At D there are two woods; the southern we will call No. 3, the northern No. 4. On the 16th our allies got a trench just south of No. 3; they got into the wood on the 18th, and fought backward and forward in the wood that day and all the 19th and 20th; by the evening of the 20th they had almost reached the northern edge. On the 21st a stronger counter-attack than usual was repulsed, and in pursuing the retiring enemy they secured the northern edge. On the 22d there was more fighting in No. 3, but in the end the French managed to make their way into No. 4 as far as a trench which runs along a crest midway through the wood. The next six days saw continuous fighting in No. 4, sometimes near the northern end, sometimes at the crest in the middle, and occasionally back near the southern end. The French now hold the northern edge, and have pushed troops into the “Square” wood just north of the line of the 25th.
At E again there are two small woods; these were both captured on the 26th, but the trenches in the northern one had been mined, and the French had no sooner seized them than they were blown up. At F there was another small redoubt; part of this was taken on the 19th from the east, but the work was not finally captured till the 27th, when 240 corpses were found in it. On the extreme west, at G, is a wood which has twice been unsuccessfully attacked. On the first occasion troops got into the wood, but a severe snowstorm prevented the artillery from continuing to assist them, and they were driven out. The second was an attempt to surprise the enemy at 2 A.M. on the 25th; this also failed. A third attack was made on March 7 and was successful; the French line now runs through the wood.
The above will serve to show the tenacity which is required for an operation of this kind. Up to the present the French have made steady and continuous progress, and their success may be best judged from the fact that they have not been forced back on any day behind the line they held in the morning, despite innumerable counter-attacks. And this is not merely a question of ground, but one of increasing moral superiority, for it is in the unsuccessful counter-attacks that losses are heavy, and these and the sense of failure affect the morale of an army sooner or later.
Will the French push through the line? Will a hole be made, or is the enemy like a badger, who digs himself in rather faster than you can dig him out? I cannot tell; it would indeed be an astonishing measure of success for a first attempt, and the enemy may require a great deal more hammering at many points before he has definitely had enough at any one point. But these operations have brought the day closer, and turn our thoughts to the time when we shall be able to move forward, and one finds the cavalrymen wondering whether perhaps they, too, will get their chance.