GWL 17th June 1915

So you have got old Ion back again.  I expect a little measle would be rather welcome.

Back in billets now for a day or so.  We have B Company’s palatial billet.  I slept on the lawn this afternoon, very pleasant indeed.

So dear old Peter has started at last.  Poor Mother, I am afraid she will feel it awfully.  There is absolutely no news at all.  Lovely days again & jolly hot.  Mother has sent me a topping little curtain thing for the back of my cap.  You really want something like that now.  Out of the wind it seems quite like old times last year.  These days we go about smothered in anti-gas gear.  Respirators, smoke helmets and the Lord knows what.  So many things to put on that honestly it is very easy to go out without one and thus render oneself liable to be hanged.  Apparently they contemplate carrying out the extreme penalty on any officer, whose men get gassed!  Bye bye for a bit.”

Poison-gas-introduced-landing-page

A British anti-gas helmet from 1915 from the Illustrated London News

Reading the letters one would get the impression that both sides had decided to camp for the summer.  However, Sir John French’s Ninth Despatch tells a different story:

On 16th June an attack was carried out by the 5th Corps on the Bellewaarde Ridge, east of Ypres. The enemy’s front line was captured, many of his dead and wounded being found in the trenches. The troops, pressing forward, gained ground as far East as the Bellewaarde Lake, but found themselves unable to maintain this advanced position. They were, however, successful in securing and consolidating the ground won during the first part of the attack, on a front of a thousand yards, including the advanced portion of the enemy’s salient north of the Ypres-Menin Road. During this action the fire of the artillery was most effective, the prisoners testifying to its destructiveness and accuracy. It also prevented the delivery of counter attacks, which were paralysed at the outset. Over two hundred prisoners were taken, besides some machine-guns, trench material and gas apparatus. Holding attacks by the neighbouring 2nd and 6th Corps were successful in helping the main attack, whilst the 36th French Corps cooperated very usefully with artillery fire on Pilkem. Near Hill 60 the 10th Infantry Brigade made four bombing atacks, gaining and occupying about fifty yards of trench.
{next post 18th June}

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