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 (1914-1918) WWI Battles
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anemone
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2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/30/2018 10:45:16 AM
The Second Battle of Ypres comprised the only major attack launched by the German forces on the Western Front in 1915, Eric von Falkenhayn preferring to concentrate German efforts against the Russians on the Eastern Front.

Begun in April and used primarily as a means of diverting Allied attention from the Eastern Front, and as a means of testing the use of chlorine gas, it eventually concluded in failure in May. As a consequence of the failure of this attack the German army gave up its attempts to take the town, choosing instead to demolish it through constant bombardment. By the end of the war Ypres had been largely reduced to piles of rubble, the town's magnificent Cloth Hall a wreck (although rebuilt to the original designs in the 1950's).

Second Ypres is generally remembered today as marking the first use of gas on the Western Front. Although introduced with minimal effect on the Russian Eastern Front at Bolimov by the Germans earlier in the war (where it was so cold the gas had frozen), and in conflict with the Hague Convention which outlawed gas warfare, its impact during Second Ypres was startlingly effective.

5,700 canisters containing 168 tons of chlorine gas were released at sunrise on 22 April against French Algerian and territorial division troops following a brief preliminary bombardment by 17-inch howitzers. A veil of greenish-yellow mist could be clearly seen rolling across from the German front lines to the French positions.



[Read More]


Regards

Jim








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George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915
Posted on: 5/30/2018 11:46:41 AM
2nd Ypres was really 4 battles in succession

Gravenstafel. Apr. 22-23

St. Julien. Apr.24 to May 4

Frezenberg May 8 to May 13

Bellewaard. May 24-25



On April 22, the allied line consisted, from right to left, covering the salient.

Elements of Two British divisions
Two Canadian Brigades
45th Algerian on the left

The Germans released the gas near Gravenstafel and it swept over the Algerians and I think some Moroccan troops.

The Canadians were spared most of the gas cloud on that day.

But the French troops bolted, many frothing at the mouth.

I recall one story of a Canadian officer who yelled at an Algerian soldier, "Stop, you cowards". The fellow came up to the officer with eyes bulging and foam coming out of his mouth and he dropped dead at the officer's feet.

Certainly that officer and anyone who saw the French troops were taken aback.

There are no photographs of this gas attack. No-one expected it. There are photos of the release of gas on the Somme that would give an idea to us.


General Alderson moved the Canadian units into position to plug the gap to their left which was now several kilometres wide.

They were outnumbered and shelled frequently over two days but they held.

On the night of April 22, 2 battalions of Canadian troops were moved toward Kitchener's Wood. They attacked at night and they drove the Germans from the wood but at great cost. And they had to leave the wood as both flanks were exposed so they took up positions, with about 700 left and prepared to receive the German counter attack.

On April 24, the Germans released more gas, this time directly at the Canadians.

They held again and even counter attacked to stop the German advance.

This bought time for the British to move reinforcements into the gap.

A short description of 2nd Ypres from British historian Dan Snow

[Read More]

The following video is by historian Norm Christie. He takes us to the battlefield and describes the battle.

The part that is specific to the gas attack begins at about minute 13

[Read More]

This was incredibly desperate fighting.

Cheers


anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915
Posted on: 5/30/2018 1:06:39 PM
The German 45. and 46. Reserve Divisions reached the Yser Canal and established bridgeheads on the west bank at Steenstraat and the lock at Het Sas (south of Lizerne). A dangerous gap in the Allied front line was created as a result of the French withdrawal. The way to Ypres was open.

The left wing of the British Second Army sector (at St. Julien) was not directly attacked. However, as a result of the French withdrawing on their immediate left, the rear of 13th Battalion of 1st Canadian Division was in danger of being exposed.

This battalion, together with some French troops, formed a flank on the left wing of the British sector along the St. Julien-Poelcappelle road. They put up a stubborn defence to hinder the progress of the German 51. Reserve Division on the left wing of the German attack.-


[Read More]


[Read More]



Regards

Jim

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Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/30/2018 4:21:50 PM
The Second battle of Ypres comprised the only major attack launched by the German forces on the Western Front in 1915

Jim,

It was the biggest attack, but not the only major one.

I spent time and effort in your 1915 thread emphasising that the Germans attacked many times on the Western front in 1915, and some of those attacks were on a big scale.

They attacked the French on 23 April - the day after their Ypres gas attack - at Les Eparges, a couple of hundred or more miles to the south, with three divisions backed up by a large array of heavy artillery and trench mortars. Wasn’t that a major attack ?



Regards, Phil

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Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/30/2018 4:21:51 PM
DP

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 3:42:30 AM
The line around Yrpres was held by French, Canadian and British troops. The French held the northern part of the line, with two divisions – the 87th Territorial and 45th Division, made up of Zouaves, the African Light Rifles and native Algerians. To their right was the Canadian division, and to their right were three divisions of British regulars (5th, 27th and 28th).

