The Ypres Salient - CWGC

'The infantry were supported by a weight of artillery fire that once again set a precedent in war. Thus the barrage that A 15-inch howitzer, one of many such which pounded the enemy's reeserve area and demolished concrete fortificationswent ahead of the attacking forces consisted of five belts of fire to a depth of 1,000 yards: three belts of high explosive; one of shrapnel and one of machine-gun bullets. As long as the infantry could keep in step with the careful timing of this barrage, they were unlikely to encounter prohibitive resistance.’ (‘The Myriad Faces of War’, Trevor Wilson, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1986, p.475).

Despite the enormous weight of steel and high explosive thrown against enemy positions retaliation was not slow in coming. The comprehensive prolonged British bombardment certainly did great damage but by no means silenced all the German guns; effective enemy defensive fire, especially the counter-battery work against British batteries crammed into the crowded Salient was evidenced by the high number of casualties incurred by British gunners.

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