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“It is true that when the barbed wire of Rheims were captured by the French was completely broken and the chas on May 4. Craonne, about nine miles seurs, Zouaves, Moroccans, and other southeast of Laon, stands upon an isotroops of assault were able to dash over lated height at the eastern end of the No Man's Land, the caves proved to be Chemin des Dames. It not only protects traps and yielded up several thousands the entire plateau north of the Aisne, of prisoners. On the crest the Germans but defends also the lowlands between had pierced a number of tunnels through this height and Neufchatel. The Gerthe chalk from the front to the back mans had been intrenched in this posislopes of the hills. Sometimes, as above tion since the first battle of the Aisne, Chivy, they let the wave of the assault and many French attacks had broken pass and then fired upon the French against the cliffs on which the village from behind. Sometimes there were stands. Its capture by the French gave bloody combats in the entries of these them an open road up the valley of the warrens and the tenants were shot down Miette, where more than two weeks preas they came out. There was at the head viously they captured the enemy's second of the Chivy ravine a wide hole in the line south of Juvincourt. An advance earth down which the Moroccans threw up this corridor would outflank the ensome grenades and then passed on. It tire German position depending on Laon turned out to be the entrance to a great as a centre. Such an advance would have tunnel which led by no fewer than 112 been a hazardous operation so long as steps to another entrance on the back of the Germans clung to Craonne. The corthe hillside. Apparently against the ridor is protected on the east by the eventuality of assault the tunnel had heights of Brimont. been mined with five large charges. The Another brilliant victory was gained grenades filled the place with smoke by the French on May 5 on the front and threw the occupants into panic. north of the Aisne River at both ends Fearing that they would be blown up of the Chemin des Dames. Over 4,300 with their own explosives, they bolted prisoners were taken. On both sides of upstairs to the back door, but by that the Soissons-Laon road the French cartime the Moroccans had discovered the ried a salient in the Hindenburg line second entry, and here they collected over a front of nearly four miles, ex200 frightened Boches as they emerged. tending from the Moisy farm (southeast
“ Generally the German resistance of Vauxaillon) to a point north of Sancy, was brave and determined. In one day including the Laffaux Mill, which stands near Cerny counterattacks were launched on a height at the intersection of the only to break like spume upon the ex Soissons-Laon road with that running temporized French positions. They be north to La Fère. The French line north came daily stronger, but still thousands of Nanteuil la Fosse and Sancy was of graycoats were sent to the assault. In pushed forward to the immediate vicinitheir attempts to
the Cerny ty of the Soissons road. sugar factory (a heap of ruins, of course)
At the eastern end of the Chemin des they started from some specially wide
Dames the French not only repulsed all communication trenches up which col
German counterattacks, but cleared the umns of grenadiers came four abreast.
entire plateau from east of the Cerny en As soon as four were shot down another
Laonnois to a point east of Craonne, and line stepped forward. Thousands and
pushed forward to the hills which domithousands of bombs were thrown, but the
nate the valley of the Aillette River, French mitrailleuses could not be
south of Ailles, and the Vanclerc Forest. passed."
The Germans counterattacked more vioThe Capture of Craonne
lently than at any time since the offenThe village of Craonne, several forti sive began, throwing fresh troops into the fied points north and east of the village, battle at threatened points in fierce, efand the German first-line positions on a forts to ain their lost positions. The front of two and a half miles northwest fighting was especially prolonged and
violent around Craonne, where the Mill, where the French seriously threatFrench took prisoners from two fresh ened the whole German position as far German divisions and maintained all north as La Fère. So huge were the their gains. The obstacles confronting masses of troops thrown by the Germans the French armies were in many cases against the French lines that at several natural, and, it would seem, insurmount points the French were driven back by able, and the French accomplished mag sheer force of numbers, but counteratnificent exploits in scaling them in the tacks immediately organized enabled face of the enemy, who had accumulated them to regain the lost ground. divisions and batteries.
On May 17 the German counterattacks Fighting Near Rheims
still continued with extraordinary in
sistence, especially on the Chemin des There was no diminution in the heavy Dames. A correspondent on that day German onslaughts in the neighborhood summed up the situation in these words: of Rheims, where the German positions “ To the north of Laffaux village and the between Beine and Sapigneul form a neighboring crossroads in particular the pronounced salient, which includes Fort
battle has gone on practically without Brimont and Forts Witry, Berru, and intermission for a month. This district Nogent. After three days' more fighting of sharp hills, wooded ravines, and limethe French gained further successes, stone caverns is the corner at which the capturing first-line trenches over a front
Siegfried line turns eastward. The of three-quarters of a mile northeast of
French advance was desperately opposed Chevreux, near Craonne, and also a
from the first, and it has been possible minor position northwest of Rheims.
to extend it only slightly, but the chief In a determined effort to secure the end has been very fully attained. The initiative, the Germans on May 16 deliv tide of the German assault swells up, ered a powerful attack on a front of two splashes over a piece of trench here or and a half miles northeast of Soissons, there, is broken, and in its ebb leaves attempting to break through the French terrible human wreckage to mark one lines north and northwest of Laffaux more failure.”