The German attack on 22 April hit the French lines worst. Not at all surprisingly the line broke under the impact of this deadly new weapon. The gas created a gap 8,000 yards long in the Allied lines north of Ypres. The success of their gas had surprised the Germans. They didn’t have the reserves to quickly exploit the unexpected breakthrough, and General Smith-Dorrien (Second Army) had enough time to plug the gap with newly arrived Canadian troops.

No proper counter measures were available to deal with the gas. However, the chlorine gas was water soluble, so one limited answer to the threat was to use water soaked clothes as an impromptu gas mask.

With this limited protection the Canadians were able to fight off a second German gas attack on 24 April.

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 4:54:28 AM
Les Eparges--The Valley of Death

On February 17, the 106 is to attack the ridge of Eparges in the southeast of the village, after preparation of artillery, and taking advantage of the explosion of mine furnaces that were prepared by the engineers. The attack will be made by 2nd Battalion supported by the 3rd while the 1st Battalion remains in reserve in the custody of our positions.

At 2 pm, the mines explode, digging enormous funnels. Our assault companies rushed to the ridge with a frenzied spirit and seized the first enemy trenches, making about twenty prisoners. But here they are stopped by shells and bursts of machine guns.

At night, quite calm, we manage to organize the conquered position.

But on the 18th, in the morning, our advanced units are taken under a shower of heavy shells that harass them for more than 3 hours. Highly experienced, having lost almost all their officers and more than a third of their manpower, they can not bear the shock of the German counter-attack which is triggered at 8 o'clock and must fall back on our starting positions.

The same day, at 3 pm, the attack is renewed by the 2 companies least tried 2nd Battalion supported by the 3rd Battalion and a company of the 132nd. The trench Boche are taken again and this time, we had to keep them definitively. in vain, the shells riddled the ground day and night, in vain, the enemy launched furious assaults, 4 in the day of the 19th, a fifth on the 20th, a sixth finally on the 21st.

But our soldiers are stoically maintained on the position. On the 22nd, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, who have suffered a lot, will take a well-earned rest at Rebrupt. this success was dearly bought: 300 killed, including 8 officers. 300 missing and more than 1000 wounded.Origin GWF

Regards

Jim
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anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 6:21:50 AM
The WHY

Overseeing German operations, Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn preferred to focus on winning the war on the Western Front as he believed that a separate peace could be obtained with Russia. This approach clashed with General Paul von Hindenburg who wished to deliver a decisive blow in the East.

The hero of Tannenberg, he was able to use his fame and political intrigue to influence the German leadership. As a result, the decision was made to focus on the Eastern Front in 1915. This focus ultimately resulted in the stunningly successful Gorlice–Tarnów Offensive in May.

Though Germany had elected to follow an "east-first" approach, Falkenhayn started planning for an operation against Ypres to begin in April. Intended as a limited offensive, he sought to divert Allied attention from troop movements east, secure a more commanding position in Flanders, as well as to test a new weapon, poison gas.

Though tear gas had been used against the Russians in January at Bolimov, the Second Battle of Ypres would mark the debut of lethal chlorine gas. In preparation for the assault, German troops moved 5,730 90 lb. canisters of chlorine gas to the front opposite Gravenstafel Ridge which was occupied by French 45th and 87th Divisions.

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 6:55:45 AM
Jim,

Kind of you to mention Les Eparges, although the incident you allude to was a French attack in February 1915, not the bigger German attack of 23 April.

I took a look at Falkenhayn’s memoirs this morning, to see what he had to say about 2nd Ypres.

He wrote that throughout the month preceding the great attack against the Russians, the Germans were active along the entire Western Front, launching attacks wherever their depleted manpower allowed . The aim was to divert attention away from the Russian Front in Poland . The attack at Ypres was the most serious of all these German activities. It was also experimental in regarding the chlorine gas. The success was greater than the Germans had prepared for, and they did not have reserves to exploit it.

Falkenhayn cites the heavy loss inflicted on the British as a satisfactory result, and the effect this had on undermining their counter attack in May, when the BEF failed to make headway at Aubers, in Joffre’s attempts to take pressure off the Russians.

These operations command just one paragraph in Falkenhayn’s chapter, which, as we’d expect, is dominated by the story of The Gorlice Tarnów battle against the Russians .

For the British, 2nd Ypres was a traumatic event, and a defining one.

For the Germans, it was a sideshow which offered tantalising prospects .

It probably vindicated Falkenhayn’s suggestion that the British were vulnerable, and that a preemptive strike against them in early 1915 could prove worthwhile in strategic terms.

Here’s what he wrote :

Lively activity in the positions along the whole Western front , combined with attacks , in so far as the modest numbers remaining there permitted, were to cloak the transportation of troops to Galicia. One such undertaking in the area of the 4th Army before Ypres developed into a serious attack because the gas weapon, which was used for the first time on a large scale,supplied the opportunity .Its surprise effect was very great. Unfortunately we were not in a position to exploit it to the full.

Regards, Phil
---------------
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"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 7:42:13 AM
A masterly piece Phil-you are doubly blessed by having excellent references and eyesight.The internet is OK; but one has to be extremely careful to pose the precise question to maybe get the answer you require.

