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Title: Ypres 1914 - An Official Account Published by Order of the German General Staff
Author: Schwink, Otto
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    Transcriber's Note:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
    possible.

    On page 92, in "the 25th Reserve Division to be taken from the Sixth
    Army," "from" is a correction of "fron".

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YPRES, 1914


MONS, AND THE RETREAT

By Captain G. S. GORDON

With an Introduction by Field-Marshal LORD FRENCH

                                                             1/6 _net_.

    =The Evening News.=--'... The true history of those amazing and
    heroic days, briefly and clearly told by a soldier and an expert.'


THE MARNE CAMPAIGN

By Lieut. Col. F. E. WHITTON, C.M.G.

                                                            10/6 _net_.

    =Saturday Review.=--'... Clear and concise ... gives a much better
    general impression of the Battle of the Marne than any other we
    know.'


1914

By Field-Marshal VISCOUNT FRENCH of Ypres, K.P., O.M., etc.

With a Preface by MARÉCHAL FOCH

                                                            21/- _net_.


CONSTABLE AND CO. LTD., LONDON.



                              YPRES, 1914

                   AN OFFICIAL ACCOUNT PUBLISHED BY

                        TRANSLATION BY G. C. W.

                  WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY THE
                 HISTORICAL SECTION (MILITARY BRANCH)
                     COMMITTEE OF IMPERIAL DEFENCE

                                LONDON
                       CONSTABLE AND COMPANY LTD
                                 1919


                      _Printed in Great Britain_



CONTENTS


                                                    PAGE

 INTRODUCTION                                         ix

 GERMAN PREFACE                                    xxiii

 PRELIMINARY REMARKS                                   1

 THE THEATRE OF OPERATIONS                            13

 THE ADVANCE OF THE FOURTH ARMY                       19

 THE OPERATIONS OF THE FOURTH ARMY, 20TH-31ST
    OCTOBER 1914                                      26

 THE ATTEMPT TO BREAK THROUGH SOUTH OF YPRES          59

 THE OPERATIONS OF THE FOURTH ARMY FROM THE END
    OF OCTOBER TO THE 9TH NOVEMBER 1914               98

 THE LAST PHASE                                      103

 CONCLUSION                                          126


 APPENDIX

 ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE FOURTH ARMY                  131

 ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE ARMY GROUP FABECK            132

 ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE GROUP GEROK                  133

 ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE ARMY GROUP LINSINGEN         133


 INDEX                                               135



ILLUSTRATIONS


 SKETCH MAPS IN TEXT

                                                                    PAGE

 DISPOSITIONS ON 20TH OCTOBER 1914                                    20

 THE ATTACK OF THE ARMY GROUP FABECK ON 30TH OCTOBER 1914             67

 THE ATTACK OF THE ARMY GROUP FABECK ON 31ST OCTOBER 1914             73

 THE CAPTURE OF MESSINES ON 31ST OCTOBER 1914                         81

 THE CAPTURE OF DIXMUDE ON 10TH NOVEMBER 1914                        108

 THE ATTACK OF THE SIXTH ARMY ON 11TH NOVEMBER 1914                  112

 THE ATTACK OF THE 2ND GUARD DIVISION ON 11TH NOVEMBER 1914          115



INTRODUCTION


The German book of which a translation is here given was written in
the autumn of 1917 by Captain Otto Schwink, a General Staff Officer,
by order of the Chief of the General Staff of the Field Army, and is
stated to be founded on official documents. It forms one of a series
of monographs, partly projected, partly published, on the various
phases of the war, but is the only one that is available dealing with
operations in which the British Army was engaged. Several concerned
with the Eastern theatre of war have already appeared, and one other
entitled 'LIÈGE-NAMUR,' relating to the Western.

Field-Marshal Viscount French, in his book '1914,' has said that the
period 27th to 31st October during the first battle of YPRES was
'more momentous and fateful than any other which I directed during my
period of service as Commander-in-Chief in the field. 31st October
and 1st November will remain for ever memorable in the history of our
country, for during those two days no more than a thin and straggling
line of tired-out British soldiers stood between the Empire and its
practical ruin as an independent first-class Power.' The German account
accentuates the truth of Lord French's appreciation of the great peril
in which the Army and the Nation stood. It tells us of the enemy's
plans, and of the large forces that he brought up with great skill
and secrecy to carry them out, and, generally, to use Marshal Foch's
expression, lets us 'know what was going on in the other fellow's
house.' But it does more than that: unconsciously perhaps, it bears
convincing testimony to the fighting powers of the British Army,
the determination of its leaders, the extraordinary effectiveness
of the fire of its artillery and of its cavalry and infantry, and
the skill of its engineers; for it repeatedly credits Field-Marshal
Sir John French with 'reinforcements in abundance,' insists that our
troops 'fought desperately for every heap of stones and every pile of
bricks before abandoning them,' and definitely records that 'the fact
that neither the enemy's commanders nor their troops gave way under
the strong pressure we put on them ... gives us the opportunity to
acknowledge that there were men of real worth opposed to us who did
their duty thoroughly.' We are further told that the effect of our
artillery was such that 'it was not possible to push up reserves owing
to heavy artillery fire'; that 'all roads leading to the rear were
continuously shelled for a long way back'; that the German 'advancing
columns were under accurate artillery fire at long range'; that our
shells 'blocked streets and bridges and devastated villages so far
back that any regular transport of supplies became impossible.' As
regards rifle and machine-gun fire, we are credited with 'quantities of
machine-guns,' 'large numbers of machine-guns,' etc.; with the result
that 'the roads were swept by machine-guns'; and that 'over every bush,
hedge and fragment of wall floated a thin film of smoke betraying a
machine-gun rattling out bullets.' At that date we had no machine-gun
units, and there were only two machine-guns on the establishment of
a battalion, and of these many had been damaged, and had not yet been
replaced; actually machine-guns were few and far between. The only
inference to be drawn is that the rapid fire of the British rifleman,
were he infantryman, cavalryman or sapper, was mistaken for machine-gun
fire both as regards volume and effect. Our simple defences, to
complete which both time and labour had been lacking, became in German
eyes 'a well-planned maze of trenches,' 'a maze of obstacles and
entrenchments'; and we had 'turned every house, every wood and every
wall into a strong point'; 'the villages of WYTSCHAETE and MESSINES ...
had been converted into fortresses' (_Festungen_); as also the edge
of a wood near GHELUVELT and LANGEMARCK. As at the last-named place
there was only a small redoubt with a garrison of two platoons, and the
'broad wire entanglements' described by the German General Staff were
in reality but trifling obstacles of the kind that the Germans 'took
in their stride,'[1] the lavish praise, were it not for the result of
the battle, might be deemed exaggerated. Part of it undoubtedly is.
It is fair, however, to deduce that the German nation had to be given
some explanation why the 'contemptible little Army' had not been pushed
straightway into the sea.

The monograph is frankly intended to present the views that the German
General Staff wish should be held as regards the battles, and prevent,
as their Preface says, the currency of 'the legends and rumours
which take such an easy hold on the popular imagination and are so
difficult, if not impossible, to correct afterwards.' One cannot
naturally expect the whole truth to be revealed yet; that it is not
will be seen from the notes. The elder von Moltke said, when pressed
by his nephews to write a true account of 1870-1--to their future
financial advantage--'It can't be done yet. Too many highly placed
personages (_hohe Herrschaften_) would suffer in their reputations.'
It was not until twenty-five years after the Franco-Prussian War
that Fritz Hönig, Kunz and other German military historians who had
been given access to the records, were allowed to draw back the veil
a little. The publication of the French General Staff account began
even later. What is now given to us is, however, amply sufficient
to follow the main German plans and movements; but the difficulties
that prevented the enemy from making successful use of the enormous
number of troops at his disposal and his superior equipment in heavy
artillery, machine-guns, aeroplanes, hand-grenades and other trench
warfare material, are untold. Until we learn more we may fairly
attribute our victory to the military qualities of the British, French
and Belgian troops, and the obstinate refusal of all ranks to admit
defeat.

The German General Staff specially claim that the first battle of
YPRES was a German victory, 'for it marked the failure of the enemy's
intention to fall on the rear of our Western Armies, to free the rich
districts of Northern France and the whole of Belgium,' etc. etc.
Granted that we did so fail, the battle can, on that General Staff's
own evidence, be regarded as a drawn one. For it is definitely stated
in the monograph that the object of the operations was 'successfully
closing with the enemy ... and gaining CALAIS, the aim and object
of the 1914 campaign'--this the German Army notoriously did not do.
The intention to break through is repeatedly stated: 'although fresh
reinforcements had been sent up by the German General Staff ... a
break-through had not been possible.' 'Another effort to break through
should be made as soon as possible.' We are told that Fabeck's Army
Group (eventually nine infantry and five cavalry divisions) was formed
'as a strong new army of attack ... for breaking through on the front
WERWICQ-WARNETON.' Linsingen's Army Group (five divisions) after the
failure of von Fabeck was formed 'to drive back and crush the enemy
lying north of the (COMINES-YPRES) canal ... and to break through
there.' Finally, however, it is admitted that 'no break-through of the
enemy's lines had been accomplished.... We had not succeeded in making
the decisive break-through, and the dream of ending the campaign in
the west in our favour had to be consigned to its grave.' In fact, the
book is largely an apologia and a confession of failure which mere
protestations of victory cannot alter.

The effects of a German victory on the course of the war, with the
Channel ports in German hands, as compared with those of an Allied
victory in Flanders, which at that period of the war and at that season
of the year could have resulted in little more than pushing the enemy
back into Belgium a few miles, may be easily imagined. If the battle
was a tactical draw, at least we had a strategic balance in our favour.

The principal reasons advanced for the German ill-success are 'the
enemy's numerical superiority, and the strength of his positions,' and
of course the drastic course taken by the Belgians of 'calling in the
sea to their aid.'

There is constant repetition of these pleas throughout the book. To
those who were there and saw our 'thin and straggling line' and the
hastily constructed and lightly wired defences: mere isolated posts and
broken lengths of shallow holes with occasional thin belts of wire, and
none of the communication trenches of a later date, they provoke only
amazement. Even German myopia cannot be the cause of such statements.

As regards the superiority of numbers, the following appears to be
the approximate state of the case as regards the infantry on the
battle front from ARMENTIÈRES (inclusive) to the sea dealt with
in the monograph. It is necessary to count in battalions, as the
Germans had two or three with each cavalry division, and the British
Commander-in-Chief enumerates the reinforcements sent up to YPRES from
the II and Indian Corps by battalions, and two Territorial battalions,
London Scottish and Hertfordshires, also took part. The total figures
are:--

    British, French, Belgian         263 battalions.
    German                           426 battalions.

That is roughly a proportion of Allies to Germans of 13 to 21. Viscount
French in his '1914' says 7 to 12 Corps, which is much the same: 52
to 84 as against 49 to 84, and very different from the German claim
of '40 divisions to 25.' Actually in infantry divisions the Allies
had only 22, even counting as complete the Belgian six, which had
only the strength of German brigades. Any future correction of the
figures, when actual bayonets present can be counted, will probably
emphasise the German superiority in numbers still more, and the
enemy indisputably had the advantage of united command, homogeneous
formations and uniform material which were lacking in the Allied force.

As regards the cavalry the Western Allies had six divisions, including
one of three brigades. The enemy had at least nine, possibly more (one,
the Guard Cavalry Division, of three brigades), as it is not clear from
the German account how much cavalry was transferred from the Sixth Army
to the Fourth Army.[2] It may be noted that a German cavalry division
included, with its two or three cavalry brigades, horse artillery
batteries and the two or three _Jäger_ battalions, three or more
machine-gun batteries and two or more companies of cyclists; and was
thus, unlike ours, a force of all arms.

The German General Staff reveal nothing about the exact strength of the
artillery. In a footnote it is mentioned that in addition to infantry
divisions the III Reserve Corps contained siege artillery, _Pionier_
formations and other technical troops; and in the text that 'all the
available heavy artillery of the Sixth Army to be brought up (to assist
the Fourth Army) for the break-through.' The Germans had trench-mortars
(_Minenwerfer_) which are several times mentioned, whilst our first
ones were still in the process of improvisation by the Engineers of the
Indian Corps at BETHUNE.

The statement that 'the enemy's' (_i.e._ British, French and Belgian)
'superiority in material, in guns, trench-mortars, machine-guns and
aeroplanes, etc., was two, three, even fourfold' is palpably nonsense
when said of 1914, though true perhaps in 1917 when the monograph was
written.

The fact seems to be that the Germans cannot understand defeat in war
except on the premise that the victor had superiority of numbers. To
show to what extent this creed obtains: in the late Dr. Wylie's _Henry
V._, vol. II. page 216, will be found an account of a German theory,
accepted by the well-known historian Delbrück, that the English won at
Agincourt on account of superior numbers, although contemporary history
is practically unanimous that the French were ten to one. Dr. Wylie
sums it up thus:

    'Starting with the belief that the defeat of the French is
    inexplicable on the assumption that they greatly outnumbered the
    English, and finding that all contemporary authorities, both French
    and English, are agreed that they did, the writer builds up a
    theory that all the known facts can be explained on the supposition
    that the French were really much inferior to us in numbers ... and
    concludes that he cannot be far wrong if he puts the total number
    of French (the English being 6000) at something between 4000 and
    7000.'

It may not be out of place to add that a German Staff Officer
captured during the Ypres fighting said to his escort as he was being
taken away: 'Now I am out of it, do tell me where your reserves are
concealed; in what woods are they?' and he refused to believe that we
had none. Apparently it was inconceivable to the German General Staff
that we should stand to fight unless we had superior numbers; and these
not being visible in the field, they must be hidden away somewhere.

Further light on what the Germans imagined is thrown by prisoners,
who definitely stated that their main attack was made south of YPRES,
because it was thought that our main reserves were near ST. JEAN,
north-east of that town. From others it was gathered that what could
be seen of our army in that quarter was in such small and scattered
parties that it was taken to be an outpost line covering important
concentrations, and the Germans did not press on, fearing a trap.

It is, however, possible that the German miscalculation of the number
of formations engaged may not be altogether due to imaginary reserves,
as regards the British Army. Before the war the Great General Staff
knew very little about us. The collection of 'intelligence' with
regard to the British Empire was dealt with by a Section known in the
Moltkestrasse as the 'Demi-monde Section,' because it was responsible
for so many countries; and this Section admittedly had little time
to devote to us. Our organisation was different from that of any of
the great European armies. Their field artillery brigades contained
seventy-two guns, whereas ours had only eighteen guns or howitzers;
their infantry brigades consisted of two regiments, each of three
battalions, that is six battalions, not four as in the original British
Expeditionary Force. To a German, therefore, an infantry brigade meant
six battalions, not four, and if a prisoner said that he belonged to
the Blankshire Regiment, the German might possibly believe he had
identified three battalions, whereas only one would be present. This
is actually brought out on page 118, when the author speaks of the 1st
Battalion of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment as the _Königsregiment
Liverpool_, and indicates his ignorance of the British Army, when
this single battalion engages the German _Garde Regiment zu Fuss_, by
describing the fight not only as one of regiment against regiment, but
as _Garde gegen Garde_ (Guard against Guards).[3] Such is the fighting
value of an English Line battalion. A victory over it is certainly
claimed, but the significant sentence immediately follows: 'any further
advance on the 11th November by our Guard troops north of the road was
now out of the question.'

It may be as well to point out that the 'volunteers' who it is said
flocked to the barracks to form the Reserve Corps XXII to XXVII were
not all volunteers in our sense of the word. The General Staff only
claims that 75 per cent. were untrained, a very different state of
affairs from our New Armies, which had not 1 per cent. of trained
soldiers. Many of the 'volunteers' were fully trained men liable
to service, who merely anticipated their recall to the colours. It
was well known before the war that in each army corps area Germany
intended to form one 'Active' Corps and one or more 'Reserve' Corps.
The original armies of invasion all contained Reserve Corps notably the
IV Reserve of von Kluck's Army, which marched and fought just as the
active ones did. These first formed Reserve Corps were, it is believed,
entirely made up of trained men, but those with the higher numbers
XXII, XXIII, XXVI and XXVII, which appear in the Fourth Army, probably
did contain a good percentage of men untrained before the war.

_Ersatz_ divisions were formed of the balance of reservists after the
Reserve divisions had been organised, and of untrained men liable for
service. After a time the words 'Active,' 'Reserve,' and '_Ersatz_'
applied to formations lost their significance, as the same classes of
men were to be found in all of them.

No attempt has been made to tone down the author's patriotic sentiments
and occasional lapses from good taste; the general nature of the
narrative is too satisfactory to the British Army to make any omissions
necessary when presenting it to the British public.

The footnotes deal with a number of the more important points raised,
but are not exhaustive.

       *       *       *       *       *

 _Note._--The German time, at the period of the year in question one
   hour earlier than ours, has been adhered to.

 The Notes of the Historical Section are distinguished from those of
   the Author by being printed in italics.

 In preparing the translation for issue it has not been thought
   necessary to supply all the maps provided in the original, as the
   general lie of the country must be fairly well known to British
   readers.

                     (_Translation of Title Page_)


                      Monographs on the Great War

                     THE BATTLE ON THE YSER AND OF
                       YPRES IN THE AUTUMN 1914

                     (DIE SCHLACHT AN DER YSER UND
                       BEI YPERN IM HERBST 1914)

                         FROM OFFICIAL SOURCES

                               PUBLISHED
                 BY ORDER OF THE GERMAN GENERAL STAFF
                   OLDENBURG, 1918, GERHARD STALLING



PREFACE

BY GERMAN GREAT HEADQUARTERS


The gigantic scale of the present war defies comparison with those of
the past, and battles which formerly held the world in suspense are
now almost forgotten. The German people have been kept informed of the
progress of events on all fronts since the 4th August 1914, by the
daily official reports of the German General Staff, but the general
public will have been unable to gather from these a coherent and
continuous story of the operations.

For this reason the General Staff of the German Field Army has decided
to permit the publication of a series of monographs which will give the
German people a general knowledge of the course of the most important
operations in this colossal struggle of nations.

These monographs cannot be called histories of the war; years, even
decades, must pass before all the true inwardness and connection of
events will be completely revealed. This can only be done when the
archives of our opponents have been opened to the world as well as our
own and those of the General Staffs of our Allies. In the meantime the
German people will be given descriptions of the most important of
the battles, written by men who took part in them, and have had the
official records at their disposal.

It is possible that later research may make alterations here and there
necessary, but this appears no reason for delaying publications based
on official documents, indeed to do so would only serve to foster
the legends and rumours which so easily take hold of the popular
imagination and are so difficult, if not impossible, to correct
afterwards.

This series of monographs is not therefore intended as an addition to
military science, but has been written for all classes of the German
public who have borne the burden of the war, and especially for those
who have fought in the operations, in order to increase their knowledge
of the great events for the success of which they have so gladly
offered their lives.

                                       GENERAL STAFF OF THE FIELD ARMY.

 GERMAN GREAT HEADQUARTERS,
 _Autumn, 1917_.



PRELIMINARY REMARKS


There is no more brilliant campaign in history than the advance of
our armies against the Western Powers in August and early September
1914. The weak French attacks into Alsace, the short-lived effort to
beat back the centre and right wing of our striking-force, the active
defence of the Allied hostile armies and the passive resistance of the
great Belgian and French fortresses, all failed to stop our triumphal
march. The patriotic devotion and unexampled courage of each individual
German soldier, combined with the able leading of his commanders,
overcame all opposition and sent home the news of countless German
victories. It was not long before the walls and hearts of Paris were
trembling, and it seemed as if the conspiracy which half the world
had been weaving against us for so many years was to be brought to a
rapid conclusion. Then came the battle of the Marne, in the course of
which the centre and right wings of the German Western Army were, it
is true, withdrawn, but only to fight again as soon as possible, under
more favourable strategic conditions. The enemy, not expecting our
withdrawal, only followed slowly, and on 13th September[4] our troops
brought him to a standstill along a line extending from the Swiss
frontier to the Aisne, north-east of Compiègne. In the trench warfare
which now began our pursuers soon discovered that our strength had been
by no means broken, or even materially weakened, by the hard fighting.

As early as 5th September, before the battle of the Marne, the Chief
of the German General Staff had ordered the right wing should be
reinforced by the newly-formed Seventh Army.[5] It soon became clear
to the opposing commanders that any attempt to break through the
new German front was doomed to failure, and that a decisive success
could only be obtained by making an outflanking movement on a large
scale against the German right wing. Thus began what our opponents
have called the 'Race to the Sea,' in which each party tried to
gain a decision by outflanking the other's western wing. The good
communications of France, especially in the north, enabled the Allied
troops to be moved far more rapidly than our own, for the German
General Staff had at their disposal only the few Franco-Belgian
railways which had been repaired, and these were already overburdened
with transport of material of every description. In spite of this,
however, the French and British attacks failed to drive back the German
right wing at any point. Not only did they find German troops ready to
meet them in every case, but we were also generally able to keep the
initiative in our hands.

In this manner by the end of September the opposing flanks had been
extended to the district north of the Somme, about Péronne-Albert. A
few days later began the interminable fighting round Arras and Lens,
and by the middle of October our advanced troops were near Lille,
marching through the richest industrial country of France. The Army
Cavalry was placed so as to threaten the hostile left flank, and to
bring pressure against the communications with England. Our cavalry
patrols pushed forward as far as Cassel and Hazebrouck, the pivots of
the enemy's movements, but they had to retire eastwards again when
superior hostile forces moved up to the north-east. The reports which
they brought back with them all pointed to preparations by the enemy
for an attack on a large scale, and for another effort to turn the
fortunes of the campaign to his favour. With this in view all available
troops, including newly-arrived detachments from England, were to be
used to break through the gap between Lille and Antwerp against our
right wing, roll it up and begin the advance against the northern Rhine.

It must be remembered that at the time this plan was conceived
the fortresses of Lille and Antwerp were still in French and
Belgian possession. It was hoped that Lille, with its well-built
fortifications, even though they were not quite up-to-date, would at
least hold up the German right wing for a time. Antwerp was defended by
the whole Belgian Army of from five to six divisions which were to be
reinforced by British troops, and it was confidently expected that this
garrison would be sufficiently strong to hold the most modern fortress
in Western Europe against any attack, especially if, as was generally
believed, this could only be carried out by comparatively weak forces.
Thus it seemed that the area of concentration for the Franco-Belgian
masses was secure until all preparations were ready for the blow to be
delivered through weakly-held Belgium against the rear of the German
armies in the west. The plan was a bold one, but it was countered by a
big attack of considerable German forces in the same neighbourhood and
at the same time. The two opponents met and held each other up on the
Yser and at Ypres, and here the last hope of our enemy to seize Belgium
and gain possession of the rich provinces of Northern France before the
end of the year was frustrated. The question arises how the Germans
were able to find the men to do this, since it had been necessary to
send considerable forces to the Eastern front to stop the Russian
advance.

Whoever has lived through those great days of August 1914, and
witnessed the wonderful enthusiasm of the German nation, will never
forget that within a few days more than a million volunteers entered
German barracks to prepare to fight the enemies who were hemming in
Germany. Workmen, students, peasants, townspeople, teachers, traders,
officials, high and low, all hastened to join the colours. There was
such a constant stream of men that finally they had to be sent away,
and put off till a later date, for there was neither equipment nor
clothing left for them. By 16th August, before the advance in the
west had begun, the Prussian War Minister in Berlin had ordered the
formation of five new Reserve Corps to be numbered from XXII to XXVI,
whilst Bavaria formed the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division, and Saxony and
Würtemburg together brought the XXVII Reserve Corps into being. Old and
young had taken up arms in August 1914, in their enthusiasm to defend
their country, and 75 per cent. of the new Corps consisted of these
volunteers, the remainder being trained men of both categories of the
_Landwehr_ and the _Landsturm_, as well as some reservists from the
depôts, who joined up in September. All these men, ranging from sixteen
to fifty years of age, realised the seriousness of the moment, and the
need of their country: they were anxious to become useful soldiers as
quickly as possible to help in overthrowing our malicious enemies.
Some regiments consisted entirely of students; whole classes of the
higher educational schools came with their teachers and joined the same
company or battery. Countless retired officers placed themselves at the
disposal of the Government, and the country will never forget these
patriots who took over commands in the new units, the formation of
which was mainly due to their willing and unselfish work.

The transport of the XXII, XXIII, XXIV, XXVI and XXVII Reserve Corps to
the Western Front began on 10th October, and the 6th Bavarian Reserve
Division followed shortly after. Only comparatively few experienced
commanders were available for the units, and it was left to their keen
and patriotic spirit to compensate as far as possible for what the men
still lacked to play their part in the great struggle.

The situation of the armies on the Western Front at this time was as
follows. In the neighbourhood of Lille the northern wing of the Sixth
Army was fighting against an ever-increasing enemy. On 9th October,
Antwerp, in spite of its strong fortifications and garrison, was
taken after a twelve days' siege directed by General von Beseler,
commanding the III Reserve Corps, and well known in peace time as
Chief of the Engineer Corps and Inspector-General of Fortifications.
The victorious besiegers had carried all before them. As they were
numerically insufficient to invest Antwerp on the west, south and
east, a break-through was attempted on a comparatively narrow front.
It was completely successful, and Antwerp was occupied; but the main
body of the Belgian army, in good fighting order, was able to escape
westwards along the coast, to await the arrival of British and French
reinforcements behind the Yser. Only about 5000 Belgians were taken
prisoner, but some 20,000 Belgian and 2000 British troops[6] were
forced into Holland. In consequence of this new situation, and of the
reports of hostile concentrations in the area Calais-Dunkirk-Lille,
the German General Staff decided to form a new Fourth Army under Duke
Albert of Würtemburg. It was to be composed of the XXII, XXIII, XXVI,
and XXVII Reserve Corps,[7] and was joined later on by the III Reserve
Corps with the 4th _Ersatz_ Division. By 13th October the detainment of
this new Army was in full progress west and south-west of Brussels. On
the evening of 14th October the four Reserve Corps began their march
to the line Eecloo (fifteen miles east of Bruges)--Deynze--point four
miles west of Audenarde.

