Bois du Biez | Mauquissart | 11 Mar 1915

It’s the second day of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle, but that’s not all. We’re going to finish at the Dardanelles, but first we’re going back to First Champagne.

First Champagne

French reinforcements are ready for General Joffre’s “brutal” attack. Bite and hold has, for the moment, been abandoned. Orders are given to consolidate positions “immediately” and then use them to attack again, rather than trying to dig in to repel counter-attacks. This is surely the last chance for elan to prove itself against Maxims and Minenwerfers.

Herbert Sulzbach has seen his last action, though. His battery is being withdrawn from the line, and their replacements are only faced with demonstrations. For him the First Battle of Champagne is over, and nothing says this so clearly as the resumption of postal services.

The mail includes a letter to me from Lt Reinhardt [in hospital after being wounded], with a photo of himself and a dedication. “To Herbert Sulzbach, from Lt Reinhardt, as a souvenir of February 1915.” You would really have wanted to weep for all the feelings of mourning, joy, happiness, admiration, longing, but you can’t cry any more. You just can’t do it.

The Champagne winter battle…has come to an end. … It was our first victory in defence against a force many times our superior in numbers, and taught us a large number of lessons useful for defensive actions in the future.

Oh, spoilers. Sorry about that. You probably guessed what was going to happen.

Battle of Neuve Chapelle

The story so far, if that story were told by someone who can’t draw trying to use MSPaint:

The approximate situation at the end of the 10th

The approximate situation at the end of the 10th

The good news, although no BEF man can possibly know it, is that the German reserves have been significantly delayed. Marching from Lille, they’ve had problems navigating down narrow, unfamiliar roads in pitch dark, and by the time dawn breaks they’re still on the wrong side of Aubers Ridge. Crossing it in daylight would only make them into target practice, so they all find somewhere to hide from any recon planes and hurry up to wait out the day.

For the BEF, the first priority is clearly to do something about those annoying buggers in Mauquissart. The second is to stop the enemy occupying and fortifying the Bois du Biez. Port Arthur for the moment is going to be heavily shelled, but they’re also going to try to shuffle up from the right, surround it, and force the strong-point to surrender in its own time.

Mauquissart

There’s only enough ammunition today for a 15-minute bombardment before the men can leave their holes and attack the Mauquissart strong-points again. Not that it matters much, because dawn reveals heavy fog that blinds the observation posts. It doesn’t help that nobody can be quite sure exactly where the British line is now, and they’ve still not had an opportunity to range properly on the German positions.

When the men go over the top it’s absolute slaughter. The Germans still in position have got messages back to their artillery, who of course know exactly where their old positions are. The bombardment lasts three hours and covers the entire front from Mauquissart to Port Arthur, and behind the old British lines as well. Neuve Chapelle has been turned from a village into a collection of gently smoking ruins. All the communication wires have been thoroughly cut. Bombardier W. Kemp is trying to do something about that.

We’d been in the haystack all night trying to keep the telephone lines open to the battery. I’d been issued with proper wire cutters, the same as they used for barbed wire, and I was supposed to use these on the telephone wire! I soon lost them. We had one pair of pliers between all of us. The batteries were six large cells in a wooden box. They had to be excited by adding water and leaving them for a few hours. Some of them were ready to use, but when all hell was let loose it didn’t matter.

The only way to get any kind of communications back now is by runner. The Grenadier Guards have somehow struggled forward a few hundred yards from the Moated Grange and forded a wide, six-foot-deep ditch. On the maps, the only watercourse of any significance is the Layes Brook, and the runner is sent back with a message that they’ve crossed the brook with the enemy a couple of hundred yards ahead, and would like another bombardment so they can advance again.

Unfortunately, they’re less than halfway to the brook. The bombardment is accurate, but it’s falling several hundred yards behind where it needs to be. Sensibly, they decline to advance when it lifts.

Bois du Biez

Charles Tennant isn’t having it any better. During the night, such Germans as are left have been regrouping, and after Tennant and the Gurkhas retired back across the Layes Brook, they’ve been busy digging themselves a new trench. This one isn’t particularly deep, but critically, it’s a healthy few hundred yards in front of the Bois du Biez. And the brass hats have no idea it’s there.

