17/4/1915 Ypres: Britain seizes the high ground

The Belgian town of Ypres was the scene of murderous fighting last year, when Germany’s Falkenhayn launched a series of assaults on the French and British defenders. Falkenhayn had hoped to smash through the Allied positions, take Ypres and then press onto the vital ports of the Channel. The French and British held the line but suffered ruinous casualties; the Germans too suffered terrible losses in the battle. Although they failed to take the town, they surround it on three sides. To the south they hold Hill 60 (a hill whose summit is 60 metres above sea level). The surrounding countryside is very flat, so Hill 60 is a position of great tactical importance. From it the Germans can direct artillery fire down on the Allied defenders of Ypres.

So now the British decide to seize the hill. They have dug mines under the German positions and filled them with explosives. At 7.00 in the evening the mines are detonated. The German positions are devastated and British soldiers easily take the hill, bayonetting any Germans still able to resist.

The British fortify their newly captured positions and dig trenches to link them to the main British lines. And they hunker down as the Germans launch an increasingly intense artillery bombardment, a prelude to the German counter-attack that must surely be coming.

image source (Wikipedia)

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