The Great War Part 239, March 15th 1919

522 The Great War BRITISH TROOPS ENTERING TOURNAL Though British soldiers reached the western outskirts of Tournai during the last week in October 1918 it was not until November nth that it was definitely announced that the Fifth Army had fully captured the town. Dun and atone spot by Buzancy the shock troops lost contact with the enemy by reason of the Germans running powers. fourSome thousand prisoners were taken with sixty-three guns and large quantities of war material. A t Buzancy the Americans were practically on a level with the French position at Vouziers which General Gouraud’s men had reached on October 12th. The French commander had rapidly extended his line to Attigny some nine miles above Vouziers and by continual local actions had won a series of footholds along the western side of the Upper Ardennes hills. To avery considerable extent it was the fierce constant pressure exercised by General Gouraud upon the rear of General von der Marwitzs army that opened the way for the American victory. On October 20th the Czecho-Slovak contingent of the Fourth French Army had stormed across the Aisne to Terron and extended towards Les Alleux. The Czecho-Slovaks Germans counter-attacked in great strength, capture Terron employing some seven divisions and although the Bohemians were forced back they returned to the attack and recovered Terron. From that point they were only five miles from the town of Le Chesne on the Ardennes Canal. Le Chesne was nearly twelve miles in the rear of Buzancy, and at Chatillon between Buzancy and Le Chesne the Upper Argonne Forest ended in another defile through which ran a railway connecting with Buzancy southward and with Le Chesne and Sedan and Mezieres northward. Thus for nearly a fortnight before the resumption of the combined Franco- American offensive General Gouraud had broken General von der Marwitzs railway communications by medium-range bombardment of Le Chesne. When the Americans in turn were able to train long-range guns upon the Mezieres-Sedan- Montmedy railway online the eastern side of the Meuse, the difficulties of General von der Marwitz became very serious. This no doubt was the reason why he began retiring before the grand attack opened. Against the French army of Champagne General von Mudra and General von Einem combined with General von der Marwitz in resisting the attack. But the French forces were irresistible. In a hurricane bombardment of appalling power sweeping all the Upper Argonne Woods and the approaches toLe Chesne on a front of twelve and a half miles, the French and Bohemian (Czecho-Slovak) divisions assailed the enemy all along the forest-line while making drives at special points. On the wooded ridges east of Vouziers the French operations were only in the nature of violent demonstrations designed to help the American advance and met with severe resistance from the garrisons of the hills above the flooded river where the water defences were two miles wide. The main force of General Gouraud was directed along the two ways of approach toLe Chesne— across the Aisne and along the Ardennes Canal by Rilly and over the Les Alleux upland. The Germans fought skilfully and stubbornly collecting in the wooded hollows and counter -charging every wave of attack. General von Mudra overtook most of the defences along the Upper Aisne and enabled General von Einem to pour his divisions along the Ardennes Canal while. General von der Marwitz helped in the conflict in the Argonne Woods. The veteran French DESTRUCTION IN A RETAKEN TOWN. Heavy bridge across the railway at Toumai destroyed by the Germans. It was found thus when the British recaptured the town and released the twenty thousand civil inhabitants who still remained there. gunners however allowed no force to livelong in front of their own infantry. With great gusts of fire they cleared the ground by Neuville-et-Day on the outskirts of the wood west of Le Chesne and south of the town they curtained the edge of the Les Alleux tableland while in wave after wave the troops of the assault manoeuvred forward. B they evening an advance of two miles was achieved and after spending the night in prolonging their roads and throwing more bridges over the Aisne River and Aire stream the French and American armies at dawn on November 2nd began to exploit their victories. General Gouraud resumed his double thrust towards Le Chesne throwing the Germans back by the Ardennes Canal, progressing on the Les Alleux plateau and seizing the pass of Croix-aux-Bois. Then in the Chatillon defile, after a prolonged savage struggle by the Franco-American gateway at Quatre Champs his troops encircling movement worked round the Argonne while co-oper-ating with the Americans in the great stretch of hills below. The German forces that had stood stubbornly to battle on the Grandpre hills found themselves in a large salient which was being closed some twelve miles in their rear. They fell back in haste losing thousands of men as they did so, and in spite of the fact that the retreating forces were diverted mainly against the French Army General Gourauds men steadily worked onward. The weather took an unfavourable turn. After the mist of the first day of battle heavy rain fell making aeroplane observation practically impossible and disarranging the
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