The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Men of the 16th Canadian Machine Gun Company holding the line in a landscape of mud and water-filled shell holes, November 1917The bad ground conditions, which made life well-nigh impossible for the gunners and for the forward movement and careful siting of the artillery, also had serious implications for the attacking infantry: 'The difficulty was to get the assaulting troops up to the jumping-off tapes at all, and in some sort of condition to make an attack. The chief cause of the great discontent during this period of the Flanders fighting was, in fact, the continuous demands on regimental officers and men to carry out tasks which appeared physically impossible to perform, and which no other army would have faced. It must be emphasized again, too, that in all the vast wilderness of slime hardly tree, hedge, wall or building could be seen. As at the Somme no landmarks existed, nor any scrap of natural cover other than the mud-filled shell holes. That the attacks ordered were so gallantly made in such conditions stands to the immortal credit of the battalions concerned.' ('Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1917' (Volume II), compiled by Brigadier-General Sir James E Edmonds, London, HMSO, 1948, pp.329-30).

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