In the meantime we had occupied the fortified town of Lille. It had
been entered on 12th October by part of the XIX Saxon Corps and some
_Landwehr_ troops, after the town had suffered considerably owing to
the useless efforts of French territorial troops to defend it. The
order to the garrison was: 'The town is to be held till the Tenth
French Army arrives'; it resulted in the capture of 4500 French
prisoners, who were sent to Germany. On the 14th the right wing of the
Sixth Army, consisting of the XIII Würtemburg and XIX Saxon Corps,
pushed forward to the Lys, behind a screen of three Cavalry Corps.[8]
They took up a position covering Lille, from Menin through Comines to
Warneton and thence east of Armentières, where they came into touch
with the 14th Infantry Division which was further south near the
western forts of Lille. To the north of the Sixth Army, the III Reserve
Corps, with its three divisions from Antwerp, was advancing westwards
on a broad front. By the 14th it had driven back the hostile rearguards
and reached a line from Bruges to near Ghent. Airmen and reconnaissance
detachments had recognised movements of large bodies of troops about
Hazebrouck, Lillers and St. Omer and reported disembarkations on a big
scale at Dunkirk and Calais. In addition to this, considerable hostile
forces had reached Ypres, and appeared to be facing more or less
southwards opposite the northern wing of the Sixth Army.[9]

An order issued on 14th October, by the Chief of the German General
Staff, gave the following instructions for the German forces between
Lille and the sea. The Sixth Army was at first to remain entirely on
the defensive along the line Menin-Armentières-La Bassée and to await
the attack of our new Fourth Army against the left flank of the enemy.
The offensive action of the Fourth Army after its deployment was to
be so directed that the III Reserve Corps, which now belonged to it,
should move as its right wing in echelon along the coast, whilst its
left was to advance through Menin.

In accordance with these orders the III Reserve Corps occupied Ostend
on the 15th, its left wing reaching the line of the Thourout-Roulers
road. The Corps was then ordered not to advance further for a few
days, so as to avoid the attention of the British and French, who
were advancing against the north wing of the Sixth Army, being drawn
prematurely to movements in this neighbourhood. Only patrols therefore
were sent out to reconnoitre across the Yser and the canal south of
it. On the 17th the XXII, XXIII, XXVI and XXVII Reserve Corps reached
the line Oostcamp (south of Bruges)-Thielt--point six miles east of
Courtrai. On the advance of these four new Corps, the III Reserve
Corps was to draw away to the right wing, and during the 17th and the
following morning it moved up to the sector of attack allotted to it
immediately south of the coast, and cleared the front of the Fourth
Army. The reconnaissance activity of the previous days had in places
led to severe fighting, especially on the southern wing in front of the
6th Reserve Division. It was found that the Belgian rearguards still
held part of the ground east of the Yser and of the canal to Ypres. Any
attempt to advance beyond this water-barrier was out of the question,
as the bridges had been blown up and the whole line put in a state of
defence.

The screening of the advancing Fourth Army by the III Reserve Corps
was a brilliant success. At midday on the 18th, Field-Marshal French,
who was to direct the enemy's attack from the line of the Yser, was
still in ignorance of our new Army. He believed he had time to prepare
for his attack, and his only immediate care was to secure the line
from Armentières to the sea for the deployment. After the events on
the Marne, Field-Marshal French had particularly requested General
Joffre, the Allied commander,[10] that he might be placed on the
northern flank of the line. He would then be close to Calais, which had
already become an English town,[11] he would be able to protect the
communications to his country; and, further, the fame to be gained by
a decisive and final victory attracted this ambitious commander to the
north. As a result the II British Corps under General Smith-Dorrien was
now in action against the strong German positions between Vermelles
(four miles south-west of La Bassée) and Laventie (west of Lille).[12]
Further to the north the III British Corps was fighting against the
Saxons advancing from Lille and our I, II and IV Cavalry Corps.[13]
The I British Cavalry Corps was covering the hostile advance on the
line Messines-Gheluvelt, south-east of Ypres.[14] Immediately to the
north again, the newly formed IV British Corps, consisting of the 7th
Infantry Division and 3rd Cavalry Division, had arrived in the area
Gheluvelt-Zonnebeke, pursued in its retreat by von Beseler's columns
(III Reserve Corps). On its left the I British Corps had marched up to
Bixschoote,[15] and the gap between this place and Dixmude had been
closed by a French Cavalry Division which connected up with the Belgian
Army. The last, reinforced by two French Territorial divisions, was
engaged in preparing the line of the Yser up to the sea for the most
stubborn defence. These strong forces were to cover the arrival of the
VIII and X French Corps[16] and were to deliver the first blow against
our supposed right wing.

On the 18th one of our cyclist patrols which had gone out far in
advance of its Corps was surrounded near Roulers, and it was only by
its capture that the enemy definitely discovered the arrival of the
new German Corps, whose formation, however, had not been unknown to
him, thanks to his good Secret Service system. Field-Marshal French
was now confronted with a new situation. The preparations for his big
attack were not yet completed. The superiority of the masses already
concentrated did not yet appear to him to be sufficient to guarantee
success against the enemy's advance. The British commander therefore
decided to remain on the defensive[17] against our new Fourth Army,
until the completion of the French concentration. His line was already
closed up to the sea, it was naturally strong, and fresh troops were
arriving daily. The danger threatening Dunkirk and Calais had the
effect of making England put forth her full energy; the British troops
fought desperately to defend every inch of ground, using every possible
means to keep up the sinking spirits of the Belgians. They demanded and
received rapid assistance from the French, and were backed up by fresh
reinforcements from England.

From the German point of view the patriotic enthusiasm and unconditional
determination to win the war which pervaded the new Fourth Army
gave every prospect of successfully closing with the enemy, who was
apparently still engaged in concentrating and reorganising his forces,
and gaining Calais, the aim and object of the 1914 campaign.

Our offensive, however, struck against a powerful army, fully deployed
and ready to meet us. The British boast that they held up our attack
with a great inferiority of numbers, but this was only true in the
case of the 7th Division during the first two days in the small sector
ZONNEBEKE-GHELUVELT. On 22nd October between ARMENTIÈRES and the sea
there were eight Corps opposed to the seven attacking German Corps;
and, besides, the enemy had prepared a series of lines of strong
trenches covered by an extensive system of artificial obstacles. In
the course of the operations that developed, the relative strength of
the opposing forces never appreciably altered in our favour.[18] The
moral strength of our troops made up for the numerical superiority of
the enemy. Our attack drove the hostile lines well back and destroyed,
it is hoped for ever, the ambition of our opponent to regain Belgium by
force of arms.

The great desire of the Germans to defeat the hostile northern wing,
and to hit hardest the most hated of all our enemies, and, on the other
side, the obstinate determination of the British to hold on to the
passages to their country, and to carry out the offensive to the Rhine
with all their resources, resulted in this battle being one of the most
severe of the whole war. The deeds of our troops, old and young, in the
battle on the YSER and of YPRES can never be sufficiently praised, and
in spite of great losses their enthusiasm remained unchecked and their
offensive spirit unbroken.



THE THEATRE OF OPERATIONS


The country in which it was hoped to bring about the final decision of
the campaign of 1914 was not favourable to an attack from east to west.

Western Flanders, the most western part of Belgium, is almost
completely flat, and lies only slightly above sea-level, and in some
parts is even below it. Mount KEMMEL, in the south, is the only
exception; rising to a height of over 500 feet, it is the watch-tower
of Western Flanders. Before the war it was a well-wooded ridge with
pretty enclosures and villages. From its slopes and summits could be
seen the whole countryside from LILLE to MENIN and DIXMUDE.

The possession of this hill was of great importance. Our cavalry
actually occupied it during the early days of October, but when the
enemy advanced he immediately attacked it. The XIX Saxon Corps was
still too far away to help, and so Mount KEMMEL fell into the enemy's
hands. During the battle of YPRES it was his best observation post, and
of the utmost assistance to his artillery.

We repeatedly succeeded in gaining a footing on the eastern crest
of the ridge in front of YPRES, but in the autumn of 1914, as also
later in the war, this was always the signal for the most desperate
fighting. It was thus that the heights of ST. ELOI,[19] the high-lying
buildings of HOOGE and the village of WYTSCHAETE won their sanguinary
fame.

Lying in the midst of luxuriant meadows, with its high ramparts and
fine buildings, YPRES was formerly one of the most picturesque towns in
Flanders. In the fourteenth century it had a considerable importance,
and became the centre of the cloth-weaving trade on its introduction
from Italy. BRUGES, lying close to the coast, became the market for its
wares. The Clothweavers' Guild, which accumulated great wealth, erected
in YPRES a fine Gothic hall, whose towers with those of St. Martin's
Church were landmarks for miles round. In modern times, however, the
importance of the town greatly diminished. The cloth-weaving industry
drifted away to the factories of MENIN and COURTRAI; and YPRES, like
its dead neighbour BRUGES, remained only a half-forgotten memory of its
former brilliance.

The war has brought fresh importance to the town, but of a mournful
kind. On the impact of the German and Anglo-French masses in Flanders
in the autumn of 1914, it became the central pivot of the operations.
The enemy dug his heels into the high ground in front of it; for, as
an Englishman has written, it had become a point of honour to hold the
town. YPRES lay so close to the front that our advance could be seen
from its towers, and the enemy was able to use it for concealing his
batteries and sheltering his reserves. For the sake of our troops we
had to bring it under fire; for German life is more precious than the
finest Gothic architecture. Thus the mythical death of YPRES became a
reality: no tower now sends forth its light across the countryside, and
a wilderness of wrecked and burnt-out houses replaces the pretty town
so full of legend and tradition in the history of Flanders.

The streams which run northwards from the hills about YPRES unite
for the most part near the town and flow into the YSER canal, which
connects the LYS at COMINES with the sea at NIEUPORT. This canal passes
through the YPRES ridge near HOLLEBEKE and, following northwards the
course of a small canalised tributary of the YSER, meets the YSER
itself south of DIXMUDE. The dunes at NIEUPORT have been cut through by
engineers for its exit to the sea. It is only from DIXMUDE northwards
that the canal becomes an obstacle which requires proper bridging
equipment for its passage. Its high embankments to the south of
DIXMUDE, however, give excellent cover in the otherwise flat country
and greatly simplify the task of the defender.

The canal acquired a decisive importance when the hard-pressed
Belgians, during the battle on the night of 29th-30th October, let
in the sea at flood-tide through the sluices into the canal, and
then by blowing up the sluice-gates at NIEUPORT, allowed it to flood
the battlefield along the lower YSER. By this means they succeeded
in placing broad stretches of country under water, so much so that
any extensive military operations in that district became out of the
question. The high water-level greatly influenced all movements over
a very large area. By his order the King of the Belgians destroyed
for years the natural wealth of a considerable part of his fertile
country, for the sea-water must have ruined all vegetation down to its
very roots.

The country on both sides of the canal is flat, and difficult for
observation purposes. The high level of the water necessitates drainage
of the meadows, which for this purpose are intersected by deep dykes
which have muddy bottoms. The banks of the dykes are bordered with
willows, and thick-set hedges form the boundaries of the cultivated
areas. Generally speaking, the villages do not consist of groups of
houses: the farms are dispersed either singly, or in rows forming a
single street. The country is densely populated and is consequently
well provided with roads. But these are only good where they have been
made on embankments and are paved. The frequent rains, which begin
towards the end of October, rapidly turn the other roads into mere mud
tracks and in many cases make them quite useless for long columns of
traffic.

The digging of trenches was greatly complicated by rain and
surface-water. The loam soil was on the whole easy to work in; but it
was only on the high ground that trenches could be dug deep enough to
give sufficient cover against the enemy's artillery fire; on the flat,
low-lying ground they could not in many cases be made more than two
feet deep.

A few miles south of the coast the country assumes quite another
character: there are no more hedges and canals: instead gently rolling
sand-hills separate the land from the sea, and this deposited sand is
not fertile like the plains south of them. A belt of dunes prevents the
sea encroaching on the land.

The greatest trouble of the attacker in all parts of Flanders is the
difficulty of observation. The enemy, fighting in his own country,[20]
had every advantage, while our artillery observation posts were only
found with the utmost trouble. Our fire had to be directed from the
front line, and it frequently happened that our brave artillerymen
had to bring up their guns into the front infantry lines in order to
use them effectively. Although the enemy was able to range extremely
accurately on our guns which were thus quickly disclosed, nothing could
prevent the German gunners from following the attacking infantry.

Observation from aeroplanes was made very difficult by the many hedges
and villages, so that it took a long time to discover the enemy's
dispositions and give our artillery good targets.

Finally, the flat nature of the country and the consequent limitations
of view were all to the advantage of the defenders, who were everywhere
able to surprise the attackers. Our troops were always finding fresh
defensive lines in front of them without knowing whether they were
occupied or not. The British, many of whom had fought in a colonial
war against the most cunning of enemies in equally difficult country,
allowed the attacker to come to close quarters and then opened a
devastating fire at point-blank range from rifles and machine-guns
concealed in houses and trees.

In many cases the hedges and dykes split up the German attacks so that
even the biggest operations degenerated into disconnected actions which
made the greatest demands on the powers of endurance and individual
skill of our volunteers. In spite of all these difficulties our men,
both old and young, even when left to act on their own initiative,
showed a spirit of heroism and self-sacrifice which makes the battle on
the YSER a sacred memory both for the Army and the Nation, and every
one who took part in it may say with pride, 'I was there.'



THE ADVANCE OF THE FOURTH ARMY


An Army Order of 16th October 1914 gave the following instructions for
the 18th:--

    The III Reserve Corps to march to the line COXYDE-FURNES-OEREN,
    west of the YSER.

    The XXII Reserve Corps to the line AERTRYCKE-THOUROUT.

    The XXIII Reserve Corps to the line LICHTERVELDE-ARDOYE.

    The XXVI Reserve Corps to the Area EMELGHEM-ISEGHEM, and, on the
    left wing, the XXVII Reserve Corps to the line LENDELEDE-COURTRAI.

The XXII, XXIII, XXVI and XXVII Reserve Corps all reached their
appointed destinations on the evening of the 18th without meeting any
strong resistance. Along almost the whole front our advanced guards
and patrols came into touch with weak hostile detachments who were
awaiting our advance well entrenched, and surprised us with infantry
and artillery fire. At ROULERS a hot skirmish took place. Aeroplanes
circling round, motor-lorries bustling about, and cavalry patrols
pushing well forward showed that the British now realised the strength
of the new German forces.

[Illustration: DISPOSITIONS ON OCTOBER 20TH. 1914.

_On 20th October none of the I British Corps were on the right of
the IV Corps; the map should read British Cavalry Corps. It is also
inaccurate to represent the whole III British Corps as north of
Armentières--only one of its Divisions was--while the II Corps was
certainly too closely pressed to detach any troops to the north as
depicted in the diagram._]

In the meantime, on the extreme right wing of the Army, the troops
of General von Beseler had opened the battle on the Yser. During
its advance northwards to cross the Yser at the appointed places
the III Reserve Corps had encountered strong opposition east of the
river-barrier. The men knew they were on the decisive wing of the
attack, and they pushed ahead everywhere regardless of loss. In a rapid
assault the 4th _Ersatz_ Division captured WESTENDE from the Belgians,
although a gallant defence was put up, and in spite of the fact that
British torpedo-boats and cruisers took part in the action from the
sea with their heavy artillery[21] both during the advance and the
fight for the town. Further south the 5th Reserve Division deployed to
attack a strongly entrenched hostile position. The 3rd Reserve _Jäger_
Battalion captured the obstinately defended village of ST. PIERRE
CAPPELLE after severe hand-to-hand fighting, whilst the main body of
the division succeeded in pushing forward to the neighbourhood of
SCHOORE. The 6th Reserve Division, commanded by General von Neudorff,
also closed with the enemy. It captured LEKE, and KEYEM, defended by
the 4th Belgian Division; but even this Brandenburg Division, for all
its war experience, found the task of forcing the crossings over the
YSER too much for it.

The fighting on 18th October resulted in bringing us a thousand or two
thousand yards nearer the YSER, but it had shown that the fight for
the river line was to be a severe one. The Belgians seemed determined
to sell the last acres of their kingdom only at the highest possible
price. Four lines of trenches had been dug, and it could be seen that
every modern scientific resource had been employed in putting the
villages on the eastern bank of the river into a state of defence. A
great number of guns, very skilfully placed and concealed, shelled the
ground for a considerable distance east of the river, and in addition
to this our right flank was enfiladed by the heavy naval guns from the
sea. Battleships, cruisers and torpedo-boats worried the rear and flank
of the 4th _Ersatz_ Division with their fire, and the British had even
brought heavy artillery on flat-bottomed boats close inshore.[22] They
used a great quantity of ammunition, but the effect of it all was only
slight, for the fire of the naval guns was much dispersed and indicated
bad observation. It became still more erratic when our long-range guns
were brought into action against the British Fleet. Detachments of
the 4th _Ersatz_ Division had to be echeloned back as far as Ostend,
in order to defend the coast against hostile landings. During the day
the General Commanding the III Reserve Corps decided not to allow the
4th _Ersatz_ Division to cross the YSER at NIEUPORT, on account of
the heavy fire from the British naval guns, but to make it pass with
the main body of the Corps behind the 5th Reserve Division in whose
area the fight appeared to be progressing favourably. The _Ersatz_
Division was informed accordingly. On the 19th another effort would
have to be made to force the crossings of the river by frontal attack,
for everywhere to the south strong opposition had been encountered.
From near DIXMUDE French troops carried on the line of the compact
Belgian Army. It was against these that the new Reserve Corps were now
advancing.

On the night of the 18th and morning of the 19th October a strong
attack was delivered from the west by the 4th Belgian Division, and
from the south-west by a brigade of the 5th Belgian Division and a
brigade of French Marine Fusiliers under Admiral Ronarch, against
KEYEM, held by part of the 6th Reserve Division. They were driven
back after heavy fighting. During the 19th the southern wing of the
Brandenburg (III) Reserve Corps succeeded in advancing nearer the river
and, on its left, part of the artillery of the XXII Reserve Corps came
into action in support of it, thereby partly relieving the III Reserve
Corps, which until that day had been fighting unassisted.

On the 19th more or less heavy fighting developed on the whole front
of the Fourth Army. The XXII Reserve Corps advanced on BEERST and
DIXMUDE and fought its way up into line with the III Reserve Corps.
In front of it lay the strong bridge-head of DIXMUDE, well provided
with heavy guns. The whole XXIII Reserve Corps had to be deployed
into battle-formation, as every locality was obstinately defended
by the enemy. In the advance of the 45th Reserve Division the 209th
Reserve Regiment late in the evening took HANDZAEME after severe
street fighting, and the 212th Reserve Regiment took the village of
GITS, whilst CORTEMARCK was evacuated by the enemy during the attack.
The 46th Reserve Division in a running fight crossed the main road to
THOUROUT, north of ROULERS, and by the evening had arrived close to
STADEN. Heavy street fighting in the latter place continued during
the night: the enemy, supported by the population, offered strong
resistance in every house, so that isolated actions continued behind
our front lines, endangering the cohesion of the attacking troops, but
never to a serious extent.

The XXVI Reserve Corps encountered strong opposition at RUMBEKE,
south-east of ROULERS; but all the enemy's efforts were in vain,
and the 233rd Reserve Infantry Regiment, under the eyes of its
Corps Commander, General von Hügel, forced its way through the rows
of houses, many of which were defended with light artillery and
machine-guns. A very heavy fight took place for the possession of
ROULERS, which was stubbornly defended by the French; barricades were
put up across the streets, machine-guns fired from holes in the roofs
and windows, and concealed mines exploded among the advancing troops.
In spite of all this, by 5 P.M. ROULERS was taken by the 233rd, 234th
and 235th Reserve Infantry Regiments, attacking from north, east and
south respectively. Further to the south, after a small skirmish with
British cavalry, the 52nd Reserve Division reached MORSLEDE, its
objective for the day. On its left again, the XXVII Reserve Corps had
come into contact with the 3rd British Cavalry Division which tried to
hold up the Corps in an advanced position at ROLLEGHEM-CAPPELLE. After
a lively encounter the British cavalry was thrown back on to the 7th
British Division, which held a strong position about DADIZEELE.[23]

Thus by the evening of 19th October the situation had been considerably
cleared up, in so far as we now knew that the Belgians, French and
British not only held the YSER and the YPRES canal, but also the high
ground east and north-east of YPRES. Everything pointed to the fact
that an unexpectedly strong opponent was awaiting us in this difficult
country, and that a very arduous task confronted the comparatively
untrained troops of Duke Albert of Würtemburg's Army. In the meantime
the Commander of the Sixth Army, Crown Prince Rupert of Bavaria, after
a discussion at Army Headquarters with General von Falkenhayn, Chief
of the General Staff, decided to renew the attack, as the left wing of
the Fourth Army had now come up on his immediate right. In consequence
of this decision, the XIII Corps was moved from its position on the
line MENIN-WARNETON and replaced by three Cavalry Divisions of the
IV Cavalry Corps. There can be no doubt that the attacks of the
Sixth Army, which began on the 20th and were continued with frequent
reinforcements of fresh troops, had the effect of holding the enemy and
drawing a strong force to meet them. They were not, however, destined
to have any decisive success, for the offensive strength of the Sixth
Army had been reduced by previous fighting, and it was not sufficient
to break through the enemy's strongly entrenched positions.[24] All the
more therefore were the hopes of Germany centred in the Fourth Army,
which was fighting further northwards, for in its hands lay the fate of
the campaign in Western Europe at this period.



THE OPERATIONS OF THE FOURTH ARMY FROM 20TH OCTOBER TO 31ST OCTOBER 1914


On 20th October the battle broke out along the whole line, on a front
of about sixty miles. The enemy had got into position, and was prepared
to meet the attack of Duke Albert of Würtemburg's Army. On the very
day that the British, French and Belgians intended to begin their
advance they found themselves compelled to exert all their strength to
maintain their positions against our offensive. The British and French
had to bring up constant reinforcements, and a hard and bitter struggle
began for every yard of ground. The spirit in which our opponents
were fighting is reflected in an order of the 4th Belgian Division,
picked up in PERVYSE on 16th October. This ran: 'The fate of the whole
campaign probably depends on our resistance. I (General Michel) implore
officers and men, notwithstanding what efforts they may be called upon
to make, to do even more than their mere duty. The salvation of the
country and therefore of each individual among us depends on it. Let us
then resist to our utmost.'

We shall see how far the soldiers of the Fourth Army, opposed to such
a determined and numerically superior enemy, were able to justify the
confidence which had been placed in them, a confidence expressed in the
following proclamations by their highest commanders on their arrival in
Belgium:

                                                    GREAT HEADQUARTERS,
                                                   _14th October 1914_.

    TO THE FOURTH ARMY,--I offer my welcome to the Fourth Army, and
    especially to its newly-formed Reserve Corps, and I am confident
    that these troops will act with the same devotion and bravery as
    the rest of the German Army.

    Advance, with the help of God--my watchword.

                                                (Signed) WILLIAM, I. R.


    _ARMY ORDER._

    I am pleased to take over the command of the Army entrusted to me
    by the Emperor. I am fully confident that the Corps which have been
    called upon to bring about the final decision in this theatre of
    war will do their duty to their last breath with the old German
    spirit of courage and trust, and that every officer and every man
    is ready to give his last drop of blood for the just and sacred
    cause of our Fatherland. With God's assistance victory will then
    crown our efforts.

    Up and at the enemy. Hurrah for the Emperor.

                                    (Signed) DUKE ALBERT OF WÜRTEMBURG,
                                          _General and Army Commander_.

    ARMY HEADQUARTERS, BRUSSELS,
    _15th October 1914_.

Who can deny that the task set to the Fourth Army was not an infinitely
difficult one. It would have probably been achieved nevertheless if the
Belgians at the moment of their greatest peril had not called the sea
to their aid to bring the German attack to a halt. Let us, however, now
get down to the facts.

On 20th October the III Reserve Corps, the battering ram of the Fourth
Army, began an attack with its 5th Reserve Division, supported by
almost the whole of the Corps artillery, against the sector of the Yser
west of the line MANNEKENSVERE-SCHOORBAKKE. The 4th _Ersatz_ Division
to the north and the 6th Reserve Division to the south co-operated.
By the early hours of the 22nd, the 5th and 6th Reserve Divisions had
driven the enemy back across the river in spite of the support given
him by British and French heavy batteries.[25] In front of the 4th
_Ersatz_ Division the enemy still held a bridge-head at LOMBARTZYDE.
At 8.15 A.M. on the 22nd the glad tidings reached the Staff of the 6th
Reserve Division, that part of the 26th Reserve Infantry Regiment had
crossed the YSER. Under cover of darkness the 1st and 2nd Battalions
of this regiment had worked their way up to the north-eastern part of
the bend of the YSER, south of SCHOORE, and had got into the enemy's
outposts on the eastern bank with the bayonet. Not a shot had been
fired, and not an unnecessary noise had disturbed the quiet of the
dawning day. Volunteers from the engineers silently and rapidly laid
bridging material over the canal. In addition an old footbridge west of
KEYEM, which had been blown up and lay in the water, was very quickly
made serviceable again with some planks and baulks. The Belgians had
considered their position sufficiently protected by the river, and by
the outposts along the eastern bank. By 6 A.M. German patrols were on
the far side of the YSER, and the enemy's infantry and machine-gun fire
began only when they started to make a further advance. Three companies
of the 1st and two companies of the 2nd Battalion, however, as well as
part of the 24th Reserve Infantry Regiment, had already crossed the
temporary bridges at the double and taken up a position on the western
bank: so that, in all, 2½ battalions and a machine-gun company were now
on the western bank.

