1,000 Casualties A Day to Hold Ypres

1,000 Casualties A Day to Hold Ypres

Sunday, May 30, 1915

Reserve trenches, Rue de l’Epinette

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day:  “Quiet except for occasional German shells.”[1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: The regimental history mentions: “Following relief by the Royal Highlanders, the 14th Battalion moved to reserve trenches south of the Rue du Bois and west of Rue de l’Epinette, where four days were passed.”  [2]

30 May 15“New York – Ypres, although not comparable to Verdun, is possibly the most difficult position for its size on the whole western front, says Henry Suydam, writing in The Brooklyn Eagle from the British army headquarters in France.  Ypres is a deserted city, battered into a shapeless heap of masonry by incessant German bombardments.  The holding of it has probably cost the British army, he estimates, 1,000 casualties a day, and yet the place has absolutely no strategic value.  Its occupation by either army would have no influence, he points out, upon the operations in even the surrounding territory.

Ypres is held by the British at such a frightful cost because the evacuation of it might involve a question of military prestige.  Ypres saved Calais in November, 1914; Ypres was the first battle which proved the homogeneity of the new British armies.  Therefore Ypres is more than a salient in the British line; it is a salient in the British imagination.

The most hated troops on the western front from the standpoint of the Germans are the Canadians and Indians, according to Mr. Suydam.  The Canadians are hated because they have shown so little mercy upon their German foes since the gas attacks which began with the second battle of Ypres, April 23, 1915.  Chlorine gas was introduced into modern warfare at that battle and hundreds of casualties were suffered by the Canadians holding the Ypres salient.”   [4]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, May 30, 1915.Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089734.jpg
[2]   R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 60.
[3]  “Ypres Cost British 1,000 Soldiers A Day,” The Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee,Wisconsin, Sun., July 16, 1916, pg. 6, col. 3.
[4]  Ibid.

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