13/3/1915 Neuve Chapelle: French calls a halt

Initial British successes at Neuve Chapelle on the morning of the 12th gave way to a disappointing afternoon as communications broke down under German artillery fire. Over the following days further advances have been attempted but strengthened German resistance was able to hold them off. Yesterday German troops under Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria launched a determined counter-attack on British positions. The German attack failed, but the British artillery expended most of its ammunition repelling it.

There is no realistic prospect of a renewed British offensive pushing on to the Aubers Ridge. Rather than waste more lives, General French orders a halt to the attacks. The offensive is officially just being postponed, but the Battle of Neuve Chapelle is now effectively over.

The battle has not been a complete failure. The initial success of the British and Indian troops shows that the British army is capable of offensive operations. But the subsequent failures are worrying. How is an attacking army to be controlled in a battlefield swept by enemy artillery? More immediately disturbing is yesterday’s rapid depletion of shells. If British forces are to successfully operate in France and Belgium then the production of munitions at home will have to be greatly stepped up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s