The Ypres Salient - CWGC

The British Official Historian listed five strong points ('closed works with a few strands of wire round them') north of the Menin Road and quoted, as a footnote, the remarks of a senior staff officer on their value: 'These strong points...were the saving of the day. The attackers blundered on them after they had broken through our line, and were taken in enfilade and broken up and driven into wood and hollows for shelter. 2nd Scots Guards in a trench at Ghent, October 1914They were a lesson in defensive tactics for all time.' ('Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1914' (Volume II), compiled by Brigadier-General Sir James E Edmonds, London, Macmillan, 1925; footnote pp.426-7).

The strong point at Black Watch Corner in particular accounted for many German casualties: 'Only completed by the 23rd Field Company RE an hour before the attack, lying snugly hidden in a depression, and untouched by artillery fire, it came as a complete surprise to the 3rd Foot Guard Regiment...It consisted only of a traversed trench inside the four hedges of a cottage garden, which had been converted into an obstacle by a few strands of barbed wire. It was manned by Lieut F Anderson and forty rifles of the Black Watch.' (Ibid, p.438).

High casualties, especially amongst German officers and non-commissioned officers led to a loss of direction and cohesion by the attacking forces; their progress having already being hindered by mud, broken ground and the close entanglements of thick undergrowth within the glades and thickets.


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