So Phil--are saying the Germans had the Allies by "the short and curlies" throughout this so called 2nd Battle of Ypres ???

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 8:17:45 AM
The Germans certainly exhibited an ability to inflict greater damage than they received . They achieved surprise, caused consternation, and generally made an impact out of all proportion to their limited , local goal. They provoked counter attacks that drew British, Canadian and Indian troops into a killing ground of enfilading artillery fire, backed up by machine guns. Yes, I think they had the BEF by the short and curlies, and they did the same to the French at Les Eparges and the Argonne as well. To a large degree, the British played to the German tune more than they should have done. This was abundantly clear to Smith Dorrien, who made the heretical case for withdrawal....in this he was supported by Haig, who, it appears, kept his misgiving private at the time. I’ll check that.

My take on Second Ypres is that it represented the war on the Western Front in microcosm. I think that the Germans had the Allies by the short and curlies for three of those four years.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 8:44:09 AM

Quote:
My take on Second Ypres is that it represented the war on the Western Front in microcosm. I think that the Germans had the Allies by the short and curlies for three of those four years.
Phil

Crikey Phil!!!!--you have turned this thread over in a "oner"s. All there is left to do is some salient asides that need clarifying eg. The Dismissal of HSD,the general summing up of the performance of the Canadians caught up in apparent stranglehold; and of course the Casualties of both sides.

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 8:56:18 AM
Maybe I should modify my comment, and suggest that both sides had each other by the short and curlies for several years on the Western Front, and that circumstance, contingency and fortune alternately bestowed on one side the ability to twist harder than the other !

At Second Ypres, this advantage lay distinctly with the Germans.

I would go further, and suggest that, for the most part of three years, the Germans were better able to twist than the Allies.

Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 9:34:01 AM
Ni Phil you cannot recant now but a bit of clearing up to do :-
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------After participating in First Ypres in October 1914, the II Corps was taken out of the line, and, in the reorganization of the BEF that followed, Smith-Dorrien was appointed to command the Second Army.

He again led his troops well during the German attack at Second Ypres in April 1915. Repeatedly ordered into costly and seemingly senseless counter-attacks, Smith-Dorrien halted the attacks on his own initiative and recommended the partial abandonment of badly exposed sectors of the Ypres salient.

Sir John French, however, perhaps motivated by political considerations (Ypres had come to mean much the same to the British as would Verdun to the French a year later), and bearing little affection for his subordinate, relieved Smith-Dorrien.

His capable replacement, General Sir Herbert Plumer, assessed the situation in much the same manner as had his predecessor; French was thus forced ultimately to accept most of what Smith-Dorrien had originally proposed.

Smith-Dorrien himself, however, was never again to command in the field.

Regards

Jim
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George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 9:41:28 AM

Quote:

Quote:
My take on Second Ypres is that it represented the war on the Western Front in microcosm. I think that the Germans had the Allies by the short and curlies for three of those four years.
Phil

Crikey Phil!!!!--you have turned this thread over in a "oner"s. All there is left to do is some salient asides that need clarifying eg. The Dismissal of HSD,the general summing up of the performance of the Canadians caught up in apparent stranglehold; and of course the Casualties of both sides.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Hello Jim and Phil,

There are many interesting developments in this battle.

Of course I am interested in the initial response of the Canadians on April 22.

But there are some side stories that emerged.

1. The return of the French colonial troops. They did not all run. They regrouped, not in great numbers but as the Canadians moved to a shallow ditch to exchange fire with the Germans who were slowly advancing behind the gas cloud, many French colonials joined them.

Some authors have noted that the tendency was to denigrate the Africans and to praise the fighting mettle of the Anglo-Saxon.
Max Hastings did just that I believe. Racism was a part of this war.

EDIT: Not Hastings. Max Aitken, later Lord Beaverbrook.

2. The attack on Kitchener's Wood was an incredible feat and certainly not because of the detailed planning. The execution was by luck and by golly.
It was a night attack and the Canadians were illuminated and taking heavy fire.
Still they pushed to the wood and found wire wrapped around the trees.
Men were dropping everywhere. Others stomped on the wire so that the pursuit could continue.
When they finally found the Germans, it was all out hand to hand, bayonet, clubbing with rifle butts.
That they carried the day was miraculous but without flank support they had to withdraw to just outside the wood where they prepared for a German counter attack which came on the 24th and included gas.

After the war, Foch called the attack on Kitchener's Wood, "the greatest act of the war".
Of course, this remark is quoted frequently in Canada and I have no doubt that there were many other "greatest acts".

3. The penning of "In Flanders Fields" took place during 2nd Ypres

4. Propaganda. At every turn the opportunity to portray the Germans as drooling savages was taken.
Witness the tale of the Canadian sergeant who was crucified on a barn door.
Investigations indicated that there was no concrete evidence that that happened.
Anecdotal reports by Canadian soldiers were second hand as in, "I heard from a friend".

