Page 296 - The-Devonshire-Regiment-1914-1918

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Apl.. 1917
heavy fire from rifles and machine-guns met the
battalion, and though scouts got within 60 yards of
the German position it \ras too strong to be rushed
without artillery support, thc advance therefore came
to a standstill a fcw hUlldred yards from the German
trenches. Here the battalion remained another five
days in active contact with the enemy. On the 16th
a small advance was made and a new position taken
up, better suited for the starting point of an assault;
but for the moment any such venture was prevented
by the difficulties of moving guns and ammunition
across the devastated area over which the enemy had
retired. The British bombardment had reduced the
ground to a mass of shell holes and battered defences,
tracks had to be made afresh, and ever since the attack
blizzards and snow showers had been incessant. The
strain, both on the transport and on the troops was,
therefore, great. Only scanty supplies could reach
the front line, and the week which the battalion spent
in the advanced positions was extremely uncomfort–
was also costly: the advance of April 14th
had involved nearly 40 casualties, an d the following
days added another 60.
As far as British ends were concerned, the attack
of April 9th had fully achieved its purpose: a severe
blow had been inflicted on the Germans, many
prisoners and guns had been taken, they had been
ousted from formidable lines, on which they had
lavished labour, and deprived of valuable ground,
both on the Vimy Ridge and astride the Scarpc,
immediately in front of Arras. Neither tactically nor
was there any substantial motive for
further attacks, and the obstacle presented by the
devastated area was also a strong argument against
the Third Army's continuing active operations. But
the virtual failure of the great French at tack along the
Chemin des Dames made it imperative that the
British should not relax the pressure on the enemy.
The figures were lnd-Lieuts. ;\lay and
men killed,
Capt. Veitch and 83 men wounded.