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ppi TOR?AL - FINANCIAL
A I* T O M O B I L F S ?Nh? gjirtfe SSribune EDITORIAL ? FINANCIAL1 AUTOMOBILES PART TU EIGHT PAGES SUNDAY, APRIL 29, 1917 PART I?I EIGHT PAGES THE SECOND BATTLE OF THE AISNE?DOUAI French Attack S ccssful as Prep ration ? Break? ing German Morale By FRANK H. SIMOND fc.her of Tke Great War." "They Not Paaa" led the B ,???. V. a* Arm- 01 d meittioMd brief. ong the Aisne, whicl at time I ! th the British and the French .ttsckir.? at either end of the so-i HmdfTiburg line, and that there w ?at similarity between the two att ?_t Britta)) directed at the Vimy Rid*?? Fmifh at the hills above the Aisne, *f ire roughly proupt?d under the head o Crsonne Plateau. Sinee I wrote then -em a marked lull in the British opera ?hich ia only jutt now beginning ai atile the French attack, after a week. re fallen away. We have then something that suggei roncertcd plan, in accordance with w ???re are to be alternat? blows st im by the British and then by the Fr? ata separated by less than a hun Biles. The result of such tactics woul *.. perm:: firet the British and theji French to conaolidato ground pained, a>nish their ammunition and prepare i new attack, while the Germans wi .?onstantly have to face pressure at r the other, and would consta fcsve to make demands upon their reser I he New Method IK_ji?lly interesting is the clear evidc . ange in method on the part of and the French. Instead of a ] ta-gert attempt to pierce the German li How, there seems rather tc : policy of attacking, consolidating and .rter a new artillery prep*, ??on. li this fashion the Allies may ex*: j> avoid those great losses incident t< wotinuation of an offensive beyond lauta of artillery preparation which w incurred at Loos and in the Battle In the present article I am going to ? the French operation, leavi ffiin ur.til next week the new ofTensi ne Il:i*.,>h. which is just beginnir *.: the outset of the French attack t *w Germaii line ran in practically *tra:ght line from the Somme at .St. Que 'Jitot'r.' ' a-t of Soissons and ne 'if old French fort of Conde. More, ev leof the Aisne, in Soptemb? lilt, the Germana have maintained indtehead south of the river. Kastwa bridgehead the German line r ?oised the river and curved to the north ?taio-if*; the hills qver the river, mcludir Craonr.e. and then turned again sharp '* the southward across the Aisne i fcrry-au-Ba , ami rested on the forts i font of Rheima. Eastward from Rhein I rtn straight along a series of hil ?aainating the plain of Champagne, unt I touched the old battlefield of Chan *me df 1915, at the village of Auberivi ?m French operation was double: an a' ?*k eastward of Soissons as far as th W?kirts of Kheims, and an attack east o ???aims as far as Auberive. The opera ?o had a twofold purpose, a local objec ?"?-. which would be served if the Frene! ?w* able to advance east and west o ??fcmia. since this would compel the Ger ?"??a before Rheims to retire, and a large ?nre*-*te, which was to break the Germai ***? along the Craonno Plateau and com ?*? the retirement of the whole Germar **?? to the frontier. Neither of these ob !t***-*m was attained by the first attack ?**eajh valuable ground was gained anc ^T prisoners were taken. Alter th? Marne ?* the western field, between Sois '?? Mid Rheima, the French had be I4'*? them when they began practically 1 Woblem which confronted the .?'?"?a when they reached the Aisne in ***?* of the Cermans after the Battle of *? ?Harne. At that time the British ""?d the river, pushed north of Soissons j***xupied a portion of the Craonne ***-**?, ?till further to the eastward. This P*-*d ?bout Soiasona waa aubsequently ?*?? the French in the winter of 191R, I** th? Germans counter attacked after ?"??ful local French operation and THE AISNE FRONT Li NET B?TOfSE r&FNCH ATTACK ON A&,+?/l /6. ?I M H M /VeW FRONT, AP/2/L 23. The portion of the front from Soissons eastward to the neighborhood of Craonne was the .cene of the First Battle of the AUne in 1914. The French were defeated in the Battle ot Soisson? in 1915 just north of that city. The great Battle of Champagne of September, 1915, was fought north of Souain along a front from Auberive eastward to the Aisne this counter attack coincided with a flo? in the river which swept away the bridge The French had therefore to retreat aero the river. This portion of the battlefield must 1 very familiar to those who recall tl British campaign after the Battle of tl Marne. Here the Aisnc flows through wide, level valley, above which, on tl north side, rises a ridjre of hills. Thei hills are cut by a series