[Illustration: Map showing the swaying battle line from Belfort to the North Sea and the intrenched line on April 15, 1915.]
On Oct. 28, Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria declared in an army order that his troops “had just been fighting under very difficult conditions,” and he added: “It is our business now not to let the struggle with our most detested enemy drag on longer.... The decisive blow is still to be struck.” On Oct. 30, General von Deimling, commanding the Fifteenth Army Corps (belonging to General von Fabeck’s command,) issued an order declaring that “the thrust against Ypres will be of decisive importance.” It should be noted also that the Emperor proceeded in person to Thielt and Courtrai to exalt by his presence the ardor of his troops. Finally, at the close of October, the entire German press incessantly proclaimed the importance of the “Battle of Calais.” It is superfluous to add that events in Poland explain in a large measure the passionate resolve of the German General Staff to obtain a decision in the Western theatre of operations at all costs. This decision would be obtained if our left were pierced or driven in. To reach Calais, that is, to break our left; to carry Ypres, that is, to cut it in half; through both points to menace the communications and supplies of the British expeditionary corps, perhaps even to threaten Britain in her island—such was the German plan in the Battle of Flanders. It was a plan that could not be executed.
The enemy, who had at his disposal a considerable quantity of heavy artillery, directed his efforts at first upon the coast and the country to the north of Dixmude. His objective was manifestly the capture of Dunkirk, then of Calais and Boulogne, and this objective he pursued until Nov. 1.
On Oct. 23 the Belgians along the railway line from Nieuport to Dixmude were strengthened by a French division. Dixmude was occupied by our marines (fusiliers marins). During the subsequent day our forces along the railway developed a significant resistance against an enemy superior in number and backed by heavy artillery. On the 29th the inundations effected between the canal and the railway line spread along our front. On the 30th we recaptured Ramscapelle, the only point on the railway which Belgians had lost. On the 1st and 2d of November the enemy bombarded Furnes, but began to show signs of weariness. On the 2d he evacuated the ground between the Yser and the railway, abandoning cannon, dead and wounded. On the 3d our troops were able to re-enter the Dixmude district. The success achieved by the enemy at Dixmude at this juncture was without fruit. They succeeded in taking the town. They could not debouch from it. The coastal attack had thus proved a total failure. Since then it has never been renewed. The Battle of Calais, so noisily announced by the German press, amounted to a decided reverse for the Germans.