The enemy realised the seriousness of the situation, and prepared a
thoroughly unpleasant day for those who had crossed. Heavy and light
guns of the British and French artillery[26] hammered incessantly
against the narrow German bridge-head and the bridges to it. Lying
without cover in the swampy meadows the infantry was exposed beyond
all help to the enemy's rifle and machine-gun fire from west and
south-west. The small force repulsed counter-attacks again and again,
but to attempt sending reinforcements across to it was hopeless. Some
gallant gunners, however, who had brought their guns close up to the
eastern bank, were able to give great help to their friends in their
critical situation. Thus assisted the infantry succeeded in holding
the position, and during the following night was able to make it
sufficiently strong to afford very small prospect of success to any
further hostile efforts. During the night several Belgian attacks
with strong forces were repulsed with heavy loss, and the 6th Reserve
Division was able to put a further 2½ battalions across to the western
bank of the YSER bend. On the 23rd we gained possession of TERVAETE,
and the dangerous enfilade fire on our new positions was thereby
considerably diminished. Dawn on 24th October saw all the infantry
of the 6th Reserve Division west of the river. A pontoon bridge was
thrown across the north-eastern part of the YSER bend, but it was
still impossible to bring guns forward on account of the enemy's
heavy artillery fire. The 5th Reserve Division still lay in its battle
positions along the river bank north of SCHOORBAKKE, but every time
attempts were made to cross the French and Belgian artillery smashed
the bridges to pieces. The 4th _Ersatz_ Division suffered heavily,
as it was subjected to constant artillery fire from three sides, and
to entrench was hopeless on account of the shifting sands and the
high level of the ground water. Whenever fire ceased during the night
strong hostile attacks soon followed; but they were all repulsed.
The withdrawal of the main body of the _Ersatz_ Division behind the
6th Reserve Division to cross the YSER, as General von Beseler had
once planned, had become impracticable for the moment, for it had
been discovered through the statements of prisoners that the 42nd
French Division had arrived in NIEUPORT to assist the Belgians. The
4th _Ersatz_ Division, which had been weakened on the 18th by the
transfer of one of its three brigades to the 5th Reserve Division,
could not be expected to bring the new enemy to his knees by the
running fight that it had been hitherto conducting. The canal alone was
sufficient obstacle to make this impracticable; in addition, the fire
of the enemy's naval guns from the sea prevented any large offensive
operations in the area in question. Thus the _Ersatz_ troops were
compelled to resign themselves to the weary task of maintaining their
positions under the cross-fire of guns of every calibre, to driving
back the hostile attacks, and to holding the Belgian and French forces
off in front of them by continually threatening to take the offensive.
It was not until some long-range batteries were placed at the disposal
of the division that its position improved. A couple of direct hits
on the enemy's ships soon taught them that they could no longer carry
on their good work undisturbed. Their activity at once noticeably
decreased, and the more the German coast-guns gave tongue seawards from
the dunes, the further the ships moved away from the coast and the less
were they seen.

General von Beseler never for a moment doubted that the decision lay
with the 5th and 6th Reserve Divisions, especially as the four Corps of
the Fourth Army, fighting further south, had not yet been able to reach
the canal-barrier with any considerable forces.

The XXII Reserve Corps, commanded by General of Cavalry von Falkenhayn,
had in the meantime come into line south of General von Beseler's
troops, and had already fought some successful actions. It had arrived
on the 19th in the district east of BEERST and about VLADSLOO, just
in time to help in driving back the Franco-Belgian attack against the
southern flank of the 6th Reserve Division.[27] That same evening
it was ordered to attack from north and south against the DIXMUDE
bridge-head, an exceptionally difficult task. In addition to the fact
that the swampy meadows of the YSER canal limited freedom of movement
to an enormous extent, the HANDZAEME canal, running at right angles to
it from east to west, formed a most difficult obstacle. DIXMUDE lay
at the junction of these two waterways, and behind its bridge-head
lines were the Belgian 'Iron' Brigade under Colonel Meiser, the French
Marine Fusilier Brigade under Admiral Ronarch, and part of the 5th
Belgian Division, determined to defend the place at all costs. About
eighty guns of every calibre commanded with frontal and enfilade fire
the ground over which Falkenhayn's Corps would have to attack. On the
20th, in spite of all these difficulties, the 44th Reserve Division,
on the northern wing of the Corps, captured BEERST and reached the
canal bank west of KASTEELHOEK in touch with von Beseler's Corps.
The 43rd Reserve Division, advancing on the left wing, took VLADSLOO
and several villages south-east of it on the northern bank of the
HANDZAEME Canal. By the light of the conflagration of those villages
the reach of the canal between EESSEN and ZARREN was crossed on hastily
constructed footbridges, and a further advance made in a south-westerly
direction. EESSEN itself was occupied, and the attack brought us to
within a hundred yards of the enemy. He realised his extremely critical
situation,[28] and his cyclists and all possible reserves at hand
were put in to the fight. Owing to the severe hostile artillery fire
the German losses were by no means slight. On one occasion when our
advancing infantry units were losing touch with one another in this
difficult country, a big hostile counter-attack was delivered from
DIXMUDE. After a heavy struggle the onrush of the enemy was held up,
mainly owing to our artillery, which heroically brought its guns up
into position immediately behind the infantry front line.

During the night the 43rd Reserve Division reorganised in order to
recommence its attack on the bridge-head from east and south-east
on the following morning. Days of terrific fighting ensued. The
garrison of the bridge-head had received orders to hold out to the
last man, and had been informed that any one who attempted to desert
would be shot without mercy by men placed for this purpose to guard
all the exits from the town. The Belgians were indeed fighting for
their very existence as a nation. Nevertheless by the 21st October
the 43rd Reserve Division, which consisted of volunteers from the
Guard Corps Reservists, had taken the château south of DIXMUDE, and
WOUMEN. The opposing sides lay within a hundred yards of each other.
Artillery preparation, attack and counter-attack went on incessantly.
Our artillery did fearful havoc and DIXMUDE was in flames. The
Franco-Belgian garrison was, however, constantly reinforced, and
conducted itself most gallantly. From the north the battalions of the
44th Reserve Division were able to advance slightly and drive the enemy
back on to the town, and German batteries were brought up into, and
at times even in front of, the infantry front line. Although we were
unable to force our way into DIXMUDE, on the evening of the 23rd our
troops were in position all round it.

On the left of the XXII Reserve Corps, the XXIII Reserve Corps, under
General of Cavalry von Kleist, had advanced at 9 A.M. on 20th October
on the front HANDZAEME-STADEN in order to reach the canal on the line
NOORDSCHOOTE-BIXSCHOOTE. The 45th Reserve Division was on the right
and the 46th Reserve Division on the left. After some hours of street
fighting STADEN was finally surrounded and taken by the 46th Reserve
Division. By nightfall a line from CLERCKEN to the eastern edge of
HOUTHULST Forest was reached. On the 21st the Corps had to cross a
stretch of country which put these partially trained troops and their
inexperienced officers to a very severe test. The great forest of
HOUTHULST with its dense undergrowth made it exceedingly difficult to
keep direction in the attack and to maintain communication between
units fighting an invisible opponent. Small swampy streams such as the
STEENEBECK offered favourable opportunities to the enemy to put up a
strong defence behind a succession of depressions. Thus our gallant
troops after every successful assault found themselves confronted by
another strong position: but unwavering and regardless of loss, they
continued their advance.

By the evening of the 21st the 46th Reserve Division had completely
driven the enemy out of HOUTHULST Forest,[29] whilst its sister-division
had advanced north of the STEENEBECK, and with its northern wing
supporting the Corps fighting immediately north of it, had pushed
forward to beyond WOUMEN. On the morning of the 22nd the heavy
artillery opened fire against the French positions on the YSER canal
to prepare the break-through. Unfortunately however only the northern
Division was able to reach the sector allotted to the Corps, and an
Army Order directed the 46th Reserve Division to the south-west against
the line BIXSCHOOTE-LANGEMARCK, in order to help carry forward the
attack of the XXVI Reserve Corps, which was completely held up in front
of the latter place. As a result of this the advance of von Kleist's
Corps also came to a standstill, although it had achieved considerable
fame during the day. In spite of a desperate resistance the 210th
Reserve Regiment stormed the strongly entrenched village of MERCKEM and
the village of LUYGHEM lying north of it; a daring attack by the 209th
and 212th Reserve Regiments broke through the enemy's positions on the
MURTJE VAART, whilst the 46th Reserve Division attempted to overrun the
KORTEBECK sector, supported by the concentrated fire of its artillery
in position along the south-western edge of HOUTHULST Forest. The 216th
Reserve Regiment took MANGELAERE by storm, in doing which its gallant
commander, Colonel von Grothe, was killed at the head of his troops.
The 1st British Division held a strong position along the KORTEBECK, in
touch with the French, and artillery of every calibre near NOORDSCHOOTE
enfiladed the German attack.[30] The British themselves speak of our
attack as a magnificent feat of arms carried out with infinite courage
and brilliant discipline. The men sang songs as they charged through
a hail of bullets in closed ranks up to the enemy's defences. The
212th Reserve Regiment under Colonel Basedow, reinforced and carried
forward by fresh detachments of the 209th Reserve Regiment, pushed its
way into the strongly fortified village of BIXSCHOOTE. The enemy on
our side of the canal, on the line BIXSCHOOTE-LANGEMARCK-ZONNEBEKE,
was threatened with annihilation. BIXSCHOOTE commanded the main road
and the canal-crossing to POPERINGHE, where the enemy was detraining
his reinforcements.[31] The British therefore fought with the courage
of desperation: for not only was the fate of the high ground east
and north-east of YPRES now in the balance, but also the chance of
being able to carry out the great Anglo-French offensive which had
been planned. YPRES and the high ground east of the canal were on
no account to be lost, and furious counter-attacks were therefore
delivered against the intermingled German units. Nevertheless our
gallant volunteers pressed on, using their bayonets and the butts of
their rifles, until the furious hand-to-hand fighting was finally
decided in our favour. At 6.30 that evening BIXSCHOOTE was ours.
Unfortunately, however, owing to an order being misunderstood, it was
lost again during the night: the exhausted attacking troops were to
be relieved under cover of darkness, but they assembled and marched
back before the relieving force had arrived. The enemy, ever watchful,
immediately advanced into the evacuated village and took position
among the ruins. Simultaneously a big hostile counter-attack drove the
46th Reserve Division from the high ground south of KORTEBECK, which it
had captured, and pressed it back beyond the stream again. The spirit
and strength of the young and inexperienced troops seemed to be broken,
and only a few of the subordinate commanders had yet learnt how to deal
with critical situations. Officers of the General Staff and Divisional
Staffs had to help to reorganise the men; they immediately turned and
followed their new leaders, and were taken forward again to the attack.
Thus on the 23rd the high ground south of the KORTEBECK was won back
by the 46th Reserve Division, but BIXSCHOOTE remained lost to us, and
LANGEMARCK could not be captured.[32]

On 22nd October, for the first time, our attack was directed from the
north against YPRES. If the British and French did not intend to give
up their offensive plans, and thereby their last hope of retaking
Belgium and the wealthy provinces of Northern France from the hated
German, they would have to maintain their positions along the YPRES
bridge-head east of the canal between COMINES and the coast. For this
reason the country round YPRES was the central area of the Anglo-French
defence from the beginning to the end of the battle. Our opponents
defended this position on a wide semicircle by successive lines of
trenches and with their best troops. Every wood, every village, every
farm and even every large copse has won for itself a fame of blood.
The reinforcements which Field-Marshal French received in abundance
he placed round YPRES, but not only for defensive purposes; they were
more often used to deliver attack after attack against our young troops
who had been weakened by the hard fighting; and on 23rd October they
were already being employed in this manner against the 46th Reserve
Division.[33] He hoped to use the opportunity of our retirement behind
the KORTEBECK to break through our line and to roll up the part of the
front lying to the north of it as far as the sea, and thus to regain
the initiative and freedom of manoeuvre on this extreme wing.[34]
However, the blow was parried by the 46th Reserve Division. In ragged,
badly placed lines the German units, which had scarcely had time to
reorganise, brought the hostile masses to a standstill and won back in
a counter-attack the ground which they had lost during the night. On
this occasion, also, the gunners shared with the infantry the honours
of the day. The fire of the guns, brought up into the foremost lines,
made wide gaps in the attacking columns and the enemy's losses must
have been terrible. Our own troops had also suffered severely in the
constant fighting and under the everlasting hostile artillery fire.
Some of our regiments had been reduced to half their strength. But in
spite of it the British did not succeed in breaking through between the
XXIII and XXVI Reserve Corps.

The XXVI and XXVII Reserve Corps were by this time completely
held up in front of strongly entrenched positions on the line
LANGEMARCK-ZONNEBEKE-GHELUVELT and opposed to an enemy who was
becoming stronger every day and making the most desperate efforts to
regain his freedom of action and begin a big offensive himself. The
XXVI Reserve Corps, which advanced on the morning of the 20th, the
51st Reserve Division from the area west of ROULERS, and the other
Division from MORSLEDE, encountered a stubborn resistance along the
ridge WESTROOSEBEKE-PASSCHENDAELE-KEIBERG. Fighting under the eyes
of their general, who was himself in the thick of the struggle, the
51st Reserve Division stormed the slope on to the ridge and entered
WESTROOSEBEKE. The French division defending it was driven out at
four in the afternoon and, attacking incessantly, the gallant 51st,
supported by the 23rd Reserve _Jäger_ Battalion, reached a line from
the railway-station north-west of POELCAPPELLE to POELCAPPELLE itself
during the evening. The attack was all the more daring through the fact
that HOUTHULST Forest was still in the enemy's hands, and the flank
of the division therefore appeared to be threatened. Meanwhile the
52nd Reserve Division had taken PASSCHENDAELE, KEIBERG and the high
ground between them from the British; the artillery again deserving
the highest praise for its co-operation.[35] The attack, however, was
brought to a standstill in front of the enemy's main position at the
cross-roads east of ZONNEBEKE. The XXVII Reserve Corps commanded by
General von Carlowitz, formerly Saxon War Minister, lay in close touch
with the 52nd Reserve Division on the evening of the 20th. Advancing in
four columns and by constant fighting it had forced its way westwards.
The Würtemburg Division had succeeded in driving the 7th British
Division out of BECELAERE after heavy street fighting, and the left
wing was bent back on TERHAND. Communication was there obtained with
the 3rd Cavalry Division, fighting on the right wing of the Sixth Army,
which had captured a hostile position north-east of KRUISEIK.

On the morning of the 22nd a strong position lay to our immediate front.
It followed a line BIXSCHOOTE-LANGEMARCK-ZONNEBEKE-REUTEL-GHELUVELT;
and the I and IV British, as well as the IX French Corps,[36]
all picked troops, had already been located there. They had dug a
well-planned maze of trenches behind broad wire entanglements before
a single German shell arrived to disturb their work.[37] The few
stretches of rising ground in the district had been included in the
skilfully selected positions as observation posts, and the defenders
were thus able to bring our advancing columns under accurate artillery
fire at long range. This was especially the case from the high ground
near ZONNEBEKE, whence the whole ground in front of the position as
far as LANGEMARCK could be enfiladed. All these difficulties, however,
were not sufficient to deter the offensive spirit of the German
troops, and '_Vorwärts_' was still their watchword: forwards and back
with the enemy, so that the rigid western front might once more be
mobile. The main body of the XXVI Reserve Corps attacked the fortress
of LANGEMARCK[38] from north and east, whilst the XXVII Reserve Corps
fought for the upper hand in the woods between ZONNEBEKE and BECELAERE.
The great efforts made by the artillery to follow up the infantrymen
with its guns and support them with their fire were in vain, owing
to the difficult country, and the well-aimed fire from the enemy's
prepared positions reaped a big harvest. Leaders of all grades were
killed, and officers of high rank took their places and reorganised the
intermingled units.

With the failure of the 46th Reserve Division to gain a decisive
victory between BIXSCHOOTE and LANGEMARCK on 22nd and 23rd October
the fate of the XXVI and XXVII Reserve Corps was also settled. For
the time being any further thought of a break-through was out of the
question. The troops up till now had met the enemy full of a keen
fighting spirit, and had stormed his positions singing '_Deutschland,
Deutschland über alles'_ regardless of casualties, and had been one and
all ready to die for their country; but they had suffered heavily in
the contest against a war-experienced and numerically superior opponent
entrenched in strongly fortified positions. Even when the last reserves
of the Army, the 37th _Landwehr_ Brigade and the 2nd _Ersatz_ Brigade,
had been placed at the disposal of the XXVI Reserve Corps, they could
only be used to stiffen the defence. During the night of 23rd-24th
October the expected Anglo-French counter-attacks began, and continued
throughout the 24th, against the front of the XXVI and the right wing
of the XXVII Reserve Corps. By utilising temporary local successes and
putting in fresh forces the enemy vainly hoped to prepare the way for a
break-through; but the German troops though weakened held up all these
furious onslaughts from positions which had never been selected for
defence, but were merely those reached at the close of the attack.[39]

The Commander of the Fourth Army was forced to continue ordering all
his Corps to attack, in order to co-operate with the Sixth Army which
was attacking and, besides this, to pin the enemy's forces opposed
to him to their ground: for in the north a decision appeared to be
imminent on the front of General von Beseler's III Reserve Corps: in
addition to the entire infantry of the 6th Reserve Division, which had
crossed the canal by the morning of 24th October, the infantry of the
5th Reserve Division and five battalions of the 44th Reserve Division
succeeded in crossing the YSER during that day. The enemy was compelled
to evacuate the western bank of the canal from ST. GEORGE to south-east
of STUYVEKENSKERKE, in spite of the fact that there had been one French
and four Belgian Divisions[40] opposing the III Reserve Corps, and
that the ten howitzer batteries had proved insufficient to engage the
Belgian, French and British artillery successfully. In consequence of
this inferiority the old and new canal crossings lay under constant
concentrated fire, and all our efforts to transport guns over the
waterway failed. Many a fine piece of engineering carried out by our
indefatigable sappers was destroyed by the enemy's shells. The supply
of ammunition and field-dressings became a matter of the greatest
difficulty, as all the roads leading to the rear across the swampy
meadows were continuously shelled for a long way back. Nevertheless our
front troops held on firmly to their new positions. The next operation
was to break through the enemy's position here once and for all, though
it was clear from the beginning that the attack would be a very severe
one. Belgian and French working parties had dug a series of positions
between the YSER and the NIEUPORT-BIXSCHOOTE railway, from which the
ground in front could be commanded with frontal and enfilade fire from
skilfully placed machine-guns and well-concealed batteries. On both
wings, according to the latest information at hand, strong hostile
attacks were threatening us, that is to say, near NIEUPORT as well as
near and to the south of DIXMUDE. To meet these the Army Commander had
replaced the 4th _Ersatz_ Division, which had been echeloned back along
the coast as a precaution against hostile landings, by detachments of
the Marine Division, and a few troops placed at his disposition by the
Governor of Belgium, and had ordered it to march to THOUROUT. At the
same time, by order of General von Beseler, long-range guns were placed
to prevent the enemy from concentrating for an attack in the NIEUPORT
district. However, the expected attack took place in the neighbourhood
of DIXMUDE, and was directed against those battalions of the 44th
Reserve Division which had crossed to the west of the YSER. The enemy
realised the great danger that threatened his bridge-head from the
north-west, and put all available Belgian and French reserves into
the attack. Thus between five and six battalions from three Belgian
regiments and the Marine Fusiliers under Admiral Ronarch, with a strong
force of artillery, advanced to the attack of our southern flank. The
Belgians themselves describe this attack in the following words: 'One
saw the companies doubling forward in small groups, lying down on
the officers' signal, and then getting up to go forward again until
they finally deployed into their attacking lines. But unfortunately
they were asked to accomplish a superhuman task, and whole rows of
the men were mown down by the machine-guns. Company after company was
decimated, and in spite of the energy of their leaders they had to give
way, death having taken too heavy a toll of their ranks. The Marine
Fusiliers, who attacked with uncommon gallantry, soon shared the same
fate. But all this sacrifice was not in vain--it stopped the enemy's
advance.'[41]

It will be understood then that the first thing for the weak and widely
separated battalions of the 44th Reserve Division to do on the 25th was
to get breathing space and reorganise, even though they were exposed
all the time to the heaviest fire from west, south and south-east.
Further to the north, however, on the morning of the 25th, the 5th and
6th Reserve Divisions had succeeded in bringing their field-batteries
across the river, and as soon as the whole artillery of these two
divisions had been concentrated under the expert leadership of General
von Ziethen, it began to prepare the way for the infantry attack. By
midday both the divisions were advancing steadily towards the railway
embankment on the line RAMSCAPPELLE-PERVYSE. The Belgians had to
evacuate position after position. Then suddenly heavy enfilade fire was
poured in by the enemy's artillery about NIEUPORT; and simultaneously
a brigade of the 6th Reserve Division south-east of PERVYSE had to be
directed southwards in order not to lose touch with the right wing of
the 44th Reserve Division. There were no reinforcements to fill up the
gaps, and thus the attack came shortly afterwards to a standstill.

A very heavy thunder of guns rumbled incessantly from the south: the
German artillery, including 42-centimetre guns, had bombarded DIXMUDE
throughout the 24th October and morning of the 25th, and now the 43rd
Reserve Division had begun its assault on the town. It resulted in
the most violent street fighting; fast and furious came the bullets
from the machine-guns posted in the houses along the edge of the town,
and from the shells from the batteries massed west of the YSER, but
nothing could hold up our attack. The Belgians have given the following
description of the power of the German assault: 'What plunder must not
they have been promised, to allow themselves to be killed in such a
way? What drink must they not have taken to give themselves such animal
courage? Like devils, thirsting for blood, they storm forward with the
howls of wild beasts; lusting to massacre, they tread the wounded under
foot and stumble over the dead: and, though shot down in hundreds, they
keep coming on. Then follow isolated fights with bayonets and the butts
of rifles: some are impaled, others strangled or have their skulls
bashed in.' The fight swayed backwards and forwards till well into the
night: guns brought up into the front line fired at point-blank range:
both sides put in their last reserves.

During the night, rifles were unloaded, bayonets fixed, and we attacked
again. A small German detachment of about fifty men advanced across
the YSER bridge, but in endeavouring to assault the enemy's batteries,
it succumbed to greatly superior numbers. Thus the morning of 26th
October found the attackers back in their assault-positions: their
courage, spirit and indifference to death having added another leaf of
fame to the chaplet of the Guards. It was clear, however, that another
artillery bombardment was indispensable to success, and it was carried
out on the 26th and 27th.

That heavy losses were suffered by the Belgians and the French Marine
Fusiliers in the fighting just described is shown by the fact that
on the morning of the 26th Senegalese troops who had been hurriedly
brought up took over the defence of the bridge-head. A German attack on
the 28th was able to make some progress on the southern flank against
these fresh troops, but a decision could not be obtained. No further
effort was made on the 29th, for there was a shortage of artillery
ammunition. The eastern edge of the town was, however, bombarded by
trench-mortars, which had just arrived, with good effect.

Army Orders for the 30th prescribed that the XXII Reserve Corps should
only leave a weak force of from three to four battalions on the eastern
bank of the Yser opposite DIXMUDE; that DIXMUDE should be kept under
heavy artillery fire; and that the remainder of the 43rd Reserve
Division should cross the YSER, north of DIXMUDE, in order to attack
the town from the rear.

North-west of DIXMUDE, by the evening of the 29th, the troops of
General von Beseler and the 44th Reserve Division had worked their
way forward some 300 yards towards the railway embankment. Only one
brigade of the 4th _Ersatz_ Division was still north-east of NIEUPORT:
all the rest were taking part in the struggle further south, and west
of the YSER. NIEUPORT was shut in on the south: the left wing of the
44th Reserve Division lay west of BEERST, as protection against the
strong hostile forces near the river about DIXMUDE: the Belgians and
recently-arrived French forces held the railway embankment between
NIEUPORT and DIXMUDE. Broad stretches of wire entanglements lay in
front of this strong position, and the efforts of our troops had been
almost superhuman in their advance over this ground: it was intersected
with patches of marsh, dykes often fifteen yards broad, and thick,
wired hedges. So strong, however, was the pressure against the enemy
that the French were compelled to reduce their forces about NIEUPORT
and north of it to weak detachments, and send constant reinforcements
to the area PERVYSE-RAMSCAPPELLE. A German airman, who was killed on
the morning of the 30th, had shortly before his death reported that
the enemy were beginning to withdraw. Our assault began at 6.30 A.M.,
though the ground in the area of the 5th and 6th Reserve Divisions
had become extraordinarily swampy. It seemed impossible that the
recent rains could have raised the level of the ground-water to such
an extent. Nevertheless the attack made considerable progress. The
11th Brigade of the 6th Reserve Division succeeded in forcing its way
into the eastern part of the strongly-fortified village of PERVYSE,
whilst of the 5th Reserve Division, the 48th and 52nd Reserve Regiments
reached the railway embankment, and the 48th pushed on beyond it
towards RAMSCAPPELLE. Although every house had to be attacked, it
succeeded in reaching the western end of the village. The 12th Reserve
Regiment also made considerable advance.

The resistance of the enemy was broken, and when the 33rd _Ersatz_
Brigade on the northern wing advanced from the north-east against
NIEUPORT, the enemy retired. Airmen reported enemy's columns retreating
towards FURNES. Nothing could stop the victorious advance of General
von Beseler's troops, not even the heaviest guns of the British
battleships, cruisers and torpedo-boats, which, from far out at sea,
enfiladed the German attack at a range of 20,000 yards, nor the
incessant counter-attacks of the Franco-Belgian Divisions. On the
evening of the 30th RAMSCAPPELLE was completely in German possession,
the railway embankment south of it had been reached and even crossed in
places; in PERVYSE the fight was progressing favourably, and south of
it the 12th Reserve Brigade, delayed by the numerous broad dykes, was
working forward to the railway. Still further south the 44th Reserve
Division was in full advance towards the railway embankment east of
OOSTKERKE, whilst the main body of the 43rd Reserve Division had
crossed the YSER, without casualties, and had been sent forward in the
direction of CAESKERKE.

The attack was to have been continued on the following morning, and
General von Beseler intended to withdraw the last part of the 4th
_Ersatz_ Division, the 33rd _Ersatz_ Brigade, from the area north-east
of NIEUPORT, for the fire of the enemy's naval guns from the sea[42]
and the difficulties of the country appeared to militate against any
prospects of a rapid success there. At 11.30 P.M., however, a General
Staff Officer of the 6th Reserve Division reported that the attack
could be continued no further owing to the constant rising of the
water. What had happened? On the morning of the 30th the advancing
troops had been up to their ankles in water; then it had gradually
risen until they were now wading up to their knees, and they could
scarcely drag their feet out of the clayey soil. If any one lay down
for a moment under the heavy artillery, machine-gun and rifle fire, he
was lost. The rise of the waters was attributed to the torrential rain
of the previous few days, and it was hoped that on the approach of dry
weather the excellent system of canals would soon drain it off. But
the rising flood soon prevented the movement of wagons with ammunition
and supplies, and when the attackers looked back from the railway
embankment, it seemed to them as if the whole country had sunk behind
them: the green meadows were covered with dirty, yellow water, and the
general line of the roads was only indicated by the houses and the rows
of partly covered trees. It soon became evident that the enemy must
have blown up the canal-sluices, and called in the sea to his aid.
The advance of General von Beseler's III Reserve Corps had been the
culmination of the crisis for our opponent; all his reserves had been
put in to stop it, but in vain. If the Germans could only succeed in
pushing the exhausted Belgians and French out of their way, the road to
DUNKIRK and CALAIS was open. Warnings, friendly and otherwise, had been
given by the Allies to the Belgians that they must 'hold out'; but they
were no more able to resist the attacks of the victors of ANTWERP now
than when behind fortress ramparts. Their fighting spirit was broken;
so, influenced by the wishes of the British and the French, King Albert
finally decided to employ this last desperate means of defence, and
place a wide expanse of his fair country under water. The water-level
rose slowly and insidiously until, on the evening of the 30th, the
YSER north of DIXMUDE had almost everywhere overflowed its banks. The
inundation destroyed buildings as well as soil, but it enabled the
worn-out defenders to recover their sore-threatened security.