The Canadian press grabbed hold of comments that the Germans at Kitchener's Wood were bayonetting the Canadian wounded. This was a battle fought at night. No doubt some were bayonetted after being wounded. But this was vicious close quarter combat and the Canadians used steel and anything at hand to kill Germans too. Would they have killed a wounded man? It is probable.

5. The response of Imperial troops to the crisis. The Canadians bought time and it is worth a look at the response of those imperial troops to closing the massive gap in the line.


Anyway, I am rambling on. I just think that we could pause and discuss some events associated with the battle so that we can develop a better understanding of what went on, rather than a brief chronology of events.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 10:42:01 AM
Many thanks George for your keen eyed observations which undoubtedly adds some colour to what appears to be a gloomy situation.

"The village of St. Julien (now Sint-Juliaan; 50.890°N 2.937°E) was in the rear of the 1st Canadian Division until the poison-gas attack of 22 April, when it became the front line .

Some of the first fighting in the village involved the stand of lance Corporal Frederick Fisher of the 13th Battalion CEF's machine-gun detachment.

Fisher went out twice with a handful of men and a Colt machine gun, preventing advancing German troops from passing through St. Julien into the rear of the Canadian front line.

He was killed the following day."

Regards

Jim
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Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 11:08:10 AM
George,

Approaching one tenth of all the casualties suffered by the BEF in the Second Ypres fighting were Canadian.

This exceeds the proportion of Canadian casualties suffered at the Somme, Arras or Passchendaele.

I note that the Canadians made a better accounting of their dead. I mean by this that the British divisions posted a certain number of men as killed, and that subsequent investigation into the CWGC registers reveal that the true number was roughly double the official return of killed.

Many of the missing were dead, and wounded men died, and the figure of killed was not adjusted accordingly. The Dominion records do a better job of assessing the fatalities, and this is very apparent with the Canadians at Second Ypres.

CWGC data reveal that 1,884 Canadian soldiers died in Belgium between 22 April and 25 May 1915. The official return of Canadian division casualties for 2nd Ypres posts 1,737 killed out of 5,469 casualties. You will not find any British division from that battle giving anything like that accuracy when it comes to the recording of the dead. They only include as killed those confirmed killed in action and leave the rest in the lists of missing and wounded. This was especially apparent when it came to the fate of the other ranks : officers were afforded better recognition of their fate. For example, the British 50th Division posted 596 of its other ranks killed in action, but research into the volumes of “ Soldiers Died in the Great War “ reveal that 983 of them were killed or died from wounds. I suspect the true number might have been a bit higher.

You will find the same disparity in the records of Arras and Passchendaele .

It seems that ninety per cent of all Canadian dead from 2nd Ypres are commemorated on the Menin Gate, indicating that they were either never found or could only be buried as unidentified i.e. A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR
KNOWN UNTO GOD.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 11:26:11 AM
The village of St. Julien was surrounded.

As I recall, the situation was so chaotic that the Canadians were unaware of that. This was a very fluid battle.

The Canadian battalion had bought a little time with the crazy counterattack at Kitcheners Wood.

But on the 24th of April, the Germans came at them in numbers and with gas again.

Canadian 15th and 8th battalions were hit. British artillery, near Kitchener's Wood I think, thinned the ranks of the Germans in front of the 8th.

The 15th was not so lucky.

Note in the short time from the 22nd, primitive anti-gas cloths had been issued. I don't know where they came from.

Some soldiers did urinate into the cotton gauze pad and that had some effect on the chorine gas.

Others just stood up up shot over the gas cloud.

One company of the 8th didn't receive gas and they took a heavy toll on the advancing Germans. However, they had Ross rifles that were excellent hunting rifles but prone to jamming when dirty.

The 15th got pushed back to Gravenstafel Ridge and took heavy casualties. 647 casualties for this battalion.

The Canadians began to toss small groups of men into hot spots. The men near Kitchener's Wood were ordered back to plug any gaps.

The Germans were limited to a one kilometre advance by noon but they were only regrouping.

The CDN 7th battalion was hit on the NW corner of St. Julien.

MG officer Edward Bellew won the VC here for holding off the Germans with an MG. With ammunition gone, he took out his pistol and continued to kill Germans until his ammunition was gone. He then used a bayonet. Surprisingly, the Germans only took him prisoner.
The psychology of surrender articles that I have read suggest that he should have been killed.

This is where the inexperience of the Canadians showed. They pulled back from the town without being ordered to do so.

This left 2nd Brigade on the left of St. Julien still holding but now with exposed flanks.

Fortunately, British battalions began to arrive. The commander of BR. 27th div sent them up on his own. Good for him but I cannot discern whether HQ knew or understood fully what was happening.

The remnants of Canadian battalions ran out of ammunition and were overrun. It was 3 in the PM.

And then more imperial troops arrived. 2 battalions of Brits quickly counter attacked and pushed the Germans out of St. Julien.

The Canadian 1st div was ordered to retake the town but the counter was with British battalions only.

Most of what I have reported comes from the Calgary Highlanders web site.


I believe that the Lance Cpl Fred Fisher won the VC for his actions on April 23. Using his MG and supported by 6 other men, he was able to ensure that the artillery field guns could be withdrawn. He was born in St. Catherine's, Ontario, about a 20 minute drive from Niagara Falls.