Consequently, they’ve assumed that the enemy will be taking cover inside the wood, and that’s where the bombardment falls. Some hours later, he takes his mind off the intermittent German shelling by scribbling a letter.

The repellent facts are that the Germans at once opened a hot rifle and machine-gun fire both on the Gurkhas and ourselves. We had several casualties and our colonel was wounded in the thigh. One of the stretcher-bearers going to fetch him was shot through the head. His body fell back into my scrape in the ground. I’d moved to a neighbouring shell-hole just a moment before.

The firing was so heavy that we couldn’t send [the colonel] back for some time. When he did go, he was unlucky enough to be hit again in almost exactly the same place.

The rest of the morning passes with contradictory orders being issued, based on incorrect or out-of-date information. The runners who have to carry them are providing excellent targets for a little five-mile sniping. By the afternoon, another pair of short bombardments have been ordered. In front of the Bois du Biez, the Gurkhas have advanced a couple of hundred yards, with Charles Tennant’s Seaforths taking over their old positions. But nobody’s advanced on their left from the positions in front of Neuve Chapelle.

Mauquissart again

It’s the same story on the far left. Orders have come directly from General Haig to take Mauquissart this afternoon. Unfortunately, they’ve come up so slowly that the bombardment that’s supposed to cover their advance is long finished by the time they arrive. Additionally, the men are no less than 500 yards (that’s five times the distance men were expected to advance across No Man’s Land on Day 1) from the German positions, and the ground in front of them has now been rendered a featureless, coverless wasteland.

Orders are orders. By a superhuman effort, and after going over the top four times, one battalion manages to move forward 100 yards from their starting positions, where they start digging in again in the lee of some abandoned wrecks of buildings.

End of the day

If all goes well, there should now be an animated gif here. One frame is of the positions last evening. The other is of the positions this evening. Spot the difference!

That's not gone well.

That’s not gone well.

The Seaforths and the Gurkhas have gone back across the Layes Brook. If they get counter-attacked tomorrow, much better to make the enemy cross it. We’ll give Lt Tennant the last word today. As night falls, he starts going round the wounded to see what can be done.

Thank Heaven I am not a thirsty person. Although my water bottle had not been replenished for two days, it was more than half full. Poor John Allan, my best NCO, was hit in three places. Luckily, a Gurkha officer had some morphia tablets with him, and he gave them to the men who needed them most. As soon as I had done all that I could, I hurried back to get stretchers. It was a desperate task, as our casualty list had been very heavy, and moreover our first aid post was a long way back.

It had been shelled out of the houses on the Neuve Chapelle Road and had to go back into safety, so the few stretchers took a long, long time on the way. Finally we rigged up stretchers with puttees and great-coats and rifles. It took three hours and a lot of time and trouble to get the wounded carried down. Allan died on the way, to my great sorrow.

And they haven’t even attacked anyone, just followed in the Gurkhas’ wake…

Forcing of the Dardanelles

Admiral Keyes is in a foul mood after tonight’s latest hilarious failure at minesweeping, and vents his feelings against the civilian crews of the minesweeping trawlers.

To put it briefly, the sweepers turned tail and fled directly they were fired upon. I was furious and told the officers in charge that…it did not matter if we lost all seven sweepers. There were 28 more and the mines had got to be swept up. How could they talk of being stopped by heavy fire if they were not hit?

While this appears a reasonable description of what actually happened, his judgement is, ahem, slightly unfair. Minesweeping under artillery fire is not what any of these men signed up for. They’re not Navy men. In response, Admiral Carden sends a message to the fleet, asking for volunteers to man the trawlers. Tomorrow it’s the turn of the French to have a go at the minefield, but on the 13th we’ll see if men who are used to working under fire can do any better.

Constantinople Expeditionary Force

Meanwhile, with five divisions now committed to the Mediterranean theatre (two ANZAC, the 29th, the Royal Naval Division, and one French division who will cooperate in much the same way that Sir John French is cooperating with General Joffre), the force needs a commander. Sir Ian Hamilton was one of the first Army officers to come through the new system of promotion on merit rather than by buying a commission. He’s seen action in both Boer Wars, and was sent to observe the Russo-Japanese War in 1905.

