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BATTLE OF THE AISNE.

GENERAL FRENGH’B ACCOUNT. The Prime Minister has received from the High Commissioner the following message, giving Sir John French’s statement as to the Battle of the Aisne On the afternoon of September 12, from the opposition encountered by the French to the west of Soifiscns and certain indications all along the line, I formed the opinion that the enemy had arrested their retreat, and were preparing to dispute th© passage of the Aisne with vigor. The tract of eountiy north of th© Aisne is well adapted to, concealment, and it was impossible to judge th© real nature of their opposition to our passage of the river or to accurately gang© their strength. I hud, however, reason to conclude that they had strong rearguards. Our three aimy I corps were holding th© passages. On the morning of the 13lh I ordered the British to advance and make good the Aisne. Th© 6th Infantry Brigade weie enabled to cross in single, file, under considerable shell lire, by means of the broken girder of th© bridge. The construction of the pontoon bridge was completed in th© afternoon. On the extreme ■ left the . 4th Guards Brigade met with j severe opposition at. Chavonne. and it I was only in the afternoon that they were j able to establish a foothold on the nori them hank of the river by fetrying the { battalion across in boats. The Vendre-se ; Second Division bivouacked on the i southern bank of the river. The Second ’ Corps found all the bridges in front of I them destroyed except Condo, which was in possession of the enemy, and remained so until the end of the battle. ■ During the night of th© 13lh and 14th J and following davs the Held companies j -.vet© incessantly at work night and day. | Eight pontoon bridges and one foot- ] bridge were, thrown aerose th© river under j a. very heavy artillery fire, which was ini eessantly kept iqi on most of the cross- : digs and after the completion. The opera - i tion- of th© field companies during this | moat (tying time were worthy of the best I traditions of the Royal Engineers. | On the evening of the 14th it was still impossible t<> decide whether the enemy were only making a temporary halt, covered by a rearguard, or whether they intended to stand and defend the jxisition. With a view to clearing up the situation I ordered a central advance. Tit© action of j the First Corps on this day. under the j command of Sir Douglas Haig. was. so -kihTd. bold, and decisive, that be gained I positions which alone enabled me. to mainI tain mv position for more than three | weeks of sever© lighting on the north bank j of the river. i At about 4 o’clock the weakening of the counter-attacks by tlie enemy and other I indieations showed" that their resistance was j decreasing, and a geneial advance was j oiilered by the army i.otps commander; | and a If,bough meeting with considerable i opposition, and coming under very heavy j artillery and rill© lire, tit© position of the I corps at the end of the day'- operations extended iTr-ru Chernin des Dames on the right through Chivy to Le Cour-Pescuiner, wilii the Ist Cavalry Brigade extending to the Chavonne-Soifsons road. Throughout Ihe battle of the Aisne 1 cannot, speak too highly of the valuable services rendered by Sir Douglas Haig and the army roups under it is command. Lav a [ter day. night after night, theenemv’s infantry has, been hurled against him. and the violent counter-attack never on anv on© occasion succeeded, while th© trenches ait over hi- position were under continuous heavy arlillety fire, Ihe casualties were veiy severe, one brigade alone losing litre© of its four eolouels. Ine third division commenced a further advance, and had nearly readied the plateau of Ajuv when tltev. we.ve diiven back by a powerful counterattack supported by a heavv a'aiilety division. 1 bey' fell back in the best order, r.ud finally entrenched. The fomth and fifth divisions were mud)!© to do more than maintain i-heir ground. j On Tie moni'iig of the loth, after at close examination ot the position, it be- j came cleat that, the enemy were making j .1 detenu rued stand, having a. -trough-■ entrenched lin© ot detente up) from the | north of Cornpicg'ie eastwards and southeastwards along the whole valley of the I Aisne bevond Rheims. A few days pre- j viouslv the fortress of Manbetige fell, and a considerable quantity of siege artillery , was brought down from that place to strengthen lit© ©netny’.s position in front. ° f ()n'lhe 17th. 18th. and 19th the whole of our line was heavily bombarded. The First Corps was constantly heavily engaged. On th© afternoon of the 17th lb© light think of the Ist division was ee.Tou-ly threatened, and a counter-attack was made by th© Northamptonshire Regiment. A combination with, the Queen's and the Northamptonshire Regiment, under cover of a. mifit. crept up within a hundred yards of the enemy’s trenches, and enurgort with the bayonet', driving them out. ©f the trenches'and tip the hill. A veiy strong fore© of hostile infanlty then disclosed itself on the crest of the lineThis new line wifi enfiladed by part ot the Queen’s and King's Royal Rifles, which wheeled to their left on the ext rente right of our in fan 1 1 V line. The enemy - attack i was ultimately driven back with heavy j losses. On the 18th. during the night, the Gloucestershire Regiment advanced from their position near Chivy, , filled in Die enemy’s trench©-. and captured two maxim guns. On the extreme fight the Queen’s wcie heavily attacked, but th© enemy wer© .©pulsed with great lossShorllv alter midnight an attui k was n.a i-' "on the left <T the 2nd division with j a considerable force, uiiah wa- ai-o thrown Ki'k. On the- 18th information traclied in© from General doffre that la found it. TCi'C-sary to make a new plan. and to ,;.t.ta"k and envelr.p the Genuan light I flank. Th© cavalry have rendered most ! etlicient ready help in the trenches, and j tiv dim© all they possibly could to i ligi,the arduous Disk which has ot | necessity fallen to the infantry. 1 On the evening of the 19th and through I 0111 the 20t!i the enemy commenced to I -how considerable activity. On the former • j night a sevei© counter-attack on the 3rd - ! divi-ion was repulsed with considerable ' loss. The enemy 6uffVred another severe ! repid-e In front, the 2nd divi-ion losing ; 3;eavi!y in the attempt. In the course of J !ht- afternoon the enemy made desperate i ' attempts aga : n-t the trench©- all. along | j th© front, but with similar result-. i , On th© evening of th© -28 th these at- ; tmks died away, and have not sine© been i renewed. Atta©k and counter-attack ne 1 ©n.'Ttd through ;di the horns of th© night ' : and dav thisinglmut the whole position,’ ’ | permitting only a mini mum of rest. ; | One© again the enemy attacked the 2nd [ [ division, ‘and were again driven hack. , j Our WtM on these two days were con,l -idor.i’nie, but Die number as obtained of ; i the enemv’s killed and wounded va-tly exi 1 ixy-ded them. : j Du the night of the 21st another i j violent counter-attack was repulsed My 1 i th© 3rd division, the enemy losing heavily. ' j Duvtrur the night of the ,271h and 28th ; I the f-nrrav again made most determined . i attacks to capture the tret.dies of the 1-t • ! division, but without the slightest suei ctss. Thet© were similar attack- during these three Jnvs all along the line of the • allied front. It is certain that th© enemy : (hen mad© one last great effort toestablieh ■ an ascendancy. They were unsuccessful everywhere, and ate reported to have citf- ' fer©(i heavy losses. The same futile at--1 tempts made all along our front once more demonstrated the splendid -print, g*ili lantrv. and devotion which animates th© s officers and men of Mia Majesty's forces, i From September 12 to October 8 th© t killed, wounded, and missing reached 561 :• officers and 12.980 men. This proves the r severity of the struggle during the battle 1 of the'Aisne. About 1,500 names are mentioned in General French’s despatches, including Lucas Tooth.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD19141021.2.68

Bibliographic details

BATTLE OF THE AISNE., Evening Star, Issue 15629, 21 October 1914

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BATTLE OF THE AISNE. Evening Star, Issue 15629, 21 October 1914

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