The Ypres Salient - CWGC

'The nineteen mines exploded without a single failure, and the shock for many miles that of an earthquake...was felt in London and various parts of England. The fact that, unintentionally, Australian troops wearing box respirators in a trench at Garter Point near Ypresthe explosions were not all simultaneous - the last being 19 seconds after the first - had a cumulative effect on the German garrison.' ('Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1917' (Volume II), compiled by Brigadier-General Sir James E Edmonds, London, HMSO, 1948; pp 54-55).

The explosions killed and stunned many thousands of defenders and the shocked state of the survivors rendered them unfit for disciplined defensive fighting. The British assault troops in their forward assembly trenches were urged to lie out in the open prior to the blowing of the mines, so as not to get buried in any possible trench collapse. Numerous attackers were wounded by falling debris. Note that only two mines were lost to enemy action (one at Petit Douve and one at Kruisstraat) and the three mines at 'The Birdcage' were not fired. The charges of the nineteen mines that did explode averaged 48,000lbs (about 21 tons each) or nearly twice the average weight of the eight mines classified as 'large' that were detonated at the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916.


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