The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Although efforts were made to conceal and disguise preparations the considerable build-up for the battle could not be hidden from German observation. The construction of new roads, Men of the KOYLI fuse Stokes trench mortars new Wieltjietracks and massive dumps of stores and ammunition; the busy activities of motor and horse transport and the constant movement of men, guns and machinery were all pointers to the likelihood of an imminent new offensive. Increased air activity, for vital reconnaissance and artillery spotting duties, also offered broad hints of a coming attack.

As for the Battle of Messines, in the previous month, considerable attention was paid to training the combat troops in their specialist co-ordinated roles - especially as regards the reduction of concrete strongpoints and pillboxes. Much use was again made of large scale models of the sectors of attack troops must cross in order to familiarise them with their objectives. According to Edmund Blunden these instructional devices appealed to the troops: '...an enormous model of the German systems now considered due to Britain was open for inspection, whether from the ground or from step-ladders raised beside, and this was popular, though whether from its charm as a model or value as a military aid is uncertain.' (‘Undertones of War’, Edmund Blunden, London, Cobden and Sanderson, 1928, pp.212-213).

Despte the intimations of problems with the low-lying sodden ground three tank brigades (each of 72 vehicles) were made available to Gough; also at his disposal were two Royal Flying Corps brigades (amounting to over 400 aircraft).

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