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I ARMENTIERES -GIVEN UP

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I ARMENTIERES GIVEN UP I CREAT BATTLE OF FLANDERS IN PROGRESS iViolent fighting on the La Basee- Ypres Commines Canal was in progress at the time of writing, the British having withdrawn from the gas-filled ruins of Ar- mentieres. The battle is also de- veloping in the neighbourhood of Ploegstreet and Messines. When we left off last week our story of the war, with a mere record of a quiet Klav," it was only to be expected that, at jRny moment, that quietude would be iibroken, and the incidents which go up to make this week's story, with its surging ftnd swaying, its violent bombardments en both sides, may well be* taken as an in- dication of what may be anticipated, with Variations, during the coming weeks, and •(if one may take Mr. Lloyd George's esti- ffrrate in Parliament as a prediction) dur- ing many months—unless the unexpected happens. It may happen on either side. Take last Friday's British official, and 'it will be found that between the Luce Stiver and the Somme, heavy fighting took place (of course it referred to the previous ( ) ?day?s work—Thursday?), which con*"[med hintil a late hour. The enemy employed etrong forces in ddivering repeated as- Br.ults on our positions, and those attacks jvvorc beaten off with loss to the enemy; gbut our troops were pressed back a fihort Vlirtance to positions east of Villers— < £ >erettcneaux (a withdrawal over a dis- tan co of 100 yards. according to a French ( looiumentatqr). BEGINNING OF THE PUSH. M • The Havre communique told us that. a (Horth of the Somme the euejny's artillery I jliad been active during Thursday night :in the neighbourhood of Bucquoy and the 1 Scarpa Valley. Hostile concentrations | twere,. early on Friday morning, engaged 4 Xy our artillery. I I Then taking the French communique (| cg our source of information, we find that 1 Jnn the same Thursday night, the Germans 1 Vantinued their attacks with a determina- tion which dd not relax, and threw li-esh forces into the brittle. On that j Jiosition of the front no fewer than 15 ferman divisions were identified, includ- ing seven freEh divisions. Yet, despite his anarked superiority in "effectives" (ex- pended regardless of life), the enemy failed to reach his objective, which' were jthe railway lines from Amienlermont, as is shewn, by orders found on prisoners, French resistance, foot by foot, and energetic counter-attacks, enabled our i -Allies to maintain their line as a whole, end to inflict heavy losses on the enemy; ;-wbil-st, to the north, the French carried ] their positions in the neighbourhood of j itld drove Imek- the enemy from lBoifl de Larrienne Gourd Wood to the west Mailly-MinevaJ, and the eauth-eest of ?Gi?vesnos. And between Montdidier and  'Noyon the artillery dnel assumed great i iintensdty. The French troops attacked ({the German line and captured the ?".t? ? part of the Bods de Lepmette Wood, 600- t )netres to the north of OrviIJers Soree ENEMY STOPPED DEAD. If What a change from the "quiet day" fwhicfe we had had to reooi'd! Next day came a report that the enemy Ijh&d been U stopped dead," and that on account of the British counter-attack, jMjuth-eaafc of Gounuecuurt (midway he- tiveen Albert and Arras), resulting in the iciiptilre of 120 prisoners. With all this to our acmunt for only a I -couple of days, we eonfe to the story, on .Monday, of the enemy artillery sending gas shells near Lens and Armentieres. aDd 1 greater activity on the whole front, lead- I ting to the question— Is this the new i <e?'r'nsive??? Well, we know it is now.  The most cheerm? part of the day?e |-j f mpssa?e waa that wh-eh m&ntioupd that f our line had been slightly advanced. It is only natural that we should ask, lit this juncture, What is the new Bri- tish liner" And for reply, let us quote from Reuter's expert commentator, whose -iiit,-r,estiii.g narrative was1 issued oil Wed- tnefidny of this week. li THE GERMAN CHANGE OF FRONT. Dating it Paris, Wednesday, he says:— j Yesterday was comparatively calm on £ he French front. In the Somme region there was no infantry engagement, but ,tlie cannonade was most active. On the left bank of the Oise our troops com- pleted their evacuation of the pronounced I ffalient formed by our line between If Chauney and Anizy le Chateau. They finished their retirement at the Oise- |Ai6ne Canal always remaining in coa- II tact with the Germans and inflicting severe losses upon them. The Oise- kA.isne Canal now coustitutes for us a de-I fensive position much stronger than the marshy land which we have abandoned could ever be. It does not seem likely that the enemy will continue his effort in this region. So sudden a change of front in German disposition seems al- most impossible. It is also probable that the enemy attack in the direction of Soas- eons will not be carried further. I PRESSURE ON THE WINGS. I Meanwhile the plan of pressure on the wings attempted by the Imperial General Staff having obtained but little success on the extreme left between Chauney and Couey, the enemy carried his action with more vigour to the extreme right be- tween La Bassee Canal and Armentieres on a front of about twenty kilometres. a German artillery activity in this sector a and the use of poison gas shells caused this new attack to be foreseen. The Ger- i, mans began it in the morning, favoured k by a thick mist. As they have been in the habit of doing throughout this off en- f give in their principal operations, they < threw, powerful effectives into the at- 1 tack on the trenches held in this sector by Portuguese and British troops. The t, fight was very hot and went on all day. I OUR NEW LINE. I (Towards the evening the position was I approximately as follows:—On the left of the British wing, south-west of Ar- fcientieres, our