Citation


Quote:
On 23rd April, 1915, in the neighbourhood of St. Julien, he went forward with the machine gun, of which he was in charge, under heavy fire, and most gallantly assisted in covering the retreat of a battery, losing four men of his gun team.

Later, after obtaining four more men, he went forward again to the firing line and was himself killed while bringing his machine gun into action under very heavy fire, in order to cover the advance of supports.”

(London Gazette, no.29202, 23 June 1915)



anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 12:15:27 PM
Forging a Reputation

"The Second Battle of Ypres continued for another month, fought largely by British units — and by a battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry — which re-established control of the salient.

For holding the line amid the gas attacks of the first critical four days of the battle, the Canadians were praised for their courage and tenacity, a reputation that would only grow as the war continued.

The price, however, was high. Overall, British forces lost 59,000 men — dead, wounded or captured — in the month-long battle. More than 6,500 of those casualties were Canadian, including more than 2,000 Canadian dead.

Said Private Albert Roscoe of Ontario, in a letter home to his mother weeks after the battle: "I do not know how I came to be alive today. It is more than I can explain."

Among those deeply affected by the horror of the fighting was John McCrae, a Canadian Army Medical Corps officer, who wrote his famous poem, “In Flanders Fields,” in May 1915 just north of Ypres, in the midst of the battle."

Regards

Jim
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phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 12:32:05 PM
George,

On the shelves of my dining room I have amassed a series of old volumes. I believe they enhance the elegance of the room, and in that repsect I suppose I'm a bit pretentious.

Sometimes, however, I like to open them up for a half hour of entertainment.

There is a series, published in the 1920s, called the CHILDREN'S TREASURE HOUSE, and these had been in Mum's possession when she was a child in the decade after the Great War. I find it quite poignant reading them.

The one I have in front of me now is the volume titled THE MOTHERLAND AND THE EMPIRE, and a good part of it deals with the deeds of Dominion soldiers in the Great War.

There is one chapter devoted to Second Ypres, and I want to lift passages from it, so that you might gain some idea of how British children were taught to perceive the Canadians and their role in the war that had so recently ended.

The title : HOW THE LUMBERJACK SAVED THE ALLIES.

The prelude :

Canada has become a great nation. Great in territory, great in the boundless wealth of her cornfields, she needed one thing, the glow of a great tradition.

Now she has it. These men of Canada, these hard men who go out into the great spaces of the earth and make them fruitful, have crossed the sea and brought with them to Europe something that no man guessed they had, some matchless thing that lifts men to the height of heroes and very near to God. Once at least in the Great War these men saved the Empire and the Allies.


England has a thousand years of heroes, and she thinks of them with pride. Canada made her great tradition suddenly before our eyes, and this is how she did it. The story of how she crowned herself with glory on St George's Day...…



...the Canadian pioneer more than made up in personal quality for his lack of discipline and precision of movement. There is a report that one battalion, almost entirely composed of lumbermen, refused to obey the order to withdraw to a stronger line. Violently and heroically disobedient, it fought in its original position, and by enormous strength and endurance of body, and wild courage of soul, kept its line, held its weakened flanks, and survived. The tiger is said to charge after a bullet strikes its heart, killing as it dies. When gassed and wounded, the Canadian pioneer showed himself a sort of human tiger. Either he recovered much quicker than an ordinary man, or before he died on the battlefield he killed his enemies in a reaction against his own agony of body.

Between six o'clock and midnight the Canadian line was one of the thinnest ever held on any battlefield......Incessantly the Germans attacked them, fresh enemy army corps being bought into the battle, until the original 12,000 Canadians were estimated to have fought against 120,000 Germans......It was the manhood in the lumberjack and his fellow pioneers that made them heroic in life and inspiring in death. One party of Canadians lost their lives by crossing the St. Julien road to guide some frightened Africans into safety. The language they used towards the panic stricken Turcos was hardly courteous, because the lumbermen were angry. The Africans were not in supreme danger, yet the lumbermen went through German machine gun fire to death merely to direct these men into the safest line of retreat.


Truly they were rough diamonds, the hard characters in the First Canadian Division, but they shine for ever in our human story, and they saved the world in that night when Anti-Christ seemed likely to prevail. Even as Christ died did some of these men die, and Canada will not forget it .


Well, there you have it. That's what my Mum, a vicar's daughter in the 1920s and 30s, was reading about Canadians at Second Ypres. I must confess that in my childhood I read this too. It took Monty Python's I'm a lumberjack and I'm Okay ! song to break the spell.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 7:59:53 PM
Thank you Phil. Wow, high praise indeed. I blush.

The people reading that piece would be surprised to find out how many of the Canadians were townies, factory workers and clerks.

Most certainly there were hard men straight out of the bush. Trappers and lumberjacks and many farmers. But they would not be in the majority.

I had not heard that story that a group intercepted the Africans to guide them to safety.