Since the war started, he’s been mouldering away, commanding the defence of England. His experiences in 1905 have left him with unwelcome, unconventional opinions like doubting the effectiveness of cavalry charges against barbed wire and machine-guns. He’s an original thinker, he’s a supporter of things like night attacks and heavy use of aircraft. He’s also somewhat unpopular among his peers, and so has not been considered for command on the Western Front. On the face of it, it seems like he has plenty of qualities that will be very useful for the fighting that will eventually develop.

Unfortunately, his personality seems singularly unsuited to him being in command of anything. He’s polite to a fault, a deeply non-confrontational individual. (This had made him an ideal chief of staff for the forceful Kitchener in South Africa.) You may have noticed that I don’t usually spend this amount of time talking about individual generals. There are many reasons for why I’m going into his personal qualities so deeply, and we’ll soon find out what they are.

Incidentally, the force was indeed originally called the “Constantinople Expeditionary Force”. The thought does occur that this is not great for secrecy. It’s not a good start.

Actions in Progress

Siege of Przemysl
Battle of Champagne (First Champagne)
Forcing of the Dardanelles
Battle of Neuve Chapelle

Further Reading

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

Battle of Neuve Chapelle | 10 Mar 1915

The BEF takes its first serious offensive action in a long time today. Arguably since the start of the war, depending on how you feel about the Battle of the Aisne. Certainly it’s the first major planned offensive. We’re with them as they go over the top. First, here’s the map again.

Neuve Chapelle, 9 March 1915

Neuve Chapelle, 9 March 1915

Waiting for zero hour

The attack, of course, will be at dawn. 35 minutes of hurricane bombardment on the German front line, and then the range will lengthen to the German rear areas. Some have only to wait; others still have things to do. Charles Tennant’s Seaforth Highlanders spend the witching hours marching forward to their reserve positions to await news of success and orders to push forward. William Andrews’s Black Watch are already up the line.

Snow swept down on us as we waited in the flooded trenches near Neuve Chapelle. We grew colder and colder. It was sheer biting torture. … We shambled over ground hardened by frost. It was colder than ever.

The frost is something of a blessing. The harder the ground, the easier it will be to cross. Dawn breaks. The light streams across the fields. Birds sing. And then it starts. Captain Bagot-Chester of the Gurkhas is waiting to go over the top.

Our guns fired without a fraction of a second’s break. You couldn’t hear yourself speak. It was a continual rattle and road. We lay very low in our trenches, as several of our guns were firing short. Later I picked up two shrapnel bullets and the bottom of a shell fuse. They’d landed right beside me.

Lieutenant Tennant:

The whole air and the solid earth itself became one quivering jelly. After the first few minutes, the men didn’t seem to worry much about the row. I was conscious of nothing but the extraordinary sense of security the infantryman gets from hearing artillery fire from his own side.

An aeroplane was observing not that far in front of us. Through all that bombardment, and in fact all through the heavy shelling of that day and the next, the larks mounted carolling up to the sky with shells screaming all around them. As though all that devil’s din was only some insane nightmare, and all the was really true was the coming of spring.

Speaking of spring. Bombardier W. Kemp is having trouble with his springless heavy howitzers. His observation officer has been forced to install himself in a haystack. They try to range their guns on the target, but the observation post is poor. Even if he had a perfect view, the guns are recoiling ten yards backward after every shot, and have to be taken forward and repositioned.

That first morning we were lucky if we fired two shots in ten minutes. It was anybody’s guess where they were going. When the infantry went over, the wire wasn’t cut at all.

Battle of Neuve Chapelle

Kemp’s guns are firing, in theory, on Mauquissart and the Moated Grange, on the BEF’s left. They fire all too few shots before the hurricane bombardment ends. Let’s now join Arthur Agius on the right, as the officers’ whistles blow, and the men go over the top…

It was hell let loose. The village and the trenches in front were blown to bits. The village seemed to melt away before out eyes. Nearest us were the 2/39th Garhwals. Suddenly I saw a fellow stop, and then spin until he fell. Others pushed on, got through a hedge, eased to their left and got in further along. It was wonderful to watch the two attacks converge and meet.

Captain Bagot-Chester is right in one of those two attacks.

Our first and second attacking lines reached the enemy trenches without much loss. The Boche were obviously quite demoralised by the bombardment. We all reached our obective, with only about 96 casualties in the whole battalion [of 1,000 men], and started to dig ourselves in in case of a counter-attack. Our attack appeared to have taken them completely by surprise. Sone snipers left behind in our advance troubled us for some time, until they were cleared out by the Leicesters on our right.

