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and the fact that during the latter part of In the whole of the British armies were simultaneously involved, made the maintenance of signal communications most difficult. The fact that in such circumstances the needs of the army were met reflects the highest credit upon the zeal and efficiency of all ranks.
Attention has already been drawn to the work thrown upon the transportation services as the result of the German advances during the early part of the year. From the commencement of the British offensive in August the situation became reversed. Defensive measures were abandoned, and the energies of all concerned were centred upon the reconstruction of the railway system recaptured from the enemy. In spite of the fact that the enemy, as he withdrew, used every modern artifice for the destruction of railways, roads, bridges, and water supplies, the railway construction troops were able to meet all demands and accomplished successfully an unparalleled program of railway reconstruction. By the end of October no less than 1,050 miles of line, much of which had been destroyed, had been brought into service for our armies. This included 485 miles of new track and s,ome 4,000 feet of bridging.
The following Is an instance of the speed with which the work of reconstruction was carried out: On Oct. 17 Lillie was evacuated by the enemy. On Oct. 25 the first train of supplies for the civil population entered the city, the railway having been carried across the Lys River at Armentieres by a bridge constructed in the short space of four days. Some idea of the extent of the traffic dealt with can be gathered from the fact that In a period of six months nearly seven million officers and other ranks were carried by the broad and meter gauge railways. The number of ton miles worked by the light railway systems during a similar period amounted to over twenty-one millons.
The troops engaged upon this work have been drawn from the British railway companies and from Canada. They have worked continuously for months under great pressure. The energy and efficiency displayed in administration and execution are beyond all praise. I desire to acknowledge the great assistance rendered by the Britisli railways and local authorities at home in supplying personnel, locomotives, wagons, and plant, the valuable service of Canadian railway troops, and the loyal co-operation and assistance of the French railways.
A similar expansion is to be noticed in the work of the roads directorate. In June, 1017, the mileage of roads maintained was 1.640; in October of 1018 it was 4.412. During a period of six months of the present year 1,500,000 tons of road stone and 685.000 sleepers and pit props were used upon the roads. The enormous demand for material is reflected in a greatly increased output from the quarries and forests worked by us.
The work at the base ports has been discharged during the last year with an efficiency and dispatch undiminished by the fact that the ports have been persistently and heavily attacked by hostile aircraft. During the period under review the Channel Train Ferry Service, opened in February last, has proved of inestimable value.
As the result of the enemy's advance In the Spring, the length of inland waterways operated by the British fell to less than 250 miles. By October, however, the mileage operated had risen to 464, and, throughout our advance, every effort has been made to open up for navigation the waterways uncovered by the enemy's retreat. Very satisfactory results have been obtained and very valuable and important service has been rendered by the personnel concerned.
The demands made by our armies upon the supply services throughout the period under review were great and increasing. Every advance made supply more difficult, and during the later stages of our offensive the work was complicated by the necessity of feeding many thousands of liberated civilians in the reconquered territories. Despite the magnitude of their task, these services rose magnificently to the demands made upon them. It is in no small degree due to their excellent organization and administration that our armies in the field have never lacked food, clothing, equipment, guns or munitions. The greatest testimony to the efficiency of these services is the rapidity of our advances, which otherwise would have been impossible. Their work was unostentatious, but its effect was far-reaching.
During the twelve months ended on Oct. 31, 1918, over two and a half million tons of timber have been cut for the use of the British and French Armies by the different units under the control of the Forestry Directorate. The work has been carried out with admirable thoroughness and efficiency in close co-operation with the forestry authorities of other allied armies, and has resulted in a very material saving of transport.
THE OMNIBUS PARK
In my last dispatch I referred to the invaluable work performed by the Auxiliary Omnibus Park throughout the German offensive. During the period under review further heavy calls have been made upon it in connection with our advance. In all, a total of nearly 800,000 troops have been carried and over 2,500,000 miles have been run by the Omnibus Park. In accomplishing this task all ranks concerned have once more show the same zeal and devotion to duty which distinguished their previous conduct.
THE LABOR CORPS
Throughout the period under review the demands upon the Labor Corps were incessant. The British labor companies were composed entirely of men medically unfit for active operations, and more than half their number owed their incapacity to wounds or sickness incurred while serving with fighting units. The men of the corps, however, made light of their disabilities. Many companies worked for months on end under shellfire, long marches were willingly undertaken, and the essential work intrusted to them was cheerfully performed often under conditions entailing all the hardship and strain without the excitement of actual fighting. The successive British advances imposed upon all ranks daily increasing work and responsibilities. It is to the credit of the corps and of the excellent system of command and administration developed In it during the earlier part of the year that the labor companies have invariably answered all demands made upon them.
During the period under review the medical services under the direction of Lieut. Gen. C. H. Burtchaell deserve special commendation for the initative, energy, and success which have characterized all branches of their work. The rapid advance of the troops and the extended front on which operations were carried out during the final stages of the offensive created problems in connection with the collection, evacuation, and treatment of wounded which had not been met with in the earlier phases of the war. These difficulties were met with the most admirable promptness and efficiency.
My thanks are due to the consulting surgeons and physicians for the invaluable assistance given by them in the application of new methods to the treatment of wounds and disease; to the R. A. M. C. officers and permanent staffs of the convalescent depots for work which enabled many thousands of men to be restored to the fighting ranks; to the untiring and devoted work of the British Red Cross Society, the Order of St. John, and all members of the nursing services, whose unremitting kindness and constancy have done much to alleviate the sufferings of the sick and wounded; and finally for the very valuable services rendered by the Base Hospital Units and by individual officers of the Medical Corps of the United States of America, attached to the British Army.
THE CHAPLAIN'S DEPARTMENT Under the direction of the principal Chaplain, the Rev. J. M. Simms, and the Deputy Chaplain General, the Right Rev. Bishop Gwynne, the clergy of all denominations
ministering to the army have earned the admiration and affection of all ranks. I desire once more to express on behalf of all officers and men my profound appreciation of their unfailing devotion and self-sacrifice.
ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES AND DEPARTMENTS
To all other administrative services and departments I desire to express the thanks of the fighting forces for the loyal and efficient manner in which they have carried out their essential tasks. During a period of great strain and incessant work they have contributed in their various spheres to the smooth working of the army machine, and are entitled to a full share in the victory of our arms.
THE NAVY AND HOME AUTHORITIES
The thanks of all ranks of the British armies in France and Flanders are once more due to the royal navy and mercantile marine for their magnificent work, which throughout the heavy demands of the last year has at all times enabled our needs to be supplied.
We thank also the different home authorities and the workers in the great munition factories, both men and women, for the magnificent support they have given us through all stages of the war. We understand and appreciate the value of the work they have done.
At the moment when the final triumph of the allied cause is assured, we and all others of the allied and associated armies can look back on the years that have gone with a satisfaction undimmed by any hint of discord or conflict of interest and ideals. Few alliances of the past can boast such a record. Few can show a purpose more tenaciously and faithfully pursued, or so fully and gloriously realized. If the complete unity and harmony of our action Is to be ascribed in part to the justice of our cause, it is due also to the absolute loyalty with which that cause has been pursued by all those intrusted with the control of the different allied armies that have fought side by side with ours.
I propose to submit at a later date a further and final dispatch dealing with the advance of the British armies to the Rhine and the occupation of the Cologne bridgehead.
I have the honor to be, my Lord, your Lordship's obedient servant,
D. HAIG, Field Marshal, Commanding in Chief, British Armies in France.