“When we were brought face to face with a position of extraordinary strength, carefully intrenched and prepared for defense by an army and staff which are thorough adepts in such work, throughout the 13th and 14th, that position was most gallantly attacked by the British forces and the passage of the Aisne effected. This is the third day the troops have been gallantly holding the position they have gained against most desperate counter-attacks and the hail of heavy artillery.
“I am unable to
find adequately words in which to express the
admiration I feel for their magnificent conduct.
“The French armies on our right and left are making good progress, and I feel sure that we have only to hold on with tenacity to the ground we have won for a very short time longer when the Allies will be again in full pursuit of a beaten enemy.
devotion and splendid spirit of the British
army in France will carry all before it.
“J.D.P. FRENCH, Field Marshall,
“Commander in Chief of the British Army in the Field.”
The Slow Fight on the Aisne.
[Made Public Sept. 24.]
The enemy is still maintaining himself along the whole front, and, in order to do so, is throwing into the fight detachments composed of units from different formations, the active army, reserve, and Landwehr, as is shown by the uniforms of the prisoners recently captured.
Our progress, although slow on account of the strength of the defensive positions against which we are pressing, has in certain directions been continuous; but the present battle may well last for some days more before a decision is reached, since it now approximates somewhat to siege warfare.
The Germans are making use of searchlights. This fact, coupled with their great strength in heavy artillery, leads to the supposition that they are employing material which may have been collected for the siege of Paris.
The nature of the general situation after the operations of the 18th, 19th, and 20th cannot better be summarized than as expressed recently by a neighboring French commander to his corps: “Having repulsed repeated and violent counter-attacks made by the enemy, we have a feeling that we have been victorious.”
So far as the British are concerned, the course of events during these three days can be described in a few words. During Friday, the 18th, artillery fire was kept up intermittently by both sides during daylight. At night the German centre attacked certain portions of our line, supporting the advance of their infantry, as always, by a heavy bombardment. But the strokes were not delivered with great vigor, and ceased about 2 A.M. During the day’s fighting an aircraft gun of the Third Army Corps succeeded in bringing down a German aeroplane.