II Battalion, Infantry Regiment was severely depleted in the fighting and was relieved by units from six regiments. Constant French attacks slowly forced the surviving defenders back but the consequences of losing ground north-west of Souchez were so dangerous, that a stream of German units were sent to hold the area between late May and 7 June. After several days of minor operations, French infantry attacked from the Lorette Spur to the Scarpe at p.
From Ecurie southwards, the French were seen assembling and bombarded, which stopped the attack in no man's land. In the north, several footholds were gained and only recaptured during the night. Lochow requested more reinforcements, IV Corps south of Arras with the 8th and 7th divisions, was exchanged with two burnt-out divisions and the th Division took over the line from the 8th Division; the th Division was relieved at Neuville by the 58th Division. On 27 May, Ablain cemetery and trenches to the south were lost, which made the village untenable and on 28 May, the Germans retired to a line either side of the sugar refinery west of Souchez.
Lochow suspected that the attack was a ruse and next day the French attacked further south. Late on 31 May, trenches between Angres, the Carency stream and the sugar refinery were lost and only the trenches to the north were recaptured on 1 June after many counter-attacks. During the evening, an attack from Neuville to Tsingtao Trench captured the trench, which threatened the German hold on the Labyrinth. Lochow put Fasbinder in command with the 58th Division and moved the 15th Division to Neuville.
After an attack on 8 June, the defenders retired to a trench further east. French attacks on the Lorette Spur were co-ordinated with those at Neuville and exhausted the XIV Corps troops, which were replaced by the 7th and 8th divisions of IV Corps, which had been reserved for a counter-attack. By 7 June the defence of Neuville had begun to collapse, despite exhortations from the German high command that the area was to be held at all costs.
Officers of the 58th Division wanted permission to withdraw from the village but freedom to make a temporary limited withdrawal in a crisis was given but only to organise a counter-attack. The north-west of the village fell on 8 June, after the last defenders of Infantry Regiment were bombarded by their own artillery. A battalion of the 15th Division was sent to counter-attack a French salient, near the Lossow-Arkade in the Labyrinth, as soon as it arrived on the Artois front, supported by grenade teams and flame-thrower detachments.
The attack failed but the Tsingtau-Graben and some ground at the Labyrinth was recovered. French attacks at the Labyrinth were as frequent as those further north and the 1st Bavarian Reserve Division counter-attacked in the early hours of 11 June, which recaptured a trench.
French preparations for another general attack were observed by the German defenders and large amounts of artillery ammunition were brought forward. Vaast, which if successful, would lead to the loss of the German artillery around Vimy and La Folie. The French shelling grew in weight until a. French infantry attacked, broke into the position and the defenders built flanking barricades to prevent the French from rolling up the flanks of the German position.
Other German troops formed a blocking position in front of the French penetration and the German artillery bombarded the lost ground and no man's land, to prevent French reserves from moving forward. Counter-attacks by troops held back in reserve were able to push the French out of their footholds but at the cost of "grievous" losses. On 7 June, Falkenhayn met the 6th Army commanders and accepted their claim that only with fresh troops could the 6th Army positions be held.
At Schlammulde south of the Aix-Noulette—Souchez road was relatively protected from French artillery-fire but was covered in corpses, which revolted the troops who could not bury the dead. An absence of attacks in the 16th Division area had been used to repair the defences from Souchez to Hill but the trenches in the 5th Division Major-General von Gabain area were derelict. In the I Bavarian Reserve Corps area, the 58th Division still held much of the Labyrinth and to the south the 1st Bavarian Reserve Division and the exhausted 52nd Reserve Infantry Brigade, which had held the line since the beginning of the offensive were still in the original front line, although the trenches were severely damaged.
Signs of another French attack increased and on 14 June, French reconnaissance patrols were active from Angres to Neuville and French artillery-fire grew in intensity. At dawn on 16 June, much of the German wire had been cut, many trenches had been demolished and the defending infantry had suffered many casualties. Late on 16 June, the French attacked in a smoke-screen and reached the forward German positions, where several footholds was gained and protected by box-barrages. German counter-attacks later in the evening eliminated one foothold and took prisoners but further to the left a French foothold was maintained by the weight of covering artillery-fire.
