The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Exhausted by their overlong stay in the front line the troops of these under strength Divisions faced a most difficult advance up the slopes of the Zonnebeke Spur. The history of the 36th Division offers a graphic picture of the attack by 108th and 109th Brigades on the fortified farms defending the slopes: ‘The German barrage came down swiftly, but as it was for the most part on the assembly trenches and behind them, it had small effect on the leading waves. But enemy machine-guns all along the front opened fire almost simultaneously with our barrage. Gallipoli, Somme, Aisne House, Hindu Cott, Schuler Farm, Border House, and Jew’s Hill, were held in strength by the enemy. The concrete pill-boxes, containing in some cases half a dozen separate compartments, seemed to be entirely unaffected by the pounding of many weeks. Moreover, strong wire entanglements running down obliquely from Gallipoli were encountered. The lanes cut by artillery fire were covered by machine-guns. The ground was a veritable quagmire…The foremost wave must have consisted of less than 300 men, probably reduced to a third within half a minute. Not unfitting was the description of a sergeant who took part in the attack: ‘It looked more like a big raiding party than anything else.'' (‘The History of the 36th (Ulster) Division’, Cyril Falls, London: Constable, 1922 (1996 edition), p.116).

In the battle period, 16-18 August, 36th Division lost 2,036 men (killed, wounded and missing); in the same period 16th (Irish) Division had 2,167 casualties (killed, wounded and missing).


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