and even stronger entanglement crossed the 
amphitheatre, passing in front of the old barrack and ending 
in the outskirts of the village. A third transverse entangle- 
ment, joining these two, ran up the hill near the eastern end 
of the beach, and almost at right angles to it. Above the 
upper entanglement the ground was scored with the enemy's 


trenches, in one of which four pom-poms were em placed ; 
in others were dummy pom-poms to draw fire, while the 
debris of the shattered buildings on either flank afforded cover 
and concealment for a number of machine guns, which brought 
a cross-fire to bear on the ground already swept by rifle fire 
from the ridge. 

Needless to say, the difficulties in the way of previous 
reconnaissance had rendered it impossible to obtain detailed 
information with regard either to the locality or to the 
enemy's preparations. 

As often happens in war, the actual course of events did 
not quite correspond with the intentions of the Commander. 
The River Clyde came into position off Sedd-el-Bahr in advance 
of the tows, and, just as the latter reached the shore, Com- 
mander Unwin beached his ship also. Whilst the boats and 
the collier were approaching the landing-place the Turks 
made no sign. Up to the very last moment it appeared as 
if the landing was to be unopposed. But the moment the 
first boat touched bottom the storm broke. A tornado of 
fire swept over the beach, the incoming boats, and the collier. 
The Dublin Fusiliers and the naval boats' crews suffered 
exceedingly heavy losses while still in the boats. Those who 
succeeded in landing and in crossing the strip of sand managed 
to gain some cover when they reached the low escarpment on 
the farther side. None of the boats, however, were able to 
get off again, and they and their crews were destroyed upon 
the beach. 

Now came the moment for the River Clyde to pour forth 
her living freight ; but grievous delay was caused here by 
the difficulty of placing the lighters in position between the 
ship and the shore. A strong current hindered the work 
and the enemy's fire was so intense that almost every man 
engaged upon it was immediately shot. Owing, however, 
to the splendid gallantry of the naval working party, the 
lighters were eventually placed in position, and then the 
disembarkation began. 


A company of the Munster Fusiliers led the way ; but, 
short as was the distance, few of the men ever reached the 
farther side of the beach through the hail of bullets which 
poured down upon them from both flanks and the front. 
As the second company followed, the extemporized pier of 
lighters gave way in the current. The end nearest to the 
shore drifted into deep water, and many men who had escaped 
being shot were drowned by the weight of their equipment 
in trying to swim from the lighter to the beach. Undaunted 
workers were still forthcoming, the lighters were again brought 
into position, and the third company of the Munster Fusiliers 
rushed ashore, suffering heaviest loss this time from shrapnel 
as well as from rifle, pom-pom, and machine-gun fire. 

For a space the attempt to land was discontinued. When 
it was resumed the lighters again drifted into deep water, 
with Brigadier-General Napier, Captain Costeker, his Brigade- 
Major, and a number of men of the Hampshire Regiment on 
board. There was nothing for them all but to lie down on 
the lighters, and it was here that General Napier and Captain 
Costeker were killed. At this time, between 10 and n a.m., 
about 1,000 men had left the collier, and of these nearly half 
had been killed or wounded before they could reach the little 
cover afforded by the steep, sandy bank at the top of the 
beach. Further attempts to disembark were now given up. 
Had the troops all been in open boats but few of them would 
have lived to tell the tale. But, most fortunately, the collier 
was so constructed as to afford fairly efficient protection to 
the men who were still on board, and, so long as they made 
no attempt to land, they suffered comparatively little loss. 

Throughout the remainder of the day there was prac- 
tically no change in the position of affairs. The situation was 
probably saved by the machine-guns on the River Clyde, 
which did valuable service in keeping down the enemy's 
fire and in preventing any attempt on their part to launch 
a counter-attack. One half-company of the Dublin Fusi- 
liers, which had been landed at a camber just east of Sc-dd- 


el-Bahr village, was unable to work its way across to V 
beach, and by mid-day had only twenty-five men left. It 
was proposed to divert to Y beach that part of the main body 
which had been intended to land on V beach ; but this would 
have involved considerable delay owing to the distance, 
and the main body was diverted to W beach, where the 
Lancashire Fusiliers had already effected a landing. 