Great post,

Cheers,

George




George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 5/31/2018 8:33:11 PM
During the chaos that ensued on April 22-25, the Brigadier-General commanding (GOC 2nd Brigade) came under attack for his decision making and because some of his troops refused an order to retire.

This B-G had ordered elements under his command to retire. His troops did not retire because they had received an order to stay.

The B-G was also criticized because he went back to find reinforcements as communications were down.

And during that trip back he had a verbal confrontation with Major-Gen. Snow of the British 27th div. Snow refused help but it was this same division that responded to the crisis at St. Julien.

That Canadian B-G was none other than Arthur Currie who would command the Canadian Corps in less than 2 years.



It seems that Currie was responding to a situation created by the GOC 3rd Brigade, Brig. Gen. Turner, VC. He had earned his VC during the Boer War but proved to be indecisive in a leadership role.

The Canadians were greatly angered at the British official historian, B-G Sir James Edmonds as he seemed to have it in for Arthur Currie.

The Canadians and the Australians often disagreed with the British official history.

Edmonds seems particularly vexed that the Canadians received so much praise at 2nd Ypres.


For your perusal"

And interesting article on the different perception of the history of 2nd Ypres as written by Brit. Edmonds and Canuck Duguid.

[Read More]




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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 2:03:47 AM
George,

What an interesting article !

Did you notice Edmonds’s allusion to Colonial bounce ?

I’m sure that there is a historiographical theme to discuss here. I would go further, and suggest that the Children’s Treasure House chapter I cited gives more than a hint at how the youngsters of Britain were being conditioned to view the war in the 1920s. There was a desperate need to endow the story of the Great War with redeeming features. The publication of that volume coincides pretty well with the controversy between Edmonds and Duguid. Remember that the mid 1920s were very unsettling for British people : General Strike, Reds under the Bed, the first Labour government etc. The role played by the publishers of The Children’s Treasure House, with its emphasis on The Empire, The Children of the Flag etc was to suffuse information with propaganda. It was in the following decade that the disillusionment syndrome came to the fore, which might have impinged on the appetite for Appeasment.

Anything that could endow the story of the Great War with glamour and romance was thrown into the mix : a horrific, squalid trauma must be made to look like something heroic in the Christian tradition. What better theme could there be to extol this than the story of the Canadian Lumberjack rushing to the aid of the Motherland ? People lapped it up ; much to the discomfiture of the British military establishment who felt ( and I have to express some sympathy here ) that the role played by the “ordinary” British officers and men had been overlooked. Note Edmonds’s closing comments that a counter attack by British soldiers ( Yorkshiremen ) had been ignored by the Canadians.

When I read that chapter from that old, old volume, I have to admit that I was moved.....the old magic still works !

Regards, Phil


---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 4:00:53 AM
General Sir Julian Byng came from a long line of military forebears – his grandfather had been a senior officer at Waterloo in 1815 – and he had held senior commands in Egypt, France, and Gallipoli before taking over the Canadian Corps. He replaced Lieutenant-General E.A.H. Alderson who had been removed from command after the Battle of St. Eloi.

While he came from an aristocratic family, Byng was loved and trusted by his troops, who soon began to call themselves the “Byng Boys.” He commanded the Canadians through several battles in 1916 and, after the Somme campaign in the autumn, instigated a variety of reforms designed to improve the Canadian Corps’ training and tactical performance. Byng’s intensive preparatory regime of practice and planning resulted in the capture of Vimy Ridge after a vicious four-day battle in April 1917.

Within two months of this success, Byng was elevated to command the Third British Army. He helped to develop and lead the historic tank attack at Cambrai in 1917 and played a key role in the decisive battles of late 1918 that led to Germany’s defeat.

The replacement Byng recommended to command the Canadians Corps, his protégé and former divisional commander Arthur Currie, assumed command in June 1917 and held it through the end of the war.

Regrds

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 4:00:56 AM
General Sir Julian Byng came from a long line of military forebears – his grandfather had been a senior officer at Waterloo in 1815 – and he had held senior commands in Egypt, France, and Gallipoli before taking over the Canadian Corps. He replaced Lieutenant-General E.A.H. Alderson who had been removed from command after the Battle of St. Eloi.

While he came from an aristocratic family, Byng was loved and trusted by his troops, who soon began to call themselves the “Byng Boys.” He commanded the Canadians through several battles in 1916 and, after the Somme campaign in the autumn, instigated a variety of reforms designed to improve the Canadian Corps’ training and tactical performance. Byng’s intensive preparatory regime of practice and planning resulted in the capture of Vimy Ridge after a vicious four-day battle in April 1917.

Within two months of this success, Byng was elevated to command the Third British Army. He helped to develop and lead the historic tank attack at Cambrai in 1917 and played a key role in the decisive battles of late 1918 that led to Germany’s defeat.

The replacement Byng recommended to command the Canadians Corps, his protégé and former divisional commander Arthur Currie, assumed command in June 1917 and held it through the end of the war.

Regrds

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 6:18:07 AM
Good morning, Jim !

If you were to add your own commentary or suggestions to these pasted narratives, there would be so much more we could do to enhance the quality of the thread.