General von Beseler quickly realised the danger which now awaited
his attacking troops on the far side of the canal, behind whom a
sheet of water, 2000 to 3000 yards broad, was constantly deepening.
The decision was an exceedingly hard one for him to make, yet it had
to be done. The attack would have to be given up and the greater
part of the western bank of the river evacuated. The order was
issued and carried out during the night of the 30th-31st October. In
spite of the dangers due to the altered appearance of the country
and the consequent difficulty in finding the way, and although the
Franco-Belgian artillery kept the YSER crossings under constant
heavy fire, the withdrawal was a brilliant success. Not a wounded
man nor rifle fell into the enemy's hands, and the movement was so
well covered that the enemy did not notice we had disengaged until
it was too late. A small detachment of gallant Brandenburgers under
Lieutenant Buchholz remained behind for a long time in PERVYSE. In
front of them the enemy was sweeping the village with artillery
and infantry fire and behind them was the edge of an apparently
boundless sea. A French colonel offered Lieutenant Buchholz honourable
conditions if he would surrender; but he indignantly rejected the
offer: his only answer to the colonel was to slip off with his little
band of followers. They rejoined their unit successfully. The enemy
only followed up slowly along the roads, with weak detachments of
infantry. Our rear-guards remained west of the canal on the line ST.
GEORGE-STUYVEKENSKERKE, whilst the main body on the 31st took up its
new position east of the YSER as follows: the 5th Reserve Division
north of the main road ST. PIERRE CAPPELLE-MANNEKENSVERE; the 4th
_Ersatz_ Division in the area MANNEKENSVERE-SCHOORE; and the 6th
Reserve Division to the south of it. One battalion and one battery
of the 4th _Ersatz_ Division remained facing NIEUPORT, extending
northwards to the coast. A new defensive position was selected along
the line WESTENDE-MANNEKENSVERE-SCHOORE-KASTEELHOEK: a continuation of
the attack was now out of the question, as the water was still rising
west of the YSER. On 31st October and 1st November, however, the XXII
Reserve Corps again tried to press its attack southwards on the east
bank of the river, in order to isolate the DIXMUDE bridge-head, but
here also the ever-rising flood soon prevented movement, and on the
evening of the 1st these brave troops also had to yield to the forces
of nature and withdraw behind the YSER. This operation was carried out
in bright moonlight on the night of the 1st-2nd, and was unmolested by
the enemy, for he lay in his position exhausted and heedless. Thus for
the time being DIXMUDE remained in possession of the French.

The Army Commander had issued definite instructions on the evening of
the 24th October to the XXIII, XXVI and XXVII Reserve Corps to the
effect that they were to maintain and strengthen their positions, and
take every opportunity of seizing important points on their immediate
front. In the execution of this order the German troops experienced
a good deal of heavy fighting during the subsequent days. The XXVII
Reserve Corps succeeded in capturing REUTEL and holding it;[43]
but in the meantime heavy hostile attacks were begun against the
XXIII, XXVI and the extreme right wing of the XXVII Reserve Corps.
The British, continually reinforced by the arrival of French units,
endeavoured to break through, and used all their strength. Indeed,
in many places the situation of these German volunteer corps became
critical. Thanks to his good observation posts the enemy was able to
keep our roads of advance and communications under artillery fire. As
the roads were already broken up by the constant rain, the ammunition
supply of our artillery, inferior in any case to our opponents',
failed. Nevertheless, in spite of all difficulties our counter-attacks
continued. The fighting was especially severe on the front of the XXVI
and XXVII Reserve Corps on 25th, 26th and 27th October. In this sector
the British and French made a succession of attacks in the direction
POELKAPPELLE, PASSCHENDAELE and east of ZONNEBEKE. The 37th _Landwehr_
Brigade and the 2nd _Ersatz_ Brigade, under the command of General
von Meyer, had to be sent up into the fighting line, in addition to
detachments of the Marine Division and of the 38th _Landwehr_ Brigade.
These _Landwehr_ men, far from being weighed down by their years,
gave effective support to the terribly thinned ranks of their younger
friends, and the line was restored. In the heat of the fighting on the
evening of the 26th General von Meyer was mortally wounded: may his
memory be duly honoured.

An exceptionally heavy British and French attack was delivered on the
24th and 25th near ZONNEBEKE, against the inner flanks of the XXVI and
XXVII Reserve Corps. The points of junction of formations are always
the weakest parts of the defence, and when the General Staff Officer
of the XXVII Reserve Corps asked for the support of the Corps on his
right, he received the reply that no infantry could be spared 'for the
enemy....' And at that moment the telephone circuit failed. There was
nothing to do but close the gap between the two Corps by an artillery
barrage, and to trust to the skill of the troops and their leaders.
The Saxon gunners of the 53rd Reserve Division shelled the advancing
enemy as fast as they were able, and by this aid the infantry was
finally enabled to come up and close the gap again. At the same time
the enemy made a strong attack further to the south. The report came in
that he had surrounded BECELAERE; but before his supports could assist
him, the bayonets of the 54th Reserve Division had driven back his
assaulting troops.[44] The Corps was able to hold its old line from the
cross-roads east of ZONNEBEKE through REUTEL to POEZELHOEK. Comparative
quiet followed on the 28th and morning of the 29th, for both sides were
very exhausted. On the 28th the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division arrived
at DADIZEELE as Army Reserve.

The Army Cavalry of the Sixth Army, consisting of eight Cavalry
Divisions and several _Jäger_ battalions under General von der Marwitz,
was in action on the left of the Fourth Army. It closed the gap between
the latter and the infantry of the Sixth Army, which lay half-way
between WARNETON and ARMENTIÈRES. The enemy could not be attacked
here by any form of mounted action; so far from this being possible,
ground could be gained only by wearisome fighting on foot, to which the
cavalrymen were unaccustomed. Nevertheless they carried out this task
in brilliant fashion, and whilst the southern wing, in a bad position
and scarcely entrenched at all, stubbornly held up the British who were
streaming down from the high ground about WYTSCHAETE and MESSINES,[45]
the 3rd, 7th and Bavarian Cavalry Divisions, with the 4th, 9th and 10th
_Jäger_ battalions and five battalions of the 11th _Landwehr_ Brigade
brought forward from Lille, advanced under General von Stetten to the
assault of the line KRUISEIK-ZANDVOORDE and west of it. This direction
was taken in order to be able to attack from the south against the
rear of the enemy holding up the XXVII Reserve Corps. The 25th to
29th October were memorable and glorious days for this Cavalry Corps.
Among other achievements, the 3rd Cavalry Division was able to capture
KRUISEIK on the 26th after heavy street fighting.[46] In co-operation
with the left wing of the XXVII Reserve Corps, next to which the
16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment of the 6th Bavarian Reserve
Division had been placed, taking a prominent part in the fighting under
Colonel List, General von Stetten, on the 29th, carried forward the
attack against GHELUVELT, the key of the enemy's position. More than
600 British prisoners and 5 machine-guns were taken by our victorious
cavalry.[47] Simultaneously on this day, the troops of General von
Stetten filled another rôle. They were covering the concentration of
new German forces which was in the course of completion behind their
battle-front.



THE ATTEMPT TO BREAK THROUGH SOUTH OF YPRES


Throughout the fighting of the Fourth Army during October, the Sixth
Army under Crown Prince Rupert of Bavaria had remained on the offensive
on the line ARRAS-LA BASSÉE--east of ARMENTIÈRES;[48] but although
fresh reinforcements had been sent up to that part of the front by the
German General Staff, a break-through had not been possible. Both sides
had gradually changed their objectives and now merely sought to prevent
any movement of the opposing forces from that front to the decisive
zone of operations between NIEUPORT and YPRES. Any weakness in the
enemy's line, however, was utilised to gain new and improved positions
from which another effort to break through might be made as soon as
possible. Owing to the failure of the offensive south of NIEUPORT,
a decision under the conditions existing there could not be hoped
for; the German General Staff therefore began considering a plan for
concentrating a strong new army of attack between the Fourth and the
Sixth Armies behind the position occupied by the Army Cavalry, and for
breaking through with it on the front WERWICQ-WARNETON, south of YPRES.

On 27th October Lieut.-General von Falkenhayn arrived at the
Headquarters of the Sixth Army to discuss this operation. The plan was
arranged and orders were issued accordingly. A new 'Army Group' was
to be affiliated to the Sixth Army, under the command of General von
Fabeck, commander of the XIII Würtemburg Corps.[49] It would consist
of the II Bavarian and the XV Corps (now on its way up from the south
to join the Sixth Army), the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division (still in
reserve to the Fourth Army), and the 26th Würtemburg Division (of the
Sixth Army, which was about to be relieved by the 48th Reserve Division
recently arrived from the Fifth Army). In addition to these formations
all the available heavy artillery of the Sixth Army would be brought
up to assist, and if necessary the attacks further south would be
partially discontinued. The offensive was to take place on the 30th
October from the general line WERWICQ-DEULEMONT in a north-easterly
direction. In the meantime the 3rd Division of the II Corps was also
to be brought up by rail to LILLE. The orders of the German General
Staff pointed out that the united co-operation of the Fourth and Sixth
Armies was an essential condition for the success of the operation.
Crown Prince Rupert of Bavaria therefore ordered the entire right wing
and centre of the Sixth Army to continue their holding attacks, and
Duke Albert of Würtemburg ordered a general attack of his Army for the
30th October.

How the flooding of the YSER on the front of the right wing of the
Fourth Army brought the offensive of the III and XXII Reserve Corps to
a standstill has already been described. From the 1st November the 4th
_Ersatz_ Division took over the protection of the line of the flooded
area from the coast to TERVAETE, whilst the III Reserve Corps was moved
southwards to the district ZARREN-STADEN in order to reinforce the
XXIII or XXVI Reserve Corps, as the situation might require.[50] To
the XXII Reserve Corps was allotted the task of holding the two French
divisions stationed in the DIXMUDE bridge-head, which formed a constant
threat to the German front. The Corps carried out this task admirably.

On the morning of the 30th October the XXIII, XXVI and XXVII Reserve
Corps advanced to the attack as ordered. The first-named under General
von Kleist succeeded in storming and holding the ruins of BIXSCHOOTE.
After five hours' desperate fighting, the 211th and 216th Reserve
Infantry Regiments entered the devastated village which had been
occupied by two French infantry regiments. Its low-lying situation,
and the hopelessness of finding cover among the battered houses,
resulted in the victorious German regiments being exposed to a very
heavy artillery fire to such an extent, that the casualties in the
village were greater than during the assault. In consequence the
commander decided to withdraw and take up a line along the northern
edge of BIXSCHOOTE, leaving in the village itself only sufficient
outposts to repulse hostile counter-attacks. The division on the
left wing of the Corps also made progress and reached the main road
BIXSCHOOTE-LANGEMARCK in places. The XXVI Reserve Corps attacked
LANGEMARCK with its right wing, but was unable to take it. In spite of
gallant efforts only a few hundred yards of ground were gained by the
evening of the 31st, when these useless attacks were stopped by order.
The centre and left wing of this Corps as well as the right wing of the
XXVII Reserve Corps were held to their positions by superior hostile
artillery fire, and also by mass attacks of the British and French
during the 30th and 31st. The II and IX French Corps had just arrived,
and in the presence of General Joffre an attempt to break through
our line was to be made on this sector of the front.[51] The German
defenders, however, held stoutly to their positions, and thus enabled
the offensive of the Army Group of General von Fabeck to take place.
In conjunction with this the centre and left wing of the XXVII Reserve
Corps, under its new commander, General von Schubert, simultaneously
advanced in the direction of GHELUVELT.

During the night of the 27th-28th October the 26th Infantry Division
was relieved in its battle-position west of LILLE by the 48th Reserve
Division, and by the evening of the 29th the assembly of the Army Group
Fabeck was completed without disturbance.

The heavy artillery placed at the disposal of the Army Group consisted
of 8 batteries of mortars, 20 battalions of heavy field-howitzers, each
of 3 batteries, and a 30·5 cm. coast defence mortar.[52] In addition to
the troops already mentioned, the 1st Cavalry Corps, the four _Jäger_
battalions of the Army Cavalry and the 11th _Landwehr_ Brigade were
put under the command of General von Fabeck. On the night of the 30th
October this new army of attack relieved the two northern Cavalry
Corps, and took over their outpost lines. On the following morning the
offensive began.[53] The XV Corps under General von Deimling attacked
south of the MENIN-YPRES road, with its left wing on ZANDVOORDE, the
II Bavarian Corps was on its left, with its left wing on WAMBEKE;
further south again was the 26th Infantry Division with its left wing
on MESSINES. In co-operation with these the 1st Cavalry Corps with the
4th and Guard Cavalry Divisions, strengthened by two battalions of the
XIX Saxon Corps, which was attacking to the left of it, was ordered
to advance on ST. YVES and PLOEGSTEERT Wood. The 6th Bavarian Reserve
Division moved to the line MENIN-WERWICQ. The Army Cavalry which had
been relieved was withdrawn to act as reserve to the Sixth Army, one
Cavalry Corps being placed behind the right wing of the Army to be at
hand to fill up a slight gap which existed between the Fourth Army and
the Army Group Fabeck should it be necessary.

The enemy had intercalated part of the XVI French Corps between the 7th
Division of the IV British Corps and the British Cavalry Corps, before
the advance of von Fabeck's Army; the II and IX French Corps had also
recently arrived[54] on the northern side of the YPRES salient.[55]
Again, therefore, the enemy had a numerical superiority[56] in what was
the second and severest part of the battle on the YSER. The British
in their reports have added together all the German Corps which were
brought up piecemeal for the fighting on the YSER and at YPRES, both
at this period and later on; and they describe the situation so as
to give the impression that they had held up with inferior numbers
the simultaneous attacks of all these Corps from the outset. They go
further and use the figures obtained in this way to turn their defeat
into a victory. They boast of having held out against great odds,
gladly forgetting that their original intention both before and during
the battle had been to overrun our positions and drive us back to the
Rhine.

The character of the fighting which began with the appearance of the
new German Army Group on the scene had almost the savagery of the
Middle Ages in it. The enemy turned every house, every wood and every
wall into a strong point, and each of them had to be stormed by our
men with heavy loss. Even when the first line of these fortifications
had been taken they were confronted by a second one immediately behind
it; for the enemy showed great skill in taking every advantage of the
ground, unfavourable in any case to the attacker. To the east and
south-east of YPRES, even more developed than in the north, there were
thick hedges, wire fences and broad dykes. Numerous woods also of
all sizes with dense undergrowth made the country almost impassable
and most difficult for observation purposes. Our movements were
constantly being limited to the roads which were swept by the enemy's
machine-guns. Owing to the preparatory artillery bombardments the
villages were mostly in ruins by the time the infantry reached them,
but the enemy fought desperately for every heap of stones and every
pile of bricks before abandoning them. In the few village streets
that remained worthy of the name the fighting generally developed
into isolated individual combats, and no description can do adequate
justice to the bravery of the German troops on such occasions. Our men
advanced to the attack as if they were back on the barrack square, and
an Englishman writes: 'They advanced towards us singing patriotic songs
and with their bands playing.' There was such enthusiasm that even the
weakest were carried along by it, and made regardless of losses. The
battle of YPRES in the autumn of 1914 will be a memorial to German
heroism and self-sacrifice for all time, and will long remain a source
of inspiration for the historian and the poet.

By the 29th Field-Marshal French had realised the importance of the
attacks developing from the south-east against YPRES. They threatened
his position along the high ground on the line GHELUVELT-PASSCHENDAELE
and aimed directly at, and by the shortest way to, the town, the pivot
on which all the Franco-British offensive plans rested. On this day,
therefore, the British commander sent up the 7th Division into the
line again, although it had only just been relieved owing to its heavy
losses.[57]

 [Illustration: THE ATTACK OF THE ARMY GROUP FABECK.
 ON OCTOBER 30TH. 1914.]

Daybreak on the 30th October was dull and misty. Our heavy guns
began the bombardment of the enemy's well-constructed lines at about
7.45 A.M., but observation was made very difficult by the weather
conditions, and could only be carried out from the foremost infantry
lines. The telephonic communication rendered necessary was frequently
cut by the enemy's shells; but, in spite of this, our heavy batteries
were able to make such excellent practice that at the most vital points
of the enemy's position the spirit of the defenders appeared to be
completely broken. The high ground about ZANDVOORDE offers a typical
case. Although only 130 feet high, it was a corner-stone of the British
defence and one of the main observation posts for the artillery. At
9 A.M. our troops charged the hostile position there, and by 11 A.M.
ZANDVOORDE itself was in the possession of the 30th Infantry Division;
the 4th, 10th and 1st Bavarian _Jäger_ battalions of the Army Cavalry
took a great share in the success. Soon afterwards the high ground
north-east and immediately west of the village fell into German hands.
Two whole British squadrons with their machine-guns lay, dead and
wounded, completely annihilated in one meadow on the battlefield.[58]
Further south the II Bavarian Corps had driven back British cavalry
supported by part of the III British Corps. After a severe hand-to-hand
encounter it took possession of the château, and finally also of the
village of HOLLEBEKE. The left wing of the Corps pushed forward as
far as the WAMBEKE stream, north of the village of the same name, but
had here to put in all its reserves to hold its ground against strong
hostile counter-attacks.[59]

On the left of the Bavarians the 26th Infantry Division was engaged
in heavy fighting, the position confronting it being a particularly
strong one. It lay along a prominent ridge from 180 to 250 feet
high,[60] running north and south, eastwards of Mount KEMMEL, and gave
the enemy an extensive view eastwards over our lines. The defence
of this ridge was greatly facilitated by the villages of WYTSCHAETE
and MESSINES on it. These had been turned into fortresses, and were
connected by deep trenches protected by broad wire entanglements.[61]
Owing to observation difficulties, and to the misty weather preventing
the airmen from giving assistance, our artillery was unable from its
positions in the valley to bring a sufficiently heavy bombardment on
the enemy's lines; and, though the Würtemburg troops attacked with
great gallantry, the enemy was too well prepared for the assault. On
the right wing the 122nd Fusilier Regiment (Emperor Franz Joseph of
Austria) took the fortified village of WAMBEKE, and on the left wing
the 51st Infantry Brigade worked forward slowly towards MESSINES. The
ridge north-east of the last-named village was stormed, but the assault
on the locality itself, which was to have been delivered at 7.10 in
the evening, could not get on owing to heavy enfilade fire from the
south which held back the attackers some hundred yards away from its
edge.[62] The Cavalry Corps[63] had gained ground at first, but, in
consequence of their weakness in artillery, they had been unable to
take ST. YVES or to make progress against the strongly fortified wood
south-west of it. The same story describes the day's work of the XIX
Corps[64] fighting to the south of the cavalry.

On the extreme right wing of the Army Group also the attack on the
30th October had not had the success expected. The combined efforts
of the 54th Reserve Division and the right wing of the 30th Division
had not been able to carry us into GHELUVELT.[65] General von Deimling
and Major-General Wild von Hohenborn went forward themselves into the
front line to encourage the men, but the enemy defended his positions
desperately, and held on firmly to the main points of his line. Another
artillery bombardment was therefore considered necessary.

From the enemy's point of view, however, the situation was anything
but rosy on the evening of the 30th October. The entry of General von
Deimling's troops into ZANDVOORDE endangered the southern side of the
YPRES salient, and the capture of HOLLEBEKE brought the Germans within
three miles of YPRES itself. YPRES was indeed in danger. Field-Marshal
French had put Indian troops into the fighting line on the 30th, and he
now brought all the available British and French reserves towards the
line ZANDVOORDE-HOLLEBEKE in order to support the 7th British Division,
which had been fought to a standstill.[66] During the night, therefore,
the fighting never ceased: attacks and counter-attacks continued
along the whole front, and under cover of darkness the indefatigable
Würtemburg troops again tried to storm MESSINES.

On the 31st October the Germans had at first but few fresh troops
to meet the enemy's reinforcements;[67] so the 6th Bavarian Reserve
Division was brought up in readiness north of the LYS behind the II
Bavarian Corps. General von Fabeck had from the outset realised that
the WYTSCHAETE-MESSINES ridge was of decisive importance, and that
every effort must be made to take it; on the 31st, therefore, the main
pressure was to be exerted along the southern sector of attack of the
II Bavarian Corps.

According to the enemy's accounts the 31st October 1914 was one of
the most critical days at his headquarters. For us it was a day of
great glory, and the British state unreservedly in their reports of
the fighting, that the bravery of our men was beyond all praise. It is
true that this last October day of the first war-year did not give us
YPRES, but our semicircle around the town became so reduced that it
was brought within range of our artillery from three sides, and there
could be no more threats of a big hostile offensive based on the YPRES
district. The fact that neither the enemy's commanders nor their troops
gave way under the strong pressure we put on them, but continued to
fight the battle round YPRES, though their situation was most perilous,
gives us an opportunity to acknowledge that there were men of real
worth opposed to us who did their duty thoroughly.

At dawn on Sunday the 31st October, in fine weather, a heavy artillery
bombardment of the new hostile positions was begun on a front of ten
and a half miles. The enemy's batteries were not long in replying;
being so difficult to locate they had not suffered much in the previous
fighting. Terrific artillery fire lasted throughout the morning,
the British and French shells fell long distances behind our lines,
blocking streets and bridges, and devastating the villages as far
back as the LYS, so that any regular transport of supplies became
impossible. At GHELUVELT, however, the important northern corner of the
Army Group Fabeck, the enemy's hail of shells had but little result,
because our capture of the high ground at ZANDVOORDE had made the work
of observation very difficult.

 [Illustration: THE ATTACK OF THE ARMY GROUP FABECK.
 ON OCTOBER 31ST. 1914.]

After sufficient artillery preparation the British stronghold of
GHELUVELT was to be attacked from south and east simultaneously.
Colonel von Aldershausen, commanding the 105th Infantry Regiment, was
to direct the attack from the east. Besides two battalions of his own
regiment, there were placed under his command the 1st Battalion of the
143rd Infantry Regiment and a strong mixed detachment from the 54th
Reserve Division, mainly belonging to the 245th Reserve Regiment and
the 26th Reserve _Jäger_ Battalion. The 99th Infantry Regiment was to
make the attack from the south.[68] During the morning, in spite of
the heaviest fighting, no success was achieved, and isolated attacks
were repulsed by British counter-movements. At about 11 A.M. our
converging attack was begun. The commanders of the 54th Reserve and
30th Infantry Divisions with their artillery leaders, as well as the
general commanding the XV Corps, were again in the foremost lines,
though the last, General von Deimling, was wounded almost at once by
a shell-splinter. Towards midday the attack began to gain ground. His
Majesty the Kaiser, who had arrived at the battle headquarters of
the Sixth Army, watched the infantry working its way through the maze
of the enemy's obstacles and entrenchments. It was well supported by
artillery, some of the guns being moved forward with the front line.
The British and French artillery fired as rapidly as they knew how,[69]
and over every bush, hedge and fragment of wall floated a thin film of
smoke, betraying a machine-gun rattling out bullets. But it was all of
no avail: the attackers kept on advancing. More hostile strongholds
were constantly being discovered; even all the points known to be of
importance could not be given sufficient bombardments by our artillery,
so that many attacks had to be delivered against fresh troops in good
sheltered entrenchments untouched by our guns.[70] Many of our gallant
men were killed, and the officers, who were the first to rise in the
assault, were the special target of the enemy's sharpshooters, well
trained in long colonial wars.[71] Once our troops entered an enemy's
position, the resistance was only slight, and the German showed his
superiority in single combat. It was only the enemy's counter-attacks,
delivered with remarkable accuracy and rapidity, that regained some
of his lost ground, but they did not, however, compromise the general
success of the day. The XXVII Reserve Corps pressed forward into the
dense woods near REUTEL,[72] which were defended by a strong system of
obstacles and by a quantity of machine-guns, hidden in some cases up in
trees.[73]

While this was in progress the last assault on GHELUVELT was taking
place. The attacks from east and south both broke into the village,
and by 3 P.M. the whole place with its château and park was in German
possession.[74] Colonel von Hügel took his storming parties of the
54th Reserve Division northwards through and beyond the village, while
Captain Reiner galloped his batteries close up to it. It was then,
however, that fresh hostile reserves were launched against GHELUVELT.
The 16th Reserve Regiment of the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division was
hurried up to meet them, its gallant commander, Colonel List, dying a
hero's death during the movement. For a short time our own artillery
fired into the backs of the Bavarian ranks: for the men were wearing
caps and were thus mistaken for British troops. Nevertheless the
enemy's counter-attack failed and GHELUVELT became and remained ours,
and we captured besides 17 officers and 1000 men, and 3 guns.[75]
The enemy prevented our further advance beyond GHELUVELT by a heavy
fire from a new and strong position along the edge of the woods west
of GHELUVELT. Here a new fortress had been made, which would have to
be broken down by our artillery before it could be attacked. On the
left wing of the XV Corps the German assaults also failed in front of
some small woods which had been turned into strong points; the 39th
Infantry Division was able to advance only some 500 yards, though it
took a number of prisoners.[76] The artillery of the XV Corps had an
accidental success on this day which must have interfered with the
enemy's staff work for some time. During the bombardment of HOOGE, a
direct hit was made on a house in which the Staff of the 1st British
Division were working: one general and several staff officers were
killed.[77] After heavy fighting at close quarters the II Bavarian
Corps gained ground along the whole of its wide sector of attack on
the 31st October. The right wing took possession of the edges of the
woods west of HOLLEBEKE, whilst the left of the Corps advanced as far
as OOSTTAVERNE. The 6th Bavarian Reserve Division had been brought into
line immediately south of it, in order to make the attack on WYTSCHAETE.