Late in the afternoon part of the Worcestershire Regi- 
ment and the Lancashire Fusiliers worked across the high 
ground from W beach, and seemed likely to relieve the situa- 
tion by taking the defenders of V beach in flank. The pressure 
on their own front, however, and the numerous barbed-wire 
entanglements which intervened, checked this advance, and 
at nightfall the Turkish garrison still held their ground. 
Just before dark some small parties of our men ma'de their 
way along the shore to the outer walls of the Old Fort, and 
when night had fallen the remainder of the infantry from 
the collier were landed. A good force was now available for 
attack, but our troops were at such a cruel disadvantage as 
to position, and the fire of the enemy was still so accurate 
in the bright moonlight, that all attempts to clear the fort 
and the outskirts of the village during the night failed one 
after the other. The wounded who were able to do so with- 
out support returned to the collier under cover of darkness ; 
but otherwise the situation at daybreak on the 26th was 
the same as it had been on the previous day, except that the 
troops first landed were becoming very exhausted. 

Twenty-four hours after the disembarkation began there 
were ashore on V beach the survivors of the Dublin and Mun- 
ster Fusiliers and of two companies of the Hampshire Regi- 
ment. The Brigadier and his Brigade-Major had been killed ; 
Lieutenant-Colonel Carringt on Smith, commanding the Hamp- 
shire Regiment, had been killed and the adjutant had been 
wounded. The Adjutant of the Munster Fusiliers was 
wounded, and the great majority of the senior officers were 
either wounded or killed. The remnant of the landing-party 


still crouched on the beach beneath the shelter of the sandy 
escarpment which had saved so many lives. With them were 
two officers of my General Staff Lieutenant-Colonel Doughty- 
Wylie and Lieutenant-Colonel Williams. These two officers, 
who had landed from the River Clyde, had been striving, 
with conspicuous contempt for danger, to keep all their com- 
rades in good heart during this day and night of ceaseless 
imminent peril. 

Now that it was daylight once more, Lieutenant-Colonels 
Doughty- Wylie and W T illiams set to work to organize an attack 
on the hill above the beach. Any soldier who has endeavoured 
to pull scattered units together after they have been domi- 
nated for many consecutive hours by close and continuous 
fire will be able to take the measure of their difficulties. Fortu- 
nately General Hunter-Weston had arranged with Rear- 
Admiral Wemyss about this same time for a heavy bom- 
bardment to be opened by the ships upon the Old Fort, 
Sedd-el-Bahr Village, the Old Castle north of the village, 
and on the ground leading up from the beach. Under cover of 
this bombardment, and led by Lieutenant-Colonel Doughty- 
Wylie, and Captain Walford, Brigade-Major R.A., the troops 
gained a footing in the village by 10 a.m. They encountered 
a most stubborn opposition and suffered heavy losses from 
the fire of well-concealed riflemen and machine guns. Un- 
deterred by the resistance, and supported by the naval gun- 
fire, they pushed forward, and soon after midday they pene- 
trated to the northern edge of the village, whence they were 
in a position to attack the Old Castle and Hill 141. During 
this advance Captain Walford was killed. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Doughty-Wylie had most gallantly led the attack all the 
way up from the beach through the west side of the village, 
under a galling fire. And now, when, owing so largely to his 
own inspiring example and intrepid courage, the position had 
almost been gained, he was killed while leading the last 
assault. But the attack was pushed forward without waver- 
ing, and, fighting their way across the open with great dash, 


the troops gained the summit and occupied the Old Castle 
and Hill 141 before 2 p.m. 


W beach consists of a strip of deep, powdery sand some 
350 yards long and from 15 to 40 yards wide, situated imme- 
diately south of Tekke Burnu, where a small gully running 
down to the sea opens out a break in the cliffs. On either 
flank of the beach the ground rises precipitously, but, in the 
centre, a number of sand dunes afford a more gradual access 
to the ridge overlooking the sea. Much time and ingenuity 
had been employed by the Turks in turning this landing-place 
into a death trap. Close to the water's edge a broad wire 
entanglement extended the whole length of the shore and 
a supplementary barbed network lay concealed under the 
surface of the sea in the shallows. Land mines and sea mines 
had been laid. The high ground overlooking the beach was 
strongly fortified with trenches to which the gully afforded 
a natural covered approach. A number of machine guns 
also were cunningly tucked away into holes in the cliff so as 
to be immune from a naval bombardment whilst they were 
converging their fire on the wire entanglements. The crest 
of the hill overlooking the beach was in its turn commanded 
by high ground to the north-west and south-east, and 
especially by two strong infantry redoubts near point 138. 
Both these redoubts were protected by wire entanglements 
about 20 feet broad, and could be approached only by a 
bare glacis-like slope leading up from the high ground above 
W beach or from the Cape Helles lighthouse. In addition, 
another separate entanglement ran down from these two 
redoubts to the edge of the cliff near the lighthouse, making 
intercommunication between V and W beaches impossible 
until these redoubts had been captured. 