The Famous Fight for Vimy Ridge
The story of the remarkable capture of barded the enemy positions on and beVimy Ridge by the Canadians, one of the yond the ridge, and trenches, dugouts, outstanding episodes of the British offen- emplacements, and roads, which for long sive in France in April, 1917, is officially had been kept in a continual state of disrelated as follows by the Canadian War repair by our fire, were now smashed to Records Office:
uselessness. An intense barrage of GAIN the Canadians have “ acquired shrapnel from our field guns, strength
merit.” In the capture of Vimy ened by the indirect fire of hundreds of Ridge on April 9, as in the machine guns, was laid along the front.
lesser action of Courcelette in At the same moment the Canadian September of last year, they have shown troops advanced in line, in three waves the same high qualities in victorious ad of attack. Flurries of snow drifted over vance as they displayed in early days in the battlefield as the Canadians left desperate resistance on many stricken their jumping-off trenches behind the fields. At half-past 5 on Easter Monday rolling barrage. The light was sufficient morning the great attack was launched for manoeuvring purposes and yet obscure with terrible fire from our massed artil enough to obstruct the range of vision lery and from many field guns in hidden and lessen the accuracy of fire of the advanced positions. Our "heavies” bom German riflemen and machine-gunners.
The troops on the extreme left made a bombardment of our gun positions—was start under conditions as favorable as not strong as strength in such things is those in the centre and right, but they considered today. Prisoners were alwere soon confronted by a strong and ready hurrying to our rear in hundreds, constantly strengthening opposition. The pathetically and often ludicrously grateadvance of these troops was soon checked ful to the fortunes of war that had between its first and second lines of ob saved them alive for capture. They surjectives by heavy fighting, which was rendered promptly and willingly. more formidable against the centre of the The barrage lifted, and the two divis. line than against the flanks.
ions on the right followed it forward to A dip in the ground caused a change of the German third line. Here again they direction, which swung these troops off paused for a time, then advanced again, their central objectives. They reached behind the ever-ready and unslackening their goals on the flanks, only to find harrage, for a distance of about 1,200 themselves subjected to heavy, close yards. This advance included the captrange fire of machine guns and rifles. ure of several villages, Hill 140, a numTo be enfiladed from the centre and the ber of fortified woods, and several north was bad enough, but to add to the trenches and belts of wire. And still situation, caves, or a tunnel, in the hostile the enemy surrendered by hundreds and line over which we had already advanced scuttled rearward to safety. Their renow disgorged Germans, who promptly sistance grew feebler, their hands more reoccupied their old front and opened fire eager to relinquish their weapons and on our rear. The enemy at these points ascend high above their heads, at each fought with unusual vigor and resolu stage of our advance. tion.
At 10 o'clock snow fell heavily from These troops on
the extreme left black clouds sweeping low across the fought all day against the Huns, and by ridge. Half an hour later the snow 10 o'clock at night succeeded in dispos
ceased, the clouds thinned, and the sun ing of the enemy in their rear and cap
shone fitfully over the shattered and turing the major portion of the enemy
clamorous battlefield. Word was retrenches in their centre. “ The Pimple,"
ceived at the advanced headquarters that in the north, still remained to the enemy,
the British division on our immediate but by then snow was falling heavily right was enjoying a degree of success and it was wisely decided to consolidate
in its operations equal to the Canadian the hard-won gains and prepare for a counterattack rather than to undertake
Events continued to develop with raa further assault that night.
pidity and precision. By 1 o'clock every Pimple” would keep for the morrow.
point in the enemy's third line of our ob
jectives had been reached and secured. In the meantime the other troops
By this time the troops on the right had fought forward to one line after another
consolidated their gains and advanced without serious check, but with many
strong patrols. From their new positions brisk encounters and not without casual
they commanded a wide view of enemy ties. Most of these were the result of
territory to the eastward. They reported shrapnel fire, only a small percentage
a massing of Germans on a road in the were fatal, and the majority of the
new field of vision, and our heavy guns wounds were of a minor character.
immediately dealt with the matter. By On the German second line the troops noon one of the battalions of a division drew breath and consolidated their gains. had received and dealt drastically with Our barrage was laid before them steady three counterattacks. Its front remained as a wall. Fresh troops came up and de unshaken. Shortly after this the Canaployed into position. They waited for dian Corps was able to state that the the barrage to lift at the ordained min
prisoners already to hand numbered three ute and lead them on. The enemy's ar battalion commanders, 15 other officers, tillery fire-their counterbarrage and and more than 2,000 noncommissioned
officers and men—with plenty more in sight-making for our cages
as fast as their legs could carry them.
The final stage of the attack of the troops on the right was now made. They passed through the wide belts of enemy wire which fringed the plateau by way of wide gaps torn by our heavy artillery at fixed intervals. So they issued on the eastern slopes of Vimy Ridge—the first allied troops to look down upon the level plain of Douai since the German occupation in 1914. They saw the villages of Farbus, Vimy, and Petit Vimy at their feet, and beyond these the hamlets of Willerval, Bailleul, Oppy, and Mericourt.
