The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Despite the havoc wrought by the mine explosions and the deadly effectiveness of the British creeping barrages, surviving German defenders within the heavily wired deep defensive zone (supported by the Surgeons tending wounded at a dressing station near Hill 60 on the Ypres Salient, August 1917garrisons of concrete strongpoints and pillboxes) offered solid resistance to the assaulting British troops - especially towards the upper reaches of the Ridge. The first significant British casualties occurred in the late morning as the crest of the Ridge became congested with troops during the pause to allow artillery and supporting infantry Divisions to get forward. The crowded uplands presented many irresistible and perfectly ranged targets for German machine guns and artillery. The afternoon's advance down the eastward slopes was far from straightforward and claimed many attackers; communication problems with supporting artillery in IX Corps and II Anzac Corps sectors resulted in unfortunate incidents where some units came under fire from their own guns.

The British Official Historian offered the following final figures for British and German casualties for the Messines fighting: in the period 1-12 June Second Army casualties were 24,562 (comprising 3,538 killed, 17,977 wounded and 3,047 missing). Note that of this total (24,562) more than one half were in the II Anzac Corps. German casualties for the same period were estimated as about 23,000 (including 10,000 missing - many of whom were the victims of the mine explosions and the British artillery barrages).


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