We now come to the most vital point of the battle: who was to be the
victor in the fight for the WYTSCHAETE-MESSINES ridge? The 6th Bavarian
Reserve Division had worked forward by daylight towards WYTSCHAETE,
regardless of the heavy artillery fire directed from the high ground
on our troops moving up from the valley.[78] At nightfall the left
wing of the II Bavarian Corps was still hanging back, unable to
break the strong resistance opposed to it, but in spite of this the
Bavarian Reserve Division dared to make its attack. The 17th Reserve
Infantry Regiment was to enter WYTSCHAETE from the east and the 21st
from the south. All the preparations had been carefully made. The men
wore white arm-bands as a distinguishing mark when at close quarters
with the enemy in the darkness. Water bottles were packed away in the
haversacks; rifles were unloaded and bayonets fixed. It was hoped to
take the enemy by surprise, and not a light betrayed our arrival in
the assembly positions. The hostile artillery fire slackened during the
night, but frequent star-shells lighted up the darkness and showed that
our opponents were keeping a careful watch. The clear moon must have
helped them to see our movements. At 2 A.M. (1st Nov.) the Bavarians
advanced from their assembly positions, taking little notice of the
enemy's artillery which began to open on them. The general direction of
the attack was given by the windmill of Wytschaete, which was clearly
outlined in the moonlight against the sky. The 17th Reserve Infantry
Regiment under Colonel Hofmann rapidly reached the edge of the village
and pushed through to the western exit. The surprise had succeeded, and
numbers of the enemy who still held out in isolated ruins were either
killed in a hand-to-hand fight, or taken prisoner.[79] Unfortunately,
however, our own guns continued to bombard the village, as the news
of the victory of the 17th Regiment was not communicated to them
sufficiently quickly. At about 6 A.M. Colonel Hofmann therefore
decided to withdraw his victorious troops temporarily to the eastern
edge of WYTSCHAETE, and to reorganise there. It so happened that the
21st Reserve Regiment arrived on the southern side of the village at
this moment, its advance having been delayed by a heavy enfilade fire
from the south-west. When the men of the 21st Regiment in the first dim
light of dawn saw the figures of men wearing caps running eastwards
among the ruins, they immediately opened fire on them. Nevertheless, in
spite of the losses incurred through this mistake, the 17th Regiment
held its ground at the eastern edge of the village. The error was
quickly remedied by singing patriotic songs and by flag-signals, and
communication was regained with the neighbouring infantry and with
the artillery. A strong counter-attack, however, was now made by six
regiments of the XVI French Corps, which had arrived during the night,
and the gallant 17th had slowly to withdraw again from the high ground.

The fighting around MESSINES on the 31st had been equally severe. On
the 30th the 26th Infantry Division under Duke William of Urach had
already got its patrols up to the edge of the village, but before any
assault could be made an artillery preparation was required, especially
against the northern sector. On the morning of the 31st October our
howitzers and trench-mortars bombarded the enemy in his trenches, and
by 10.30 A.M. the moment had arrived for the Würtemburg troops to
advance.

The 122nd Fusilier Regiment was to attack the ridge north of MESSINES,
along which runs the road to WYTSCHAETE, whilst the 125th Infantry
Regiment was to advance against MESSINES itself, and the 119th
Grenadier Regiment against the enemy's trenches immediately south of
it. The hostile position was so strong that a force greatly inferior in
strength would be able to hold it against an attack coming up from the
valley. Bare sloping ground lay in front of it, and only a few hedges
limited the field of view, so that every advance and assembly position
for miles round could be seen. A strong British garrison held MESSINES:
the trenches had been well made, and were covered by a continuous and
broad system of obstacles.[80]

 [Illustration: THE CAPTURE OF MESSINES.
 ON OCTOBER 31ST. 1914 BY THE 26TH. INFANTRY DIVISION.]

The way in which the Swabian troops[81] broke down the enemy's
resistance was indeed a masterpiece. Neither the enemy's artillery
fire, which imperilled the advance of the reserves, nor the British
machine-guns, a large number of which enfiladed the attack from the
south, could restrain the dash of the Würtemburg troops. At 11 A.M. the
125th Stuttgart Infantry Regiment had got possession of the north-east
corner of MESSINES. The road entering the village from GAPAARD was
blocked by a barricade; and after storming it, another one, a hundred
yards further inside the village, closed the way. The streets could
not be used for our advance, being choked with debris, and under heavy
rifle and machine-gun fire, so the attackers had to make their way
through or over the walls. There are a number of large, well-built
houses in MESSINES, which the enemy had turned into a succession of
strongholds, but they were rapidly blown up by our sappers. The convent
looked especially impregnable with its walls a yard thick, and strong
towers from which machine-guns and rifles fired frantically. Captain
Heinrich's Würtemburg battery of the 65th Field Artillery Regiment was
therefore brought up, the men dragging the guns through the streets,
as horses could not move along them, and the infantry carrying up
the ammunition. The convent was soon in flames, burying its stubborn
defenders under its ruins. Lieutenant Mösner of the 125th Infantry
Regiment, following a narrow footpath through gardens and backyards,
was the first to make an entry into the market-square. With a few
stout-hearted followers he occupied a large building there which he
defended without any support till the evening against great odds. Not
until nightfall were others of his regiment able to reach him, and
secure the position he had held so courageously. This day of street
fighting had cost very dear, and our casualty list was a large one. A
part of the 122nd Fusilier Regiment fighting north of MESSINES had also
had to be directed on to the village, and by the evening a continuous
line had been successfully formed through the centre of it. Isolated
fighting continued throughout the night, and in order to keep up
communication amidst the ruins and recognise one another in the dark,
the Würtemburg troops sang folk-songs. The chorus of voices mixed with
the rattle of machine-guns, the roar of artillery in the streets, and
the crackle of the burning and falling houses, all combined to make a
magnificent and unsurpassed piece of battle-music.

North of the village the left wing of the 122nd Infantry Regiment
established itself on the MESSINES-WYTSCHAETE road: but its right wing
was unable to capture the high ground, as WYTSCHAETE itself was still
in British hands. The 119th Grenadiers suffered severely: the progress
of the other regiment of their brigade, the 125th Infantry Regiment,
had roused their ambition, but a heavy enfilade fire swept their ranks
from the south where the Cavalry Corps were still unable to advance.
They were compelled by heavy losses to be content with the task of
securing the left flank of their division.

On the evening of the 31st the gallant attackers were rewarded for
their deeds of immortal fame by a message of warm praise from the
Emperor.

The final objective, however, had not yet been attained, although in
the south the high ground had been reached and artillery observers sent
forward there, so that the enemy's positions could be accurately ranged
on right up to Mount KEMMEL. The main pressure of the attack would
therefore have to be continued here, on the left wing of the Army Group
Fabeck.

During the 1st November the 3rd Infantry Division arrived in the area
COMINES-WARNETON, north of the LYS, as reserve to the Army Group.

On the morning of the 1st November a thick mist lay over the country,
so that the infantry got a few hours' rest before the continuous
shelling of the enemy's artillery began. As soon as the mist cleared,
the battle broke out anew, on a twelve-mile front. In the north the
Saxon and Würtemburg divisions of the XXVII Reserve Corps further
extended their successes of the previous days. The line was advanced
up to the château of POEZELHOEK, which was taken from the 1st British
Division after a heavy fight.[82]

The divisions of Deimling's XV Corps attacked with the right wing on
the GHELUVELT-YPRES main road and the left on KLEIN ZILLEBEKE. They
advanced but slowly, fighting hard the whole day. The small, dense
woods, defended with the utmost tenacity, again made progress very
difficult. The 30th Division managed to reach the eastern edge of the
HERENTHAGE Wood, where the 3rd British Cavalry Division, supported
by infantry, was in position. The wood north of ZANDVOORDE gave
exceptional trouble, but it was finally outflanked on both sides, and
its defenders taken prisoner.[83]

The II Bavarian Corps advanced to the attack on both sides of the
COMINES-YPRES canal, and drove the enemy back as far as the sharp bend
in it. The left wing captured the small wood west of OOSTTAVERNE which
was defended by Indian and British troops. The treacherous methods of
the Indians greatly exasperated our men: crouching in the hedges, and
with machine-guns concealed up trees, the defeated Asiatics allowed
our troops to pass them, and then got up and stabbed them in the back
with their knives.[84] The 6th Bavarian Reserve Division had withdrawn,
on the morning of the 1st November, to its positions of the previous
evening, and at midday began its attack once more. Confidence and
enthusiasm served to obliterate the bad memories of the past night, and
the dense lines now rose simultaneously from their positions as if on
parade. Very many of their dead or wounded still lay at the foot of the
heights, but the gallant division stormed the slopes again, and by 4
P.M. had reached the eastern edge of WYTSCHAETE. It was not possible to
push up reserves owing to heavy artillery fire, and at this moment the
enemy counter-attacked with two fresh divisions.[85] The Bavarians, who
had become disorganised during the assault, were forced to evacuate the
village again under cover of darkness, after having actually entered
it at about 5 P.M. They had suffered very heavily during the attack,
being fired at from flank and rear, for the right wing of the 26th
Infantry Division was unable to take all the high ground north-west of
MESSINES until the evening of the 1st November. Fierce street fighting
had gone on in MESSINES throughout the day, till finally the Würtemburg
troops gained the upper hand and cleared the enemy out of the village
to its western edge. The British were driven back down the western
slope of the ridge, and had to entrench themselves in the valley,
losing heavily in the operation. As soon as its right wing reached the
MESSINES-WYTSCHAETE road that evening the 26th Infantry Division held
almost the whole of the famous ridge, and the preliminary condition
for the capture of WYTSCHAETE was obtained. The 6th Bavarian Reserve
Division, however, was not able to carry out a third assault without
assistance, and General von Fabeck during the night of the 1st-2nd
therefore advanced the 3rd Prussian Division from its assembly area
WAMBEKE-GARDE DIEU into the fighting line, in order to carry forward
the attack through and beyond WYTSCHAETE towards KEMMEL.

After a comparatively quiet night the battle opened again on the
morning of the 2nd November along the whole front of the Army Group
Fabeck. His indefatigable troops, some of whom had already endured
twelve days of the heaviest fighting that had taken place in the
campaign, attacked their strongly entrenched opponent once more. The
enemy was at least as strong as they were in fighting units on the
battle-front, and besides was able to bring up reinforcements of newly
arrived British and French troops.[86]

On the eastern side of the _Ypres_ salient General von Deimling
attacked on a front of nearly four miles. His Corps, which had won its
laurels in Alsace, in Lorraine and in Northern France, again, in spite
of heavy casualties, continued its advance of the previous days. The
30th Division entered VELDHOEK and established itself firmly in the
north-eastern corner of the HERENTHAGE WOOD.[87] The attack had been
facilitated by a simultaneous advance of the XXVII Reserve Corps,
which had pressed forward some hundred yards north of VELDHOEK. Von
Deimling's left wing had advanced in the direction of KLEIN ZILLEBEKE,
but was held up by the difficult wooded country east of ZWARTELEEN. It
had to wait here for assistance from the neighbouring troops on its
left.

The II Bavarian Corps had been held up early on the morning of the
2nd November by strong hostile counter-attacks in the sector west of
HOLLEBEKE. They were all, however, repulsed and the Corps was even able
to make a slight advance on the right wing during the day.

WYTSCHAETE was again the centre of the heaviest fighting on this
day.[88] The Bavarian Reserve Division was, at its own request, to
attack the village; the enemy's position immediately south of it
was allotted as objective to the 3rd Division. The 42nd Infantry
Regiment and an _Abtheilung_ (3 batteries) of the 17th Field Artillery
Regiment remained in Army Reserve. At 7 A.M. a fierce artillery duel
began, and the enemy, quickly realising the danger threatening him,
hurried up strong reserves to WYTSCHAETE. Kiefhaber's brigade of the
6th Bavarian Reserve Division rose to the assault. Under a hail of
shrapnel the youngsters stormed the eastern and southern slopes of the
WYTSCHAETE ridge for the third time, though with considerable loss,
the enemy's machine-guns causing great havoc in their ranks. As soon
as the foremost of them had reached the windmill the enemy launched
a counter-attack; but this time the Bavarians were not content with
simply holding their ground; their supports were brought up at the
critical moment and pressed forward into the village. Furious street
fighting now ensued, and the Bavarians having to deal with every house
became greatly disorganised. Taking advantage of this the British and
French commanders sent forward fresh masses into the line, trying to
turn the balance in their favour at this important point by employing
every available man. It was 3.10 P.M. when a cry for help reached the
Pomeranian (3rd) Division from their Bavarian neighbours, and it was
not uttered in vain. Shortly before, the Stettin Grenadier Regiment
had captured the long-coveted high ground south-west of WYTSCHAETE,
the struggle for a large farmhouse on it having been especially
severe. Without possession of this the south flank of the village
could not be held. Count Gneisenau's Colberg Grenadiers were then sent
forward to support the Bavarians, and the enemy was unable to hold
out in WYTSCHAETE against the rifle-butts and bayonets of the united
Pomeranians and Bavarians. Soon after 5 P.M. the village, as far as its
western edge, was in German hands, although the fighting continued till
well into the night among the ruins with detachments of the enemy who
would not surrender.

By the capture of WYTSCHAETE a fine commanding position had been
obtained, but the village itself, once so pleasant to the view, was
now terrible to look upon. The church was in flames, and the windmill
flared like a beacon in the darkness. Friend and foe lay wounded
side by side among the smouldering ruins. The enemy was fully aware
of the importance of WYTSCHAETE, but he had been so weakened that he
was unable to recover for another big counter-attack. He therefore
contented himself with small and fruitless efforts, only one of
which succeeded in temporarily entering the village during the 3rd.
Nevertheless for the next few days it lay under the constant fire of
heavy artillery, though our heroic observers did not allow this to
interfere with their work.

Many of the inhabitants still remained in WYTSCHAETE, as in MESSINES,
and it was pathetic to see how they clung to their devastated patches
of ground, regardless of danger. In spite of many offers from the
Germans, these Belgian inhabitants remained with their last scrap of
property, preferring to die by the shell that destroyed their homes.

A small wood north-west of WYTSCHAETE, called the Park, was still
a dangerous point. This dense copse was surrounded by a system of
trenches and several rows of obstacles. With the help of skilfully
sited flanking arrangements and shell-proof shelters, it had been
turned into an almost impregnable stronghold, and cost us many days of
heavy fighting before it was finally taken.

The 26th Infantry Division, after its capture of MESSINES, immediately
put the high ground into a state of defence. Its left brigade, the
51st, which was in position there, was relieved on the 2nd November
by the 11th _Landwehr_ Brigade, and sent back to the Army Reserve.
The 52nd Brigade, on the right wing of the division, in co-operation
with the 3rd Infantry Division, advanced across the STEENBEEK stream.
However, no progress of importance could be made there, as every
movement could be immediately brought under most effective artillery
fire from the commanding positions on Mount KEMMEL.[89]

On the 3rd November the formation of a 'Group Urach' was ordered,
consisting of the 3rd and 26th Infantry Divisions, to continue the
attack against the high ground east of KEMMEL; but in the following
days it was unable to make any essential alteration in the general
situation in this sector.

A part of the Army Cavalry was still in action south of, and
co-operating with, the 26th Infantry Division, in spite of the small
force of artillery and engineers included in it. On the 2nd November
it made a surprise attack on foot against the farm KLEIN DOUVE with
complete success.[90] On the 4th November the I Cavalry Corps was
relieved by the II, consisting of the 3rd and 7th Cavalry Divisions.

In the early days of November the conduct of the enemy's operations
against the Army Group Fabeck underwent a very noticeable change.
The German attacks had destroyed any prospect of success for the
big offensive movement which had been planned. The British troops,
especially the I and IV Corps,[91] were so played out that they had
to be relieved by parts of the French Army. The enemy's commanders,
however, realised that even these fresh troops would be unable to make
much headway against our men, and they therefore decided to remain on
the defensive and to create a deep zone of trench-systems. The heavy
fighting had made havoc of their front trenches, or at least had badly
damaged them. The civil population and all other available labour,
therefore, were now called upon to dig successive lines of rearward
positions for a long way westwards.[92] These preparations were soon
discovered by our airmen.

During the early days of November the commander of the Sixth Army
came to the conclusion that the offensive of the Army Group Fabeck
could lead to no decisive results. The forces available were still
too weak to break through the enemy's strongly entrenched positions,
particularly as he was continually bringing up fresh reinforcements to
the battle-front.

If the attempt to break through south of YPRES was not to be entirely
abandoned, and a purely defensive war on the Western Front thereby
avoided, more troops would have to be brought up for the YPRES battle
from other sectors of the front. As a beginning the 2nd and the
Bavarian Cavalry Divisions were affiliated to the Army Group Fabeck,
the Bavarian Cavalry Division being allotted to the XV Corps and the
2nd Cavalry Division to the II Bavarian Corps. The German General
Staff also placed the II Corps and the 4th Infantry Division at the
disposal of General von Fabeck, and they began to detrain at LILLE on
the 5th November. On the 3rd Crown Prince Rupert of Bavaria ordered
the XXIV Reserve Corps and the 25th Reserve Division to be taken from
the Sixth Army, west of LILLE; and this was followed by an order on
the 4th to withdraw all the troops of the Guard Corps available from
their positions, and for their sector of the front to be taken over by
the IV Corps at ARRAS. Accordingly a composite Division of the Guard
Corps, consisting of the 1st and 4th Guard Infantry Brigades, under
Lieutenant-General von Winckler, marched for ROUBAIX, which was reached
on the 7th. More heavy artillery was also handed over to the Army Group
Fabeck, and, in addition, all the artillery ammunition allotted to the
Sixth Army. The intention of the German General Staff, communicated
to the commander of the Sixth Army on the 4th November, was: to push
the attack to the immediate north (of the elbow) of the COMINES-YPRES
canal, and to put in all available forces to break through there.
In the meantime, however, General von Fabeck, in accordance with
instructions previously issued by the commander of the Sixth Army,
had placed the XXIV Reserve Corps and the 25th Reserve Division on
the left wing of the II Bavarian Corps, and had there formed a Group
Gerok, to which the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division was added. Thus for
the offensive north of the COMINES-YPRES canal there were left the II
Corps and Guard Corps (the 4th Division and the mixed Division of von
Winckler), besides the XV Corps which was already in position there.
The fighting continued along the front of the Army Group until the
10th, when these troops were ready to attack. No time was to be given
the enemy to recover, or to strengthen his positions.

The XV Corps, which in the meantime had extended its left wing to
the COMINES-YPRES canal, won ground daily, especially on the 6th
November, when the 39th Division delivered a heavy attack near KLEIN
ZILLEBEKE and drove the recently arrived French troops from their
position, capturing four hundred prisoners in the farm buildings. The
troops, advancing with their bands playing, also stormed parts of
ZWARTELEEN, a village widely scattered among the woods and meadows.
The artillery fired at point-blank range, as the November mist made
observation impossible at any distance. French counter-attacks and
an attack by British cavalry, which attempted to make good the
retirement of the French, were repulsed. Their casualties were heavy,
the 1st and 2nd British Life Guards being decimated. The enemy's
counter-attacks on the 7th and 8th November, in which the much
weakened 7th British Division, as well as the Zouaves, took part,
had also no success. On the 8th November the 148th Infantry Regiment
captured the fortified position along the western edge of VELDHOEK;
with a strong counter-attack the French made a bid to recover the lost
ground. Lieutenant-Colonel Linker, the gallant regimental commander,
hastily gathered together all the supports within reach, including
_Landwehr_ men of the 54th Reserve Division, and led them forward to
meet the advancing enemy; he himself was mortally wounded at the head
of his victorious followers. The French hurriedly retired, suffering
considerable loss.[93]

The II Bavarian Corps was kept busily employed by the hostile
counter-attacks near the canal; the enemy offered very stubborn
resistance in order to keep possession of the high ground from which
YPRES can be seen. The Bavarians, however, not only maintained their
positions, but, by an irresistible attack on the 9th and 10th November,
took the high ground on which ST. ELOI is situated.[94] To the 5th
Bavarian Infantry Brigade is due all the credit for this fine feat. The
enemy remained for a long time in the houses of ST. ELOI, but the high
ground was of primary, perhaps even decisive, importance; for it gave
us a bird's-eye view of the country east of YPRES, where the mass of
the British field artillery was in position.

The fighting further south which the troops of the Group Gerok had in
and north of WYTSCHAETE was equally heavy. The northern edge formed the
dividing line between the Groups Gerok and Urach. The enemy kept the
village under heavy fire in order to hinder the work of our observers,
the mere sight of a man anywhere being sufficient to draw his artillery
fire. Our stereo-telescopes were therefore used through loopholes in
the ruins or at the chimney openings, and the observers were often far
safer on such lofty perches than our reserves in the cellars of the
battered village. Only slow progress could be made in the woods lying
to the north-west.

The Group Urach also was unable to make much headway. On its right
wing, the 3rd Infantry Division struggled hard to get possession of the
Park north-west of WYTSCHAETE. After a whole day's fighting the 34th
Fusilier Regiment forced its way into the hospice, a fine old convent
at the northern entrance to the village; from its roof the enemy had
been able to get a splendid view of our positions in the valley south
of WYTSCHAETE. In spite of a most thorough bombardment our attack was
very costly, and although the Park was enveloped on two sides, it was
found impossible to enter it. From this patch of wood heavy enfilade
fire swept the positions of the 6th Bavarian Division to the north,
and the trenches of the 3rd Prussian Division to the south. It was
surrounded by a wall and moat as well as by wire entanglements, the
impenetrable undergrowth being entangled with a maze of wire. Frenchmen
with machine-guns were roped to the trunks of some of the trees, and
they were found dead hanging from the shell-torn stumps when the Park
of WYTSCHAETE was finally stormed on the 13th November by the 21st
Reserve Infantry Regiment of the 6th Bavarian Division, with the 2nd
Grenadiers and 34th Fusiliers of the 3rd Prussian Division. There is
a legend connected with WYTSCHAETE Park, and the scene was worthy of
it.[95]

The 26th Infantry Division during these days had advanced its lines
to the western slopes of the WYTSCHAETE-MESSINES ridge, and in places
across the valley, by sapping. This operation cost many casualties,
as the British on Mount KEMMEL were able to watch every movement in
our trenches, and could immediately bring them under the fire of field
or heavy artillery, or even of long-range naval guns, and they were
by no means sparing with their ammunition. Fortunately our losses
were for the most part only in the front lines, but our shortage of
ammunition compelled us to husband it.[96] Owing to the conformation
of the ground and to the weather preventing any air-reconnaissances,
we were unable to range accurately on the enemy's artillery, and the
most we could do was to disturb their means of fire-direction. Their
observation posts on Mount KEMMEL were soon discovered, and the fight
now began against the observers there as well as against those posted
in the towers of YPRES. So the blame must not be laid on us for the
gradual destruction of those magnificent buildings of YPRES, which gave
such a fine view of the whole countryside.

Further to the south no noteworthy progress was made either by the
Cavalry Corps, or on the front of the Sixth Army.

Such then was the general situation when, on the 10th November, the
new forces lay ready to take the offensive in their positions north of
the COMINES-YPRES canal. Before going further, however, the operations
of the Fourth Army from the last days of October must for a moment be
touched on.



THE OPERATIONS OF THE FOURTH ARMY FROM THE END OF OCTOBER TO THE 9TH
NOVEMBER 1914


Whilst the northern wing of the Sixth Army under General von Fabeck
was engaged in the heavy fighting just described, the Fourth Army
of Duke Albert of Würtemburg had been doing its utmost, by means of
constant attacks, to prevent the enemy from withdrawing any troops from
his front to support his endangered positions near YPRES. By 11 A.M.
on the 3rd November the reorganisation of the German forces rendered
necessary by the inundation of the front between the coast and DIXMUDE
had been sufficiently completed to enable an offensive to be delivered
on this day, on the line DIXMUDE-GHELUVELT. The right flank, from
DIXMUDE to the coast, was secured by the 38th _Landwehr_ Brigade, 4th
_Ersatz_ Division, and part of the 43rd Reserve Division, all under the
orders of the general officer commanding the XXII Reserve Corps. The
dispositions of the attacking troops were as follows: the XXIII Reserve
Corps in the sector NOORDSCHOOTE-BIXSCHOOTE; the III Reserve Corps,
including the 44th Reserve Division, on both sides of LANGEMARCK,
facing the front HET SAS-ST. JULIEN (this was the most important group
in the offensive); the XXVI and XXVII Reserve Corps were to the south
again, with the left flank resting on the GHELUVELT-YPRES main road.[97]

By the evening of the 5th the XXIII Reserve Corps had been able
to gain ground at and north of BIXSCHOOTE, while the 5th Reserve
Division advancing from the north had forced its way close up to the
western edge of LANGEMARCK. But all our efforts to capture this place
by attacks from north and east, in spite of reinforcements being
brought up, failed. It became evident that the enemy's skilfully
placed and more numerous artillery, combined with his well-wired
infantry positions in a country so favourable for defence, were more
than a match for our guns, especially at a time when ammunition was
scarce, and the misty weather prevented observation from aeroplanes.
A continuation of the offensive here would only have meant a useless
sacrifice of life. It was therefore decided with deep regret to resort
to the long and wearisome task of sapping in order to hold the enemy.
The situation of the Fourth Army indeed was no enviable one. Here
in the plains of Flanders, operations were effected by the November
weather and heavy rains, far more than in the country east and south
of YPRES. The troops had to endure great hardships; their trenches
rapidly filled with water, and were necessarily so shallow as to give
insufficient protection against artillery fire. In several places they
had to be evacuated altogether, and the men lay out in the open with
only a hastily constructed wire entanglement in front to secure them
against surprise attacks. Sapping too proved most difficult in this
water-logged district. Frequently it could only be carried on by piling
up sand-bag parapets, and these being easily seen by the enemy were
promptly shelled. Thus the attack made slow progress. Regular reliefs
for the troops in the front line were out of the question, for the
units available at that time were too weak; and in any case, the men
found relief time a very dangerous moment, as the enemy was able to
observe every movement, especially where he still held good observation
points, as at BIXSCHOOTE and LANGEMARCK.

