When the morning of the 24th came the situation remained much the same, but the enemy, who had thrown several bridges across the canal, continued to gain ground to the west. On our front the Germans, under cover of their gas, made a further attack between 3 and 4 A.M. to the east of St. Julien and forced back a portion of our line. Nothing else in particular occurred until about mid-day, when large bodies of the enemy were seen advancing down the Ypres-Poelcapelle road toward St. Julien. Soon after a very strong attack developed against that village and the section of the line east of it. Under the pressure of these fresh masses our troops were compelled to fall back, contesting every inch of ground and making repeated counter-attacks; but until late at night a gallant handful, some 200 to 300 strong, held out in St. Julien. During the night the line was re-established north of the hamlet of Fortuin, about 700 yards further to the rear. All this time the fighting along the canal continued, the enemy forcing their way across near Boesinghe, and holding Het Sast, Steenstraate, and Lizerne strongly. The French counter-attacked in the afternoon, captured fifty prisoners, and made some further progress toward Pilkem. The Germans, however, were still holding the west bank firmly, although the Belgian artillery had broken the bridge behind them at Steenstraate.
On the morning of Sunday, the fourth day of the battle, we made a strong counter-attack on St. Julien, which gained some ground but was checked in front of the village. To the west of it we reached a point a few hundred yards south of the wood which had been the objective on the 23d and which we had had to relinquish subsequently. In the afternoon the Germans made repeated assaults in great strength on our line near Broodseinde. These were backed up by a tremendous artillery bombardment and the throwing of asphyxiating bombs; but all were beaten off with great slaughter to the enemy, and forty-five prisoners fell into our hands. When night came the situation remained unchanged.
This determined offensive on the part of the enemy, although it has menaced Ypres itself, has not so far the appearance of a great effort to break through the line and capture the Channel ports, such as that made in October. Its initial success was gained by the surprise rendered possible by the use of a device which Germany pledged herself not to employ. The only result upon our troops has been to fill them with an even greater determination to punish the enemy and to make him pay tenfold for every act of “frightfulness” he has perpetrated.
Along the rest of the British front nothing of special importance has occurred.
The comments of the German newspapers on the advance of the imperial army north of Ypres readily admitted and justified the use of asphyxiating gases. The leading Prussian military organ, the Kreuz Zeitung, said: