The Great War Part 182, February 9th 1918

np E fg i Sg 55 ah) Cbe Great War EDITORS H. W. WILSON J . A .HAMMER TON Sg X !=M EDITORIAL M TN this Part of The Great W a rare contained the ¦¦conclusion of the story of the advance upon Zonnebeke, a chapter relating the victory of Broodseinde and the beginning of a chapter describing the fighting for Poel- cappelle. When these chapters by Mr. Wright are com­pleted with his account of the triumph at Passchendaele, they will be found to compose the best comprehensive and coherent detailed story of the fourteen weeks' opera­tions named by Sir Douglas Haig the Third Battle of Ypres that has yet appeared. Flashlight Battle Pictures 'T'HERE are some brief passages in these different chapters that have upon imaginative minds the same kind of effect that sudden flashlight pictures have upon the eye. One instance that maybe referred to is the description of the German battalions massing in columns of fours on the Zandvoorde heights for a counter­attack upon Shrewsbury Forest. “Aline of flame­throwers distinguished by their white equipment could clearly be perceived standing in front of the grey ribbons of ordinary infantry and before the more widely-spaced lines of shock troops. The spectacle resembled more some scene from the Battle of Waterloo than a view of a modern engagement. A t a signal from the English infantry the extraordinary array of enemy forces vanished without striking a blow. A t the signal hundreds of British guns of all calibres swept the Zandvoorde heights from end to end and from side to side. The grey columns and lines melted away no grand counter-attack occurred." Condensation could not go further and not leave something untold." p Q U ALLY concise complete and convincing is the 'short account of an incident at Dumbarton Lakes, long stretches of fire-swept bogs which had been a dreadful obstacle to the advance of the English southern wing. “The men who managed to struggle across emerged soaked and plastered with mud and filth. They stopped to clean their clothes and puttees with the bayonet wiped the bayonet on the grass at the foot of the ridge they were set to climb and then went forward.” The unlikely incident had a strange effect upon the opposing Bavarians, two hundred of whom surrendered at once while the rest turned tail and made for the redoubts at Gheluvelt. “They were appalled by the curious deliberate calmness with which the Englishmen prepared for the clinch of battle ”and Mr. Wright makes one of the comments which are so characteristic.of(his method. “The legend of the Spartans combing their hair in the Pass of Ther­mopylae was matched by the modern tale of English soldiers smartening themselves up for the storming of Tower Hamlets Ridge.” Such allusions have their value, linking new fact with old legend and passing on tradition transmuted into new gold by the pure flame of patriotism, and charged -with magic power to stimulate to supreme heroism the company of men to whom it is transmitted. Mud in Flanders f Y N E has heard much of the mud in Flanders and seen ^pictures not a few of the conditions in which men are existing and working in that left wing of the long allied line which stretches from the sea to Switzerland. Even so Mr. Wrights account of the reverse at Passchen­ daele that preceded the ultimate capture of the ridge, which begins in the present Part of The Great War will add amazement to that felt already at the bare possibility of attack overcoming defence when the ground intervening between the armies is of the nature of that hideous Ypres marshland. Four hundred yards in the hour was the speed wonderful in the circumstances attained by the Frenchmen sweeping through Mangelaare to their final inline Houthulst Forest and over and above the physical exhaustion entailed by the effort to accomplish so much, it has to be remembered that thousands of the men, temporarily stuck in the mud offered as many targets to the enemy rifles and machine-guns. It seems nothing short of miraculous even allowing for the superb handling of the covering artillery of the Allies that a single man got through. Our Indomitable New Army "V/f ORE tragic is the brief mention of the agony endured by the Lancashire Territorials marching to the firing-line by the Gravenstafel spur on the night of October 8th. It was calculated that they would take three hours getting into position. Actually they were engaged for no less than eleven hours in a black tempest of rain and under intense enemy gunfire in winning through the mud to the brimming shell-hole line from which they were to begin their attack. The men had togo into action almost immediately after they arrived in that ghastly appointed position while still hungry and exhausted and soaked and chilled to the marrow.“ Thigh-deep waist-deep neck- deep mud ”—it is impossible to realise what those eleven hours were like to the men making that awful march through it and greater significance is given to the fact that they accomplished it by the further fact that they were new and untried men. If such things are done in the green tree what will be done in the dry ?The enemy may well have asked himself that question even while finding what comfort he could in the reflection that Passchendaele Ridge was instill his possession. It did not long remain so. And the amplified story of how it passed into British hands is ready for presentation in these pages. The Triumph at Passchendaele TT will start in the next Part of The Great War which thus brings the beginning of the conclusion of Mr. Wrights story of the Third Battle of Ypres. Read as a whole it appears a worthy record of an achievement of British arms that more perhaps than any other is entitled to the epithet "of “superhuman because of the un­imaginable difficulties under which the water-logged ground was wrested from the enemy. The battle set the seal upon the reputation of Sir Herbert Plumer whose proud privilege it was to lead this incomparable British Second Army. As noted by Mr. Wright Sir Herbert Plumers efforts ultimately crowned with success went far to relieve the most threatening situation that had arisen in Italy and there was an element of poetic injustice the destiny that took him next to Italy to command the British forces sent to the assistance of our Latin allies. 1 The Great War—P a r t 182.
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