A very extensive system of espionage served to complete his knowledge
of our intentions. Individual soldiers were left behind in civilian
clothing, with concealed telephonic communication; they kept hidden
during the daytime in attics and cellars, and reported our movements
and dispositions quickly and accurately to their headquarters.[98]
A great deal of information was also given away by the Belgian
population, who crossed the German lines by secret bypaths, or sent
news across by carrier-pigeons, or by lights and signals. Although the
punishment meted out to espionage was severe, the Belgians always kept
up this form of patriotic work. It was extremely harmful to us, and its
effect could be diminished only by maintaining thorough surveillance
of the country in rear of our lines. Our reserves, about which the
enemy was always well informed, had for the above reasons to be kept
close up behind the front lines in order to be near at hand at the
critical moment. Their movements, as well as the sending up of all
the necessary supplies, were often matters of extreme difficulty.
Generally the reserves had to bivouac on sodden meadows, the farms in
the neighbourhood being insufficient to provide shelter for them all.
The troops who were withdrawn from the front line and put in reserve
had therefore small opportunity for either rest or recreation.

The insecurity of our communications back into the interior of Belgium
must be passed over almost without mention, except to say that here
too a colossal task had been set; for the weak force allotted to the
General-Governor had not only to garrison Belgium, but to provide
observation posts along the Dutch frontier. In carrying out these
duties, the old _Landsturm_ troops showed a spirit of endurance which
said much for the military training they had received many years
before. The work of keeping watch over the excited population was not
without its dangers, and all praise is due to these garrison troops and
to the auxiliary troops sent from Germany to their assistance. Thanks
to them, the long lines of communication through conquered Belgium were
not disturbed, and the supply of the northern wing of our army suffered
no interruption from the enemy. For the honour of all concerned this
must be put on record.

On the 4th and 7th November the enemy made attacks on a larger scale
along the coast. On the 4th, believing that we had left only weak
outposts behind, even opposite NIEUPORT, when we retired to the eastern
bank of the canal, two to three Belgian regiments advanced through
LOMBARTZYDE. At first they gained a slight success, but were shortly
afterwards attacked by part of the 38th _Landwehr_ Brigade from the
east, and by the 33rd _Ersatz_ Brigade from the south, and driven back.
Detachments of the Marine Division pursued the fleeing Belgians. The
second attack made by about five thousand French troops, which took
place on the 7th, fared far worse; the whole of LOMBARTZYDE was taken
by our counter-attack, and the enemy losses were very heavy.[99]

On the 9th November the 38th _Landwehr_ Brigade was relieved by parts
of the Marine Division, for the 10th November was the day on which the
new offensive was to be made with fresh troops against YPRES from the
south-east.



THE LAST PHASE


When the 4th Division and von Winckler's Guard Division were sent
forward on the 9th November into the northern part of the fighting
line, formerly occupied by the XV Corps, the II Bavarian Corps, from
the heights of ST. ELOI it had just stormed, was able to look right
down on YPRES. The orders of the Sixth Army commander, dated the
7th and 8th November, had given all the necessary instructions for
the employment of the new units. The 4th Infantry Division and von
Winckler's Guard Division were placed under the commander of the
Guard Corps, General Baron von Plettenberg, and were to be called
Plettenberg's Corps. The XV Corps and Plettenberg's Corps formed the
Army Group Linsingen.[100]

The task set the troops of General von Linsingen was 'to drive back
and crush the enemy lying north of the canal (COMINES-YPRES); the
main weight of the attack is to be delivered by the left wing. The
Army Group Fabeck is to maintain its positions west of the canal,
its task being to continue pressing forward and at the same time to
support the attack of the left wing of the Army Group Linsingen, by as
powerful enfilade fire as possible from its right flank batteries.' The
decisive attack was to begin on the 10th November, when another strong
reinforcement of engineers would have arrived. All the other units of
the Sixth Army and the whole of the Fourth Army were also, according to
arrangement, to attack on this day with increased energy, so that the
enemy should be allowed no rest, and held to his positions along the
whole front.

On the stroke of 7 A.M. the Fourth Army advanced to the attack. This
tenth day of November was to be a famous one in its history. The
sectors of attack for each of the Corps remained, generally speaking,
the same, except that the left wing of the XXVII Reserve Corps had been
closed in slightly to the north. Strengthened by the Guard _Jäger_
Battalion, a Guard Machine-Gun Detachment[101] and the 9th Machine-Gun
Detachment, this Corps was to advance towards the POLYGON Wood.

The orders for the XXII Reserve Corps ran as follows: 'The XXII Reserve
Corps[102] in co-operation with the Marine Division will secure the
YSER canal front, and will take DIXMUDE.' Immediately north of DIXMUDE
the 4th _Ersatz_ Division was in position, with the 43rd Reserve
Division to the east and south, the two divisions together making a
semicircle of steel round the objective. This time our troops were
determined to take the town so stubbornly defended by the French
infantry. The enemy fully realised the importance of this bridge-head.
Besides holding a strong German force always in the vicinity, it
covered the canal-crossing nearest to Calais. On the 9th its garrison
was further reinforced by the arrival of fresh French troops.

The rain of the previous days had made the ground over which the attack
on DIXMUDE was to be carried out very heavy going. The HANDZAEME canal,
running east and west, divides it into two parts, the northerly one
being particularly swampy and difficult to cross. The main attack had
therefore to be made from the east and south-east on a comparatively
narrow front. The town itself comprised both modern and obsolete
fortifications, but the first strongholds of the defenders were the
railway buildings and cemetery situated to the east of it. The railway
embankment had been transformed into a very strong defensive position,
and a heavy fire was expected from it when we advanced from the high
embankments of the YSER. Under the cover of darkness the division was
able to push its front line to an assault position within two hundred
yards of the enemy, and at dawn on the 10th the artillery bombardment
began. Our heaviest guns took part and countless shells from our
_Minenwerfer_ did their utmost to break down the enemy's resistance.
By 7.40 A.M. our first attempt to take the enemy's advanced positions
had failed, and another artillery bombardment against his obstacles and
flanking posts was ordered. At 9.30 A.M. the advanced stronghold at
the cemetery was stormed. Our infantry had scarcely got into position
there before the artillery observers arrived to direct the fire of
their batteries from the front line on to the next strong point. The
artillery bombardment lasted throughout the morning until 1 P.M. when
the general assault was ordered. The infantry, with detachments of
sappers carrying hand-grenades and various material useful in an
assault, had worked its way forward close up to the line of obstacles.

The 201st Reserve Infantry Regiment advanced rapidly at first by
frontal attack. North of it, the 15th Reserve _Jäger_ Battalion under
Captain Hameln worked forward across the deep marshes between the
canal and the railway. The 202nd Reserve Infantry Regiment came under
a heavy enfilade fire from the YSER embankment, and at 1.30 P.M.
orders were issued for the Corps reserve under Colonel Teetzmann,
consisting of a few battalions of the 43rd Reserve Division and of the
4th _Ersatz_ Division, to be brought up into the line. Its task was
to help carry forward the attack of the 202nd Regiment against the
railway embankment, and to secure the left flank of the advance. The
nearer the attack approached to the town, the more desperate became
the resistance of its defenders. The gallant commander of the 201st
Reserve Regiment, General von Seydewitz, always in the front line
encouraging his men, was killed leading the attack just as his regiment
and the _Jäger_ entered the devastated town at about 3.30 P.M. Our
well-directed artillery fire had cleared the front at the critical
moment, and the enemy withdrew to the flanks of and behind DIXMUDE, but
did not cease to offer resistance. He held the railway embankment south
of the town with particular tenacity. Even when this had been finally
stormed, the 202nd Regiment had to continue the fight, with heavy loss,
among the burning houses in the southern part of the town, until the
201st Regiment by a wheel southwards were able to give assistance.
Teetzmann's brigade in its attack on the YSER embankment, to protect
the flank of the division, had meanwhile reached the river. Thence it
pressed on towards the bridges west of the town, so that the enemy's
retreat was threatened. In spite of this, however, he gave nothing
up without a struggle, and every block of houses had to be captured:
in fact the street fighting that ensued was hardly less bitter and
terrible than at WYTSCHAETE and MESSINES.

During the struggle in DIXMUDE, the French artillery fired into the
place regardless of friend or foe, and both suffered alike. The fight
was still raging among the houses at the northern exit, where von
Beerst was only making slow progress with the advanced detachments of
the 4th _Ersatz_ Division, when our reserves were assembled in the
market-square to deliver the final blow. The French infantry and Marine
Fusiliers put up a desperate defence, but finally had to give way, for
though not numerically superior, the offensive spirit of the German
troops overcame all resistance. It was not until the west bank of the
canal had been reached, that the mass of the enemy put up another
defence.

DIXMUDE was captured, and the French had been driven back across the
canal. A combined counter-attack by Belgians, Zouaves and French, which
began during the evening and continued into the night, was unable to
alter the situation, and though DIXMUDE in consequence was under the
heaviest fire, our troops held their ground. Weak detachments of the
4th _Ersatz_ Division were even able to cross the river north of the
town under cover of darkness, though the extreme swampiness of the
ground prevented them carrying their success any further. The enemy had
prepared the bridges, west of DIXMUDE, for demolition some time before
and had constructed strong positions along the west bank of the YSER.
These were especially good, as the ground there is higher and overlooks
that on the east bank. Our artillery had therefore to make another
preparatory bombardment. The spoils taken at DIXMUDE were considerable,
and in spite of the fact that the British assert that the Allies only
lost a few hundred men, we took in prisoners alone 17 officers and 1400
men.[103]

 [Illustration: THE CAPTURE OF DIXMUDE.
 ON NOVEMBER 10TH. 1914.]

Our allied enemies had also been driven back over the canal, south
of DIXMUDE, on the 10th November. The XXIII Reserve Corps had made
a successful attack on NOORDSCHOOTE and through BIXSCHOOTE against
HET SAS. A long and bitter struggle took place for the high ground
south-west of BIXSCHOOTE; but by evening the canal had been reached
along almost its whole length between NOORDSCHOOTE and BIXSCHOOTE,
whilst about a brigade of the 45th Reserve Division and weak
detachments of the 46th had crossed it. The inundation had however
gradually extended southwards as far as this district, and put any
far-reaching extension of this success out of the question. The XXIII
Reserve Corps took prisoner about 1000 men and captured a considerable
number of machine-guns in this operation.

The reinforced III Reserve Corps had had a particularly hard fight
on both sides of LANGEMARCK. Throughout the 9th November and during
the following night the French delivered heavy attacks there and had
been everywhere repulsed. Rows of corpses lay in front of the III
Reserve Corps, on the left wing of which the 9th Reserve Division,
now affiliated to the Fourth Army, had been brought up into the line.
Making every use of the element of surprise, General von Beseler had
ordered the assault to begin at 6.30 A.M. Punctually at this moment, as
dawn was breaking, the bugles sounded the attack. On the right wing the
44th Reserve Division pushed forward till close up to HET SAS, taking
prisoner 14 officers and 1154 men. The official despatch, in reporting
this advance, says: 'West of LANGEMARCK our young regiments advanced
against the enemy's front line singing "_Deutschland, Deutschland
über alles_," and captured it.' The left wing of the division hung a
good way back, as the 5th Reserve Division on its left was unable to
push on so rapidly. It had broken into the enemy's first position,
but its eastern wing was completely held up in front of LANGEMARCK.
The 6th Reserve Division had attacked the place from north and east,
without being able to take it. Documents discovered afterwards prove
that the enemy had concentrated strong forces here for a big attack
that he himself intended to make on the 10th, and these were now
defending every yard of ground with the utmost determination. The 9th
Reserve Division had at first made good progress in the direction of
ST. JULIEN, but it came under a heavy cross-fire, and was thereby
compelled to give up a large part of the ground gained. General von
Beseler therefore decided to pull out the main body of the 9th Reserve
Division, and move it to his right wing, where the 44th and 5th Reserve
Divisions had had a decided success in the direction of HET SAS.

After the first line of trenches had been taken, the attack of the XXVI
and XXVII Reserve Corps was very soon held up by wire entanglements
which had not been destroyed by our guns, and by a second line of
trenches provided with every modern device. The XXVII Reserve Corps
spent most of the day in making such disposition of its forces as would
enable it to give the utmost support to the Army Group Linsingen, which
was getting ready to attack further south on the morrow.

In the Army Group Linsingen, however, the preparations of Plettenberg's
Corps for an offensive on the morning of the 10th were not sufficiently
advanced to allow it to take place on that day. Further, the dense
autumn mists prevented the necessary reconnaissances. With the
concurrence of General von Linsingen, and after arrangement with the
neighbouring troops, General Baron von Plettenberg therefore decided
to attack on the 11th November. On the front of Deimling's (XV)
Corps the 10th November, up to four in the afternoon, was spent in a
preparatory artillery bombardment; especially good work was done by
means of heavy enfilade fire from the south, carried out by a massed
group of artillery consisting of three batteries of heavy howitzers,
three batteries of mortars, a battery of 10-cm. guns and a battery of
long 15-cm. guns, all under the orders of Colonel Gartmayr, commanding
the 1st Bavarian Field Artillery Regiment. After the bombardment both
divisions of the Corps advanced to the attack and, in co-operation with
the II Bavarian Corps fighting on the high ground of ST. ELOI, were
able to gain some hundreds of yards.

 [Illustration: THE ATTACK OF THE SIXTH ARMY.
 ON NOVEMBER 11TH. 1914.]

On the 11th November the combined offensive of the Fourth Army and
the Army Groups Linsingen and Fabeck took place. The remainder of the
Fourth and Sixth Armies continued their attacks. The great efforts
made by the Fourth Army on the 10th had considerably weakened it, and
further handicapped by a heavy rain-storm which beat in the faces
of the attacking troops, no special success was gained by it on the
11th; nevertheless the enemy was everywhere held to his ground and
prevented from transferring any troops to other parts of the front. On
the extreme right wing the Marine Division made a successful attack
on NIEUPORT, capturing several hundred prisoners. At the same time the
Guard Cavalry Division, affiliated to the Fourth Army, was sent up to
the YSER, in order to relieve part of the 4th _Ersatz_ Division, which
went into Army Reserve. On the left wing of the Army, the XXVI and
XXVII Reserve Corps worked their way towards the hostile positions
by sapping, whilst the units on the extreme south flank of the XXVII
Reserve Corps attacked in close co-operation with Plettenberg's Corps.

On the 11th, in pouring rain, the Army Groups Linsingen and Fabeck
began the last phase of this severe and terrible struggle for YPRES;
and it was destined to fix the general line on which the opposing
armies were to remain rooted till the spring of 1915.

Von Winckler's Guard Division fought on the right wing of the Army
Group Linsingen, and for us the day was to be a historic, though costly
one. In former wars the Guard had always been in the heat of the fray
at its most critical stages, and the sons were to show themselves
worthy of their fathers. The spirit of Frederick the Great and the
glory of St. Privat shone again on the battlefield of YPRES. The
British speak of the attack of the Guard as a most brilliant feat of
arms.

Before the infantry of the Division could come into immediate contact
with the enemy, a broad zone had to be crossed under his artillery
fire: through the hail of shell the pride and iron discipline of the
Guard brought its regiments unshaken. At 7.30 A.M. the German batteries
opened, and a furious bombardment continued for two and a half hours,
and then the infantry attack began. It struck against two divisions of
the I British Corps, a war experienced foe, whose fighting methods were
well adapted to the country.[104] The artillery preparation however
had been a thorough one, and in spite of the enemy's superiority in
numbers the advance made good progress, so that shortly after 10 A.M.
the strong position along the southern edge of the POLYGON Wood was in
the possession of the 3rd Guard Regiment.[105]

At the same time the butt ends and bayonets of H.M. the Emperor's
1st Guard Regiment had forced a way through the wire entanglements
and trenches in front of VERBECK farm, and it was taken in the first
assault. The regiment had thereby captured an excellent position
from which to support the right wing of the attack.[106] Led by its
fearless commander, Prince Eitel Friedrich of Prussia, it then pressed
on without a moment's delay into the wood north-west of the farm.
Meanwhile the 3rd Guard Regiment was still engaged along the southern
edges of the woods west of REUTEL, with its front facing north, and
it put in its last reserves to help forward the left wing of the 54th
Reserve Division.

 [Illustration: THE ATTACK OF THE 2ND. GUARD DIVISION.
 ON NOVEMBER 11TH. 1914.]

At 10 A.M., on the last artillery salvo, the battalions of the
4th Guard Brigade advanced to the assault on both sides of the
YPRES-GHELUVELT main road, and they took the front British trenches in
their stride.

The Emperor Francis' 2nd Guard Grenadier Regiment attacked from
VELDHOEK against the corner of the HERENTHAGE Wood, north of the
YPRES-GHELUVELT road, and took its edge. The wood itself gave the
infantry endless trouble, for it was impossible to see a yard ahead in
its thick undergrowth, which was over six feet high.[107] Suddenly at a
few paces' distance, machine-guns would open on our troops from behind
a bush or a tree-trunk. Thus the task set the Grenadiers proved to be
an extremely difficult one, the more so as they had lost many of their
officers and N.C.O.'s in the first rush across the open. Nevertheless,
the defence-works inside the wood were quickly taken one after another,
but more strong points protected by wire entanglements untouched by
our artillery fire were encountered. The Fusilier Battalion forced
its way through to the château of VELDHOEK, which was surrounded by
a marsh and an impenetrable hedge. The men were trying to work their
way one by one through the latter by cutting gaps in it, when suddenly
a deafening roar of rifle and machine-gun burst upon them. It came
from the château on their right, from some flanking trenches on their
left, and from trees behind the line. A number of the few remaining
officers fell, and finally the battalion had to retire a short distance
in order to reorganise. But it soon came forward once more, and the
companies pressed on till they were close up to the château itself,
when another annihilating fusillade was opened on them from all sides.
Simultaneously the British made a flank attack along the hedge in order
to cut off the men who had got through. Machine-guns firing from trees
and from the château windows completely stopped any communication
with them. Very few only of these foremost troops, who were commanded
by Captain von Rieben, succeeded in getting away. Those who did were
assembled by Captain Baron von Sell at the eastern edge of the wood
and were, with part of the 1st Battalion, led forward again to the
relief of the Fusiliers who were surrounded. The attack of Captain von
Sell developed however into small isolated combats, and though the
boldest followed their leader nearly up to the château again, they
were received there with such heavy fire from right and left that it
appeared that they would have to retire again and reorganise. Before
this could be carried out, a British counter-attack was launched; but
our men, disorganised and mixed up as they were, held fast to their
ground and stopped the attack, although at first both their flanks were
in the air.[108]

Queen Augusta's 4th Guard Grenadier Regiment, advancing south of the
main road, at once suffered such heavy losses that the first two
attacks made no headway. When however part of the regiment near the
main road pushed forward along it, echeloned behind its sister-regiment
on the right, and then turned southwards, the advance made good
progress, and a firm footing was gained in HERENTHAGE Wood south of
the road. The reverses met with by the Emperor Francis' 2nd Grenadiers
unfortunately enabled the British to bring such a heavy enfilade fire
to bear on Queen Augusta's 4th Grenadiers, that their advance had to
be stopped.[109]

At 5 P.M. German Guard troops had a tussle with the British Guards. The
King's Liverpool Regiment made a counter-attack from the NUN'S Wood
(Nonne Bosch) against the extreme left of the 1st Guard Foot Regiment
and the northern wing of the 2nd Guard Grenadiers. The point of attack
was well chosen, and took both the regiments in flank, for the 1st
Guard Infantry Brigade was at this time heavily engaged, and held up in
the woods (POLYGON Wood and the eastern part of the NONNE BOSCH), with
its front facing north, and the 2nd Guard Grenadier Regiment, having
spent all its energies against the château of VELDHOEK, lay with its
front facing west.[110] However, the British troops ran into their own
artillery fire near the NONNE BOSCH, and the attack broke up and came
to a standstill in front of our thin and scattered lines. Any further
advance on the 11th November by our Guard troops north of the road was
now out of the question.

In the southern part of the HERENTHAGE Wood the 4th Infantry Division
pushed on, though here too great difficulties were encountered. Deep
trenches, broad obstacles, and enfilade machine-gun fire combined to
make our progress slow, especially on the right wing.

The XV Corps in close co-operation with the left wing of the
Pomeranians gained ground in the woods near and around ZWARTELEEN; the
capture of Hill 60 near ZWARTELEEN was of exceptional importance. From
this elevation another direct view over the country round YPRES was
obtained.

South of the canal the II Bavarian Corps with much thinned ranks
stormed forward again. The bit of wood north-east of WYTSCHAETE, which
had already changed hands several times, was now taken by it. The heavy
artillery again rendered invaluable services. Several strong hostile
counter-attacks were held up chiefly owing to the way in which at the
critical moment our guns always protected the infantry lines by a
barrage.

In the area near WYTSCHAETE, the 11th November was the day of the
heaviest fighting. In the woods north of it, Bavarians and Hessians
pressed forward together, slowly but surely. A French battery and four
machine-guns were taken by the 168th Infantry Regiment at a farm about
150 yards north of WYTSCHAETE, but the guns were so firmly embedded in
the sodden ground, that they could not be got away by the infantry.
When the buildings were evacuated again, owing to the heavy fire of
the French on them, the guns, made unserviceable by us, remained as a
neutral battery between the lines. It must be recorded here that in
the fight for one single farm the Hessians took prisoners belonging to
three different regiments, a fact that proves what masses the enemy had
put in to the fight on the YPRES front, and to what an extent he had to
concentrate his units to ward off our attacks.

On and to the west of the MESSINES ridge the line remained almost
unaltered during the 11th November. The very severe effect of the
enemy's artillery fire from Mount KEMMEL on this front and the enfilade
fire of artillery and machine-guns from PLOEGSTEERT Wood compelled our
men to remain in their trenches.

Taken as a whole the operations on the 11th November were a great
success. A series of brilliant feats, many of which it has been
impossible even to mention in this short account, far less adequately
describe, gave us unchallenged possession of positions from which any
concentration of the enemy near YPRES could be seen, and immediately
opened on by artillery. It is true, however, that no break through of
the enemy's lines had been accomplished: his numerical superiority and,
more especially, the strength of his positions held up our offensive.
The weather conditions, storm and rain, had also contributed towards
the result.[111]

The furious character of the fighting on the 11th November did not
abate on the following day, but on the whole the situation remained
unaltered. The general character of the operations on the entire
front of the Fourth and Sixth Armies was now changed, and sapping was
eventually resorted to, though here and there successes in open warfare
were gained. For instance the XXII Reserve Corps managed to strengthen
its detachments across the YSER at DIXMUDE, and on the 12th the 201st
Reserve Infantry Regiment, under Major Baron von Wedekind, stormed
the enemy's defences opposite it on the western bank of the YSER, and
held them under great difficulties. Constant rain had filled the badly
constructed trenches with mud so that our troops had to support the
enemy's bombardment and resist his counter-attacks lying in the open.

At BIXSCHOOTE the enemy again attempted strong counter-attacks,
but they were stopped largely by the muddy state of the country.
On the 14th November there was a recrudescence of severe fighting.
Owing to the misty weather our relieving troops occupied a reserve
position instead of the original front line; by the time the error was
discovered, our watchful opponents were already in the front German
position. Our men, however, gave them no rest there, for their honour
would not suffer the surrender in this manner of their success of the
10th November. Without waiting for any orders from higher authority
or for reinforcements they attacked and retook the strong position
on the rising ground south-west of BIXSCHOOTE. On the front of the
Sixth Army HERENTHAGE Wood was completely taken by the Guard on the
14th November after severe hand-to-hand fighting.[112] After the
artillery had prepared the way as far as was possible in that difficult
and wooded neighbourhood, the infantry, whose fighting spirit was by
no means damped by the events of the 11th November, advanced to the
assault. In the château of HERENTHAGE a large number of British snipers
surrendered. The XV Corps had another success in the wooded district of
ZWARTELEEN after being reinforced by Hofmann's composite Division. A
strong system of trenches and dug-outs were taken, as well as a large
number of prisoners.

On the 13th November the Park of WYTSCHAETE was captured from the
French by the Pomeranians and Bavarians. A counter-attack, in which
the French advanced against our positions shouting, 'Don't shoot,' in
German, cost them heavy losses; and the Bavarians, whose tempers were
roused by this treachery, drove them back to their original positions.

On the 20th November the farm 150 yards north of WYTSCHAETE, for which
such a severe fight had been made on the 11th, was finally captured by
us. We thereby obtained a position in the WYTSCHAETE salient which,
although overlooked from Mount KEMMEL, gave us such a commanding view
of all the ground between Mount KEMMEL and the WYTSCHAETE-MESSINES
ridge that surprise attacks by the enemy in this district were now out
of the question.[113] On the rest of the Flanders front only small
fights took place, and on the 17th November the commander of the
Fourth Army decided to give up any idea of continuing the offensive;
a decision to which he was compelled by the low fighting strength
of his troops and the bad autumn weather, which was affecting their
health.[114] The frequent downpours of rain during November had caused
a constant rising of the water-level, and it became urgently necessary
to provide regular reliefs for the troops, for they were worn out by
the constant fighting under such bad weather conditions. Clear signs
of exhaustion in the enemy's ranks on the front opposite the Fourth
and Sixth Armies were also noticed. This permitted our gallant Fourth
Army gradually to construct a good line of trenches and erect wire
entanglements. As soon as these were completed rest-billets were
allotted further to the rear and the men found quiet and pleasant
quarters in the villages of Flanders untouched by war, with a not
unfriendly population. The German General Staff fully concurred in
the decision of the commander of the Fourth Army made on the 17th
November. They at the same time expressed the hope that the Army would
be prepared to hold its positions even against superior hostile forces.
This expectation was completely fulfilled by the Fourth Army, and
although at that time there were four and one-half French Corps, as
well as the 25,000 Belgian troops, opposed to the forces of Duke Albert
of Würtemburg, they never obtained a success of any consequence.

The threat against our right flank ceased soon afterwards. British
monitors appeared a few times towards the end of November off the
roadstead of OSTEND. They bombarded the canal exit and our positions
near by: but their fire was as ineffective as before. The 'glorious'
activities of the British Grand Fleet along the Flanders coast came to
a speedy end as soon as our ill-famed sea-rats, the U-boats, began to
put in an appearance there.[115]

The developments on the front of the Sixth Army during the second
half of November 1914 were similar to those of the Fourth Army. For
some time the sapping was continued, but from the 20th onwards strong
detachments were taken from it and entrained for the Eastern Front,
where General von Hindenburg was able, in the fighting round Lodz, to
bring the Russian steam-roller to a standstill, and finally make it
roll back again.