So strong, in fact, were the defences of W beach that 
the Turks may well have considered them impregnable, and 
it is my firm conviction that no finer feat of arms has ever 


been achieved by the British soldier or any other soldier 
than the storming of these trenches from open boats on 
the morning of 25th April. 

The landing at W had been entrusted to the ist Battalion 
Lancashire Fusiliers (Major Bishop), and it was to the complete 
lack of the senses of danger or of fear of this daring battalion 
that we owed our astonishing success. As in the case of the 
landing at X, the disembarkation had been delayed for half 
an hour, but at 6 a.m. the whole battalion approached the 
shore together, towed by eight picket boats in line abreast, 
each picket boat pulling four ship's cutters. As soon as 
shallow water was reached, the tows were cast off and the 
boats were at once rowed to the shore. Three companies 
headed for the beach and a company on the left of the line 
made for a small ledge of rock immediately under the cliff 
at Tekke Burnu. Brigadier-General Hare, commanding the 
88th Brigade, accompanied this latter party, which escaped 
the cross fire brought to bear upon the beach, and was also 
in a better position than the rest of the battalion to turn the 
wire entanglements. 

While the troops were approaching the shore no shot had 
been fired from the enemy's trenches, but as soon as the first 
boat touched the ground a hurricane of lead swept over the 
battalion. Gallantly led by their officers, the Fusiliers literally 
hurled themselves ashore, and, fired at from right, left, and 
centre, commenced hacking their way through the wire. 
A long line of men was at once mown down as by a scythe, 
but the remainder were not to be denied. Covered by the 
fire of the warships, which had now closed right in to the 
shore, and helped by the flanking fire of the company on the 
extreme left, they broke through the entanglements and 
collected under the cliffs on either side of the beach. Here 
the companies were rapidly re-formed, and set forth to 
storm the enemy's entrenchments wherever they could find 

In making these attacks the bulk of the battalion moved 


up towards Hill 114 whilst a small party worked down towards 
the trenches on the Cape Helles side of the landing-place. 

Several land mines were exploded by the Turks during 
the advance, but the determination of the troops was in 
no way affected. By 10 a.m. three lines of hostile trenches 
were in our hands, and our hold on the beach was assured. 

About 9.30 a.m. more infantry had begun to disembark, 
and two hours later a junction was effected on Hill 114 with 
the troops who had landed on X beach. 

On the right, owing to the strength of the redoubt on 
Hill 138, little progress could be made. The small party of 
Lancashire Fusiliers which had advanced in this direction 
succeeded in reaching the edge of the wire entanglements, 
but were not strong enough to do more, and it was here that 
Major Frankland, Brigade-Major of the 86th Infantry Brigade, 
who had gone forward to make a personal reconnaissance, 
was unfortunately killed. Brigadier-General Hare had been 
wounded earlier in the day, and Colonel Woolly-Dod, General 
Staff 2gth Division, was now sent ashore to take command at 
W beach and organize a further advance. 

At 2 p.m., after the ground near Hill 138 had been sub- 
jected to a heavy bombardment, the Worcester Regiment 
advanced to the assault. Several men of this battalion 
rushed forward with great spirit to cut passages through the 
entanglement ; some were killed, others persevered, and by 
4 p.m. the hill and redoubt were captured. 

An attempt was now made to join hands with the troops 
on V beach, who could make no headway at all against the 
dominating defences of the enemy. To help them out the 
86th Brigade pushed forward in an easterly direction along 
the cliff. There is a limit, however, to the storming of barbed- 
wire entanglements. More of these barred the way. Again 
the heroic wire-cutters came out. Through glasses they could 
be seen quietly snipping away under a hellish fire as if they 
were pruning a vineyard. Again some of them fell. The 
fire pouring out of No. i fort grew hotter and hotter, until 


the troops, now thoroughly exhausted by a sleepless night 
and by the long day's fighting under a hot sun, had to rest 
on their laurels for a while. 

