Darkness coming on and the enemy having brought up reinforcements, no further progress could be made, and the Indian Corps and the Fourth Corps proceeded to consolidate the position they had gained.
While the operations, which I have thus briefly reported, were going on, the First Corps, in accordance with orders, delivered an attack in the morning from Givenchy simultaneously with that against Neuve Chapelle, but as the enemy’s wire was insufficiently cut very little progress could be made, and the troops at this point did little more than hold fast to the Germans in front of them.
On the following day, March 11, the attack was renewed by the Fourth and Indian Corps, but it was soon seen that further advance would be impossible until the artillery had dealt effectively with the various houses and defended localities which had held the troops up along the entire front.
Efforts were made to direct the artillery fire accordingly, but, owing to the weather conditions, which did not permit of aerial observations, and the fact that nearly all the telephone communications between the artillery observers and their batteries had been cut, it was impossible to do so with sufficient accuracy. When our troops, who were pressing forward, occupied a house there, it was not possible to stop our artillery fire, and the infantry had to be withdrawn.
As most of the objects for which the operations had been undertaken had been attained, and as there were reasons why I considered it inadvisable to continue the attack at that time, I directed General Sir Douglas Haig on the night of the 12th to hold and consolidate the ground which had been gained by the Fourth and Indian Corps, and suspend further offensive operations for the present.
The losses during these three days’ fighting were, I regret to say, very severe, numbering 190 officers and 2,337 of other ranks killed, 359 officers and 8,174 of other ranks wounded, and 23 officers and 1,720 of other ranks missing. But the results attained were, in my opinion, wide and far-reaching.
Referring to the severity of the casualties in action, the Commander in Chief writes:
I can well understand how deeply these casualties are felt by the nation at large, but each daily report shows clearly that they are endured on at least an equal scale by all the combatants engaged throughout Europe, friends and foe alike.
In war as it is today, between civilized nations armed to the teeth with the present deadly rifle and machine gun, heavy casualties are absolutely unavoidable. For the slightest undue exposure the heaviest toll is exacted. The power of defense conferred by modern weapons is the main cause for the long duration of the battles of the present day, and it is this fact which mainly accounts for such loss and waste of life. Both one and the other can, however, be shortened and lessened if attacks can be supported by a most efficient and powerful force of artillery available; but an almost unlimited supply of ammunition is necessary, and a most liberal discretionary power as to its use must be given to artillery commanders. I am confident that this is the only means by which great results can be obtained with a minimum of loss.