Thursday 7 September 2017

Thirty Ninth Day of the Third Battle of Ypres

Friday 7th September 1917

Yesterday, 1st/5th Lancashire Fusiliers alone of 125th Brigade managed an advance, which they consolidated. Today, we hear, the gain has been given up and the men returned to their original positions.

Amongst the armchair generals of His Majesty’s War Correspondents, I have to report, there has been significant grumbling about the small-scale and largely fruitless attacks which high command has ordered in the last few weeks. The last major attack was on 27th August. To those of us in the press these attacks seem to cost lives which are not commensurate with the results gained and there is a feeling that only a full-scale attack all along the line can hope to make significant progress.

This view is tempered by the realisation that the quagmire over most of the battlefield, reminiscent of the autumn stages of the Battle of the Somme last year, makes movement exhausting and slow. And, of course, we are not privy to the plans of General Plumer and his staff and so cannot know the reasons for the “drift” which some have identified in the actions of the last ten days.

I have heard senior officers say that correspondents have in place in the front line, that they are a distraction and a nuisance and that their opinions are of more benefit to the enemy than to the British Expeditionary Force.

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