When night fell, the British position in front of VV beach 
extended from just east of Cape Helles lighthouse, through 
Hill 138, to Hill 114. Practically every man had to be thrown 
into the trenches to hold this line, and the only available 
reserves on this part of our front were the 2nd London Field 
Company R.E. and a platoon of the Anson Battalion, which 
had been landed as a beach working party. 

During the night several strong and determined counter- 
attacks were made, all successfully repulsed without loss of 
ground. Meanwhile the disembarkation of the remainder of 
the division was proceeding on W and X beaches. 


The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps sailed out 
of Mudros Bay on the afternoon of 24th April, escorted by 
the 2nd Squadron of the Fleet, under Rear- Admiral Thursby. 
The rendezvous was reached just after half-past one in the 
morning of the 25th, and there the 1,500 men who had been 
placed on board H.M. ships before leaving Mudros were 
transferred to their boats. This operation was carried out 
with remarkable expedition, and in absolute silence. Simul- 
taneously the remaining 2,500 men of the covering force 
were transferred from their transports to six destroyers. 
At 2.30 a.m. H.M. ships, together with the tows and the 
destroyers, proceeded to within some four miles of the coast, 
H.M.S. Queen (flying Rear-Admiral Thursby's flag) directing 
on a point about a mile north of Gaba Tepe. At 3.30 a.m. 
orders to go ahead and land were given to the tows and at 
4.10 a.m. the destroyers were ordered to follow. 

All these arrangements worked without a hitch, and 
were carried out in complete orderliness and silence. No 
breath of wind ruffled the surface of the sea, and every con- 
dition was favourable save for the moon, which, sinking 


behind the ships, may have silhouetted them against its orb, 
betraying them thus to watchers on the shore. 

A rugged and difficult part of the coast had been selected 
for the landing, so difficult and rugged that I considered the 
Turks were not at all likely to anticipate such a descent. 
Indeed, owing to the tows having failed to maintain their 
exact direction the actual point of disembarkation was rather 
more than a mile north of that which I had selected, and 
was more closely overhung by steeper cliffs. Although this 
accident increased the initial difficulty of driving the enemy 
off the heights inland, it has since proved itself to have been 
a blessing in disguise, inasmuch as the actual base of the 
force of occupation has been much better defiladed from 
shell fire. 

The beach on which the landing was actually effected is 
a very narrow strip of sand, about 1,000 yards in length, 
bounded on the north and the south by two small promon- 
tories. At its southern extremity a deep ravine, with ex- 
ceedingly steep, scrub-clad sides, runs inland in a north- 
easterly direction. Near the northern end of the beach a 
small but steep gully runs up into the hills at right angles to 
the shore. Between the ravine and the gully the whole of 
the beach is backed by the seaward face of the spur which 
forms the north-western side of the ravine. From the top of 
the spur the ground falls almost sheer except near the southern 
limit of the beach, where gentler slopes give access to the 
mouth of the ravine behind. Farther inland lie in a tangled 
knot the under-features of Saribair, separated by deep ravines, 
which take a most confusing diversity of direction. Sharp 
spurs, covered with dense scrub, and falling away in many 
places in precipitous sandy cliffs, radiate from the principal 
mass of the mountain, from which they run north-west, west, 
south-west, and south to the coast. 

The boats approached the land in the silence and the 
darkness, and they were close to the shore before the enemy 
stirred. Then about one battalion of Turks was seen running 


along the beach to intercept the lines of boats. At this so 
critical a moment the conduct of all ranks was most praise- 
worthy. Not a word was spoken every one remained per- 
fectly orderly and quiet awaiting the enemy's fire, which 
sure enough opened, causing many casualties. The moment 
the boats touched land the Australians' turn had come. Like 
lightning they leapt ashore, and each man as he did so went 
straight as his bayonet at the enemy. So vigorous was the 
onslaught that the Turks made no attempt to withstand it 
and fled from ridge to ridge pursued by the Australian in- 

This attack was carried out by the 3rd Australian Brigade, 
under Major (temporary Colonel) Sinclair Maclagan, D.S.O. 
The ist and 2nd Brigades followed promptly, and were all 
disembarked by 2 p.m., by which time 12,000 men and two 
batteries of Indian Mountain Artillery had been landed. 
The disembarkation of further artillery was delayed owing 
to the fact that the enemy's heavy guns opened on the 
anchorage and forced the transports, which had been subjected 
to continuous shelling from his field guns, to stand farther 
out to sea. 

