These troops formed part of an immense enemy force which was launched against the British positions between Ypres and Armentières on 20 October. That date marked the first day of the attack of the German Sixth and Fourth Armies, the aim of which was, in combination with the separate German thrust along the coast, to eliminate the Belgian Army, capture the Channel ports and destroy the BEF by cutting its cross-Channel supply lines and communications and, at the same time, launch a damaging blow against the French heartland.
It was, according to the British Official History, 'a day of hard fighting all along the line'. The attack was made by five-and-a-half German Army Corps supported by heavy artillery fire. The Allies were particularly surprised by the weight of shells thrown in their direction; many of the heavier German field pieces had been relocated to this front following the reduction of the Belgian frontier fortress and the surrender of Antwerp.
The operations which eventually bore the official title 'The Battle of Langemarck' included the German assaults towards Bixschoote, Kortekeer and Langemarck itself, and against defensive positions running south-east of the village manned by units of the British I Corps. The British Official History extends its detailed description of the battle southwards to include the activities of IV Corps around the salient-like line running from Reutel - Kreuiseecke to Zandvoorde and Hollebeke.
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