From this time onwards the line of demarcation between the Fourth and
Sixth Armies was the COMINES-YPRES canal.



CONCLUSION


As the November storms passed and frost and icy winds heralded to
the mild climate of Flanders the approach of winter, the unbroken
defensive lines of both sides were being slowly strengthened. The
effect of artillery fire compelled them to make cover in good trenches
and behind thick breast-works. As the armament in use became more and
more powerful, artificial shelter, where the surface water allowed
it, had to be made deeper and deeper in the earth. At first passive
defence was little understood by the German troops, as instruction in
the offensive had dominated all other in their peace-training, and in
the short period available after they were called up the volunteers
had only been trained in the principles of attack. Their sense of
superiority over their opponents did not let them rest content with
merely holding positions. The high sense of duty in each individual
was of assistance, and the methods of defensive warfare were quickly
learnt. The continuous bad weather in the autumn and winter in this
water-logged country caused great suffering; and the troops sent off to
Russia to fight under the great victor of TANNENBURG were much envied.
The despatch of men eastward showed those left behind that any hope of
a final decision at YPRES had disappeared.

The first battle of YPRES was a German victory,[116] for it marked the
failure of the enemy's intention to fall on the rear of our Western
Armies, to free the rich districts of Northern France and the whole
of Belgium (thus preventing us from making use of their valuable
resources), and to use the YPRES area as a base for the Belgian, French
and British advance on the RHINE. The Belgian coast was now firmly in
our possession, and offered a good starting-place for naval operations
against England. But we had not succeeded in making the decisive
break-through, and the dream of ending the campaign in the west in our
favour during 1914 had to be consigned to its grave. It is only natural
that the German General Staff found it difficult thoroughly to realise
this unpleasant fact, and only did so with reluctance; but endeavour
has been made in this account to bring out the main reasons which led
to this result of the battle. Nevertheless, great things had been
accomplished. The Army of Duke Albert of Würtemburg, by its advance
and determined attack, had prevented the big offensive planned by the
enemy; the Fourth and Sixth Armies together had forced a superior
opponent into the defensive, and, in spite of his having called in the
sea to his assistance, had driven him back continually, until positions
had been reached which enabled German troops to be spared to carry out
an offensive on the Eastern Front. As during the battle of the Marne,
so now the spectre of a Russian invasion appeared threateningly before
the German Nation, and the whole country knew what it would mean if it
should materialise. Our forces on the Eastern Front were far too weak,
and even the genius of a Hindenburg could not decisively defeat the
masses of the Grand Duke Nicolas without reinforcements. Thus it came
about that we had to lie and wait in front of the gates of YPRES, while
all the available men from Flanders were hurried across to Poland, to
help Hindenburg pave the way to victory.

There was never peace on the YPRES front. The belt of steel with which
we had invested the town by our operations in October and November
1914, was a source of constant annoyance to the British, whilst
our position on the Belgian coast seemed to our cousins across the
Channel like an apparition whose shadow lay over the British Isles and
especially menaced the traffic-routes between England and France. The
British therefore continually tried their utmost to free themselves
of this menace and their pressure produced counter measures. Thus in
December 1914 heavy fighting again occurred, especially near the sea at
NIEUPORT, and also at BIXSCHOOTE and ZWARTELEEN. On Christmas Eve the
French vainly attacked BIXSCHOOTE: their hope of catching the Germans
dreaming heavily on that evening was of no avail. When spring lifted
the mist that hung over Flanders, a German offensive took place during
April and May that forced the northern part of the YPRES salient back
to within three miles of the town.[117] After this the positions only
altered very slightly. In March 1916 the British blew up our front
trench positions at ST. ELOI by five colossal mines, but were unable
to hold on to the ground thus destroyed. In 1917 the death-agony
of YPRES was renewed, and for months war raged over the plains of
Flanders; the fighting was as furious as in October and November 1914.
The young soldiers of those days have now become veterans, who know
war and do not fear it even in its most terrible forms. The enemy are
those same British against whom Crown Prince Rupert of Bavaria, in
exhorting the troops to battle in 1914, once said: 'Therefore when you
are fighting this particular enemy retaliate for his deceit and for
having occasioned all this great sacrifice; show him that the Germans
are not so easy to wipe out of the world's history as he imagines, show
it by redoubling the strength behind your blows. In front of you is the
opponent who is the greatest obstacle to peace. On! at him!'

He spoke as a prophet. Hate of the British who were so jealous of us,
who brought on the war for the sake of their money-bags and spread the
conflagration all over the world, who at first hoped that it would be
but necessary to pour out their silver bullets to annihilate Germany:
all this steeled the hearts of our warriors in Flanders, whose creed
was the justice of the German cause. And the British efforts to wrest
Flanders away from us again were stifled in mud and in blood. The
fighting in 1917 was perhaps more severe than that of those stormy
autumn days of 1914, but the objective for us was ever the same: to
keep the enemy far, far from our homes. In this we succeeded in 1917 as
in 1914.

Flanders! The word is heard by every one in the German Fatherland
with a silent shudder, but also with just and intense pride. It was
there that the British were made to realise that German heroism was
not to be vanquished, not even by the use of the war material which
the whole world had been manufacturing for years. When we read that up
to the 14th November 1914, 40 divisions had been put into the battle
round YPRES by the Western Allies, whilst only 25 German divisions
were opposed to them,[118] and that in the course of the Flanders
battle of 1917, 99 British and French divisions struggled in vain
against a greatly inferior German force, it says much for our troops.
But far from all. For the enemy's superiority in material, in guns,
trench-mortars, machine-guns, aeroplanes, etc., was two, three, and
even fourfold. Who can doubt but that a nation whose sons know how to
fight like this, must win? Let us only hold the hope that the seeds of
blood sown in Flanders will bring forth rich and splendid fruit for the
German Fatherland. This indeed would be the highest reward that could
be bestowed on those of us who fought there.



APPENDIX


ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE FOURTH ARMY

from 10th Oct. 1914 to 16th Nov. 1914.

 _Commander_             General Duke Albert of Würtemburg.
 _Chief of Staff_        Major-General Ilse.

 III Reserve Corps       (General of Infantry von Beseler).

    5th Reserve Division.
    6th Reserve Division.
    4th _Ersatz_ Division.

 XXII Reserve Corps      (General of Cavalry von Falkenhayn).

    43rd Reserve Division.
    44th Reserve Division.

 XXIII Reserve Corps     (General of Cavalry von Kleist).

    45th Reserve Division.
    46th Reserve Division.

 XXVI Reserve Corps      (General of Infantry von Hügel).

    51st Reserve Division.
    52nd Reserve Division.

 XXVII Reserve Corps.    (Lieut.-General von Carlowitz,
                         relieved on 27th Oct. by
                         General of Artillery von Schubert).

    53rd (Saxon) Reserve Division.
    54th (Würtemburg) Reserve Division.

The following units were also attached at various times:--

    9th Reserve Division.
    6th Bavarian Reserve Division.
    Marine Division.
    38th _Landwehr_ Brigade.
    37th _Landwehr_ Brigade.
    2nd _Ersatz_ Brigade.
    Guard Cavalry Division.


ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE ARMY GROUP FABECK

from 27th Oct. 1914 to 20th Nov. 1914.

 _Commander_              General of Infantry von Fabeck, Commanding
                            XIII (Würtemburg) Corps.
 _Chief of Staff_         Lieut.-Colonel von Lossberg.

 XV Corps                 (General von Deimling).

    30th Infantry Division.
    39th Infantry Division.


  (This Corps left the Army Group Fabeck on the 8th Nov. 1914.)

 II Bavarian Corps        (General of Infantry von Martini,
                            relieved on the 5th Nov. 1914
                            by General of Cavalry von Stetten).

    3rd Bavarian Infantry Division.
    4th Bavarian Infantry Division.

 26th (Würtemburg)        (Lieut.-General William, Duke of Urach).
   Infantry Division

  Group GEROK was also temporarily in the Army Group FABECK.


ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE GROUP GEROK

 _Commander_              General of Infantry von Gerok,
                          Commanding Reserve Corps.

 1st Cavalry Corps        (Lieut.-General von Richthofen).

    2 Cavalry Divisions.[119]

 2nd Cavalry Corps        (General of Cavalry von der Marwitz).

    2 Cavalry Divisions.[120]

    6th Bavarian Reserve Division.

    3rd Infantry Division.

    25th Reserve Division.

    11th _Landwehr_ Brigade.

    2nd Cavalry Division.

    Bavarian Cavalry Division.


ORDER OF BATTLE OF THE ARMY GROUP LINSINGEN

from 8th Nov. 1914 to 18th Nov. 1914.

 _Commander_              General of Infantry von Linsingen,
                          Commanding II Corps.

 _Chief of Staff_         Colonel von Hammerstein-Gesmold.

 XV Corps                 (General of Infantry von Deimling).

    30th Infantry Division.
    39th Infantry Division.

   also from 16th Nov., Hofmann's Composite Division.

 Plettenberg's Corps      (General of Infantry von Plettenberg,
                          Commanding Guard Corps).

    4th Infantry Division.
    Winckler's Composite Guard Division.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] _See p. 115._

[2] _Fourth Army Cavalry._

     _I._ _Cavalry Corps_    _Guard and 4th Cavalry Divisions, p. 64._
    _II._       "            _3rd and 7th Cavalry Divisions, p. 90._
    _IV._       "            _3 Cavalry Divisions, p. 25._
                             _2nd Cavalry Division, p. 92._
                             _Bavarian Cavalry Division, p. 92._

                _Total, 9 Cavalry Divisions._

_The Army Cavalry of the Sixth Army is stated on p. 56 to have been
eight divisions, among which, according to p. 57, were the 3rd, 7th and
Bavarian Cavalry Divisions, included above in the Army Cavalry of the
Fourth Army._

_It may be noted that in 'Liège-Namur' in the same series of General
Staff Monographs the composition of the II Cavalry Corps is given as
the 2nd, 4th and 9th Cavalry Divisions._

[3] _There is a further mistake (see footnote 110): the King's were not
present at the place referred to, but in another part of the field. The
honour of fighting the German Guards at one to eight, for the battalion
was under four hundred strong, appears to belong to the 2nd Oxfordshire
and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry._

[4] _The British advance was checked on the Aisne on 14th not 13th
September._

[5] The Seventh Army was not put in on the extreme right wing but
between the First and Third Armies after the heavy French attacks south
of Laon in the middle of September.

[6] _'2000 British' belonged to the newly raised Royal Naval Division
which had been thrown into Antwerp in the endeavour to prolong the
resistance of that fortress._

[7] The XXIV Reserve Corps was sent to the neighbourhood of Metz.

[8] _Only the British III Corps and Cavalry Corps of two Divisions were
available to oppose them._

[9] _These 'considerable hostile forces' consisted of the 7th Division
and Byng's Cavalry Division, which reached Ypres on 14th October, after
having moved up to Ghent to help cover the retreat of the Belgian army
from Antwerp._

[10] _Needless to point out that General Joffre was never 'Allied
Commander.'_

[11] _At this date Calais had not yet become a base for the British
army, and there were no British establishments of any kind there._

[12] _The II Corps completed its detrainment at Abbeville on 8th
October, and moved forward, covered by the cavalry, on the 11th; by the
18th it had reached the line Givenchy-Villaines-Lorgies-Herlies after
considerable fighting._

[13] _On 18th October the III Corps had its left Division, the
4th, astride the Lys from Ploegsteert Wood to Frelinghien,
while the 6th Division on the right had reached the line
Premesques-Ennettières-Radinghem (S.E. of Armentières). General
Conneau's French Cavalry Corps filled the gap between its right and the
left of the II Corps._

[14] _The British Cavalry Corps (there was only one, the number is
superfluous and suggests there were more) did not extend as far as
Gheluvelt: its left was on the Ypres-Comines canal near Houthem._

[15] _The I Corps did not reach Bixschoote on 18th October: its leading
Division, the 2nd, did not reach the area Poperinghe-Boeschepe till
19th October: the 1st Division was still detraining in the Hazebrouck
area on 18th October._

[16] _'Armée' in the original, but this is no doubt a misprint._

[17] _This statement as to Sir J. French's intentions is inaccurate.
The II and III Corps were ordered to stand on the defensive, but the
orders issued to the I Corps on 20th October were for an attack._

[18] _Between Armentières and the sea the British had only the I
Corps, less than half the III Corps, the Cavalry Corps, the IV Corps
(composed of one Division only), the French had a weak Cavalry Corps
and two Territorial Divisions, the six Belgian Divisions were reduced
to about one half of their establishment, so that the claim that the
Allied forces outnumbered the Germans is hardly tenable. The value of
the statement that 'the relative strength of the opposing forces never
appreciably altered in our favour' will become apparent as the book is
read, and as it is shown that the same British units, reinforced only
by a weak composite Division drawn from the II Corps, were attacked by
a succession of fresh German Corps, that the same units who repulsed
the attacks at Langemarck on 23rd October, were in line at Gheluvelt
on 31st October when the Prussian Guard attacked on 11th November. See
also Introduction._

[19] _'The heights of St. Eloi' is a phrase which suggests that the
author cannot have visited the ground nor studied a contoured map of
the area round Ypres._

[20] _The British and French in Belgium were hardly in their own
country._

[21] _British torpedo boats do not carry 'heavy artillery.'_

[22] _The vessels described as flat-bottomed boats were presumably the
Monitors 'Severn,' 'Humber,' and 'Mersey.'_

[23] _This narrative omits the advance of the 7th Division on Menin,
19th October, which was going well when it had to be suspended on
account of the threatening advance of strong German columns from the
eastward. The division was skilfully extricated and fell back to the
line Kruseik-Noordwesthoek-Broodseinde-Zonnebeke, the Germans failing
to press their pursuit._

[24] _The constant exaggeration by this narrative of the strength of
very hastily constructed British trenches is a noteworthy feature._

[25] _There were no British heavy batteries in this quarter, unless it
is to the guns of Rear-Admiral Hood's squadron that reference is made._

[26] _There was no British artillery present in this quarter._

[27] See pages 23-24.

[28] See _Les pages de gloire de l'Armée Belge: à Dixmuide_.

[29] _The narrative omits to state precisely the nature of the
opposition which was encountered in the Houthulst area. Actually the
Allied force in this quarter merely consisted of General de Mitry's
French Cavalry Corps and a few battalions of French Cyclists and
Territorials. These were driven back without being able to offer much
resistance, and in consequence uncovered the flank of the I British
Corps just as it began its advance north-east of Ypres on Poelcapelle
and Passchendaele (21st October). This forced Sir Douglas Haig to
divert his reserves to protect his left flank, and therefore to suspend
his attack which had been making good progress on a line south-east
from Langemarck to Zonnebeke, where he linked up with the left of the
7th Division._

[30] _By no means the whole of the 1st British Division was holding
the line of the Kortebeck. From Steenstraate, which was held by the
1st Scots Guards, who were never seriously pressed on 22nd October,
the 1st Cameron Highlanders were extended over a wide front nearly to
Langemarck, where the 1st Coldstream Guards connected them up with the
3rd Infantry Brigade (1st Queen's, 1st S.W.B., 1st Gloucesters, and 2nd
Welsh) which was holding a position north and north-east of Langemarck.
The rest of the infantry of the 1st Division was in reserve, and only
one 18-pounder battery (46th Batty. R.F.A.) was available to support
the Camerons. On the rigid of the 3rd Infantry Brigade the 2nd Division
carried on the line south-east to Zonnebeke with the 5th Infantry
Brigade on its left and the 4th (Guards) Brigade on its right. This
division was about on the line of the Zonnebeke-Langemarck road: it
repulsed several counter-attacks on the afternoon of 21st October and
night 21st-22nd._

[31] _The British troops had not detrained at Poperinghe, but in the
Hazebrouck area._

[32] _This account is altogether at variance with the facts. On
the afternoon of 22nd October the Germans at length succeeded in
breaking through the thin and widely extended line of the 1st Cameron
Highlanders, and pushed them back south of the Langemarck-Bixschoote
road, capturing the Kortekeer Cabaret. They failed to press forward;
however reinforcements, the 1st Northamptonshires and 1st Black Watch,
arrived, and counter-attacks were made which checked all further German
advance. Next morning (23rd October) further reinforcements came up,
the 1st Loyal North Lancashires and 2nd K.R.R.C. of the 2nd Infantry
Brigade, part of the 2nd South Staffordshires from the 6th Infantry
Brigade. Finally, on the arrival of 1st Queen's of the 3rd Infantry
Brigade, a most successful counter-attack was launched, the Queen's
retook the Kortekeer Cabaret, and the Germans were driven right back,
nearly 500 being taken and very heavy losses inflicted on them. The old
trenches 800 yards north of the road were actually recovered, but late
in the evening a fresh German attack recovered the advanced position
reached by our counter-attack, and a new line was taken up about the
line of the Langemarck-Bixschoote road. Meanwhile during this action,
in which less than two British infantry brigades had defeated the 46th
Reserve Division, the rest of the 1st Division at Langemarck had been
heavily attacked, apparently (cf. p. 40) by the 51st Reserve Division,
which had been completely worsted. In this part of the action very
notable service was done by two platoons of the Gloucesters just north
of Langemarck, who expended an average of 400 rounds a man, and though
attacked in front and flank by very superior numbers, maintained their
position intact. The British accounts testify to the gallantry with
which the German attacks were pressed, officers carrying regimental
colours ran on ahead of the men and planted the colours in the ground
to give their men a point to make for, a mounted officer rode forward,
exposing himself recklessly, to encourage his soldiers, but the
musketry of the British infantry was too much for the Germans, and the
attack was completely repulsed._

[33] _Throughout this narrative it is astonishing to read of the
repeated reinforcements which Sir John French received. Actually,
except for a few drafts, no reinforcements joined the British in the
Ypres salient before the end of October: subsequently two Territorial
battalions, the Hertfordshires and the London Scottish, two Yeomanry
regiments, the North Somersets and the Leicestershires, and the 3rd
Dragoon Guards, the belated last unit of the 3rd Cavalry Division, were
added to the force, while the exhausted infantry of the 7th Division
were replaced by three composite brigades from the II Corps, set free
after three weeks of strenuous fighting near La Bassée by the arrival
of the Meerut Division, and greatly below strength._

[34] _The British counter-attack at the Kortekeer Cabaret did not aim
at doing more than recover the ground lost on 22nd October: it was not
an attempt at break-through, and was quite successful in its immediate
object._

[35] _On 20th October the 7th Division held the line from Zandvoorde
to Kruiseik, thence to Broodseinde cross-roads east of Zonnebeke, the
line being continued by the 3rd Cavalry Division to Passchendaele. The
German 52nd Reserve Division and the XXVII Reserve Corps were thus
faced by less than half their numbers. Nevertheless the only effect
of their attack was that after the 51st Reserve Division had driven
the French out of Westroosebeke, the British Cavalry found its flank
exposed and had to retire on St. Julien, the 7th Division throwing
back its left flank to conform. There was no fighting for Keiberg, and
the expulsion of the 7th Division from Becelaere (mentioned nine lines
below) after heavy street fighting, seems to be based on the slender
foundation that a British reconnaissance was made in the direction
of Gheluwe covered by two battalions nearer Terhand, which fell back
without being seriously pressed. The Germans advancing in the evening
from Becelaere were sharply repulsed by the centre infantry brigade of
the 7th Division east of Polygon Wood. The events of 21st-22nd October
on the front from Langemarck to Kruiseik are somewhat slurred over
in this narrative. Briefly, on 21st October the Germans pressed all
along the line of the 7th Division without success except on the left,
where by enfilade fire from Passchendaele they forced the left of the
22nd Infantry Brigade to fall back to the south-west of Zonnebeke.
Meanwhile the advance of the I Corps relieved the pressure, and though,
as already explained (see footnote 29), the uncovering of the left
of the I Corps prevented the advance being pressed beyond the line
Zonnebeke-Langemarck, this line was made good and the German efforts
to advance successfully repulsed. On 22nd October the Germans attacked
the line of the 2nd Division north-west of Zonnebeke, but were easily
repulsed, while further to their left they renewed their attacks on the
21st Infantry Brigade east of Polygon Wood with equal ill-success._

[36] _The IX French Corps was not yet up at the front. It did not begin
relieving the 2nd Division till the afternoon of 23rd October._

[37] _The 'well-planned maze of trenches behind broad wire
entanglements' would have been most welcome to the British.
Unfortunately there had been no time or opportunity to do more than
dig in hastily where the advance of the I Corps had been checked,
while such trenches as the 7th Division had dug at Zonnebeke were
hastily prepared in such loose and sandy soil that they collapsed when
bombarded; wire was conspicuous by its absence._

[38] _The only thing in the nature of a 'fortress' at Langemarck was
a small redoubt, built by the 26th Field Company R.E. on the night of
22nd-23rd October, and held by two platoons of the Gloucesters._

[39] _This is hardly a recognisable account of what took place. The
relief of the 1st Division by a French Territorial division did not
take place till the night 24th-25th, but the 2nd Division was relieved
by a division of the French IX Corps, and by the morning of 24th
October it was concentrated at St. Jean in reserve. In the course of
the morning of 24th October the Reserve Division attacked the line of
the 21st Infantry Brigade in overwhelming strength, and broke through
north of Reutel, penetrating into Polygon Wood. It was cleared out by a
counter-attack by the 5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Division, and the 2nd
R. Warwicks of the 7th Division, and in the afternoon an advance was
made north of Polygon Wood by the 6th Infantry Brigade in co-operation
with the French IX Corps on the left. Fair progress was made, the 6th
Infantry Brigade crossing to the east of the Werwicq-Staden road.
Further south the 7th Division held its own successfully and all
attacks were repulsed._

[40] _It has already been pointed out that the Belgian divisions were
much below establishment._

[41] See _Les pages de gloire de l'Armée Belge: à Dixmuide_.

[42] _This testimony to the effective character of the help given by
Admiral Hood's squadron is noteworthy, and contradicts what was said in
the narrative on page 22._

[43] _The hamlet of Reutel had fallen into German hands on 24th October
(footnote 39), but the counter-attacks of the 2nd Division had
re-established the line on the eastern border of Polygon Wood, and
between 24th October and the morning of 29th October what changes there
were on the eastern face of the Ypres salient had been in favour of
the British. The 6th Infantry Brigade made considerable progress east
of the Werwicq-Staden road in co-operation with the French IX Corps
which pushed east and north-east from Zonnebeke. By the showing of this
narrative the German forces in this area were decidedly superior in
numbers to those engaged in the attacks._

[44] _The above account presumably refers to the attack of the 18th
French Division and 2nd British Division on 25th October, when a
German battery was captured by the 1st Royal Berkshires and the French
unit with which they were co-operating. Further to the British right,
however, less progress was made, but the implication that the British
reached Becelaere and were then thrust back by the 54th Reserve
Division at the point of the bayonet is unfounded; the force engaged on
this quarter only consisted of two battalions and the artillery support
available was insufficient to allow the advance to be pressed home; it
was therefore abandoned after a small gain of ground had been made._

[45] _The British who were streaming down from the high ground about
Wytschaete and Messines consisted of five brigades of cavalry (perhaps
4000) and one brigade of the newly arrived Lahore Division._

[46] _There was very severe fighting south of the Menin road during the
period 25th-28th October, particularly at Kruiseik, which formed the
south-eastern angle of the east face of the salient. This position was
obstinately defended by the 20th Infantry Brigade, 7th Division, which
held on under heavy bombardments and repulsed many attacks, notably
on the night of the 27th-28th October when over 200 of the 242nd
Reserve Infantry Regiment (XXVII Reserve Corps) who had penetrated into
Kruiseik were captured by a counter-attack of one company 2nd Scots
Guards. The Germans renewed their attack in great force next day, and
succeeded in dislodging the 20th Infantry Brigade from Kruiseik, but
a new line was formed in rear, blunting the salient, and with the aid
of the 1st Division (in reserve since 24th October) the position was
successfully maintained. Elsewhere the 7th Division, which was holding
a line reaching back to Zandvoorde where the 3rd Cavalry Division
connected it up with the left of General Allenby's Cavalry Corps on the
Ypres-Comines canal, held its ground._

[47] _This account does not tell the story of 29th October very
intelligibly. The British front had been readjusted, and was now held
by the 2nd Division on the left, from the junction with the French to
west of Reutel, thence to the 9th kilometre on the Ypres-Menin road by
the 1st Division, thence to Zandvoorde by the 7th Division with the
3rd Cavalry Division on their right. Under cover of a mist the Germans
(apparently the 6th Bavarian Reserve Division) attacked in force
against the junction of the 1st and 7th Divisions, broke through at the
9th kilo cross-roads, and rolled up the battalions to right and left
after very severe fighting, in which the 1st Grenadier Guards and 2nd
Gordon Highlanders of the 7th Division distinguished themselves greatly
by repeated counter-attacks. The resistance of the troops in the front
line delayed the Germans long enough to allow the reserves of the 1st
Division to be put in, and their counter-attacks recovered all but the
most advanced trenches. The Germans did not ever penetrate as far as
Gheluvelt, and their final gain of ground was inconsiderable._

[48] _It is interesting to notice that this account treats the fighting
on the La Bassée-Armentières front as quite distinct from the main
battle for Ypres. During the period 20th-29th October the II and III
Corps had a hard defensive battle to fight, the only assistance they
received being on the arrival on 23rd October of the Jullundur Brigade
and the divisional troops of the Lahore Division, which replaced
General Conneau's French Cavalry at the junction between the two Corps.
As the net result of this fighting the II and III Corps were forced
back to a line running north by east from Givenchy, west of Neuve
Chapelle, past Bois Grenier, south-east of Armentières to the Lys at
Houplines, part of the 4th Division continuing the line on the left
bank of the Lys to the junction with the Cavalry Corps just south of
Messines. The German attacks on this front were strongly pressed, and
the strain on the II and III Corps was very severe._

[49] _In view of the reiterated statements about the superior numbers
of the Allies, it is worth pointing out that this new Army Group by
itself amounted to about two-thirds of the original strength of the
British forces engaged between La Bassée and Zonnebeke. For its Order
of Battle see at end of book._

[50] _If the flooding of the country by the Belgians had barred the
further advance of the Germans along the coast, it had equally covered
the German extreme right against any chance of a counter-attack,
and enabled them to divert the III Reserve Corps to the south; the
Belgians, however, were in no position to deflect any forces to the
assistance of their Allies._

[51] _No mass attacks were made by the British on 30th and 31st
October. It will be noticed that the French IX Corps is spoken of here
as though it had been an additional reinforcement; it had been in
action on the Zonnebeke area since 24th October._

[52] _The heavy artillery at the disposal of the British
Commander-in-Chief amounted at this time to two batteries of 6-inch
howitzers, six of 60-pounders, and three of 4·7-inch guns, a total of
forty-four guns and howitzers in all (each battery having four guns)._

[53] _At this time the Allied line from the Menin road south was held
by the 7th Division, supported by about two infantry brigades of the
I Corps, the line being carried on thence to Messines by part of the
XVI French Corps and British Cavalry Divisions, and two battalions of
the Lahore Division. Nearly all these units had been heavily engaged
for a week or more, and were much under strength, but even at full war
establishment would have been outnumbered by nearly two to one._

[54] _See footnote 51. The IX French Corps is mentioned for the third
time as a new arrival._

[55] See page 62.