Some French troops reached German artillery positions, beyond which were no trench defences. Against the 5th Division in the south, the French attacks collapsed but the 58th Division at the Labyrinth and areas just to the south were broken through. The 8th Division regained the second Lorette switch line and the 16th Division cleared a few isolated penetrations but not the area south of Souchez; artillery-fire prevented the digging of a switch trench.
A continuous barrage Dauerfeur was maintained on the breakthrough, which prevented the French advancing further, except at the churchyard at Souchez and by dawn the Labyrinth had been recaptured. About French prisoners were taken. On 17 June the French attack resumed and broke into the 5th Division defences and was then pushed out from there and either side by counter-attacks. There were many German casualties and the 16th Division was relieved by the 11th Division of VI Corps; the 58th Division was kept in line for lack of a replacement. OHL provided the 15th Division, which had had only a few days' rest and the rd Division in an emergency.
The 12th Division of VI Corps could not hasten its arrival before 19 June and the th Infantry Brigade was hurried north, the 53rd Reserve Division relieved the 3rd Bavarian Division which then replaced the 58th Division and another thirteen heavy batteries were sent to the 6th Army. Armee-Gruppe Lochow held the north with the IV Corps headquarters, the th and rd Saxon divisions on the right, the 7th and 8th divisions on the left and the 3rd Ersatz Brigade in reserve.
VIII Corps held the central area with the 11th and 5th divisions, the 12th Division Lieutenant-General Chales de Beaulieu to join on the northern flank and the 6th Division in 6th Army reserve when it arrived. The 3rd Bavarian, 1st Bavarian and 5th Bavarian Reserve divisions held the southern area and the 15th and 16th divisions were to be withdrawn.
French attacks on 18 June, were smaller and optimism rose that the offensive was ending. OHL ordered that the defences were to be thinned quickly, to provide a new strategic reserve. The 6th Army headquarters and Lochow protested that the troop reductions were premature and on 24 June, Lochow predicted more attacks, emphasised the need for a flow of fresh divisions and that the number of casualties required consideration of a retirement to the new defence line behind Vimy Ridge. Until the end of June, the Germans tried to restore their front positions but failed to regain the Lorette Spur and the French artillery maintained a bombardment from Angres to Souchez.
The 12th Division was brought forward to reinforce the area and French attacks on 25 July and 27 June were repulsed by counter-attacks. In the old 16th Division area south of Souchez, the 11th Division gradually recaptured the area lost on 16 June. Fighting at the Labyrinth continued until 24 June, when the 3rd Bavarian Division restored the old front line. The Arras front remained the most important area on the German Western Front and Falkenhayn planned to send divisions from the Eastern Front to protect against another Franco-British offensive. Rupprecht claimed that the 6th Army could hold its ground without reinforcement and the redeployments were cancelled.
During July skirmishing took place around Souchez but the French offensive was not resumed. In August, the Western Army was reorganised, more units moved into reserve and a programme of trench digging was begun along all of the Western Front.
I aircraft. New links between air units and the army were created, by the appointment of a staff officer for aviation to each army and in April, armed C-class aircraft began to reach front-line units. Reconnaissance aircraft detected increased movement behind the French Tenth Army front and more C-class aircraft were sent to the 6th Army, from the armies in quiet areas of the Western Front. By 19 May, German aircraft reinforcements could make reconnaissance flights behind the French front and reported massive concentrations of artillery and the assembly of troops at the Doullens railway station, which were interpreted as signs of another big French offensive.
The French made secondary attacks along the Western Front, to pin down German reserves as part of the general action , intended to complement the decisive action at Arras. The Second Army attacked a German salient west of Serre on a 1. On 10 and 19 July, the 28th Reserve Division repulsed attacks near Fricourt. The German attacks took 6, prisoners from 20 June. The Germans gained a commanding position, from which counter-attacks were repulsed on 3 and 6 July. Attacks on high ground west of Metzeral from 5 to 7 May were repulsed but on 14 June the heights and the village of Sondernach were captured.
