The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Nonne Bosschen

The Battle of Nonne Bosschen, 11 November 1914.

In the week of rain and cold weather following the crisis of 31 October the British line in front of Ypres remained relatively unchanged. During this period the German High Command agreed on a final bid General Hunter Weston with other officers at St Yves north of Ploegsteert Wood, November 1914.for a decisive breakthrough and capture of Ypres before the onset of winter proper. To this end fresh German divisions were concentrated for a renewed effort.

On 11 November twelve-and-a-half German divisions attacked on a nine mile front between Messines in the south and Reutel in the centre. Launched at 9am on a cold mist-sodden morning the assault followed the most intense artillery barrage as yet experienced by the British on the Western Front. Despite smoke and fog, which allowed German infantry rapidly to close on British positions, the attackers met with little success except astride the Menin Road where British and French troops were driven back. But a more critical situation soon developed to the north of the road where thinly held British defences were quickly overrun by elements of the 2nd Guard Grenadiers who secured (temporarily) the line up to Veldhoek Chateau. Continuing the advance, German 2nd Guard Brigade crucially crashed through the weakened British 1st (Guards) Brigade south-west of Polygon Wood forcing a near 1,000 yard gap.

By 10am German infantry were exploiting the breach. Despite being hampered by broken ground and intense rifle fire from isolated strong points, attacking groups passed into and through the undefended Nonne Bosschen wood to threaten 2nd Divisionís exposed gun line. A potentially disastrous situation was only averted by a gallantly improvised defence and a vitally important counter-attack in the afternoon which flushed German forces from Nonne Bosschen, and checked all hopes of an enemy breakthrough.

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