[56] _It is difficult to see how this assertion can be supported on the
statements previously given, even apart from the fact that the German
units were fresh and the British troops facing them reduced by previous
heavy losses. The British claim to have held out against great odds
is no more than the bare truth. The battalions of the 1st Division
who had held up the attack of the 46th Reserve Division north-west of
Langemarck on 23rd October were still in the line when the Prussian
Guard attacked on 11th November--or rather a scanty remnant of them
was: in the interval they had fought and held up a succession of
attacks._

[57] _The 7th Division had never left the line; a few battalions only
had been given a day's rest, but the division as a whole had not been
relieved._

[58] _These squadrons belonged to the 1st and 2nd Life Guards, each of
which regiments had a squadron cut off when Zandvoorde was stormed.
None of the III British Corps were in this area, the extreme left of
the Corps being about the river Douve, south of Messines._

[59] _There was no strong counter-attack in the Wambeke area: the very
thin line of the 2nd Cavalry Division (perhaps 3000 rifles on a front
of two miles) was forced back to a position much nearer Wytschaete and
St. Eloi, where it received reinforcements amounting to about a brigade
of French infantry._

[60] Messines ridge.

[61] _The amount of work it had been possible to do there in preparing
the position for defence had been very much restricted by lack of
time and want of labour. 'Deep trenches protected by broad wire
entanglements' is a much exaggerated statement._

[62] _An attack was made by the Germans on Messines about this time,
but was decisively repulsed._

[63] _I and II Cavalry Corps. See Order of Battle._

[64] _The Germans at one time broke the line of the 19th Infantry
Brigade on the right of the III Corps near Bois Grenier, but were
dislodged by a counter-attack by the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders and 1st Middlesex. In Ploegsteert Wood there was also heavy
fighting, the 1st Hampshires distinguishing themselves in particular by
a very stubborn resistance._

[65] _Except at Zandvoorde the German attacks north of the Ypres-Comines
canal were not successful, and their success at Zandvoorde was brought
to a standstill by the arrival of two battalions of the 1st Division
under Brigadier-General Bulfin, and three of the 2nd Division under
Brigadier-General Lord Cavan, whose intervention enabled a new line
to be formed north-west of Zandvoorde. To the east of Zandvoorde the
7th Division was forced to fall back nearer to Gheluvelt, but east of
Gheluvelt itself the Germans made no progress._

[66] _The arrival of the Meerut Division on 29th October allowed some
of the most exhausted units of the II Corps to be relieved on the front
east of Festubert, south-east of Richebourg St. Vaast, west of Neuve
Chapelle, but these battalions were not destined to enjoy a very long
spell of rest._

[67] _The 'reinforcements' which the Allies had received on 29th-30th
October were not even sufficient to redress the balance against them.
(See footnote 66.)_

[68] _The troops holding Gheluvelt consisted of two battalions of the
3rd Infantry Brigade, with portions of two of the 2nd Infantry Brigade,
at most 2000 men. Against these the Germans by their own account put in
about eight battalions._

[69] _It would not be gathered from this account that the British
artillery had, as was the case, already been severely restricted as to
ammunition expenditure._

[70] _The statement that 'many attacks had to be delivered against
fresh troops in good sheltered entrenchments' is almost ludicrous in
its travesty of the facts._

[71] _It was not in 'long colonial wars' but in careful training on
the ranges that the majority of the defenders of Ypres had learnt that
mastery of the rifle which was the mainstay of the success of the
defence. Between the close of the South African War (1902) and the
outbreak of war in 1914, scarcely any British troops had been on active
service._

[72] _The position west of Reutel was maintained intact on 31st
October, the right of the 2nd Division and left of the 1st Division
holding on successfully even after the centre of the 1st Division had
been pierced at Gheluvelt._

[73] _The picture of the great profusion of machine-guns in the
British possession is a little dimmed by the recollection that the war
establishments allowed two machine-guns per infantry battalion, that
by 31st October there had been no time to produce enough machine-guns
to increase the establishment; indeed, most battalions had already one
or both their guns put out of action. The Germans clearly took for
machine-gun fire the rapid fire which the infantry of the original
Expeditionary Force could maintain._

[74] _The capture of Gheluvelt was earlier than 3 p.m. by at least an
hour, 1 or 1.30 p.m. seems more like the correct time. The 'château
and park,' north of Gheluvelt, were held by the 1st South Wales
Borderers, who maintained their ground, although their right was left
in the air by the loss of the village, until the 2nd Worcesters came
up and delivered their celebrated counter-attack past the right of the
S.W.B. This apparently occurred about 2 p.m. The German account is,
however, accurate in saying that Gheluvelt was not retaken; what the
Worcesters did was that they completely checked the German efforts to
push forward; the position their counter-attack reached enabled them to
flank any advance west of Gheluvelt._

[75] _The German claim to have captured three guns does not seem
founded on fact: one gun of the 117th Field Battery was lost, but was
subsequently retaken._

[76] _The left of the XV Corps, which was in action against the
detachments under Brigadier-Generals Bulfin and Lord Cavan, and the
right of the 7th Division, in the woods later known as Shrewsbury
Forest, was successfully held in check: it gained but a little ground,
and at one point a most successful counter-attack drove the Germans
back a long way, many casualties being inflicted and prisoners taken._

[77] _The Staffs of both 1st and 2nd Divisions were there. Major-General
Lomax, commanding the 1st Division, and Major-General Munro, commanding
the 2nd Division, were wounded. Neither was killed, but the former died
many months after of his wounds._

[78] _During the course of 31st October French reinforcements of the
XVI Corps had arrived and were taking over the left of the line held
by the Cavalry Corps, relieving the 3rd and 5th Cavalry Brigades
north-west of Hollebeke and south-east of St. Eloi. The French were,
however, unable to make much ground by their counter-attacks, and
further to the British right the 4th Cavalry Brigade was heavily
pressed. It was here that the London Scottish were put in to recover
trenches which had been lost east of the Messines-Wytschaete road._

[79] _Accurate details of the fighting which went on through the
night of 31st October-1st November round Wytschaete are extremely
difficult to disentangle. It seems that the 4th Cavalry Brigade
was forced out of the village somewhere between 2 and 3 a.m., that
the advance of the Germans was then held up west of the village,
counter-attacks by two battalions of the 3rd Division, which had just
arrived from La Bassée-Neuve Chapelle area, assisting to check them.
Subsequently these battalions (1st Northumberland Fusiliers and 1st
Lincolnshires) were also forced back, but by this time more French
reinforcements were coming up with some of the 5th Cavalry Brigade,
and their counter-attacks, though not wholly successful, prevented
further German progress. But the admission of this account that two
whole German regiments (six battalions) were engaged in the attack is
a fine testimony to the resistance made by the 2nd Cavalry Division
and attached infantry at Wytschaete with odds of more than two to one
against them._

[80] _The forces available for the defence of Messines were the 1st
Cavalry Division, much reduced by the previous fighting, assisted by
portions of the 57th Rifles (Lahore Division) and two battalions of the
5th Division (the 2nd King's Own Scottish Borderers, 2nd King's Own
Yorkshire L.I., both recently relieved from the trenches near Neuve
Chapelle and much below strength). The twelve battalions of the 26th
(Würtemburg) Division were thus in overwhelming superiority. The only
artillery available to assist the defence were the 13-pounders of the
R.H.A. batteries attached to the Cavalry Corps._

[81] _i.e. Würtemburg._

[82] _This is not accurate. Poezelhoek Château had to be evacuated
during the night of 31st October-1st November, owing to the withdrawal
of the line made necessary by the loss of Gheluvelt; but the Germans
did not molest the retirement to the new position, and such attempts
as they made in the course of 1st November to press on westward
beyond Gheluvelt were unsuccessful. The British accounts do not give
the impression that the German attacks on this day were very heavily
pressed in this quarter; at any rate they failed to make any ground._

[83] _The hardest fighting of 1st November in the Ypres salient was
in the area north-west of Zandvoorde where the detachments under
Brigadier-Generals Bulfin and Lord Cavan were sharply engaged, as
were also the remnants of the 7th Division, now holding a position
south-east and south of the Herenthage Wood. A feature of this day's
fighting was a counter-attack by the 26th Field Company R.E., acting as
infantry in default of any infantry reserves, which checked the efforts
of the Germans to advance north of Groenenburg Farm (north-west of
Zandvoorde)._

[84] _The Indian units hitherto employed under the Cavalry Corps (57th
Rifles and 129th Baluchis) had already been withdrawn to Kemmel, and
were not in action near Oosttaverne on 1st November. This account of
the 'treacherous methods of the Indians' smacks of the conventional; it
is what was attributed to the Ghurkhas in some sections of the German
Press, and seems inserted rather to excite odium against the British
for calling in Asiatics to oppose the disciples of 'Kultur.'_

[85] _French Divisions. By the afternoon of 1st November the French
had taken over the defence of Wytschaete. The 2nd Cavalry Division
assembled on a line east of Kemmel and Wulverghem._

[86] _These 'reinforcements of newly arrived British troops' are
imaginary._

[87] _The Germans, attacking along the Menin road, succeeded in
breaking our line at this point and captured two guns which had been
pushed up into the front trenches. However, the 1st Scots Guards,
though taken in flank, held on north of the road till a counter-attack
by the 1st Black Watch re-established the line, while south of the road
a counter-attack by the remnants of the 2nd and 3rd Brigade cleared
the Herenthage Wood completely, but did not regain the front trenches
a little eastward. Further to the right Lord Cavern's detachment
(Brigadier-General Bulfin had been wounded on 1st November, and his
battalions had come under Lord Cavan's orders) and the remnants of
the 1st Grenadiers and 2nd Border Regiment (7th Division) held their
own successfully and inflicted very heavy losses on the Germans, i.e.
Deimling's left wing._

[88] _The credit for the gallant defence of Wytschaete on this day
belongs solely to the French; no British troops were in action there._

[89] _After the capture of Messines and Wytschaete the severity of
the fighting in this quarter died down rapidly. The French made some
attempts to recover Wytschaete, while the Germans managed to capture
Hill 75 (Spanbroekmolen), but could advance no further, and the
British Cavalry Corps established itself firmly in trenches north-east
of Wulverghem. Supported by the artillery of the 5th Division, it
maintained itself on this line till relieved by the infantry of the 5th
Division about the middle of November._

[90] _The chaplain of the Guard Cavalry Division, 'Hofprediger' Dr.
Vogel, in his book '3000 Kilometer mit der Garde-Kavallerie' (p.
212), says the attack was made and failed, but 'next day the English
abandoned the farm: this may have been due either to the power of our
8-inch howitzers, or to the moral effect of the attack of the Guard
Dragoons.'_

[91] _What other British troops were present in the Ypres salient
except the I and IV Corps this narrative does not pause to state, for
the simple reason that there were none. The I Corps was not relieved,
though some French battalions were put into the line near Veldhoek;
but in the course of 5th November the remnant of the infantry of the
7th Division was relieved by the two composite brigades from the II
Corps composed of battalions which had had three weeks' fighting near
La Bassée and had then to be thrust in after only two or three days'
rest to hold some of the most difficult parts of the line south-east
of Ypres. The 7th Infantry Division when relieved amounted to less
than a third of their original strength, without taking into account
the drafts that had joined since they landed, which amounted to 2000
or more. Most of the battalions of the 1st Division were in scarcely
better case._

[92] _These 'successive lines of rearward positions' did not exist
except on paper during the period to be included in the 'Battle of
Ypres,' i.e. to 17th November._

[93] _During the period 2nd-11th November the most serious fighting
on the British front was between 6th and 8th November. On the 6th the
Germans attacked near Zwarteleen and gained ground, some of which
was recovered by a fine counter-attack delivered by the 7th Cavalry
Brigade (cf. page 93, line 30), while further counter-attacks by the
22nd Infantry Brigade, brought back just as it had been drawn out
for a rest, and by portions of the 1st Division further improved the
line next day. On that day (7th November) a sharp attack on the 3rd
Division, which had now taken over the line south of the Menin road,
gained a little ground east of the Herenthage Wood. This part of the
line was again attacked in force on 8th November, and the line was
broken near Veldhoek, but was restored after some sharp fighting and
several counter-attacks. Further north again, in Polygon Wood and to
the east of it, the 2nd Division, though repeatedly attacked, more than
held its own. In the fighting near Veldhoek a prominent part was taken
by two battalions of Zouaves who had filled a gap in the line of the
1st Division._

[94] _St. Eloi is hardly situated 'on high ground,' as it is on
the down slope where the Warneton-Ypres road descends into the
low ground after crossing the north-easterly continuation of the
Messines-Wytschaete ridge._

[95] _The allusion is not understood._

[96] _The heavy artillery at Sir John French's disposal at this period
was still extremely limited, and its effectiveness was greatly hampered
by the lack of ammunition, stringent restrictions having to be placed
on the ammunition expenditure of guns of all calibres. Fortunately for
the Allies a similar handicap was beginning to make itself felt among
the Germans; even their preparations had been hardly equal to the vast
ammunition expenditure which had been incurred._

[97] _The portion of the Ypres salient attacked by the XXIII Corps was
defended by French troops alone; there were no British north of the
Broodseinde cross-roads._

[98] _The enemy is giving the Allies credit for his own tricks._

[99] _However, when British troops took over the coastal sector in 1917
Lombartzyde was in Allied possession._

[100] For Order of Battle, see Appendix.

[101] _A Machine-Gun Detachment (Abtheilung) is a mounted battery with
six guns._

[102] Consisting of the 4th _Ersatz_ Division and the 43rd Reserve
Division.

[103] _It is not clear why a British assertion about the defence of
Dixmude should be quoted, nor indeed is it clear what shape this
assertion can have taken, as no British troops were concerned in the
Dixmude fighting, nor could there have been any occasion for any
official British announcement about Dixmude._

_In the diagram above, for 201st, 202nd, and 203rd Res. Jäger Regt.
read Res. Infantry Regt._

[104] _The frontage attacked by the twelve battalions of General von
Winckler's Guard Division, far from being held by two British Divisions
was held from north to south by the 1st Infantry Brigade, now reduced
to some 800 bayonets, a battalion of Zouaves and the left brigade of
the 3rd Division, little over 1200 strong. Even if the whole of the
3rd Guard Regiment may have been absorbed in the task of covering the
main attack from the British troops lining the southern edge of the
Polygon Wood, the superiority of the attacking force was sufficiently
pronounced._

[105] _The Germans do not appear to have penetrated into the Polygon
Wood at any point. The northern end of the breach in the British
line was marked by a 'strong point' which had been erected near the
south-west corner of the wood, known later as 'Black Watch Corner':
this was successfully defended all day by a very weak company of the
Black Watch. Attacks were made on the 1st King's lining the southern
edge of the wood, apparently by the 3rd Guard Regiment, and also
further eastward and to the left of the King's, on the 2nd Coldstream
Guards. The Germans in this quarter would seem to have belonged to the
54th Reserve Division: at neither of these points did the attackers
meet with any success._

[106] _A thick mist which prevented the troops holding the front line
trenches from seeing far to their front undoubtedly played an important
part in concealing the advance of the German Guard, and contributed
appreciably to its success._

[107] _This is the eastern part of the wood known later as 'Inverness
Copse.'_

[108] _This counter-attack may be identified with one delivered by the
1st Scots Fusiliers and one company 2nd Duke of Wellington's._

[109] _The 4th (Queen Augusta's) Guard Grenadiers seem to have attacked
the right of the line held by the 9th Infantry Brigade and to have been
repulsed by the 1st Lincolnshires and 1st Northumberland Fusiliers.
Further to the British right the 15th and 7th Infantry Brigades were
also attacked, but by the 4th Division, not by the Guards. Here the
Germans made no progress._

[110] _This part of the German account is not borne out by the British
versions. The main body of the 1st Guard Regiment, which broke
through the thinly held line of the 1st Infantry Brigade, pressed on
north-west into the Nonne Bosch Wood, pushing right through it, and
coming out into the open on the western edge. Here their progress was
arrested mainly by the gunners of XLI Brigade, R.F.A., who held them
up with rifle fire at short range. Various details of Royal Engineers,
orderlies from Headquarters, transport men, rallied stragglers of
the 1st Brigade, assisted to stop the Germans, but the situation was
critical until about noon or a little later the 2nd Oxford and Bucks
L.I. arrived on the scene. This battalion had been engaged for several
days near Zwarteleen, and had just been brought up to Westhoek to act
as Divisional Reserve. Though under 400 strong the battalion promptly
counter-attacked the Nonne Bosch Wood and drove the Germans out
headlong. Many of them were caught as they escaped on the eastern and
southern sides by the fire of the 2nd Highland L.I., now on the western
edge of Polygon Wood, and of the 1st Northamptonshires, who had come
up to Glencorse Wood, south-west of the Nonne Bosch, and with other
units of the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Brigades had filled the gap which
extended thence to the Menin road. Thus those of the 1st Guard Regiment
who had pushed straight on westward were prevented from penetrating
any further. The King's, to whom this account gives the credit for
the Oxfordshire's counter-attack, had been engaged with the 3rd Guard
Regiment further to the north, completely defeating their attacks on
the Polygon, but not making any counter-attack. It is worth recalling
that at the critical moment of the battle of Waterloo it was the 2nd
Oxford and Bucks L.I., then 52nd Light Infantry, who played the chief
part in the defeat of Napoleon's Guard._

_The defeat of the 2nd Guard Grenadiers does not appear to have been
the work of the 2nd Oxford and Bucks L.I., but of the other battalions,
chiefly from the 2nd and 3rd Infantry Brigades, who were pushed forward
rather earlier between Glencorse Wood and Inverness Copse._

[111] _The author must be thankful for minor mercies if he can reckon
11th November as a day of great success. The gain of ground at Veldhoek
was trifling in extent and value, and though 'Hill 60' and the wood
north of Wytschaete were more important points, there is no doubt that
the throwing of the German Guard into the struggle had been expected
to produce a break-through. The 'numerical superiority' once again
attributed to the Allies was about as unreal as the alleged strength
of the positions, hastily dug, imperfectly wired and almost wholly
lacking supporting points and communications, which had such a much
more formidable character in the eyes of the Germans than they ever
possessed in reality. The gallantry and vigour with which the German
Guard pushed its attack will be readily admitted, but the honours
of 11th November 1914 go to the weary men who after three weeks of
incessant fighting met and drove back these fresh and famous troops._

[112] _This statement is not true. After an attack on 13th November
in which prisoners were taken from the 4th (German) Division, the 9th
and 15th Infantry Brigades drew back from the eastern edge of the
Herenthage Wood to a line about 200 yards in rear (night 13th-14th
November). This line was strongly attacked next day, and the Herenthage
Château fell for the time into German hands, only to be recovered by
the 2nd King's Own Yorkshire L.I., while a further counter-attack
by a company of the Northumberland Fusiliers, assisted by a gun of
the 54th Battery R.F.A., ousted the Germans also from the stables of
the Château. Further to the British right the 7th and 15th Infantry
Brigades successfully repulsed vigorous attacks._

[113] _The surprise came in 1917 in spite of this._

[114] _One reason why the G.O.C. Fourth Army came to this decision on
17th November is omitted. An attack in force had been attempted on
this day by his 4th Division, but the 7th and 15th Infantry Brigades,
holding the line attacked, had proved equal to the occasion, had driven
the Germans back, recovering some advanced trenches carried by the
first rush and inflicting heavy losses. This discouraging reception
undoubtedly assisted Duke Albert in making his decision._

[115] _It was the U-boats that came to a speedy end._

[116] _See remarks in Introduction._

[117] _The first use of gas by the Germans on this occasion might have
been mentioned._

[118] _It is not to be read in this monograph. See Introduction._

[119] _4th and Guard Cavalry Divisions (see page 64)._

[120] _3rd and 7th Cavalry Divisions (see page 90)._



INDEX


 ALBERT OF WÜRTEMBURG, Duke, 6;
   _see also_ ARMY, FOURTH.

 ANTWERP: value of, to Entente, 3;
   capture of, 5;
   retreat from, 7 (_note_).

 ARMY, FOURTH (German): formation of, 6;
   advance of, through BELGIUM, 19;
   dispositions on 20th Oct., 20;
   task of, 25, 27;
   attack on 3rd Nov., 98;
   attack on 10th Nov., 104;
   order of battle of, 131.

 ---- SIXTH (German): position of right wing of, 7;
   failure of attacks of, 25;
   attack on 11th Nov., 112.

 ARMY GROUP FABECK: constitution of, 60;
   plan for, 60;
   assembly of, 63;
   artillery of, 63;
   attack on 30th Oct., 67;
   attack on 31st Oct., 73;
   alteration of plan,91;
   reinforcement of, 92;
   offensive on 11th Nov. of, 111;
   order of battle of, 132.

 ---- ---- _Linsingen_: composition of, 103;
   task of, 103;
   offensive of, 111;
   order of battle of, 133.

 ARMY HEADQUARTERS (German), meetings at, 25, 26.


 BECELAERE: Anglo-French counter-attacks at, 55;
   XXVII Res. Corps takes, 41.

 BELGIAN population, patriotism of, 100.

 ---- force, strength of, 12 (_note_).

 BESELER, General von, 5;
   _see also_ CORPS, III Reserve.

 BRITISH FLEET, co-operation of, 22 _and note_, 51 _and note_,
     28 (_note_), 125.

 BRITISH force, strength of, 12 (_note_).


 _Calais_: concentration about, 6;
   German objective, 11.

 CAVALRY, ARMY (German): objective of, 3;
   relief of, near LILLE, 64.

 CAVALRY, FOURTH (German) Army, composition of, xvii (_note_).

 ---- SIXTH (German) Army: composition of, 56, 57;
   capture KRUISEIK, 57.

 CORPS (German), III Reserve: captures Antwerp, 5;
   screens Fourth Army, 19;
   crosses the YSER, 30.

 ---- ---- XV: attack on ZANDVOORDE, 63;
   attack and capture of GHELUVELT, 72;
   captures Hill 60, 119.

 ---- ---- XIX, captures LILLE, 7.

 ---- ---- XXII Res.-XXVII Res.: formation of, 4;
   transport of, 5.

 ---- ---- XXII Res., attacks on DIXMUDE, 31, 53.

 ---- ---- XXIII Res.: attack on HOUTHULST Forest, 34;
   attack on LANGEMARCK, 99.

 ---- ---- XXVI Res., takes PASSCHENDAELE, 40.

 ---- ---- XXVII Res., takes BECELAERE, 41.

 ---- ---- II Bavarian, dispositions of, 64.

 ---- (French) II, arrival of, 62, 64.

 ---- ---- IX, arrival of, 41, 62, 64.


 DEIMLING, General von, wounded,73;
   _see_ CORPS (German), XV.

 DIXMUDE: topographical, 15;
   attack by French Marine division on, 45;
   capture of, 108.


 EASTERN FRONT, German units leave for, 125.

 EMPEROR, German: proclamation to Fourth Army, 27;
   watches attack on GHELUVELT, 73.


 FABECK, General von, _see_ ARMY GROUP FABECK.

 FRENCH force, strength of, 12 (_note_).


 GEROK, General von, _see_ GROUP GEROK.

 GHELUVELT: attack on, 72;
   capture of, 75;
   British force holding, 72 (_note_).

 GLOUCESTERSHIRE Regiment at LANGEMARCK, 37 (_note_).

 GROUP GEROK: formation of, 93;
   order of battle of, 133.

 ---- URACH: formation of, 90;
   attack on WYTSCHAETE Park, 95.

 GUARD (German) Division (von WINCKLER): marches to ROUBAIX, 92;
   attack of, 116.

 GUARDS, British Life, cut up, 68 _and note_.


 KEMMEL, Mount, topography and importance of, 13, 68, 96, 123.

 KING'S LIVERPOOL Regiment, counter-attack by, 118 _and note_ 2.


 LILLE: value to Entente, 3;
   capture of, 6.

 LINSINGEN, General Baron von, _see_ ARMY GROUP LINSINGEN.


 MESSINES: importance of, 68;
   attack on, 79;
   British force holding, 80 (_note_).


 NIEUPORT: topographical, 15;
   attack on 11th Nov., 112.


 OXFORDSHIRE AND BUCKINGHAMSHIRE L.I., counter-attack German Guard,
     118 (_note_ 2).


 PLETTENBERG'S Corps, attack on 11th Nov., 111.


 URACH, General von, _see_ GROUP URACH.


 WORCESTERSHIRE Regiment, counter-attack at GHELUVELT, 75 _and note_ 3.

 WYTSCHAETE: importance of, 68;
   German attack on, 78;
   Anglo-French counter-attack on, 79;
   second German attack, 85;
   third attack and capture of, 88;
   capture of Park of, 123;
   gallant defence by French troops, 87 (_note_).


 YORKSHIRE L.I. retake HERENTHAGE Château, 124 (_note_).

 YPRES: topographical, 15;
   historical, 14;
   attack from the north against, 38;
   attempt to break through south of, 59;
   battle of, begins, 113.

 YSER, canal: topographical, 16;
   flooding the, 51;
   crossed by III Res. Corps, 30.


 ZANDVOORDE: importance of, 67;
   capture of, 67.


        Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
                   at the Edinburgh University Press





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