Meuse Heights

New German attack is repelled with heavy losses

The telegrams published yesterday afternoon pointed to a general anticipation that the Germans were preparing for another more violent struggle for possession of the Meuse.

This was well founded, as also was the expectation that the effort would be directed against the western side.

The attack with large forces was launched against the narrow three-mile line – Bethines to Cumeres – which passes in front of a Dead Man height, the “singularly obstructive position” which the French themselves describe as “the pillar of the line of resistance in this particular sector”.

The enemy devoted the morning to a heavy bombardment, designed as usual to render any inch of the ground untenable.

Shells of high calibre fell upon the positions in thousands until, it was easy to believe, nothing remained and in the afternoon the infantry were hurled forward to occupy the devastated region.

However, despite all the artillery preparations the French were not far away, and the Germans once more found their progress decreased by the deadly hail from machine guns, rifles and the carefully-calculated fire from artillery in the rear.

It is evident that the “at all costs” order is again being issued to the German troops, as rank after rank fell never to rise again and bodies of men took their places and while raged with the utmost fury, the French took their time taking terrible toll of the advancing hosts.

At two points only – half a mile from each – did the enemy succeed in getting an advance in the French trenches, and (as the semi-official note of this morning exists) they may already have been chased by counter-attack.

The remainder of the narrow front appears to have collapsed completely, where the French describe the day as “satisfactory” the brief fact being that “the Germans have made no progress” except in the strengthening of their casualty lists.

They are “expending themselves without taking count” but the day cannot be far off when their losses before Verdun will tell their tale in the failure to slay Joffre’s arm.

There is, as one writer puts it, “an ominous silence in all other parts of the front”, especially in those sectors whence they fear the Allies attack.

And the Germans are losing heavily all the time.

With our eyes fixed upon Verdun we do not appreciate the losses they are sustaining in the Vosges in Champagne, in their operations round about Souchez and in the neighbourhood of Ypres, nor do we remember that even in the little-discussed Russian centre, where Prince Leopold of Bavaria’s army is stationed, there is a steady drain of them.

Statisticians calculate that German losses are on an average over 200,000 a month and in the more violent periods she and her Allies have lost 450,000.

These losses, in view of what may happen in the near future, are not likely to decrease.

By the end of June Germany’s peace offers will be very different from those published yesterday.

It may also be noted that, according to a Washington telegram, the mark reached its lowest rate of exchange yesterday; and that a further decline is expected.