The attack on the right is a complete success. In about an hour, signal flags are being raised in trenches all the way on the other side of Neuve Chapelle. As Bagot-Chester describes, reinforcements are coming up to clear out the village. Orders go to Charles Tennant’s Seaforths to move up into support, and as they go up they go past parties of compliant prisoners being taken to the rear.

The Black Watch haven’t gone forward yet. And then, as they wait for orders, the messages percolate back into the German rear…

We thought the German guns must have been swept out of existence, but they soon opened up. Looking along the breastwork I could see shrapnel plumping down on our own, all along our line. Every shell came about ten yards nearer. We could see our turn coming and all we could do was lie and wait for it.

William Andrews is lucky. He soon gets orders to move up into the old German positions. Above the trenches, Donald Lewis is circling, transmittting a few fire corrections, but mostly spotting the German guns so that counter-battery fire can be directed to them. Messages have been sent back to headquarters, and hours later, runners are returning with orders. The orders are to hold in place. Their left flank is not secure, and it’s taken the brass hats a while to riddle out the situation.

Moated Grange

The 2nd Middlesex went over the top at zero hour toward the Moated Grange, and disappeared into the mist. No messages came back. At first, it was assumed that they must have succeeded and then run into difficulty. After all, there aren’t any casualties coming back either…

Eventually someone realises that the reason that there are no wounded coming back is because everyone’s dead. The line’s only being held by a few companies of Germans, but they’re plentifully equipped with machine guns and ammunition. To the immediate right of the Middlesex, a stretcher-bearer with the Cameronians is in the middle of something very similar.

They got up to the German trench, but the wire wasn’t cut at all and the Germans were shooting like mad while our lads were lying in the mud with wire cutters. Those that didn’t have them were hacking at it with bayonets. Eventually they did get through and over this high parapet of sandbags. They hadn’t been touched by the shells, mark you! In they went with the bayonet. They chased the Germans from traverse to traverse until they were all accounted for.

But our losses were appalling during the few minutes it took to cut the wire. They went down like ninepins. Every single Company Commander went down leading the attack, and the Major, and the Adjutant, and the Colonel. They’d all been years in the Army, excellent soldiers, and we could ill-afford to lose such men. All the officers went, killed or wounded.

Meanwhile, on the extreme right, there’s another problem. Another battalion of Garhwals has got slightly turned round on the unfamiliar ground, and advanced in the wrong direction. They aren’t entirely unsupported; for a while the artillery fire here is just as intense, part of the deception operation. But then it disappears entirely. Nevertheless, in a supreme military feat, they still succeed in capturing the trenches they’ve advanced towards.

Meanwhile, General Rawlinson has ordered another bombardment and offensive at the Moated Grange. The guns finally have the range this time, and the second bombardment is devastating. As the infantry advances again, it’s all they can do not to trip over the dead bodies of the Middlesex, still lying in three distinct open-order lines.

Here’s the map again, this time at about 12 noon, if anyone had been able to put all the pieces together…

As ever, please remember that these are supposed to be like Tube maps, not Ordnance Survey maps.

As ever, please remember that these are supposed to be like Tube maps, not Ordnance Survey maps.

The way is completely clear to the Aubers Ridge. All it needs is an order to advance. The order never comes. For one thing, that gap in the line at Port Arthur is absolutely deadly. It can pour enfilade fire onto anyone who pokes his head over a parapet. If the men advance, it’s a natural stronghold for the Germans to break out of and cut them off again. Also, unknown to the BEF at this stage, not only is Mauquissart heavily fortified, but so are three outwardly-nondescript cottages behind it. This position could have had exactly the same effect as the Port Arthur one.

So the men in the front lines wait. And they wait. There’s a line of German field guns at the Bois du Biez. The gunners had sensibly advanced to the rear, leaving their guns behind, at the sight of their trenches filling with khaki uniforms. As afternoon wears on, they’re creeping back up, and firing at the troops over open sights.

