Page 3762

3762 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

Ridge. This mining offensive had been

going on since July, 1915. In all 24 mines

were constructed, but one of these was

destroyed by the enemy, while four lay

outside the front ultimately selected for

the offensive. For months, almost continuous underground fighting took place

in this region, and while the British were

driving their mines the Germans drove

counter-mines. Between January 16, 1916,

and June 7, 1917, twenty-seven camouflets

were blown in this locality alone: 17 by

the British and 10 by the Germans. One

of these German camouflets destroyed

the British gallery to one of their chief

mines, and, for three months, the British

were cut off from it, being able to recover

it only by strenuous efforts on the day

preceding the attack. Not infrequently

in this underground warfare men were

killed by the explosion of the enemy's

mines, and many poor fellows were cut

off and smothered to death. Altogether

the British constructed almost five miles

of galleries and charged the mines with

a million pounds of high explosives.

The simultaneous discharge of such

an enormous weight of explosives was

without parallel in land mining, and no

one was exactly sure as to what would

happen when the explosion went off.

At ten minutes after three o'clock on the

morning of June 7, the 19 mines were

simultaneously exploded beneath the enemy's defenses. The noise was so prodigious that Premier Lloyd George, who

knew the time that the mines were to

be set off, heard the noise at his country

place near London, 130 miles away.

At the same moment, the British guns

opened and an infantry assault was

launched, supported by a large number

of tanks. Most of the objectives were

reached and captured, and, by night, 7,200

prisoners and 67 cannons had been taken,

while the German loss in killed and

wounded had been very heavy.

It was hoped in Allied circles that this

victory might be followed by a rapid

advance which would free the great

industrial city of Lille and force a German

retreat. But the German High Command

had been aware of the impending attack

and had massed reserves of, men and guns

to meet it. Though the British attained

their immediate objectives, they could

make further progress only by overcoming

tremendous opposition. The fighting on

this front resolved itself into the slow and

methodical battering process already made