Gallery Solace - Campaigns and Battles of 1915
Gallery Solace - The Great War 1914-1918
 
THE GREAT WAR 1914-1918
 
The campaigns and battles of 1915
 
There are many fine things in the annals of the British Army, but none finer than those in the chapters written on the stand made by troops at Ypres it still remains one of the highest military achievements.
    
         "For well-nigh six weeks our countrymen fought under conditions that make even the sleepless, battling retreat from Mons seem, in retrospect, a summer adventure.
Unwashed for weeks, plastered with mud, now wet, now frozen, and generally dog- tired always, our troops have lived in burrows like primitive cave-men. Besides snow, rain, chilling sea-fog, and other natural rigours of a winter campaign near the coast, they have had to endure an incessant bombardment of high-explosive shells and bullet-laden shrapnel. Continual night attacks by hostile hordes of infantry have robbed them of sleep, and called for sudden exertions of an extraordinary nature. Yet, tested to the very edge of human endurance, our men have exulted in the terrible ordeal and conquered."
Campaigns and Battles Collectable Mug
Battle of Neuve Chapelle
On 10 March 1915, following a preliminary bombardment by British artillery, a battle commenced to retake Neuve Chapelle, the bombardment was largely ineffective, leaving intact much of the barbed-wire entanglement in front of the German positions. As a result, the Allies sustained very heavy casualties in the attack
The Meerut Division of the Indian Corps played a major role, rapidly gaining the German front-line trenches and resisting several counter-attacks. Unfortunately, there were delays in sending further orders and reinforcements forward. The initial gains were not exploited and at midnight of the 12 the offensive was halted. After three days fighting the British had gained a small area of land at a cost of over 7,000 British and 4,500 Indian casualties.
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Second Ypres
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The Battle of Gravenstafel
At around 5:00 pm on April 22, 1915, the German Army released one hundred and sixty eight tons of chlorine gas. Approximately 6,000 French and colonial troops died within ten minutes primarily from asphyxiation and subsequent tissue damage in the lungs. With the survivors abandoning their positions en masse, a 4-mile (6.4 km) gap was left in the front line. Canadian troops were able to put in a hasty defence by urinating into cloths and putting them to their faces to counter the effects of the gas. Canadians held that part of the line against further attacks until 3 May 1915 at a cost of 6000 wounded or dead. Casualties were especially heavy for the 13th Battalion of the CEF, which was enveloped on three sides and over-extended by the demands of securing its left flank once the Algerian Division had broken.
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Battle of Kitcheners' Wood
Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Allied Supreme Commander, remarked that the "greatest act of the war" had been the assault on Kitcheners' Wood by the 10th and 16th Battalions.
Both battalions had over 800 men, formed up in waves of two companies each. The order to advance was given at 11:46pm. The leading waves of the 10th Battalion covered half the distance from the start line to the Wood, running into a strong hedge interlaced with wire. No reconnaissance had been done prior and the battalion was forced to break through the obstacle with rifle butts, bringing down fire from German machineguns about 200 yards distant. Both battalions charged the last 200 yards to the wood, threw the Germans out, and suffering more than 75 percent casualties. Small parties of French troops, eager to reclaim the French guns that had been abandoned in the wood, had also participated in the battle.

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Battle of St Julien
The village of St. Julien had been comfortably in the rear of the 1st Canadian Division until the poison gas attack of 22 April, whereupon it became the front line. Canadian lines broke as a result of the attack, allowing German troops to take the village. The following day the York and Durham Brigade units of the Northumberland Division counterattacked failing to secure their objectives but establishing a new line close to the village. The third day the Northumberland Brigade attacked again, briefly taking part of the village but forced back with the loss of more than 1,900 men and 40 officers - two thirds of its strength.
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The Battle of Frezenberg
The battle began on May 8 with a German bombardment on the British front line; two German infantry charges were repelled. The third German assault of the morning pushed the defenders back. Further advance was stopped through counterattacks. The Germans released another gas cloud but made little progress. The battle ended after six days of fighting with a German advance of 2000 yards.
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Battle of Bellewaarde 1915
On 24 May the Germans released another gas attack on a 4.5-mile (7.2 km) front. British troops were able to defend against initial German attacks but eventually they were forced to retreat to the north and south. Failed British counterattacks forced a British retreat 1000 yards northwards. Upon the end of the battle the Ypres salient was 3 miles (4.8 km) deep
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