The British communications have completely broken down. German shell-fire has cut telephone wires. Infantry and artillery have no direct communications. Some guns end up shelling their own men. Communications back to headquarters are even more impossible. By the early afternoon, General Haig is aware that things are going well and he orders a general advance for 2pm. However, the first stage of such an advance involves reduction of the strong-points at Mauquissart and Port Arthur…

The afternoon: on the left

By the time fresh plans have been laid and orders can reach the trenches, it’s 4pm, and the men are now racing the sun as it falls out of the sky. Confusion and congestion reigns in Neuve Chapelle as orderlies and runners and officers try to make sense of their orders and work out where they should be and what they should be doing.

It’s nearly dark by the time the men advance on Mauquissart again. The artillery has done their best, but many of the targets that are now being fired on haven’t been pre-registered by the guns. In the dim light, observation of the fall of shot is virtually impossible. A few German reserves have reinforced the strong-points. The men are over 400 yards from them, and this time with no hope of digging jumping-off trenches.

Their attack is a dismal, bloody failure. As dark falls, the only thing they can do is lie still, dig in as best they can, and send runners back with fresh messages. The runners take three hours to deliver their messages, groping their way back towards headquarters in the dark…

The afternoon: on the right

It’s a similar story at Port Arthur. One section of German trench was captured for a while, but then the first reserves arrived and threw them out again. Meanwhile, there are relatively fresh men waiting in front of the Bois du Biez all afternoon, dodging occasional gunfire. They’re pretty sure that the only thing between them and Aubers Ridge are a few lonely gunners. But they can’t advance. They’d be pushing far in advance of any support. Without a great deal of luck, it’d be child’s play for German reinforcements to go around them and cut them off.

And then comes intelligence that the German reserves are arriving, and they’re already digging in inside the Bois du Biez. That puts paid to any thought of advancing that day. With few other forces having successfully crossed the Layes Brook, they’re forced to retire across it and dig in there.

Charles Tennant has moved up just in time to cover the retirement of Captain Bagot-Chester and the Gurkhas. He’s quite peeved as he crosses the brook again and, borrowing an entrenching tool, digs himself a tiny scrape in the ground.

The situation

Back to the badly-drawn map.

As ever, please remember that these are supposed to be like Tube maps, not Ordnance Survey maps.

As ever, please remember that these are supposed to be like Tube maps, not Ordnance Survey maps.

If only...

The phrase we’re now left with is “If only…”

If only the communications were better. If only the guns were more accurate. And despite it all, they were so very, very close to complete success. So near, and yet so far…

Forcing of the Dardanelles

Meanwhile, there’s still a war going on elsewhere. One of the sub-commanders, Admiral Keyes, is fed up with the minesweeping failures, so this time he sends Canopus with the trawlers, and goes personally to see exactly what the problems are. And he sees plenty of them. One of the minesweepers becomes disoriented in the dark and hits a mine herself. The rest turn about and depart the Narrows very soon thereafter.

And, in London, Lord Kitchener un-waffles and agrees to commit 29th Division to the Dardanelles after all, having successfully wasted a little time.

Actions in Progress

Siege of Przemysl
Battle of Champagne (First Champagne)
Forcing of the Dardanelles
Battle of Neuve Chapelle

Further Reading

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

Neuve Chapelle | 09 Mar 1915

Eighteen hours to go until the start of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. The heavy artillery is just arriving, right in the very nick of time. Let’s see what’s going on.

Neuve Chapelle

Let’s begin by recapping the plan. The objective of the Battle of Neuve Chapelle is not, in fact, Neuve Chapelle. Neuve Chapelle itself is a first-hour objective. Once taken, the plan then calls for an advance of another mile before the end of the day to capture a viable position on the other side of Aubers Ridge, and then to dig in and repel the inevitable German counter-attack. Their reserves have been found by recon aircraft to be at least eight miles to the rear. Speed will be essential; but the prize for winning the race is considerable.

At the very least, this would win a sector of line where it’s Entente forces who hold the high ground and the favourable observation positions. If all goes well, it could even cause a more general German retirement while they reconsider the ground that they want to defend.

In an ideal world, the BEF will then attack from Aubers Ridge as the French Army attacks again at Vimy Ridge and the Lorette. When talking about strategy on the Western Front, the locations of railway junctions are usually never far behind. And, indeed, in this case the thinking is that the BEF will march on Lille and the French Army on Lens and La Bassee.

I shall now resort to the medium of dodgy MSPaint drawings. First, here’s where Neuve Chapelle is.