The French suffered 6, casualties and the 19th Reserve Division with attached units suffered 3, An attack on the Barrenkopf and Reichsackerkopf from 20 to 22 July failed but the Lingekopf was captured on 27 July; local fighting went on at the Barrenkopf into August. The extent and tempo of the French plans proved too ambitious, given the material constraints affecting the Tenth Army and French munitions production. Foch wrote a report in early August, in which he explained that the failure to hold Hill was due to XXXIII Corps and the Tenth Army reserves being too distant and not deployed according to a proper reinforcement plan.
Three battalions were sent forward at p. The nearest Tenth Army reserve was the 18th Division, 7. Foch wrote that no-one had expected the DM to advance 2. The slow and piecemeal arrival of reserves was made worse by the failure of the supporting attack to the north by the British First Army, which was defeated on 9 May at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, after which the British offensive was postponed until 16 May the Battle of Festubert.
First-class French divisions had lost many experienced soldiers, which reduced them to mediocrity; the methods of Note had not been adopted consistently and became a greater problem when replacement troops with no experience, tried to continue the offensive. French tactics were unchanged and the constant local attacks left no time for training. Revisions to the stipulations of Note in mid-June were of minor significance and an amendment of 18 June only referred to the importance of cavalry in mobile warfare.
German defensive changes were easy to implement quickly and by June had made the French methods of May obsolete. The original plan for a series of attacks, might have been able to remove Souchez and Neuville as obstacles but the material constraints on the French in the spring of , meant that the plan devised by Foch could not be implemented. In September Foch wrote of the speed with which the Germans had moved reinforcements into the area from 9 to 18 May, dug new defensive lines and brought more heavy artillery into action, which from 18 May maintained barrages along all of the Tenth Army front.
By 20 May the French artillery was dominated by the German artillery reinforcements, which severely inhibited the consolidation of captured ground and preparations for more attacks. Despite the change from attempts at continuous battle to methodical attacks, with pauses to reorganise and consolidate, the French took less ground, fewer prisoners and lost more casualties.
Fayolle wrote that the advocates of continuous battle were subject to a "grand illusion" and criticised Foch and d'Urbal for making unrealistic demands. From 10 to 16 June the French fired , shells with less effect than the , rounds fired from 3 to 9 May. The Germans had managed to fire a heavy artillery barrage of c. German field defences were dug in increasing quantity and complexity during the offensive and German artillery became much more active, as more guns and much more ammunition arrived at the battlefront.
A considerable tactical advantage had been gained by the French, who had regained 6. The new German defences around the area, were on ground overlooked from the Lorette Spur, were more costly to defend and made Vimy Ridge more vulnerable to attack. Since the defenders could close a gap quickly it would be necessary to maintain momentum, with reserve troops following up the attacking force closely.
Attacks in open country were preferable to being bogged down in fighting for obstacles like villages and woods and the attack should be on a broad front, to allow centres of resistance to be outflanked and to disperse German fire power over a wider area. German analysis of the battle was collected in a memorandum of June and led to renewed emphasis on providing shelters for the infantry, which were deep enough to resist heavy artillery and to increase the number of defensive positions behind the front, which would slow an advance and delay subsequent attacks, by forcing the attacker to move artillery into range.
On 7 June a copy of Note was captured on the Artois front and the local corps commander ordered that intensive digging be undertaken and stipulated that reserve positions were to be as solidly built as front line defences. Much of the new digging on the rest of the Western Front was done on reverse slopes, invisible to ground observers and capable of being engaged only by howitzer-fire. The French methods of attack had been made obsolete, by the time of the resumption of the offensive in September , when many French troops were killed on such slopes, in front of uncut wire before an undamaged second position.
French sources put casualties from 3 May to 18 June at , of whom 35, men were killed; another 37, casualties were incurred in secondary operations. The battle had great influence on the French army during the preparations for the autumn offensive of in Champagne and Artois, which were also based on an assumption that strategic victories were possible after one or two days of offensive action. Joffre ordered another 5, machine-guns, to double the number per brigade by 1 January The growth of French war production by September , enabled the French to attack in two places simultaneously.
Foch again advocated a series of limited attacks, particularly in Artois where strategically important railways were relatively close behind the German lines. On 8 July, Joffre decided to make the principal attack in Champagne, with a supporting attack in Artois a few days earlier to attract German reserves. Joffre had accepted claims by Castelnau, that up to 6.
