Menin Road | 10 Nov 1914

Back to Flanders. Back to First Ypres. And back, in the end, to the Menin Road. One more push here will surely break the stubborn Allied resistance. One more push is all the Germans have left in them, with troops being withdrawn to the east after the reverse and retreat from the Vistula. They still have advantages in manpower of 2:1, 3:1, 4:1.

Via the medium of terrible MSPaint drawings, here’s the salient before the day’s fighting.

Ypres Salient & Menin Road, 9th November

Dixmude

Yes, the Germans are attacking at Dixmude as well. Even though it’s now effectively the northernmost flank of the line before the flooded Yser, the Germans still want it, and the still-intact river crossings behind it. They take Dixmude, finally, after about 20 days of attacking. The defenders hold out long enough for demolition charges to be set, and all the bridges are blown as they retire from the town.

The French transfer men north to prevent a breakthrough. Their intelligence, gained from captured enemy orders, suggests that the Germans are feinting at the salient itself, and that the real weight of the attack will come down south of Dixmude. All along the line north of Ypres, the French are falling back to the Yser and the Ypres-Comines Canal. Bixschoote falls. The salient is deepening, becoming more fragile, with every backward step. And now the French troops to the south of the salient are losing many of their reserves.

Menin Road

There are fewer than 7,000 men in the salient. The Germans prepare to attack up the Menin Road again, but the British guns make good use of their carefully rationed thirty shells for today, bombarding the enemy troops as they form up for the attack. It goes ahead, but is considerably blunted by the barrage. The positions at Gheluvelt hold out, barely. The Germans do succeed in pushing forward north of the Menin Road, looking for a breakthrough south of Polygon Wood. They’re fearful of another counter-attack, like the Worcesters ten days ago.

The north is under pressure too, this attack towards Zonnebeke and Broodseinde from Passchendale. And of course, all through the day the German guns fire almost without answer. Still, large numbers of them are ranged behind the front lines, trying to disrupt and destroy reserves who aren’t there. The line is wobbling and swaying, but it still holds.

St Eloi

And those French troops at the south of the salient who just lost a major chunk their own reserves? They cop it too, right in the neck. Without adequate support, they can’t hold the line, and instead fall back before they break. They are forced to retire from St Eloi. The BEF on their left falls back also, towards Zillebeke. Ypres is now under direct threat from three directions, north, south and east. The Germans are now in possession of a large number of excellent artillery observation positions around the salient.

New map

Here’s the updated map for the night of the 10th of November. Please do remember that these are intended to be closer to Tube maps than Ordnance Survey maps.

Ypres Salient & Menin Road, 10th November

Konigsberg

It’s clear to the Admiralty that it’s going to be a hell of a job to root Konigsberg out of her lair in the Rufiji. The first concern is that she should not try to pull a fast one on the blockaders, so today they tow a collier into the main entrance to the delta and sink her as a blockship. This is an important step; Weymouth and Dartmouth have already been detached and sent away to South America, to join the taskforce searching for Admiral von Spee. Only Chatham remains, and now they really are going to need some original thinking.

Siege of Przemysl

There are now different troops besieging Przemysl than last time. The new commanding officer is not in a hurry to waste his men’s lives as General Dimitrev had done earlier. He is quite content just to sit outside the fortress, repel any relief or breakout attempts, and wait for the population to starve.

Actions in Progress

Battle of Ypres (First Ypres)
Bergmann Offensive
Siege of Przemysl

Further Reading

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day. Today’s paper is blissfully ignorant of all these momentuous events. There’s a new Lord Mayor of the City of London, and the festivities surrounding him are heavily covered. Page 4 sees the coverage of further restrictions on pub opening hours – apparently there’s been a proposal to set shorter hours for women to drink in pubs than men, and a deputation goes to the Home Office to complain. Page 5 reports in a short paragraph that Germany has apparently run out of men (insert sarcastic comment here), and Page 11 carries the classic headline “Are You Feeling Gouty Again?” (Yes, it’s another advert for patent medicine, pretending to be journalism. The more things change!)

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