The broken ground, the thick scrub, the necessity for 
sending any formed detachments post haste as they landed 
to the critical point of the moment, the headlong valour of 
scattered groups of the men who had pressed far farther into 
the peninsula than had been intended all these led to con- 
fusion and mixing up of units. Eventually the mixed crowd 
of fighting men, some advancing from the beach, others fall- 
ing back before the oncoming Turkish supports, solidified 
into a semi-circular position with its right about a mile north 
of Gaba Tepe and its left on the high ground over Fisher- 
man's Hut. During this period parties of the Qth and loth 
Battalions charged and put out of action three of the enemy's 
Krupp guns. During this period also the disembarkation of 
the Australian Division was being followed by that of the 
New Zealand and Australian Division (two brigades only). 


From ii a.m. to 3 p.m. the enemy, now reinforced to a 
strength of 20,000 men, attacked the whole line, making a 
specially strong effort against the 3rd Brigade and the left 
of the 2nd Brigade. This counter-attack was, however, 
handsomely repulsed with the help of the guns of H.M. ships. 
Between 5 and 6.30 p.m. a third most determined counter- 
attack was made against the 3rd Brigade, who held their 
ground with more than equivalent stubbornness. During 
the night again the Turks made constant attacks, and the 
8th Battalion repelled a bayonet charge ; but in spite of all 
the line held firm. The troops had had practically no rest 
on the night of the 24th-25th ; they had been fighting hard 
all day over most difficult country, and they had been sub- 
jected to heavy shrapnel fire in the open. Their casualties 
had been deplorably heavy. But, despite their losses and 
in spite of their fatigue, the morning of the 26th found them 
still in good heart and as full of fight as ever. 

It is a consolation to know that the Turks suffered still 
more seriously. Several times our machine guns got on to 
them in close formation, and the whole surrounding country 
is still strewn with their dead of this date. 

The reorganization of units and formations was impossible 
during the 26th and 27th owing to persistent attacks. An 
advance was impossible until a reorganization could be 
effected, and it only remained to entrench the position gained 
and to perfect the arrangements for bringing up ammunition, 
water, and supplies to the ridges in itself a most difficult 
undertaking. Four battalions of the Royal Naval Division 
were sent up to reinforce the Army Corps on the 28th and 
2gth April. 

On the night of 2nd May a bold effort was made to seize 
a commanding knoll in front of the centre of the line. The 
enemy's enfilading machine guns were too scientifically 
posted, and 800 men were lost without advantage beyond 
the infliction of a corresponding loss to the enemy. On 4th 
May an attempt to seize Gaba Tepe was also unsuccessful, 


the barbed-wire here being something beyond belief. But 
a number of minor operations have been carried out, such 
as the taking of a Turkish observing station ; the strengthen- 
ing of entrenchments; the reorganization of units, and the 
perfecting of communication with the landing-place. Also 
a constant strain has been placed upon some of the best 
troops of the enemy, who, to the number of 24,000, are con- 
stantly kept fighting and being killed and wounded freely, 
as the Turkish sniper is no match for the Kangaroo shooter, 
even at his own game. 

The assistance of the Royal Navy, here as elsewhere, has 
been invaluable. The whole of the arrangements have been 
in Admiral Thursby's hands, and I trust I may be permitted 
to say what a trusty and powerful friend he has proved him- 
self to be to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. 


Concurrently with the British landings a regiment of 
the French Corps was successfully disembarked at Kum 
Kale under the guns of the French Fleet, and remained ashore 
till the morning of the 26th, when they were re-embarked. 
500 prisoners were captured by the French on this day. 

This operation drew the fire of the Asiatic guns from 
Morto Bay and V beach on to Kum Kale, and contributed 
largely to the success of the British landings. 

On the evening of the 20th the main disembarkation of 
the French Corps was begun, V beach being allotted to our 
Allies for this purpose, and it was arranged that the French 
should hold the portion of the front between the telegraph 
wire and the sea. 