Regions of the Western Front, 1914

Regions of the Western Front, 1915

And here’s a closer look at the German positions around the village.

Neuve Chapelle, 9 March 1915

Neuve Chapelle, 9 March 1915

The battlefront has deliberately been kept small. From Richebourg to Fauquissart is no more than three miles. There’s a considerable concentration of artillery in the area, and the depth of the attack has also been kept small to enable the guns to keep supporting it. They’ll have a lot of important jobs. First, they’ll need to cut the belts of barbed wire protecting the German trenches. Then they’ll need to suppress and destroy already-identified German strongpoints, at the Moated Grange and Mauquissart, as well as the many intact buildings in Neuve Chapelle itself. Finally, they’ll be expected to lengthen their range to interdict German attempts to bring up supplies and reinforcements.

And the heavy guns have just arrived at their emplacements. We return to Bombardier W. Kemp, RGA, as they arrive and get straight to work.

We detrained at Estaires, and went into action off the La Bassee Road. We pulled into the orchard of a farm, and I was detailed to join the signallers – or telephonists, as we really were. There was very little Morse code used, and visibility didn’t allow us to use flags. But we all had to set to and get our heavy guns set up double-quick. It was some job, although we were trained to do things double-quick, and it seemed like practice camp all over again.

Sounds promising!

The detachments put down their platforms and bulk holdfast. The guns were anchored to them by a volute spring. But the volute springs had been left behind! That was the first panic. The consequence was that when the guns fired they recoiled about ten yards, and had to be run up by hand to the correct position. Just like the old days in India.

Oh. Let’s bear in mind here that these weapons are giant, unwieldy things. Each howitzer weighs a shade under 8,000 pounds. That’s about as much as a modern container lorry. You try pushing a container lorry forward ten yards while trying to keep it pointing at exactly 78 degrees. As the day wears on, it soon becomes apparent that the question is not how many shells the heaviest guns are going to be able to fire. It’s whether they’ll be able to fire any shells at all.

The Colonel of the brigade came along about this time and spoke to the Major to tell him about the battle tomorrow. They stood at the plane table and the colonel pointed to the map. “One division will go in and swing left, the next will go in and swing right, then the cavalry will go through.” The Major looked at him and said “Like hell they will.” I heard them say it.

Meanwhile, the blokes who are due to be attacking have no time for rest. There’s work to be done. Lance-Corporal William Andrews, a Territorial from the Black Watch, is none too happy about this.

We knew, of course, that we’d have to fight our way across fields so sodden with the winter rain that they were like morasses. Before the battle we threw bridges across drains and watercourses running through our own front. We dragged our way up with ammunition, bombs, rations, sandbags, barbed wire, spare bridges, planks, hurdles, iron pickets. We stored them at dumps in the fields, all through the darkness, night after night.

Soldiers? We were more like sweating coolies. How we came to loathe the sodden tracks, with wire overhead, wire underfoot, every few yards. And still we had to carry our rifles and ammunition. That was the military way, although there was no danger of our being suddenly attacked, and we’d have been a lot more useful as coolies without them.

A coolie is an unskilled labourer from somewhere in the Empire who does all the fetching, carrying, heavy lifting, and anything else below the dignity of a white scion of Britain. It’s also worth remembering that a “bomb” is, in BEF parlance, a hand grenade. And they’re still mostly improvised jam-tin bombs. Alex Letyford and friends have been busy making them, digging the jumping-off trenches, building scaling ladders for the men to climb up to go over the top.

Arthur Agius is moving forward for the last time. He stays back at Pont Logy to give covering fire. Some of the machine guns are going forward, to be set up once a forward position has been established. Charles Tennant and his men are still behind the line; they’ll be in reserve for the first phase of the battle. For them, only thing left to do is wait, to try to sleep, and to look forward to a double issue of rum before the show starts at dawn.

There are still men moving forward as night falls, into the jumping-off trenches, as quietly as possible. The roads behind the front line are still choked with men coming up to attack. As the 9th comes to an end, the men start hearing loud twangs and muffled voices in front of them. The Engineers are still working, this time cutting openings in the barbed wire for the men to advance through.

Actions in Progress

Siege of Przemysl
Battle of Champagne (First Champagne)
Forcing of the Dardanelles

Further Reading

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)