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3761 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

to reach the outskirts of that town the

Germans held on doggedly and could not

be expelled. They realized the importance of holding these mines in order to

embarrass their enemies, and it was not

until near the very end of the war that

they finally evacuated Lens. Even the

mines that were recovered had been so

badly damaged that much time and a

vast amount of work were required to put

them into operation.

The obstinate German resistance made

it clear, in the words of General Haig,

that "many months of heavy fighting

would be necessary before the enemy's

troops could be reduced to a condition

which would permit a more rapid advance."

The later operation in front of Arras and

in the neighborhood of Bullecourt had

for its object partly the weakening of

the German armies, partly to attract

the German forces while the French

carried out operations against the long

plateau north of the Aisne, traversed by

the celebrated road known as the Chemin-des-Dames. The French offensive in this

region was conducted slowly and systematically, and in an attack made on

May 5 the French made decided progress,

clearing much of the Craonne Plateau and

most of the Chemin-des-Dames. Bitter

fighting continued in this region all the

summer. The Germans launched many

determined counter-attacks in order to

drive back the French, for a further

advance would have threatened Laon,

one of the main bulwarks of the German

line.

Early in June, the Kaiser announced

that the Allied offensive had been definitely

defeated. In a sense, this was true. The

British and French had taken many

thousands of prisoners and nearly a

thousand guns, but they had failed in

their great object-that of forcing a general

retreat of their foes. Von Hindenburg's

shrewd retirement, the strength of his

defensive lines, and the stubborn fighting

qualities of the German army, had enabled

him to foil the Allied efforts.

It had been a part of the British plan

to launch another offensive in Flanders.

The positions held by the British in the

Ypres salient had always been unsatisfactory, being dominated by higher ground

which was in the hands of the enemy.

The Germans were able to watch every

movement of their foe and to harass them

with a fire which entailed heavy losses

upon the troops occupying the salient.

General Haig was anxious, therefore, to

improve these positions by capturing the

Messines-Wytschaete Ridge and the high

ground to the northeastward in the region

of Broodsiende-Passchendaele. Elaborate

preparations were made for the attack.

Additional railroad lines were constructed,

millions of shells were collected, and pipe

lines capable of supplying water at the

rate of about 500,000 gallons daily were

laid.

A special feature of the preparations

was the driving of mines under Messines