The following day I ordered a general advance to a line 
stretching from Hill 236 near Eski Hissarlik Point to the 
mouth of the stream two miles north of Tekke Burnu. ThU 
advance, which was commenced at midday, was completed 
without opposition, and the troops at once consolidated thrir 
new line. The forward movement relieved the growing con- 


gestion on the beaches, and by giving us possession of several 
new wells afforded a temporary solution to the water problem, 
which had hitherto been causing me much anxiety. 

By the evening of the 27th the Allied forces had established 
themselves on a line some three miles long, which stretched 
from the mouth of the nullah, 3,200 yards north-east of 
Tekke Burnu, to Eski Hissarlik Point, the three brigades of 
the 2Qth Division less two battalions on the left and in the 
centre, with four French battalions on the right, and beyond 
them again the South Wales Borderers on the extreme right. 


Owing to casualties this line was somewhat thinly held. 
Still, it was so vital to make what headway we could before 
the enemy recovered himself and received fresh reinforce- 
ments that it was decided to push on as quickly as possible. 
Orders were therefore issued for a general advance to com- 
mence at 8 a.m. next day. 

The 29th Division were to march on Krithia, with their 
left brigade leading, the French were directed to extend their 
left in conformity with the British movements and to retain 
their right on the coast-line south of the Kereves Dere. 

The advance commenced at 8 a.m. on the 28th, and was 
carried out with commendable vigour, despite the fact that 
from the moment of landing the troops had been unable to 
obtain any proper rest. 

The Syth Brigade, with which had been incorporated 
the Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division, in the place of 
the King's Own Scottish Borderers and South Wales Bor- 
derers, pushed on rapidly, and by 10 a.m. had advanced some 
two miles. Here the further progress of the Border Regiment 
was barred by a strong work on the left flank. They halted 
to concentrate and make dispositions to attack it, and at 
that moment had to withstand a determined counter-attack 
by the Turks. Aided by heavy gun fire from H.M.S. Queen 
Elizabeth, they succeeded in beating off the attack, but they 


made no further progress that day. and when night fell en- 
trenched themselves on the ground they had gained in the 

The Inniskilling Fusiliers, who advanced with their right 
on the Krithia ravine, reached a point about three-quarters 
of a mile south-west of Krithia. This was, however, the 
farthest limit attained, and later on in the day they fell back 
into line with other corps. 

The 88th Brigade on the right of the 87th progressed 
steadily until about 11.30 a.m., when the stubbornness of the 
opposition, coupled with a dearth of ammunition, brought 
their advance to a standstill. The 86th Brigade, under 
Lieutenant-Colonel Casson, which had been held in reserve, 
were thereupon ordered to push forward through the 88th 
Brigade in the direction of Krithia. 

The movement commenced at about I p.m., but though 
small reconnoitring parties got to within a few hundred 
yards of Krithia, the main body of the brigade did not get 
beyond the line held by the 88th Brigade. Meanwhile, the 
French had also pushed on in the face of strong opposition 
along the spurs on the western bank of the Kereves Dere, 
and had got to within a mile of Krithia with their right thrown 
back and their left in touch with the 88th Brigade. Here 
they were unable to make further progress ; gradually the 
strength of the resistance made itself felt, and our Allies 
were forced during the afternoon to give ground. 


By 2 p.m. the whole of the troops with the exception of 
the Drake Battalion had been absorbed into the firing line. 
The men were exhausted, and the few guns landed at the 
time were unable to afford them adequate artillery support. 
The small amount of transport available did not suffice to 
maintain the supply of munitions, and cartridges were run- 
ning short despite all efforts to push them up from the land- 


Hopes of getting a footing on Achi Babi had now per- 
force to be abandoned at least for this occasion. The best 
that could be expected was that we should be able to main- 
tain what we had won, and when at 3 p.m. the Turks made 
a determined counter-attack with the bayonet against the 
centre and right of our line, even this seemed exceedingly 
doubtful. Actually a partial retirement did take place. The 
French were also forced back, and at 6 p.m. orders were 
issued for our troops to entrench themselves as best they 
could in the positions they then held, with their right flank 
thrown back so as to maintain connection with our Allies. 
In this retirement the right flank of the 88th Brigade was 
temporarily uncovered, and the Worcester Regiment suffered 

Had it been possible to push in reinforcements in men, 
artillery, and munitions during the day, Krithia should have 
fallen, and much subsequent fighting for its capture would 
have been avoided. 