They pressed on to Farbus Wood and Goulot Wood, and possessed themselves of several hostile batteries and much ammunition.
By an early hour of the afternoon all our objectives, save those of the left of the attack, were in our possession, and the task of consolidating and strengthening our gains was well in hand. Throughout the day the most couragecus and devoted co-operation was rendered to the Canadian Corps by a brigade and a squadron of the Royal Flying Corps.
The night saw all of Vimy Ridge, with the exception of a few trenches on Hill 145, secure in Canadian hands.
Last Inhabitants Driven From Rheims
The City of Rheims was evacuated by its civil population on Easter Sunday, when the last 17,000 inhabitants, who had with stood the German bombardment for two and one-half years, withdrew. Henry Wood describes this episode as follows:
EFORE the German declaration of
possible to post the bills. On Wednesday there came still another thousand shells. The two newspapers of Rheims, which had never missed a single issue even under the severest bombardment, invited their readers at last to abandon their homes as they were abandoning their newspapers. Thursday
another thousand shells hurled into Rheims and the authorities prepared more posters, this time ordering the population to flee immediately. The bombardment again prevented the posting of the bills and the 17,000 still refused to flee.
On Good Friday not only was the number of shells increased, but their size as well, and on Saturday were added shells filled with asphyxiating gas. It was then, and then only, the faithful 17,000 admitted their defeat.
They still hung out till Easter morning, however, and then, getting together their few possessions, and under a new deluge of shells, they went out, and Rheims remained a city without life and without breath.
The damage done to the remains of Rheims Cathedral during the bombard. ments of April and May was so serious that architects apprehend the complete collapse of the building.
war Rheims was a prosperous city,
with 117,000 inhabitants, and though about 100,000 of the population left by degrees, the remainder refused to go. They organized an underground cellar life, with schools and municipal, social, and business activities.
The enemy apparently chose Holy Week for the final destruction of the city. On Palm Sunday nearly 1,000 shells were thrown into the city, and the local authorities immediately suggested the final evacuation of the city, but the faithful 17,000 said, “Oh! but we have seen much worse than this in 1914.” On Holy Monday another thousand shells
The faithful 17,000 began to look a little dubious, but cheered each other up heroically. But on Tuesday another thousand shells deluged the city, and the local authorities had some bills printed begging the people to flee; but the bombardment was so terrific that it was im
Period from April 18 to. May 18, 1917
By J. B. W. Gardiner
HE object of these reviews is two proved by the soldiers themselves. The
fold—to give a résumé of recent Russians and the Germans are fraterfighting in the various theatres nizing openly in No Man's Land, and
of military operations and to there seems no means of breaking up outline the general situation as it exists this ruinous communication. The situat the moment of writing. The second ation could not, in a military way, be of these I will take up first, as it will very much worse. bring into clearer view the objects on
It is not that Russia will make a sepaeither side of the fighting, and to what rate peace.
The probabilities are that extent those objects are being attained. she will not. While this still keeps
Germany has two chances of winning Germany away from the Russian granthe war. The first is the submarine aries, it nevertheless, in so far as milicampaign. If this campaign is success tary operations are concerned, gives Gerful to the point that oversea communi many the same advantages that such a cation between the New World and the peace would bring. That is, it eliminates Old is completely broken up German Russia from the war, at least for the victory is almost certain to ensue. The current year, and thereby permits the second is a separate peace with Russia. Central Powers to concentrate in other This will not necessarily make Germany quarters a large part of the forces which the winner, but it will greatly enhance have been held on the eastern front by Germany's chances and make victory a Russia's swift, hard offensive strokes. possibility. As to the first, it is practi This is an element that has an important cally impossible. The second is not im bearing on the fighting in France. possible, but improbable. At the same General Hindenburg's Plan time a situation exists in Russia which is not without an omen of ill for the
Let us turn back a little to the beAllies.
ginning of the great German retreat and
outline the reasons given by Germany, or Ominous Conditions in Russia
fairly implied as reasons therefor. The The situation is one of chaos. In first was undoubtedly to gain time—to stead of liberty and an active struggle delay the attack of the Allies, which they to defeat the most persistent foe to felt sure would be launched. The almost republican ideas, there is almost un inconceivable devastation left in their bridled license and a complete breaking wake is sufficient proof of this. The down of discipline in the military force. second was to give their submarines an As one of the Russian leaders stated it, opportunity to destroy sufficient tonnage the people have had a sip from the cup to give them the advantage in the land of liberty, and it has intoxicated them. fighting. Finally, having accumulated The ablest Generals, the greatest states during the Winter a certain reserve of men, have all left their posts, either new material through new levies, returns through removal or resignation. Nich from the hospitals, and men released olas, Brusiloff, Rusky have gone, and from manufacturing duties through the there is no one apparently able to take enslavement of the Belgians, their aim their places. Discipline in the army has was to begin an offensive in a new field disappeared, the control of the officers through open warfare, using this reserve over the men has gone with it, and no
for the purpose. important order can be given unless ap What this new reserve amounted to in