Allies maintain their line •e far ag Fleurbaix. It then bends west- ward and follows the course of the river L-rs between Bac Saint Maur Estaires. The Anglo-Portugue&e centre having ) given way before v the violence of shock, t the front is then outlined by Laventie [ Keuve Chapelle and Richebourg Saint I Vaast, and ends at Givenchy. I .WHY TH!S PARTICULAR ATTACK? I (Fighting is continuing with great keen- ness, and it would therefore be pre- i mature to draw from these first fluctua- t tions hastily regarding the probable re- suits. There is no doubt, that it is not I much a question of the extension of t the front of attack as of a diversion in- i i 1/ tended to relieve the front before 1 » Amiens, where the Germans feel that they are too strongly held. It is certain vhat our reserves would no longer have any distance to go in order to lend their support to our Allies in the Armentieres —La Bassee sector, if they needed it. Whatever may lie the region where they are held in readiness to intervene, and it is probably with the object of dividing our reserves that the enemy is i making his present effort. The manoeuvre, however, was too easily foreseen for our General Staff not to have made suitable j arrangements to bring about its failure. g 200 P R ISO N E R S. In'the course of the fighting at Leple- mont on March 30th the number of prisoners taken by our troops wr over 700, but the accounts by mistake tht; number as 70. -t .:oi ii i (- t prisoners have since been oounted, so 800 in all were taken. JNow we come to the report from Bri- titili Headquarters, issued at d.40 p.m., on Tuesday, for official details. This morn- ing, after an intense bombardment of our positions from the La Bassee Canal to the neighbourhood of Armentieres, strong hostile forces attacked the Bnitiyh and Portuguese troops holding this sector 01 our front. Favoured by a thick mist, which made observation impossible, the enemy succeeded in forcing his way into the Allies' positions in the neighbourhood of Nouve Ghapelle, Fuuquissart, and La Cordonnerrio Farm. After heavy figh- ing. lasting throughout the day, the enemy succeeded in forcing back the Portuguese troops in the centre and British troops on the flajiks of the line of the River Lys. between Estaires and Bac St. Maur. We hold our positions on both flanks about Give-nohy and Fleurbaix. At both these latter places there was heavy fighting, and the enemy was repulsed. Richebourg St. Vaast and Laventie have been token by the enemy. Severe fighting is co-utin-aing on the whole of this front. South of Arras only minor engagements, in which we secured a few pifvsoners, have taken place during the day on the British front" MOVE FORESHADOWED. I Commenting upon the foregoing, a cor- respondent pointed out that the continued activity of the German artillery on the British front, especially Armentieres—La Bassee sector, foreshadowed some# new move. Thjis was made on Tuesday morn- ing in the shape of a big attack on the British and Portuguese positions on a front of eleven miles, between Armen- tieres and the La Bassee Oanal. The exact extent of this fresh development is not yet clear, but Sir D. lIaig reports that the enemy had captured the villages of Laventre and Richebourg. St. Vaast, The result of -the attack has been to ex- tend the northern part cL the enemy's La Ba-twee salient. FlenrlKvix is throe miles south-west of Armentieres, and two miles behind our front, while Laventie lies two miles behind our front line and three miles Houth-west of Fhnir-barx. Rieh«bovr;r Yr«*.<»t •'« one and a half mile, west of our line, throe and a half miles south-south-west of Lnventie, and four and a half miles north-west of La Bassee. Throughout West Wales, as in many other parts of the country, the anxiety for news on Wednesday was tense, and in the critical phase which had by then been reached, the feplhvgs of the people nt home, at such a time, can be well under- stood. Others asked whether the great decision was really in the balance. COMFORTING NEWS. Over Tuesday ni^ht fierce ifshtinfr had been reported on the battlefront north of La Bassee Canal, and our troops were holding the line of the Rivers Lawe and Lys, being heavily engaged with the enemy at the river crossing at Estaires and Bac St. Maur. As :wainst the tension which has been allurb:l't'Û C3.me a crumb of com- fort in the crisp official announcement, issued at 10.23 n.m.. from the British Headquarters in France:- On the south flank of the attack, Givenchy, into which the enemy at one timo had wrced his way, was re-captured later in the day by a successful eo-untf-r- attaek by the 55th Division, who took 750 prisoners in the fighting in this amt." To this was attached a brief reference to a heavy bombardment on our positions east and north of Armentieres, and as far a% the Canal; fighting actually going on upon the southern por- tion of that front, and local fighting, with- out change in the situation, south of the Somme. Unofficially, it was later in the after- noon stated that on Wednesday morning the enemy, obviously carrying out another phase of his programme to exhaust the British Army, had renewed his attacks, which he carried on to the eoast of Armen- tieres and thus to Messines, where he entered our first lino t>f trenches. He captured part of Ploeg-street. Arpien- tieres has (continued the message) .been turned in to a very awkward sabmt, the enemy beins on both sides of that place. Still Armentieres, which is a heap of ruins, has not being lost, though it may be/" FeT?o?-, of !no'- And with this exeatin? seT?es of inci- dents in the Wt",s Rtcry of the W?r," '1tt1te had to peruse until the morrow for the sequel to close t'he chapter—but, be it borne in mind, only a chapter; ijot the full story—leaving "Armentieres in the balance." I

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