Two days later this would have been feasible, but I had 
to reckon with the certainty that the enemy would, in that 
same time, have received proportionately greater support. I 
was faced by the usual choice of evils, and although the result 
was not what I had hoped, I have no reason to believe that 
hesitation and delay would better have answered my purpose. 

For, after all, we had pushed forward quite appreciably 
on the whole. The line eventually held by our troops on the 
night of the 28th ran from a point on the coast three miles 
north-east of Tekke Burnu to a point one mile north of Eski 
Hissarlik, whence it was continued by the French south- 
east to the coast. 

Much inevitable mixing of units of the 86th and 88th 
Brigades had occurred during the day's fighting, and there 
was a dangerous re-entrant in the line at the junction of the 
8yth and 88th Brigades near the Krithia nullah. The French 
had lost heavily, especially in officers, and required time to 


The 2gth April was consequently spent in straightening 
the line, and in consolidating and strengthening the positions 
gained. There was a certain amount of artillery and mus- 
ketry fire, but nothing serious. 

Similarly, on the 3oth, no advance was made, nor was 
any attack delivered by the enemy. The landing of the 
bulk of the artillery was completed, and a readjustment of 
the line took place, the portion held by the French being 
somewhat increased. 

Two more battalions of the Royal Naval Division had 
been disembarked, and these, together with three battalions 
of the 88th Brigade withdrawn from the line, were formed 
into a reserve. 


This reserve was increased on the ist May by the addition 
of the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, which released the 
three battalions of the 88th Brigade to return to the trenches. 
The Corps Expditionnaire d'Orient had disembarked the 
whole of their infantry and all but two of their batteries by 
the same evening. 

At 10 p.m. the Turks opened a hot shell fire upon our 
position, and half an hour later, just before the rise of the 
moon, they delivered a series of desperate attacks. Their 
formation was in three solid lines, the men in the front rank 
being deprived of ammunition to make them rely only upon 
the bayonet. The officers were served out with coloured 
Bengal lights to fire from their pistols, red indicating to the 
Turkish guns that they were to lengthen their range ; white 
that our front trenches had been stormed ; grren that our 
main position had been carried. The Turkish attack was to 
crawl on hands and knees until the time came for the final 
rush to be made. An eloquent hortative was signed by Von 
Zowenstern and addressed to the Turkish rank and file, who 
were called upon, by one mighty effort, to fling us all back 
into the sea. 


" Attack the enemy with the bayonet and utterly destroy 
him ! 

" We shall not retire one step ; for, if we do, our religion, 
our country, and our nation will perish ! 

" Soldiers ! The world is looking at you ! Your only 
hope of salvation is to bring this battle to a successful issue 
or gloriously to give up your life in the attempt ! " 

The first momentum of this ponderous onslaught fell 
upon the right of the 86th Brigade, an unlucky spot, seeing 
all the officers thereabouts had already been killed or wounded. 
So when the Turks came right on without firing and charged 
into the trenches with the bayonet they made an ugly gap 
in the line. This gap was instantly filled by the 5th Royal 
Scots (Territorials), who faced to their flank and executed 
a brilliant bayonet charge against the enemy, and by the 
Essex Regiment detached for the purpose by the Officer 
Commanding 88th Brigade. The rest of the British line held 
its own with comparative ease, and it was not found necessary 
to employ any portion of the reserve. The storm next broke 
in fullest violence against the French left, which was held 
by the Senegalese. Behind them were two British Field 
Artillery Brigades and a Howitzer Battery. After several 
charges and counter-charges the Senegalese began to give 
ground, and a company of the Worcester Regiment and 
some gunners were sent forward to hold the gap. Later, a 
second company of the Worcester Regiment was also sent up, 
and the position was then maintained for the remainder of 
the night, although about 2 a.m. it was found necessary to 
dispatch one battalion Royal Naval Division to strengthen 
the extreme right of the French. 

About 5 a.m. a counter-offensive was ordered and the 
whole line began to advance. By 7.30 a.m. the British left 
had gained some 500 yards, and the centre had pushed the 
enemy back and inflicted heavy losses. The right also had 
gained some ground in conjunction with the French left, 
but the remainder of the French line was unable to progress. 


As the British centre and left were now subjected to heavy 
cross fire from concealed machine guns, it was found im- 
possible to maintain the ground gained, and therefore, about 
ii a.m., the whole line withdrew to its former trenches. 