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Ammunition necessary for a methodical battle did not exist and the opportunity to attack the Germans, when so many divisions had been moved to the eastern front, could not be wasted. The offensive had been fought with unprecedented refinements of tactics and supply.
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The ideal characteristics of a network of jumping-off trenches and the time and labour necessary to build it were laid down, so that troops could advance simultaneously and reserve troops could be protected as they moved forward. The autumn offensive was fought as a breakthrough attempt, with changes to avoid the mistakes made in Artois in May and had significant tactical success but did not achieve a breakthrough, which led to the adoption of limited attacks in Krause wrote that the formulation Note showed that the French command system, was staffed by men who tried to improve the performance of the army and contradicts claims by Gudmundsson, that the Allied armies were too centralised to adapt.
A flaw in Note , was persistence with a concept of rapid breakthrough, even after many soldiers considered that the war had become a siege and that none of the French offensives of , had been intended to return to mobile warfare. In the autumn offensive which began on 25 September, with the Third Battle of Artois , Battle of Loos and the Second Battle of Champagne , the strategy was intended to make the Noyon salient untenable and regain a large portion of the occupied territories.
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Tactics used in the battles of May and June were revised and the creeping barrage became a standard method in all the Western Front armies. Improvements in French artillery tactics, were foreshadowed by the pauses in the creep of the 77th Division barrage on 9 May, which enabled the infantry to keep up and capture ouvrage , the fanning-out barrages and hybrid barrages fired on 16 June, the use of chemical shells and artillery observation from aircraft equipped with wireless.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. A battle during the First World War. Second Battle of Artois Western Front. Topography of the Arras—Lens area showing ridge lines. Map of Neuville St. Vaast and vicinity commune FR insee code French attack on Notre Dame de Lorette, 9 May Attack on Carency, 9 May. French attack on Hill , 9 May Attack on Neuville St.
Second Battle of Artois
Vaast, 9 May. Main article: Battle of Aubers Ridge. Attack on Notre Dame de Lorette, 18—20 May Attack on Notre Dame de Lorette, 22 May Souchez, June—August Main article: Battle of Festubert. French attack on Hill , 16 June Souchez—Neuville St. Tenth Army offensive and German counter-attacks, 9 May — 18 June. South of the Lorette Spur, French attacks advanced from the sugar refinery to the outskirts of Souchez. In the area of Neuville, constant fighting went on in the Labyrinth. After the failure of the autumn breakthrough offensive, the French retained much of the material in Note to guide their operations at Verdun and on the Somme in Clayton, A.
Paths of Glory: The French Army — London: Cassell. Berlin: Mittler. Retrieved 25 November Doughty, R. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. Edmonds, J. London: Macmillan. Foley, R. Cambridge: CUP. Greenhalgh, Elizabeth Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hoeppner, E. Leipzig: K. Humphries, M. Waterloo Ont. Krause, J. Farnham: Ashgate. As such, this important and timely book joins the small but growing collection of works offering an overdue assessment of the French contribution to the Great War.
Drawing heavily on French primary sources the book has two main foci: it is both an in-depth battle narrative and analysis, as well as a work on the tactical evolution of the French army in Spring as it endeavored aggressively to come to grips with trench warfare.
This period is of crucial importance as it was in these months that the French army learned the foundations of trench warfare on which their conduct for the remainder of the war would rest. The work argues that many advanced practices often considered German innovations - such as the rolling barrage, infiltration tactics, and the effective planning and integration of artillery bombardments - can all be traced back to French writing and action in early The authorities were forced to accept that conscription was the only answer.
The 9th, 14th and 15th Divisions were marched to the Somme front, now part of the British line. The French 10th Army suffered over 4, casualties. It was a failure but only goaded the French Commander-in-Chief, General Joffre, to re-engage with vigour late that July. Again there was little to show for the suffering French army. By the end of they had endured nearly one and a half million casualties and the British, just under a third. In fact the French would never again reach the same willingness to fight. It became clear that France could not win and if the German army concentrated all its efforts after beating the Russians they would conquer the country.
Joffre needed help and for that he turned to the British. Again it became clear that Britain had a similar problem to the French.
