Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/29

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17
The War and the Future

hundred men saved the line and prevented a defeat. Our generals were writing an order for retreat when a staff officer came galloping up to them, in wild excitement, and without a hat, to shout out that the Worcesters had restored the line.

In that most bloody battle of "First Ypres," one English battalion was obliterated, another was remade two and a half times between October and Christmas, a third, which went in 987 strong, came out 70 strong; in a fourth, an officer who returned to duty after two months in hospital, found only one man left who had been in the battalion two months before; all the rest had gone.

After that battle, the mud set in, and stopped all great movements of men and guns. Both sides dug and fortified the lines they were holding, and the war became an affair of siege, until the spring.

Then the enemy launched a third attack against us, which was by much the most dangerous attack of the early months of the war. He began this attack by an intense bombardment of the English and French lines near Ypres. Then, at nightfall, in the April evening, while this bombardment was at its height,