The net result of the operations was the repulse of the 
Turks and the infliction upon them of very heavy losses. 
At first we had them fairly on the run, and had it not been 
for those inventions of the devil machine guns and barbed 
wire which suit the Turkish character and tactics to per- 
fection, we should not have stopped short of the crest of 
Achi Babi. As it was, all brigades reported great numbers 
of dead Turks in front of their lines, and 350 prisoners were 
left in our hands. 

On the 2nd, during the day, the enemy remained quiet, 
burying his dead under a red crescent flag, a work with which 
we did not interfere. Shortly after 9 p.m., however, they 
made another attack against the whole Allied line, their 
chief effort being made against the French front, where the 
ground favoured their approach. The attack was repulsed 
with loss. 

During the night 3rd~4th the French front was again 
subjected to a heavy attack, which they were able to repulse 
without assistance from my general reserve. 

The day of the 4th was spent in reorganization, and a 
portion of the line held by the French, who had lost heavily 
during the previous night's fighting, was taken over by the 
2nd Naval Brigade. The night passed quietly. 

During the 5th the Lancashire Fusilier Brigade of the 
East Lancashire Division was disembarked and placed in 
reserve behind the British left. 

Orders were issued for an advance to be carried out next 
day, and these and the three days' battle which ensued will 
be dealt with in my next dispatch. 

The losses, exclusive of the French, during the jK-riod 


covered by this dispatch, were, I regret to say, very severe, 
numbering : 

177 Officers and 1,990 other ranks killed. 

412 Officers and 7,807 other ranks wounded. 
13 Officers and 3,580 other ranks missing. 

From a technical point of view it is interesting to note 
that my Administrative Staff had not reached Mudros by the 
time when the landings were finally arranged. All the highly 
elaborate work involved by these landings was put through 
by my General Staff working in collaboration with Commo- 
dore Roger Keyes, C.B., M.V.O., and the Naval Transport 
Officers allotted for the purpose by Vice-Admiral de Robeck. 
Navy and Army carried out these combined duties with that 
perfect harmony which was indeed absolutely essential to 


Throughout the events I have chronicled the Royal Navy 
has been father and mother to the Army. Not one of us but 
realizes how much he owes to Vice-Admiral de Robeck ; to 
the warships, French and British ; to the destroyers, mine 
sweepers, picket boats, and to all their dauntless crews, who 
took no thought of themselves, but risked everything to give 
their soldier comrades a fair run in at the enemy. 

Throughout these preparations and operations Monsieur 
le General d'Amade has given me the benefit of his wide 
experiences of war, and has afforded me, always, the most 
loyal and energetic support. The landing of Kum Kale 
planned by me as a mere diversion to distract the attention 
of the enemy was transformed by the Commander of the 
Corps Expeditionnaire de 1'Orient into a brilliant operation, 
which secured some substantial results. During the fighting 
which followed the landing of the French Division at Sedd- 
el-Bahr no troops could have acquitted themselves more 
creditably under very trying circumstances, and under very 
heavy losses, than those working under the orders of Mon- 
sieur le General d'Amade. 


Lieutenant-General Sir W. R. Birdwood, K.C.S.I., C.B., 
C.I.E., D.S.O., was in command of the detached landing of 
the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps above Gaba 
Tepe, as well as during the subsequent fighting. The fact 
of his having been responsible for the execution of these 
difficult and hazardous operations operations which were 
crowned with a very remarkable success speaks, I think, 
for itself. 

Major-General A. G. Hunter- Weston, C.B., D.S.O., was 
tried very highly, not only during the landings, but more 
especially in the day and night attacks and counter-attacks 
which ensued. Untiring, resourceful, and ever more cheerful 
as the outlook (on occasion) grew darker, he possesses, in my 
opinion, very special qualifications as a Commander of troops 
in the field. 

Major-General W. P. Braithwaite, C.B., is the best Chief 
of the General Staff it has ever been my fortune to encounter 
in war. I will not pile epithets upon him. I can say no more 
than what I have said, and I can certainly say no less. 

I have many other names to bring to notice for the period 
under review, and these will form the subject of a separate 
report at an early date. 

I have the honour to be, 

Your Lordship's most obedient Servant, 


Commanding Mediterranean Expeditionary 


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