yesterday at Loos battlefield.
German trenches were on a ridge like Flagstaff Hill and Ridge at the
Plain. Our trenches were 4800 yards short of them. Germans could see
for 4 miles our men for 400 yards.
a desolate waste like an African veldt, not a blade or anything save
one single tree which stood like a landmark.
was one place in which it was impossible for men to rise from their
trenches and assault without being mown down, it was here. But they
did it. Even seeing what one has seen, I should never have believed
it possible for even British troops to attempt the task.
had cut the German wire and our own had been cut by wire cutters to
admit passage of assaulting columns.
Div. K Scottish were the leading troop of one corps. They have made
a name for themselves and "achieved the impossible" and have
displayed a dauntless courage which has seem no equal since the Peninsula.
Future history will how - enlighten the world of their achievement,
but the childish censorship at home prefers to conceal these glorious
deeds lest the mistakes in staff management might be revealed, for the
story of their performance reveals many weakpoints in other departments.
rose from our trenches covered by "smokeballs" and went striaght
through whole systems of German trenches, through their final objective
and on to a ridge beyond. This they accomplished with under ten per
cent casualties. Other troops on either flank experienced more difficulty,
were held up by various factors which were not anticipated, result being
that these Highlanders were for a very long period absolutely out by
the emphatic part of the story, other divisions came up, hungry, tired,
exhausted. Question arises, would not a strong man have sat them down
for 2 hours to feed and drink, and then give battle instead of going
into such an awful conflict on empty stomachs. The old, old story of
which I tire of writing, Discipline. The K Divs are like children in
that respect. Men were killed on the threshold of the battlefield with
no iron rations on them and no water in their field bottle. Why? Lack
of discipline: lack of that rigid discipline which can make men do the
impossible. In one K Div it is good in another indifferent.
need (nor could I if I tried) not emphasize the value of "compliance
with orders" as a proof of discipline. Two Divisions went into
the fight under the conditions stated above. They melted away. They
had less effect upon the situation than 1800 Cavalrymen who arrived
full of heart and cheer and cognisant of the situation, with a system
of holding on to a certain point at all costs.
Divisions broke down their cookers by overloading with ridiculous paraphernalia,
walked through 15 villages without stopping to give the men a drink
or a bite of cheese. At the end found the men had eaten all their rations
and drunk all their waterbottles and were hurled into the Armageddon
to meet the death which inevitably claims ill-disciplined troops.
you, these men could present arms - salute - and all the outward and
visible signs of discipline very well. But the real soldier was not
in them. Trades unionism had taught them that "self first"
was the only motto in life. Poor devils, they have learnt a lesson,
but at what cost, ie they eat their emergency ration when they felt
hungry instead of awaiting an order to do so.
afford you a bit of a lever is disciplinary measures.
exaggerating I underrate the conditions, because one is not allowed
to give any places or figures.
the minds of the Germans. They thought themselves impregnable in very
deep and perfect systems of trenches with 3 rows of wire in front each
row 5 yards deep, 10 yards between each row. Well might they have considered
moral effect (ie Attack) on our troops has had a very marked effect.
They are all in splendid spirits, and the holes in their ranks have
been replenished.This side show in Servis may cause complications, but
let it be remembered that this war can only be won by killing Germans.
We have taken a terrible toll of them this last month. An exploitation
of success in new theatres means nothing. It is done for ulterior motives,
but will not help them to stave off the inevitable defeat.
are now armed with bombs, knives and bludgeons' Jolly sort of war isn't
it? The things with bombers is to get the maximum throw. It stands to
reason if you can outrange your opponent you must keep him off. The
system of carrying up supplies of bombs, bombing squads, etc all require
great attention. The best carrier of all is a nose bag. When the man
is shot, his nose bag drops, another comes along, catches it up and
goes on; whereas with body belts etc it takes a very longtime to take
them off the dead, and in a trench has been found practicaly impossible
to do so quickly. The Guards Div used 8000 bombs in 12 hours which will
you give you an idea of the organisation required for replenishment.
Work out a Brigade system. Any system is better than none.