Another British advance

Gas and smoke devices used

SIR John French’s report of Wednesday afternoon’s operations should do much to dissipate may of the rumours industriously circulated as to the actual positions occupied by the British troops.

The ground covered in the new attack was plainly beyond that held as the result of the previous advance, and it is satisfactory to learn that the venture was attended with a large measure of success.

Apparently all that was aimed at was not achieved, the vigorous shelling by the enemy a trench just below and slightly to the west of Hulluch making the captured ground untenable but in the same neighbourhood and elsewhere important gains were held.

Southwest of St Elie (and St Elie is really an outlying portion of Lens) we captured and held the enemy’s trenches behind the Vermelles-Hulluch road and the South-western edge of the quarry, both inclusive, and also captured a trench on the north western face of the forest.

It is noteworthy too that we are back in the Hohenzollern Redoubt, previously taken and lost again.

The enemy are still in the communication trenches between the redoubt and the quarries but the main trench is once more in our hands.

It is probable that this latest move on our part had for its object a rectification of the British line preparatory to operations on a larger scale, and perhaps a little more work of the same sort will be necessary before the bigger effort is essayed.

Another suggestion is that it was desirable to give an adequate trial to our “gas and smoke” devices but as to this (whether the surmise is correct or not) we must await further information.

The enemy, as usual, have issued a misleading report, stating that the British attacked along almost the entire front between Ypres and Loos.

The exaggeration was intended to still more minimise their grudging admission that “North and East of Vermelles the British succeeded in gaining a footing at small points in our advanced trenches, from which” - the official writer becoming more cunningly mendacious as he proceeds - “they have almost everywhere been ejected by our hand grenades”.

Sir John French has promptly nailed the major lie to the counter by an emphatic statement that we only attacked at the points indicated in his report.

There are plenty of curiously-constituted persons in this country who will not be satisfied with this denial and who prefer to believe the German version but happily we are not exactly a nation of fools.

Meanwhile, the general bombardment continues, the Allied airmen are all the time exceedingly busy and it is impossible to doubt that “big plans” are rapidly approaching fruition.

Mr Hilaire Bellon objects to the statement that “it is not possible to exaggerate the importance of the German invasion of Serbia”.

It is, he says, the business and duty of everyone who desires to help the Commonwealth by the formation of a sound judgement to write that phrase down and to say that it is the exact opposite of the truth. It is possible to exaggerate the importance of the new enemy move “and that we should exaggerate it is exactly what the enemy desires”.