The Great War Part 96, June 17th 1916

Crown copyright reserved. CHEERY CHAMPIONS O F CIVILISATION. Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry brandishing steel helmets on their rifles and showing a smiling front to the official photographer. To the remnant of the ”“Old Contemptibles who had survived the terrific bombardments around Ypres and Armentieres in the previous year the enormous increase in the power of our artillery must have been a matter of grim satisfaction. And ranking with the veterans were the first drafts of Kitcheners men who had enlisted at the outbreak of hostilities and after only three months’ training taken their place in the battle-front and become soldiers of the finest quality in a marvellously brief time. They had been joined by reservists Territorials and Indians— all of whom had felt for months the weakness of our small artillery power when brought up against the great German siege train. But in the second winter of the War we had built Up a more powerful arma­ment than was tem­porarily possessed by the twenty German army corps that were massing against us. The Germans were in larger force than the original armies of Generals Kluck Biilow Hausen, and the Duke of Wiir- temberg which had invaded Belgium and Northern France and smashed through almost to Paris. But instead of the original British Expeditionary Force of about two and a half army corps Britain had more than twenty-five army corps in the Franco-Belgian theatre of war and her industrial popula­tion had been mobilised for the production of munitions. France was estimated to have two and a half million men at the front with large reserves and though her human resources had been diminished in the long struggle she was still able to keep back her youngest classes longer than the youngest German classes. Her artillery also temporarily dominated throughout the winter the more economical German batteries which had been placed on a strict shell ration in preparation for the Verdun operations. The frugal tactics of the German Staff were in the meantime balanced by an increase in casualties from our gunfire. If the Germans were determined only to use one shell to our five, they had to pay in flesh and blood for the saving in material they effected. They prepared however, to reduce their human sacrifices to the utter­most minimum by hold­ing their fire-trenches with a few sentries and widely-spaced machine- gun sections backed by sunken redoubts and tunnels. In this way they presented very few targets for our guns. It was then that the British soldier took steps t o invent new tactics intrench warfare. No general had a hand in the new development. It was outworked FROM THE LOWLANDS TO THE HIGHLANDS. Six “Jock s”on leave from the battle plains of Flanders photographed in Edinburgh prior to going home farther north.
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