100TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SOMME. EDITORIAL FROM THE KILDARE OBSERVER

by ehistoryadmin on June 30, 2016

THE KILDARE OBSERVER 8 July 1916

Forward!

The impossibility of maintaining unflagging interest in any incident or series of incidents extending over a prolonged period is demonstrated by the present war, which has been the medium of so many startling revelations. For the past few months there has been comparatively little talk of the operations at the front, principally, we believe, for the reason that there has been a lull in the fighting, or, at any rate, that nothing in the nature of movements calculated to thrill the imagination has taken place. Within the last week, however, there has been a noticeable revival of interest in the subject of the war. For a considerable time past it has been evident, owing to the practical cessation of Germany’s frantic efforts to force back the Allies, that the enemy’s resources both in men and material were weakening, and that a certain degree of demoralisation had resulted from the repeated failures to accomplish anything decisive. In these circumstances we not un-naturally grew expectant of some move on the part of the Allies which would indicate that the offensive measures were about to begin to replace the relative inactivity of defensive fighting. That for which we waited on the western frontier has come hard on the Russians’ splendid efforts in the east. On Saturday evening we received the first news of a big allied offensive which began at 7.30 o’clock that morning, extending over a front of twenty miles north of the River Somme. The assault was preceded by a terrific bombardment lasting an hour and a half. A later message on Saturday informed us that good progress was being made by the troops into enemy territory beyond the front line of Germain trenches, which were occupied by the British early on Saturday. Serre and Monteauban, two important tactical points south-east of Hebuterne and north-east of Bray, were taken and ground was held north of Fricourt, the village itself being in German hands. Simultaneously Curlu and Faviere wood were captured by the French, who quickly covered two kilometres beyond the enemy front line. On Sunday morning the news showed that the offensive had been maintained and developed, the German labyrinth of trenches on a front of 7 miles to a depth of 1,000 yards, and Memetz, a strongly fortified village, having been stormed and occupied. Over 2,000 German prisoners had, up to Saturday night, passed through the British collecting stations, and the total number of prisoners taken by the French and British up to Monday afternoon was over 12,000. The period of waiting has, we believe, passed. The fighting will, there is no doubt, be of a more terrible nature than anything that has taken place for a considerable time past. And progress will necessarily be slow. Never, perhaps, in the history of warfare have such tremendous obstacles to be overcome as those which will be opposed to the forward move of the Allies. Time and the diabolical ingenuity of a highly skilled foe, such as the Germans have proved themselves to be, have been utilised for the purpose of erecting barriers to confront the Allies such as no army had ever before to surmount. For those at home the policy of “wait and see” will become necessity. They can hope for no brilliant dashed that will sweep away the obstacles that the Germans have been enabled to prepare. The Press Association War correspondent telegraphing on Sunday evening affords us an opportunity of realising some of the difficulties which will have to be overcome before the Germans can be forced back and the Allies can take possession of the ground so long and almost indisputably held by the enemy. “What was done at Loos,” he says, “in a way of breaking through almost on the first onslaught is not likely to be accomplished this year, when the Germans have been taking most diligent advantage of months of immobility to strengthen their defence to such an extent that, as they themselves now boast, they have transformed the western front into an impenetrable wall of steel. As to this we shall see, but the demolition of such a powerful, close knitted chainwork of defences, bristling with countless guns of every type, is bound to be a matter of days of heavy pounding. A public that is anxiously awaiting news will, perhaps, not appreciate being counselled to patience, but, unhappily, it certainly will not get the kind of news it wants without the exercise of this quality.   .   .  In the vast human flux now surging upon 25 miles of French soil the deadly game of take-and-give alternates hourly. This is going to be a long and bitter struggle, fraught possibly with the most tremendous results to the whole future of the world, and we cannot judge of the issues of it at any given hour.”

We have long awaited news which would indicate that the Allies had the situation well in hand, not in the strict military sense which might mean that they were prepared to make a determined defence, but in the sense that they were about to assume the offensive, or having assumed it, were able to maintain it. That news has come at last, bringing the end of the war within reasonable prospect of accomplishment. The movements of which we have been told within the past week are the most important items of news which have percolated to us through the War Office and the Press bureau. They prepare us for more hopeful happenings in the near future, and for a victory which must be ours in the end.

Re-typed by Jennifer O’Connell

 

 

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