Perhaps you might put in a few words to show us how you interpret that narrative .

Left as it is, there isn’t much scope for developing it.

Please forgive me if I sound harsh : you know me well enough to realise that you command my affection.

Incidentally, tomorrow I fly to Malta for a week, and, unless the hotel has a decent wifi facility, I might not be on parade.

Regards , Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 7:08:25 AM

Quote:
Thank you Phil. Wow, high praise indeed. I blush.

The people reading that piece would be surprised to find out how many of the Canadians were townies, factory workers and clerks.

Most certainly there were hard men straight out of the bush. Trappers and lumberjacks and many farmers. But they would not be in the majority.

I had not heard that story that a group intercepted the Africans to guide them to safety.

Great post,

Cheers,

George




--George


Australians say exactly the same thing, George !

British accounts insist on depicting them as bushmen from the Outback. It doesn’t do to remind us that most of them came from the urban belts on the coastal fringe.

The allure of caricature !

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 7:17:03 AM
Thank you Phil for your candour; but what is written is== in truth-- all I know about Byng-any further comment would only bring more scorn on my head --should you wish me to remove the offending piece--I would do so with equinimity.--because now I feel contrite about this post.

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 8:08:09 AM

Quote:
Thank you Phil for your candour; but what is written is== in truth-- all I know about Byng-any further comment would only bring more scorn on my head --should you wish me to remove the offending piece--I would do so with equinimity.--because now I feel contrite about this post.

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Good morning Jim. I am interested in your own words. You have great insight and powers of analysis.

And I like to hear your responses. The cut and paste articles usually don't lead to much response.

You know, there is quite a bit about Julian "Bungo" Byng on Canadian web sites.

Viscount Byng of Vimy was much loved by the Canadian Corps and as your article indicated, they did refer to themselves as "Byng Boys".

Byng was perplexed at his appointment to the Corps, expressing that, "I don't know any Canadians".


Quote:
“Why am I sent the Canadians? I don’t even know a Canadian... I am ordered to these people and will do my best, but I don’t know that there is any congratulations in it.”


He found the Canadians to be excellent raw material and he worked hard to mold them into an effective fighting force. He and later Currie may take credit for the transformation.


Byng was a popular choice to become the Governor-General of Canada after the war, from 1921-1926.

His tenure as G-G was not without controversy as he found himself caught up in the affairs of government and while taking steps to ensure that the country maintained a responsible government, he may not have realized the extent of influence of Canadian nationalism that was marginalizing the influence of the G-G.

And so we have the King-Byng affair.

PM Mackenzie-King (our longest serving PM ever) wanted to call an election. There was a scandal brewing and a concern for a non-confidence motion.

To avoid that King asked Byng, according to protocol, to dissolve parliament and call for an election.

Byng said no. He was acting within his constitutional rights but I do not think that he understood that Canada had developed as a nation and would not accept being treated like colonials.

Anyway, PM King resigned in protest and G-G Byng asked the Leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition, Arthur Meighan, to form the government.

This he did and three days later he lost a vote of confidence and Parliament was dissolved and an election called anyway.

Mackenzie King campaigned on this issue, emphasizing that a representative of the crown had interfered directly in Canadian politics.

He argued that Canadian sovereignty had been violated.

King won that election. He had diverted attention from a customs scandal to the issue of nationalism and sovereignty.


Byng did not become the devil here. He was much mourned in Canada when news of his death in 1935 was reported.

In 1931, the Statue of Westminster was passed and this altered the role of the G-G in Dominion affairs. No longer would they exert imperial privilege.

Mackenzie King, shifty as he was, deserves credit for a paradigm shift in which the G-G would take advice from Canadian ministers of the government of Canada and not from British ministers.

The role of G-G was clarified and the King-Byng affair is still considered our most significant constitutional crisis.


Back to Ypres.

Cheers,

George

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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 8:52:31 AM
George --many thanks for the information about Byng. Strictly speaking all I knee of him was that he was fighting the Germans at nearby Arras whilst the great victory of Vimy Ridge was won by the excellent soldiers of Canada.

After his promotion to GOC 3rd Army I saw no more of him like Geneal Horne of 1st Army.Oddly enough neither Armies have had a thread devoted to either==will try to rectify that omission.I know that Horne was involved in the Somme actions but Byng 's 3rd Army I wil have to research.

Having made a cursory exploratory sarhc for info on 1st and 3rd Amies-there is not a lot to write home about

Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 9:08:50 AM
There is something bizarre about the refusal of British official reporting to classify a man as dead, and leave him as missing.

The Dominion records did not share this propensity.

You see it in the official report of Canadian casualties at 2nd Ypres. You see it with the Australian and New Zealand returns for Gallipoli. If a man was believed to be dead, he was reported to be so.

In my mind’s eye I imagine a post battle scenario with a British Sergeant Major taking the roll call. He calls out Thomas Atkins...and is told that he’s dead.

“ E’s dead, Sergeant Major ! “ calls out a grief stricken soldier .

