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AS ON PARADE!, Issue 15704, 19 January 1915
AS ON PARADE!
THE PRUSSIAN GUARD'S MARCH TO DEA'i'H. Tho talo has already been told of how the fatuous Prussian Guard marched to their death at Yprcs. A further account tberooi has c-omo to hand, and it deserves reproduction at our hands because ox the tribute it pays to various galla.nt sections of that brave though "insignificant littlo army" of which the Ka-i&tsr spoke so contemptuously. Tho climax of tho great battle for Ypres, sa-Vu tho Central News correspondent, was the advance of the Prussian ' Guard. My informant ga.vo mo a. vivid ; impression oft hose 15 battalions ot unutterable brave men, who in a great grey eoiunm marched down on the trenches of the Allies as steadily as if on parade—the oncers with their swords at the "carry" and the lines of men as steady as .&. rock. Men fell; those in the rear stepped intotheir places, and the ranks moved on unbroken. Shrapnel hissed among them, machine gnus clacked, away viciously, and French and British rifles f-pat death at them from front and Hank; but they came on like the sea, and the narrow line- of gallant Frenchmen in the foremost trenches could not withstand them. The line was broken, and tho column moved on, apparently as implacable and irresistiblo as fate. Then it wheeled to the right, and swung round behind the Brigade of Guards, just where lay the Guards' iicackiuarters. Headquarters Start to the number of about 40 tuvnvu out, and lying in a. circle, accounted for some 60 of theroeklike Prussians. That- was the beginning of tho end. As you know already, these 15 battalions of tho finest fighting men iu Germany wero hurled back by the British troops, shattered and brokeu, and for all their sacrifice, nothing more was gained than two shoit sections of trench, between which a company of the "Fighting Fiiih" held a salient whe not* for several hours they took full toll of the formidable enemy until the latter retired. 'There were other attacks at intervals, particularly one in which tho VVorceste-rs and Noithamptons figured. They were holding a section of " Coalhox Wood," so called for the attention paid to it by tho German heavy artillery, and on this oeca.sion tht) German.-; developed some ingenuity in engineering a surprise. They crawled up at night in twos and threes to a line about. 150 yards in front of the British regiments' trenches, and there masse", still prone. Everything was favorable to a deadly rush. The night was dark, and rain made, vision still more, difficult. But when the German ranks rose they did eo to make the most hideous uproar. Drums beat, there wore lead "hoehs" for the Fatherland, cat-calls, and ether amazing noises. Tho Worcestsra and the Northamptons awaited tho charge until the yelling Teutons were within 80 yaids, .and then tho English soldiers' "mad minute" (which is Atkins's, synunyrn for " Fifteen rounds rapid ") —Mowed Them Down in Swathe,?.— The .attack wavered and broke, and "Coalbox Wood " lias not. since been attempted. There have been many minor and sectional attacks. These have boon regiu'dod -as part of a "wearing-out" process, but, strangely enough, a- thing uirthought of in German military theory, they have been looked upon' by ,our .soldiers as xi- relief from the. monotony of shell-lire. The country around Ypres, fiat and woody, has facilitated such. Attacks-, but they have often not been pressed home, mainly because our men's riilo tiro lias been too deadly. German prisoners have- been heard to express tho belief that each British soldier must carry a. machine- gun, so impres-sed have they been with tiro accuracy and rapidity of his shooting. Itis the shell fire which has made the Battle of Ypres such a- test of endurance as no nrmv has experienced before. Oitieevs and men say that it has been 10 times worse than that on tho Aisne. It has been persistent, and it- has been deadly. "Day and night there has been a succession of "'Oompahs," " Oornpeos, "Bowlers." and " t'igsi.jueaks," "Oompahs" being the big shells. "Compees" the smaller ones, "Bowlers" the projectiles thrown by the trench mortars, aixt " Pigsrpieaks " shrapnel. Atkins has a name for them all. Tho soil around Ypres is not a, holding soil, but shifty and diilieult to trench, unlike that on the Aisne, and constantly the trenches wero being blown in by shells. On one fierce afternoon in one short trench four men in succession had io be dug out as a consequence of these irruptions. As an instance of the terribly heavy work involved in modern field operations, I -was informed that tho Suffolks, in one period of 36 hours of fiercely-contested righting with hard won progress, had to dig themselves securely in nine times. Tiie same regiment had 2GO casualties in clearing one small patch of woodland. Among talcs that, are told are those of the three men ! of the Suffolks veho gathered potatoes in a field literally swept by shell tiro until j they had lifted the desired' quantity; of the other Sutfolk man. who, when a magnesium shell dropped, in the "funk pit," dashed up to his oliicer to tell him excitedly that tho enemy wero tiring "white-hot snakes" at him; and of tho sniper who, returning to his trench, leapt head over heels over the parapet to escape the bullet, of a German opponent, and then immediately signalled a "Holly" to his discomforted foe. —The General's Thanks.— Tho following Army order speaks for To the Ist Division, 2nd Division, 3rd Division, Ist Cavalry Division, and 3rd Cavalry Division. G." 983, November 12, 1914.—The Comma,nder-in-C'liiei ha.s asked me to convey to the troops under my command his congratulations and thanks for tho splendid resistance to tho German attack yesterday. This attack was delivered by some 15 fresh battalions of the, German Guards Corps, which had been specially brought up to carry out the task iu which so many other corps had failed—viz., to crush the British and force a way through to Ypres. Since its arrival in this neighborhood tho Ist Corps, assisted by tho 3rd Cavalry Division, 7th Division, and troops fi'om the 2nd Corps, has mot and dofeatcd the 23rd, 26th, and German Reserve. Corps, the 13th Active Corps, and finally a strong toreo horn tho Guards Corps. It is doubtful whether tho annals of the British Army contain any finer record than this. Douglas Haig, Lieutenant-general, commanding Ist Army Corps. —Our Guards Use the Bayonot.— From various sources wo know thatBritish cavalry at tho front are doing the work of infantry in tho trenches and in tho fighting lino. And now we learn that of the cavalry so engaged tho Life Guards, amongst others, hnvo given <*i glorious account of themselves, taking part in tho rout of tho Prussian Guard. Tho men wore served with bayonets end placed in tho trenches. For week aft u week they remained there, firing mid being fired on, suffering heavy losses, their position being midway between British and Gorman artillery firo. With them were tho Irish Guards, tho London Scottish, and other regiments when tho most gloriou3 ordoal of nil occurred. The Lifo Guards observed that the Irish Guards, who wore in front of them, woro retiring. They prepared to reinforce, but tho order came to advanco, thou to charge with fixed bayonots' through tho intorvuls of tho Iri3h. Like a tornado tho • crack cavalry regiment surged on to take first one tronch, then another, and yet another, Their success was magnificent, but terrible was the number of the fallen. As an eye-witness expressed It i "It was hell upon earth. I saw as much in those two duvs as I saw in tw r o years in South! Africa."
AS ON PARADE!, Issue 15704, 19 January 1915
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