Battle of Ypres reprinted from the Daily Mail March 4th 1915

‘Reprinted from “The ‘Doily Mail” of March 4,1915. THE SPLENDID STORY OF THE BATTLE OF YPRES. By WILL IRWIN. “The 31st of October was the decisive point of the action before Ypres but no one knew it then.........................The American Civil War has been called the most terrible in modern history. In this one battle Europe lost as many men as the North lost in the whole Civil War .....................Yet the real news—the news that the battle of Ypres was decisive, on the Western front, that it may rank with Waterloo and Blenheim for glory and for effect—that news is coming out only now, months after the event.” Although the battle o f Ypres has already been briefly sketched inF ield'M arsh al Sir John F rench’s despatches, this is the first time that the story o f the Germ ans’ vast and unsuccessful attempt to breakthrough to Calais has been told in the form o f a graphic narrative intelligible to others than military students. From the open f Mr. Will Irwin, a w ell-k own n American journalist who is n wino this country, w e are able to give to the public the first complete account o f a battle which will live as one o f the greatest in history. Mr. Irwin is exceptionally well informed concerning the events which he describes below .He is well known as a contributor to “Collier’s Weekly ”and the “Saturday Evening Post,” and will be remembered as the author o f the charming article o n 4 4 British Calm ”published in “The Daily Mail" o f January 25. N a parliamentary debate held during February the Opposition expressed a strong hope that members of the Press might have access to the British lines in order that the public might know about the “Battle of Ypres ”and the glorious feats of British arms thereat per­formed. To many, to most, of the English this was the first news that any part of the great, continuous battle along the French border had been divided by anyone into battles or minor en­gagements. They knew, this British public, that there had been great feats of arms in and about the old capital of French Flanders they knew that England had become dark with mourning for the men lost in those trying days they knew that somehow since November Germany was a nation besieged by land and water, a nation fighting a defensive battle they did not know, the cause. The confused im­mensity of this war the^veil drawn by military censorship the very novelty of military science brought about by new servants of death, such as the aeroplane, have so confused the situation, so muddled the public mind, that even the Copyright in U .S.A .by the “New York Tribune.” military experts at home have only begun to realise that a great, decisive action, separate from the rest of the war in its character and consequences, occurred on the line between La Bassee and the sea in October and November of 1911. A decisive action—perhaps the really decisive action of the war. Indeed, when history runs a thread through the confusions and obscurities of Armageddon, historians may call it the most vital battle in the annals of the island people. Not Crecy nor Blenheim nor Waterloo seems now more important. For it closed the last gap in the combined defensive-offensive operations of the Western Allies. It made impossible—short of an utter collapse of the Allied Armies —any further German move on Paris or any move to take the French in the rear.Most importantly to England, it sealed the road to Calais, that vital, critical port within eyesight of the English coast. Further,more English troops were engaged here than in any previous battle of the Empire, more Germans than in the whole Franco-Prussian War— a hundred and twenty thousand English against six hundred thousand Germans. Yet one thinks of the English force, and rightly, as a “little ”army in this war of unprecedented numbers it seems, in its relation to the whole picture, like one of those brigades which won immortal glory in old wars by holding a crucial point on a battle-line. THE ONLY VETERAN ARM Y.Up to that brief breathing-spell when the British Army shifted from its position on the Aisne to its new fighting-ground on the Western front, it had been engaged everyday for seven weeks. There had been the attack at Mons, when its force, equivalent in numbers to two army corps, found themselves attacked by four German corps and outflanked on the left by another. There followed four days of a backward fight which every surviving Tommy of the British Expeditionary Force remembers only as a confused kind of Hell. By night they dropped on their faces to wake to the sound of guns, to the bursting of shells, to more marching, more action. By day the massed German lines poured
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