“Ow do you know e’s dead ? “

“ ‘E was blown to bits in front of us ! “ comes the reply.

“ Well ‘e ain’t bleedin’ well dead, then, is ‘e ? E’s missin’. E ain’t f—-in’ dead unless I f—in’. well TELL ‘im ‘e is !

I’ll find my own way out ....

Regards, Phil



---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 9:22:09 AM

Quote:
George --many thanks for the information about Byng. Strictly speaking all I knee of him was that he was fighting the Germans at nearby Arras whilst the great victory of Vimy Ridge was won by the excellent soldiers of Canada.

After his promotion to GOC 3rd Army I saw no more of him like Geneal Horne of 1st Army.Oddly enough neither Armies have had a thread devoted to either==will try to rectify that omission.I know that Horne was involved in the Somme actions but Byng 's 3rd Army I wil have to research.

Having made a cursory exploratory sarhc for info on 1st and 3rd Amies-there is not a lot to write home about

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Hi Jim,

Byng was the commander of the Canadian Corps when the Battle of Vimy took place.

Cheers,

George

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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 10:01:10 AM
I must confess that either a) I did not know that or b).My memory seems to have forgotten that this was the case. My memory seemes to have collapsed very quickly of late-I had a scan about 3 months back ans I was fine.Tempus does not half Fugit at my age. Maybe I should "draw stumps"

Regards

Jim
---------------
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Jim Cameron
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 1:05:21 PM

Quote:
Good morning, Jim !

If you were to add your own commentary or suggestions to these pasted narratives, there would be so much more we could do to enhance the quality of the thread.

Perhaps you might put in a few words to show us how you interpret that narrative .

Left as it is, there isn’t much scope for developing it.

Please forgive me if I sound harsh : you know me well enough to realise that you command my affection.

Incidentally, tomorrow I fly to Malta for a week, and, unless the hotel has a decent wifi facility, I might not be on parade.

Regards , Phil


--Phil andrade


Phil,
I have refrained from commenting of late, but unfortunately this same point is raised again and again, seemingly to little or no avail.
The WW1 forum was added largely at my suggestion. Yet again and again I find myself standing aside because all too often threads become little more than a barrage of lifted Wiki articles. And as I have said on any number of occassions, I have little interest in "discussing" things with an article.

Jim, rest assured, your fund of knowledge is more than adequate to hold up your end of any discussion. Please, give Wiki a rest.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 3:02:55 PM
Truth to tell Jim--my knowledge is not as good as you make out; and yes I do far too much "lifting of text" purely to stay in the game.

The time has come for me to to take stock of myself and ask the question "Am I good enough to stay in the company of such knowledgeable guys??".I fear that I am not.

It was kind of you to give me "a wee lift"; and I do appreciate kindness.

If I choose to stay I will see if I can stay in the hunt without copying.

My Regards

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

George
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/1/2018 7:26:47 PM

Quote:
I must confess that either a) I did not know that or b).My memory seems to have forgotten that this was the case. My memory seemes to have collapsed very quickly of late-I had a scan about 3 months back ans I was fine.Tempus does not half Fugit at my age. Maybe I should "draw stumps"

Regards

Jim
--anemone


Jim, there are few of us who have perfect recall of people and events.

Misplacing Julian Byng in the command structure is not a man killed. Don't beat yourself up.

Cheers,

George

anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/2/2018 3:47:59 AM
GM George--believe me when I tell you I have long given up on beating myself up--for now is a time of of reckoning.Can I still offer my opinion as opposed to someone else's.My frailties are many.I have not read the printed word for nigh on two years so I cannot gen up and the internet is far too easy-hence my dilemma.My last "true me" topic was "1918 -a Sea Change"=miy ides and my thoughts but controversial topics are rare.

Regards

Jim
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Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

Phil Andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/2/2018 5:38:43 AM
Rest assured, Jim, you make a damned good account of yourself, and impart your own special dynamic to our forum.

If you can cope with our occasional complaints about your tendency to copy and paste those articles, then you must continue to participate and enjoy.

The fact that I’m writing this as I am waiting to board a flight to Malta testifies to the esteem I have for you.

Regards, Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

Phil Andrade
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/2/2018 5:47:54 AM
Hill 60 comes to mind whenever I think about 2nd Ypres.

Actually, if I’m right it was a heap of spoil and debris thrown up when a railway or canal was being constructed

There was preliminary fighting there before the main battle opened

I associate Hill 62 with Canada.

These eminences meant a lot in that flat place.

Boarding now. Will try and resume from Malta..another strategic eminence.

Regards, Phil

---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

anemone
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Re: 2nd Battle of Ypres--April 1915---Why was it Fought????
Posted on: 6/2/2018 5:54:42 AM
I am indebted to to your belief in me and so I will make myself shuffle off this "black dog" on my back; and start to believe in myself again.Not much left in the locker but I will set to and conjure something up for your return-you did not say how long you are away.My heartfelt thanks for your support . Here i must mention the stalwart George --a tower of strength.

ATVB

Jim
---------------
Pro Patria Saepe Pro Rege Semper

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