The Great War Part 184, February 23rd 1918

The Closing Victories .on the Passchendaele Ridge 555 failure to carry quickly the German line and develop the large design for which the operation had been prepared. He outpoints that from the start he was unable to carryout his original plan as arranged with Marshal Joffre and his first successor in the field command. His forces were first weakened at the instance of anew French Commander-in-Chief General Nivelle. He was obliged to takeover a further part of the French line and diminish his striking power in order to release French troops for the too ambitious and some- Adverse effects of what hasty operations which the new Nivelles offensive French commander undertook along the Aisne plateau and among the Champagne hills in the spring of 19x7 before the Italian Army was ready to strike. As a further consequence of General Nivelles arrange­ments the Third and Fifth British Armies had to continue at heavy cost their successful yet subsidiary operations between Lens and Queant in order to bring relief to the checked French forces. As a third result Sir Douglas Haig began his main operations quite a month late and instead of having the effectives upon which he and Sir William Robertson had counted he became so pressed for men that he could not properly train his drafts for offence or defence, and preventable sacrifices were incurred and suc­cesses missed owing to troops having togo into battle without special exercise in the tasks they were called upon to perform. Making all allowance for the disadvantages produced by General Nivelles masterfulness and over-confidence, the partial failure of the operations which Sir Hubert Gough conducted east of Ypres in August 1917 seems to have been due to other things in addition to the bad weather. The enemys improved system of block-house defence with its thick concrete shelters and elastic cushions of steel rails and air at first defeated the British artillery. British heavier guns do not seem to have been employed insufficient number and at shortened range informing the barrage undercover of which the infantry could have advanced. They were brought up well for counter-battery work from the beginning but not close enough to the infantry for block-house destruction. Regarding the matter in a more general way it might beheld that there was a failure in statesmanship in regard to the British armies on the Flemish and French front. The British Cabinet wasted man-power war resources and treasure in attempting to transform the broken despairing, starving and disorganised Slav into a free fighting man. The British armies in the field not only lost the powerful new armament provided for the Russians but had British guns turned upon them firing British shell. During this great but almost veiled crisis the British nation did not lack courage. The resistance of some British Trade Union leaders was contrary to the main current of character in the people being indeed consider­ably influenced by the attitude of young shirkers who had fled into industrial works of military or national importance in order to escape service in the field. The general character of the race however was as firm as it had been in the most desperate periods of the Napoleonic Wars. Between April 9th 1917 and November 10th 1917,130 German divisions were engaged and defeated according to the estimate of Sir Douglas Haig by less than half that number of British divisions 57696 enemy soldiers includ­ing 1290 were officers captured with 393 guns 561 trench-mortars and 1976 British and German machine-guns. The new model German man-power division contained fewer effectives than an ordinary British division but the laborious and costly defeat of German divisions numbering more than double the British divisions engaged was not so satisfactory as it might seem. For while the soldiers and their commanders in the field were to be congratulated not so the higher direction which could not in the fourth year of the war, place against the German effectives opposing the British MAKING THE WAYS PLAIN FOR THE ADVANCE O F THE Q S.UN Upon the artillery most exhausting work fell but in the “heart-breaking ”toil of bringing the guns forward they were helped heroically b they pioneers and labour battalions who cleared away debris bridged trenches and infilled shell-craters frequently under heavy fire.
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