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In this war of accumulated horrors few more, appalling pictures have, been presented than that which describe:-; the fate of a Bavarian force whose retreat was cut off by a forest on fire. The affair occurred nt YVoesteii. to the north-west of Ypros. The Germans had converted the forest of Woesten into a veritable fortress, nnd behind barricades of tree trunks, barbed wire entanglements, and scientifically-con-structed earthworks, had massed a large force, of Bavarian troops, supported by powerful artillery and machine guns sections. The French plan was to surround the wood, surprise, the enemy on the flanks, and attack with a view to the capture of Boesingue, an important strategic point. A couple of Senegalese battalion* were told off to attack the enemy's left flank, the rest of the brigade covering tho centre and the right flank. Two batteries of artillery followed in the wake of tho attacking force. The advance took place during the night, and the "Troops took up their allotted positions without a hitch. At daybreak the assault opened with some remarkably effective squadron firing, and the Bavarians were taken so completely by surprise that they had no chance to reply. Before they were properly awake the charge was .sounded, and the. Senegalese and Zouaves were upon them with the bayonet. The Bavarians, with a YVestphalian regiment which had also been quartered in the forest, fell back in disorder, but the division of which they formed part had by now been alarmed, a.nd German machine {runs were rapidly brought up for the defence. A little later the enemy's heavy artillery was also brought into play, and such ravages were caused in the French ranks that the success of the offensive movement was seriously compromised. In the nick of time, however, fire* was opened by a battery of the famous French " seventyfives," and after half an hour's cannonnrle the German guns were silenced. Now came the. most dramatic moment of the fighting. The fire of the French artillery had ignited the undergrowth, and very shortly the forest was in flames. Retreat was the only course left open to the Bavarians, and that course they took under terrifying conditions, scores of them perishing before the eyes of their comrades.

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Bibliographic details

TWIXT FIRE AND STEEL, Evening Star, Issue 15695, 8 January 1915

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TWIXT FIRE AND STEEL Evening Star, Issue 15695, 8 January 1915