Thursday, June 25, 2015

June 25th, 1915

- In Artois the French undertake another attempt to seize the village of Souchez today, but they are repulsed by the German 12th Division after bitter fighting.  The attack at Souchez is effectively the last gasp of the battle, as Joffre formally halts the offensive today.  Since the start of the French spring offensive on May 9th, they have managed to advance three kilometres along an eight kilometre stretch of the line.  However, the French failed utterly to either sustain a breakthrough of the German line or seize Vimy Ridge; indeed, the high water mark of the offensive came in its first hours when advance elements of XXXIII Corps actually surmounted Vimy Ridge, only to be pushed back before reinforcements could arrive.  The French failure came despite plastering the German lines with over 2 million shells, while in comparison German artillery fired approximately 1.9 million shells.  As would be shown again and again on the Western Front, an increase in the volume of shells did not inherently lead to any better results on the battlefield.  Moreover, the French suffered just over 100 000 thousand casualties in Artois, and when the diversionary attacks undertaken elsewhere are taken into account, the total climbs to over 140 000.  The spring offensive in Artois was the largest such operation yet undertaken by the French army on the Western Front but, despite the brief glimmer of hope on the first day, it was no more successful than prior offensives since the aftermath of the Battle of Marne.

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