“The value of such preparation is as noticeable on the side of the enemy as on our own. The phenomenal losses suffered by the Germans’ new formations have been remarked, and they were in part due to their lack of training. Moreover, though at the first onset these formations advanced to the attack as gravely as their active corps, they have not by any means, shown the same recuperative powers. The Twenty-seventh Corps, for instance, which is a new formation composed principally of men with from only seven to twelve weeks’ training, has not yet recovered from its first encounter with the British infantry around Becelaere, to the northeast of Ypres, a month ago. On the other hand, the Guards Corps, in spite of having suffered severely in Belgium, of having been thrown headlong across the Oise River at Guise and of having lost large numbers on the plains of Compiegne and on the banks of the Aisne River, advanced against Ypres on the 11th of November as bravely as they did on the 20th of August.”
The Allies, continues Col. Swinton, have made great sacrifices to defend against tremendous odds a line that could only be maintained by making these sacrifices; but the fact that the situation has been relieved is no reason for assuming that the enemy has abandoned his intention of pressing through to the sea. The writer points out that the Germans continue to attack with great courage, but little abated by failure, and, while they have not succeeded in gaining the Straits of Dover, they have been enabled to consolidate their position on the western front and retain all but a small portion of Belgium.
“As well as they have fought, however,” continues the narrative, “it is doubtful if their achievements are commensurate with their losses, which recently have been largely due to a lack of training and a comparative lack of discipline of the improvised units they put in the field.”
Col. Swinton concludes with the statement that, as the war is going to be one of exhaustion, after the regular armies of the belligerents have done their work it will be upon the raw material of the countries concerned that final success will depend.
The Lull in November.
[Dated Nov. 29.]
General inactivity is recorded along the English front, with the Germans pressing the attack in one quarter against the Indian troops, who have been extending their trenches in an endeavor to get in close quarters with the enemy. There has been some shelling of the rear of our front line south of the Lys, but this form of annoyance diminishes daily along the whole front. Sniping, however, is carried on almost incessantly. There seems to be little doubt that the Germans are employing civilians, either willingly or unwillingly, to dig trenches; some civilians have been seen and shot while engaged in this work.