The War Illustrated, The Story of the Great European War, Volume VI, Spring-Summer Campaign 1916

^tutor's ilo tc to Folttmc Ffi ^TN this volume of our pictorial survey of the war for jlC the first time we can discern unmistakable evidence of the great and overwhelming forces forgathering the ultimate victory of the allied cause. Volume V. closed with the initial struggle for the possession of Verdun still undecided and indeed confusing in its indecision. But as the spring and summer campaigns of 1916 slowly and remorselessly develop we may perceive the steady setting of the German star—-Verdun, against whose bastions the barbarian waves had vainly beaten and spent month after month still holding firm. It cannot be said with absolute certitude that even now the extraordinary series of violent attacks and counter­attacks which characterised the struggle for Verdun had been definitely and irrevocably determined. Yet victory lay with the glorious French army that had so long withstood the German pressure and hurled back the waves of invaders in the mere fact that for so many months it had prevented the enemy from achieving his most cherished objective. For even had the Germans gained possession of Verdun before the close of the summer of 1916 still were they defeated as the brilliant defence of that fortified region by the French had contributed vastly to immobilise the Germans 011 the northern sector of their Russian front and to prevent their lending timely assistance to Austria when the Russian and Italian pressure heron two frontiers became most acute.^ .FT X Tin importance and probably eventually most important of all the movements in the summer of 1916 was the opening of the British offensive on July 1st. The months preceding had been merely a continuation of the seemingly interminable trench warfare but the British line was gradually extended to Albert thus enabling the French to con­centrate stronger forces for the defence of Verdun and stealthily but steadily enormous reserves of men and munitions were piled up behind the British lines ready for the great blow which General Haig was fortunately able to launch against the enemy at the beginning of July when the battles of the Somme began with highest promise of suc­cess to our gallant forces engaged. The story of these battles is as rich in epic achievement as the memorable fighting retreat from Mons or the great battle of the Marne.\ OST picturesque and thrilling of the many j X I individual episodes that togo the making of the story of the Great War during the spring, and summer of 1916 was the brilliant naval battle off the coast of Jutland when despite severe losses both in ships and men British battle squadrons agave splendid account of themselves against the naval might of Germany and the “High Seas Fleet ”of the enemy was speedily driven to the shelter of its mine-fields and its ports on the appearance of Admiral Jellicoe’s main fleet. The losses inflicted on the Germans were actually no less severe and relatively far greater than those which favourable conditions of weather and ¦visibility had enabled the Germans to inflict upon our squadrons. The immediate result of this great sea affair claimed by the Germans as a victory was to reduce German naval strength to such a point that an anti-Russian offensive with naval co-operation from the Baltic could not then be effected and Hindenburg, unsupported from the sea could not press forward his campaign in the Riga direction whereas Russia free from the immediate menace of such a German oifensive, was able to launch her magnificent attack on the Hungarian frontier and win a series of victories sensational in their suddenness and in the losses of men and material which they imposed upon Austro-Hungarian armies. V ITALY which from May 14th had been struggling somewhat unequally against the great Austrian inoffensive the south-east and south of the Trentino was not only able as a result of Russias brilliant achievements along the Hungarian frontier to regain the initiative over the Austrians and speedily to throw them back into their own territory reconquering by the end of July all the ground lost in other directions by the Austrian onrush but to begin anew attack on the Isonzo culminating in the capture of Gorizia on August 9th. Thus the guns of Admiral Beattys battle-cruisers which sent the Kaisers “High Seas Fleet ”hastening to its protective ports re-echoed faraway on the Hungarian and Italian frontiers and that extraordinary battle of the high seas which at first seemed fraught with ill-tidings to England had proved by its results an unmistakable victory. y jf^ E N E RALLY speaking every force at the com-mand of the Allies during the period illustrated in this volume seems to be gathering with increased momentum in the decisive direction of victory. There were other incidents which at the moment seemed disastrous enough— such as the surrender of Townshend at Knt after the ineffectual efforts to relie% -e him —but seen at a little distance of time, recede in importance and take their places among the minor matters of the war. The lamented death of Lord Kitchener on June 5th is one of the. shadows falling across this period of high promise and brilliant achievement but the British nation found consolation in thinking that sad though it was that the great soldier who had initiated our military preparations for this frightful struggle and had raised millions of men for the army of freedom was not spared to seethe rich fulfil-' ment of his plans yet he had the satisfaction of knowing that the crowning achievement of his life had been accomplished ere that pitiful moment when he sank with the ill-fated Hampshire in the northern sea. ^^HES E are abut few of the main features in the strange medley of events with which the cameras of war-corrcspondents in almost every clime have filled the pages of this present volume but they are insufficient their world-wide interest and enduring historical importance to justify the opinion that no volume of The War Album is more appealing in the scope variety and detail of its contents than that to which these lines are introductory. J. A.H.
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