3777 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.
On the 31st of July, the British and French
attacked on a 20-mile front in the Ypres
sector. Most of the Allied objectives and
over 6,000 prisoners and about 25 guns were
captured. The full results of attack could
not be reaped, for, in the afternoon, while
fighting was still in progress, heavy rains
began which continued almost without ceasing for three days, transforming the low lying ground torn by shells into a succession
of muddy pools. Much of the terrain
became impassable and not a few men and
pack animals were drowned in shell craters.
Under such circumstances delay was inevitable, and the enemy had an opportunity to
reorganize his defenses.
The Germans opposed the offensive with
the utmost determination for an Allied advance of a few miles more would render necessary the evacuation of Lille and would
endanger German possession of their valuable
submarine bases on the Belgian coast. They
counter-attacked whenever practicable but
usually without accomplishing their purpose.
Their terrific artillery fire, however, inflicted
an immense number of casualties upon the
British troops and those engaged in transportation and road building.
For months, cannon thundered unceasingly. For months, division after division of
brave men on both sides marched up to the
shambles. For months, Great Britain and
Germany wrestled in a drawn conflict. Adjectives have never been coined adequate to
describe the full horrors of the inferno that
raged that summer and autumn to the east
of Ypres. In such a conflict even the smallest positions assumed importance, and such
places as Polygon Wood, Inverness Copse,
Poelcappelle Village, Houthulst Forest, and
Menin Road became known as symbols of
carnage throughout the world.
A word picture of the horrors of the conflict in Flanders was written for the Berlin
Zeitung am Mittag by a correspondent on
"Never-ending howls and piercing screams
are rending the air from the sea to the River
Lys, while accessory noises like growls and
blows seem to spring from everywhere on the