4 The Splendid Story of the Battle of Ypres and died.- That day the transports of wounded choked every back trail the dead sprinkled every forest in Northern France. No one will ever tell the full story. It would be like trying to write the history of a nation by telling the full life-story of every individual in the nation But this war whatever account it holds against the future, can never hold another day so significant to France. Its infinite agonies were the birthpains of anew France. From it emerged the transformed French warrior not emotional but stolid not murcurial but determined above all a warrior recovered from his old back-thought his old, hidden fear of the Prussian superman. This however is the story of the English Army it must ignore that series of actions from the Vosges to Soissons wherein the French locked the line for four hundred miles against the German counter-attacks and fenced the enemy off from the fortress of Verdun— “ten Waterloos a week ”someone has called it. After two days of uninterrupted rearguard fighting the Germans made their stand at the Aisne. A series of actions more lessor severe proved that neither the English nor the French to right and left could make present headway against the strong German entrenchments. From the Vosges to Lille the line locked tight it was no longer open warfare: it was a siege. As Sir John French's despatches show the English felt the German resistance settling down to defensive tactics. The part of the line running to right and lefi of Soissons became no longer important. EFFECT OF ANTW ERPS FALL. But there was fighting of sorts to do far to the left, end early in October the whole English Army yielded its trenches to the French reserves and moved over toward Calais. It was their first relief from continuous battle. The Army I believe has discovered a genius in Major- General Robertson who had charge of transportation and commissary. So expeditiously did he work and yet so quietly that the first German officers whom the English took prisoners expressed surprise not so much at their capture as at the fact that they were captured by the English. “We thought we were fighting the ”French Territorials they said. To understand why the subsequent operations became so vital to the whole campaign you must understand the situation on October 11 when the British re-established touch with the enemy it is a matter of recapitulating old history in anew light. The Allied line reached to Lille fifty miles from the sea and near the Belgian t-order. On this end of the line French and Germans alike first one and then the other had been outflanking—ringing each other with artillery and earthworks like one of those representations of mountain chains which we used to draw in our school maps. That line was lengthening northward and westward day by day. But the fifty miles from Lille to the sea lay open. This gap commanded the routes to Dunkirk to Calais to Boulogne— to all the important French Channel ports. It commanded also an easy and most accommodating route to Paris. If the Germans left open that gap it was because the fortress of Antwerp still menaced their western line of communications. But on October 8 Antwerp fell- fell so suddenly that a division of British troops under General Rawlinson sent to assist the Belgians in holding the outer defences, did not arrive until 'he Germans had gained ground to emplace their 42-eentimetre siege howitzers and had made further defence o f the fortress a mere technicality. Rawlinsons division joined what remained of the Belgian Army and retreated with them down the coast past Zeebrugge past Ostend. The Belgians took up a final position at the River Yser where they stood to defend the last sliver of their territory. Rawlinson roughly joining forces with them on their right extended his lines towards Ypres. BULGING TERRIBLY. At about this period the French communique lifted for a moment the veil over these serious operations so vital to the whole war and the glimpse sent a chill through Paris. “Dense masses ”of cavalry it reported “have appeared on the Tourcoing-Armen- tieres road screening an important new force of the enemy.” This was the immediate bid of Germany to pour through that gap. The French outflanked retired the left of their line from before Lille to the town of La Bassee. The Germans took La Bassee on the heights before that hamlet grown suddenly important in history the French made a stand and dug in. The gap between La Bassee and the sea remained to ail military intents and purposes open and dangerous. The Allies plugged it by various devices as an engineer builds adam of earth before he prepares his steel locks. They overstretched the line of the Belgians. They threw in the French Territorials— men in their forties and therefore by mental and physical condition inferior as soldiers to the young perfectly trained first-line troops. The heavier masses of the German advance were not yet upon the Allied line so it did not break but it bulged terribly the campaign at this point became a backward fight. The long battle ¦on the western front .was now alike rubber bladder with a weak spot. Blow it up and the bladder bulges at that spot. Blow it a little further and the bladder breaks at that spot. THE PIVOT OF LA BASSEE. The breaking-point was near when on October 11 the first of the main British force detrained St.at Omer.~ Net only the German outposts but even strong forces of the main body had reached in some places as far south as aline drawn from Calais parallel with the Great Line. The Belgians and the French Territorials resisted with what force they had but their resistance grew irregular. “Its guerilla warfare, thats what ”it is reported a “sniping ”Canadian correspondent who in early October got out to the lines and miraculously returned to Calais unarrested. The English Army found its task cutout for it. They must drive the advanced German forces back to aline already established in the minds of their stwtegists— to complete that all-important operation of closing the siege of Germany. They must keep in touch with the French at La Bassee they must establish touch with the Belgians and Rawlinsons division on the west. General Sir Horace Smith-Dorriens Second Corps, detraining St.at Omer on the 11th went immediately into action at the toughest point in the whole campaign— La Bassee. That village held out against every attack— it is holding still. It became as the campaign went on only a pivot from which the English forces turned the Germans back from France and Flanders. For a week the successive British detachments were detraining and going forward at once to fight and to die. By the 19th the English Army was fighting a scattering confused-looking battle whose focus was Ypres the beautiful old capital of French Flanders. By that time also the Belgian Army, which had been given a brief breathing-spell by the Germans, was desperately engaged in holding the Yser at the point of the line nearest the sea. The bridge-head of the Yser the critical noint for them had been lost and won again falling
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