Enemy Hit Hard.

Kaiser And Combles: Must be Held ‘At All Costs.’

IT is as well, perhaps, not to insist upon the likelihood of a British offensive at a new place, but official reports are not issued to be ignored, and there is an object both in an operation itself and the notification of it.

We all have sense enough to know that when bombardments are conducted at various points, frequently wide apart, the precise locality where the infantry are intended to play their part is hidden.

That being so, newspaper comment on the several activities as they are revealed can serve no ill purpose.

Yesterday, for example, three separate areas were specified; this morning we have on record more attentions paid to neighbourhoods practically the same as two of those already mentioned.

Between Souchez and the La Bassee Canal, Sir Douglas Haig reports, our artillery and trench mortars “bombarded the enemy’s line continuously” while north-west of Hollebeke, we effectively shelled a bridgehead on the Ypres Canal.

The localities concerned in our air activities are not quite clear, but the notification immediately follows the above, and is to the effect that we bombed an important railway junction on the enemy’s lines of communication (causing great damage to the station and the rolling stock) and “many other points of military importance”.

All this preparatory work means something, and we may not have long to wait before we know.

It has only to be added that the third district to which reference was made yesterday morning found a place in yesterday afternoon’s despatch, when “a very effective bombardment of the enemy’s trenches west of Lens” was mentioned.

At one of these points, therefore, or at two of them together, there may be very interesting developments before another week has passed.

After all, as The Times very properly reminds us this morning, the West still remains the most vital front of all, and we have good reason to be proud of the work accomplished since last Sunday.

All along the line, after terrific fighting, the Germans have been compelled to give ground.

From Mouquet Farm down to our junction with the French the whole of their second line is now in our hands.

This is a great achievement.

As a correspondent points out “the eight miles of works we have taken had been constructed on a position carefully chosen nearly two years ago; they were strengthened by every device that science could suggest and labour execute, and they were held by some of the finest troops in the German Army, including regiments of the Prussian Guard.

“Yet they fell so rapidly at the first onset of our troops that the advance was carried beyond the ground marked on the special maps which were prepared for the movement.

“On our right, the successes of our French Allies have been equally brilliant both to the north and to the south of the Somme, and they have extended over a long line.

“On the first day of this new ‘push’ – the Germans declared that the advance was ‘dead’ a month ago – they took four miles of trenches to the north of the river and reached the outskirts of Combles, and on Tuesday they seized the Hospital Farm and were east of the village of Clery.