The Ypres Salient - CWGC

The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge has come to be regarded as a triumph of British arms and further proof of the qualities of Plumer as a supreme tactician. Sir Douglas Haig confided to his diary on the evening of 20 September that 'Our attacks everywhere were successful', and the British Official Historian, writing over thirty years later, was similarly emphatic in his positive comments on the assault: 'Thus ended, with complete success except at Tower Hamlets, the first step in Sir Douglas Haig's first trial of the step-by-step advance; the much vaunted new German defence Wounded men from the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions are treated in a crowded advanced dressing station, 20 September 1917tactics had failed to stop the new method. The change was not appreciated in England or in France, and the success was underrated by the public, but not by the troops themselves, or by their adversaries.' ('Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1917' (Volume II), compiled by Brigadier-General Sir James E Edmonds, London, HMSO, 1948, p.278).

Certainly the systematic and methodical aspect of the fighting (aided by the careful preparations) gave heart to the troops and clearly asserted the return of reasoned control over offensive operations. But like the equally well-planned and conducted Messines battle overall British casualties for the Menin Road Ridge were not small. Figures for Second and Fifth Armies (as supplied by the British Official Historian) were as follows: Second Army casualties (all arms) for the period 20 - 25 September - 12,132 (killed, wounded and missing); Fifth Army casualties (all arms) for the period 20 21 September - 8,309 (killed, wounded and missing). The combined total for Second and Fifth Armies (based on these figures and the disparate time periods) was 20,441. For a detailed breakdown of the casualty figures see 'Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1917' (Volume II), compiled by Brigadier-General Sir James E Edmonds, London, HMSO, 1948, p.278 p.279.

Despite the heavy casualty figures the overall success of the fighting, based on improved organisation, and consequent attainment of precisely defined limited objectives gave renewed confidence to senior commanders and preparations were put in hand by the evening of 21 September for the next major 'step' forward.

BACK TO MAIN TEXT

 
 
Home  |  About CWGC  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy  |  Ts & Cs  |  Credits  |  Accessibility