Jump to content
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Yser Canal


andigger
 Share

Recommended Posts

I was reading Dare Call it Treason and the author briefly addresses the topic of this battle. He contends that it was one of the first success of the French army after the height of the mutinies. Through careful planning and strategic artillery barrage the French were able to regain a part of te canal that the Germans held.

It all sounds very interesting, but is a battle I know very little about. Do any of the other pals know anything more about the episode?

Andy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Very simple. This must be the Battle of Pilckem Ridge (First phase of Third Ypres), on 31 July 1917.

Is that the date referred to ?

The French troops were on the westbank of the Yser Canal, and were next to the British troops (Guards Div.) I.e. both east of the centre of the village of Boezinge.

However, as you write "regain part of the canal" ... For on 31 July the whole canal and the area east of it (up to Langemark) was regained. So the action referred to may have been a few days before 31 July. That is when part of the canal was regained, simply because the Germans had abandoned their first line (fearing that there was underground mining activity, and remembering what had happened at Messines on 7 June.)

Aurel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually this makes sense. I've heard the name, though know very little about Pilckem Ridge. In the book the author gives the dates 15 July bombardment starts, 23 July interdiction fire, 27 mortar attack, 31 July infantry attack. Apparently the German artillery was shattered and the French made it to the third line of defense before turning to the defensive.

The way you seem to tell it this may be a little dramatic.

Andy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Andy,

And a picture (actually a painting) to prove that the French troops indeed crossed the Yser Canal on 31 July 1917 (east of Boezinge, just north of the Guards Division). An area called Het Sas on maps.

("1st Corps Infantry men crossing the Canal on 31st July 1917, at 4.45, near Het Sas.")

Actually the offensive was meant to have started a few days before that date, but the French asked to postpone, because they were not ready yet. Not an unimportant detail ... For in the afternoon, after a dry period, it started to rain heavily, and the attack got stuck near the Steenbeek (Langemark). If the attack had been launched the day the British command had wanted it to be, then maybe the Battle of Pilkem Ridge, and the Battle of Langemark (2 weeks later) would have been different. And 'Passendale' 100 days later might have been different too. If ...

Aurel

post-4-1091802076.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter,

You mean the Ziegler bunker ? (In what is now the Slaaktestraat (parallel to the canal) ? I suppose so.

Great photo. I had never seen a war photo of this 'Viking Ship' !

Aurel

post-4-1091818575.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Aurel. yes that's the one. Ziegler was the officer in charge of construction, most of the steel reinforcement which is visible is not proper reinforcing steel but odd shapes which came, I think, from some engineering factory behind the German lines. I believe Rose Coombs gave it the name Viking ship (upside down! )but I never did see the likeness.

Anyway, the French took it successfully...Peter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Peter,

I read that it is "also known as the Viking ship" indeed, but in Maj. Holt. Maybe Rose Coombs called it an upside down Viking ship too. But to me it looks like any boat, except a Viking ship and the Titanic.

Aurel

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...