The Great War Part 182, February 9th 1918

The Advance on Zonnebeke 505 When the eastern slope of Shrewsbury Forest was reached the difficulties of the advance greatly increased. The enemy could bring machine-guns into action from the Zandvoorde Ridge across the Bassevillebeek valley. He could also watch from his artillery observation positions every English infantry movement and barrage it with strong shellfire. There was no forest screen to serve as cover for the victorious attacking troops as all the trees had been destroyed by bombardments of unparalleled density and length. Nevertheless Bulgar Wood was carried to the east of Shrewsbury Capture of Forest and the series of strong redoubts Shrewsbury Forest at the southern edge of it were reduced after fierce fighting. The Shrewsbury Forest victory was avery important element of success in the great advance along the Menin road. It exposed the southern flank of the German Centre. The action however was also one of great local value. It completely reversed the British and German positions in the Zandvoorde sector for the enemy commander at once organised a tremendous counter­attack across the Bassevillebeek valley. He collected brigades and massed them on the Zandvoorde heights. Several of his battalions could be seen informing columns of fours for an old-fashioned mass attack. 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. The local German commander was either incompetent or blindly desperate. 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 and when the German artillery swept. Shrewsbury Forest in turn every flame it made upon the darkening twilight was answered by counter-battery fire from the parks of British guns. In the meantime as the infantry inaction Shrewsbury Forest was raging the English troops swept over Green Jacket Ride northward into Clonmel Copse Bodmin Copse and Hill 55 rising Check at between Dumbarton Lakes and Clapham Pappotje Farm Junction. Everything at first went according to programme. There were scattered actions up and down the line between the Menin road and Shrewsbury Forest but no serious check occurred until the East Surreys and Kents came upon the uninjured works at Pappotje Farm between ClonmeF Copse and the upper waters of the Bassevillebeek. The Southern battalions lost their barrage while they were overcoming the garrison of the fortified farm. Yet this did not keep them from their goal. They worked round the woodland fortress broke into it and took many I Ur it ink official photograph. B Y QUIET WATER WAYS TO THE WESTERN FRONT. British soldiers being moved forward towards the battle area in barges in France and Flanders. This branch of the transport service very along a French canal. A special inland water transport service was materially lessened the demands upon the motor services and the railways organised for the purposes of conveying b y canal both men and materials in the unceasing task of keeping the armies in the field supplied. XXX
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