Early Trench Tactics in the French Army
They lacked comparable weapons and a back-up of sufficient ammunition, especially artillery shells. Kitchener recognised that the fight would have to be extended into the following year. Until both countries could work out a better solution they would have to engage in active defence in France… his eight point plan was accepted by the government. In September a series of offensives were launched to try and punch a hole in the German lines. In the north, around Loos and Lens the British were ordered to attack whilst the French concentrated in the south, in the region of Artois.
The now reorganised and revitalized BEF were to go into action with six-divisions amounting to 72, men, supported by a five-day bombardment with guns adequately supplied by munitions. The build-up for the battle began in late August when pioneer battalions and out of line troops rebuilt, strengthened, and drained the forward, communication and reserve trenches. Other troops ferried forward supplies and ammunition. Detailed preparations took all of August. The 1st Army had the task of being the attacking force. The ground being fought over was sprinkled with shacks, tiny hamlets, and villages… being a district of coal mines, slag heaps, pitheads… all closely linked by tracks and roads.
The horizon was generally flat with gentle undulations and dips leading up to the Grenay-Hulluch ridge and Hill 70, to the east of Loos. The ridge and hill was of immense tactical value giving an excellent all round view of the area together with the various mine-shaft winding gear towers at Fosse 8 and Tower Bridge. Nothing could be hidden from the German observers…. On the 21st of September the relative calm was shattered by an artillery bombardment of the German front line. Four days later the Battle of Loos was launched over flat, dull, open countryside — The village lay in a depression with long gentle slopes.
To the east there is a low hill which was named Hill Loos lies between La Bassee and the mining area around Lens. The battle raged as ten columns in extended lines, all in perfect alignment, moved forward. The German machine gunners traversed their guns backwards and forwards mowing down the lines of men — each line of a thousand men. As the wounded men struggled to rise the Germans held their fire allowing the medical teams to take the wounded back.
As soon as they had done so they started to machine gun the next advancing troops. With the end of the battle the front quietened down. As the year drew to a close many realised that although millions of men had died the end was still not in sight. The Kensingtons needed new replacements to make up their numbers. After receiving another batch of reinforcements, from England, the Division was now back up to strength. A training schedule was devised to make the Division ready for front line fighting.
The Artillery, were Londoners and the Pioneers, the 5th Cheshires. The reformed brigade marched off to Loos station there to entrain for Pont Remy. Arriving in pouring rain the brigade again marched off to Citerne. This village is set in undulating countryside with few cottages or hamlets. The weather was squally with occasional heavy falls of snow. Again the brigade was house in bell tents in a muddy field engaged in strenuous training exercises using the latest tactics and the latest weapons.
The automatic Lewis gun with its pan of bullets was going to be an improvement, so too the new grenades. Every day groups were detailed off to become expert in the use of these weapons including their use wearing a new style gas mask. Route and forced marches in full fighting kit made at least once a week. Both these distances over twenty-five mile soon lead to men dropping out to be picked up by wagon. At last the division set off away from Citerne to Longpre — a large farm complex. By the time the battalion got there many men were complaining about blisters.
They had short shrift from the sergeant who told them that it was an offence to have blisters and any more complaints then the malingerers would receive punishment for not taking due care. This soon settles everyone down. Guards were detailed off and the rest collapsed utterly exhausted. There were no blankets or food until the following day. Fortunately the roads were congested by marching Frenchmen and blocked with wheeled artillery all racing to get to Verdun.
Their movement delayed us continuing so we had a forced couple of days of rest interspersed with whatever practices the sergeants could devise to keep us occupied. The rolling low hills and shallow valleys gave Picardy an appearance of Salisbury Plain. If compared to Ypres it had space, unobstructed views and open countryside suitable for unrestricted action. This was the scene on top of chalk lying under much of the region.
Ideal stuff to construct deep shelters and communicating trenches. The Germans were experts at making the most of their front line putting all their ingenuity into making substantial living accommodation to back up the forward troops. In fact both sides dug like mad to make extensive trench systems. Once again the object in battle was to take the strain off the French who were suffering many casualties at Verdun. When at last the road was clear the battalion reformed and marched off the Doullens. The sixteen or so of miles were completed in the morning that allowed us to take two days rest exploring the town doing some washing and having a canvas bath.