The objective of the French attack seems to have been the town of Lens, which is the centre of the coal district of France. Loos, which is about three miles north of Lens, has been one of the centres of fighting. This indicates how close the French are to their objective. Lens is an important railroad centre, and is the point of junction of many roads which radiate in all directions. As yet the French advance is not sufficient to denote anything, but another step in the “nibbling” process by means of which the French have kept the Germans occupied for some months.
In the German angle, from Etain to St. Mihiel to Pont-a-Mousson, the French achieved what will probably prove to be the greatest local success of the past week. That is, the complete occupation of the Le Pretre woods. Sooner or later the continual French encroachments on the German area of occupation must cause the straightening out of this line and the retirement of the Germans to the supporting forts of Metz. The object of all the French moves against this angle has been the town of Thiancourt, on the German supply line from Metz. The capture of the last German line of trenches in the Pretre Forest brings the French within six miles of this town. When the French reach the northern edge of this forest, and they must be very close to it now, it will be a simple matter to drop shells into Thiancourt and seriously endanger every train that comes in.
On the rest of the western front there have been a number of isolated actions, notably in the Champagne district, in the Argonne Forest and north of Flirey, between St. Mihiel and Pont-a-Mousson. They have been of no particular advantage however, and seem to have had no definite purpose beyond making additions to the casualty lists.
Considering the results of the week’s operations in the west, therefore, it is safe to say that the advantage lies with the Allies. That part of the line which has been thrown on the defensive has more than held its own, while the French offense has resulted in a considerable advance over a wide front. If we may draw any comparison at all from this, it must be that the German line is not nearly so impenetrable as the British, and that when the Allies think the attempt will justify the losses that will be inevitably sustained, the German line can be broken even though the rupture may be quickly healed.
In the eastern theatre interest still centres in the battles in Galicia. In Western Galicia, between the Dunajec and the San, the Russian forces are steadily giving way before the attacks of the Germanic allies. Their retreat, which, during the past week, has been rapid, has been well protected by heavy rear guard actions, which have temporarily delayed the pursuing Austrians at various points. At the same time, however, but little respite was given to the Russians.