of ravines, and th ? ?crinan position may be likened to a sa' 1 y i n i? flat, the teeth pointing towar the French and the spaces between th teeth representing various little brook which come down in deep cut valleys f roi the ridge into the Aisne. The back cdi> of the saw pretty fairly represents th ( hemin-des-Iiames, a road running cas and west along the summit of the platea and fairly accurately marking the Get man front. A Twofold Problem We have here, then, a twofold problem? a Gorman salient based on Fort Condi coming straight across the river, and thei the German line going north from th river, along the plateau. Eastward, abou Craonne, the French line was well up 01 the plateau and touched the Chemin-des Dames near Craonne. The French attad was therefore northward and eastward eastward on the line from St. Quentin t. Soissons, along the side of the Fort Cond? salient, and northward across the river ai the German position on the heights. The result of the French attack here was this: First, the whole German salient was broken down and the German line retired until it ran straight along the Chemin-des Uames, and, second, material gains across the Chemin-des-Dames east and west of Craonne. When the French operation ended the Germans were standing on the crest of the ridge or were even in places pushed downward into the valley of the Aillette on the north side of the Craonne Plateau. Here they had a strongly pre? pared line, resting on Fort de Malmaison on one aide and Craonne on the other, and from thia position the French were not able to drive them. Eastward from Cra? onne to Rheims the French made other gains on both banks of the river, partially encircling Fort de Brimont, but were n able to drive a wedge between the Gcrm_ lines on either side of the river. Aft seven days of fighting the French hi pained ground all along their front, var ing from four miles northward of Con< to a mile westward and eastward ? Craonne. Acroaa the Aiane .<- the situation stood at the end of tl battle, the French had passed the Aisne t all points west of Berry-au-Bac, climbc the hills arid were now in a position 1 make a new attack in the direction c Faon, which lay six or seven miles to th northward, behind the Aillette River an covered by another spur of the Craonn Plateau, between 600 and 700 feet higl heavily wooded and a difficult militar obstacle. The extent of the French gai may be summed up in the statement tha the first step in an advance to Laon hai been taken and that from the new positioi the French would be able to operate mor effectively than evtr before on this front Eastward of Rheims there was anothe general advance northward and a success ful storming of a line of heights abou Moronvilliers, dominating the whole region while the village of Auberive, the westerr pivot of the French in their Battle ol Champagne in 1915, was also captur?e and the French line straightened thereby But once more it is necessary to note that only a beginning was made, and at nc point was there anything like as successful a penetration of German lines as the Brit? ish had achieved a week before from Vimy Ridge to the Cojeul River. Succesaful a? Preparation It is necessary to regard the French operation as one of preparation. Twenty thousand prisoners and more than one hundred captured cannon make a victory fully comparable with that achieved in the Champagne nearly two years before. But in the Champagne operation the French did not succeed in piercing the German line. At that time they exhausted their ammunition and their later attacks were bloody and relatively profitless. No such exhaustion of ammunition car be expected now. If the French operation was de? signed to pierce the German lines at a ?t?e^7 .( 3R& i m? I? Ii?r.HfN( Haas "*"""""??, aa_^a-A.r.', ' ?. r * -"'/***" -?V s^j^tsWf1^ W^3?!/i ?" ??""H*. 4? /? J ??.uxemb?r'5) i ? iii a irr, * ^ ot?WH1?"-- -fT"??7 ?*' rsowTil? L-s-j? .marna V M?f,i? '?***>V_ - / rtartr r \. 1 -^;>?<< LUM..H ,.?.?,.1 / !?1\ . vt'j'-.f Key Map single blow, it failed. If it was design? to capture completely the Craonne Platea and open the road to Laon, it failed. If was expected to disentangle Rheims, I failed. But if it was the first step in long series of attacks, as seems to hav been the case?if it was intended as a mer preparation, necessary, but preliminary t the main effort, it might be counted as i strategic success, as the capture of gun and soldiers demonstrated that it was i tactical success. Pounding German Morale On the larger side it must be remem bered that the chief object of French anc British ttrategy in the present year is nol to pierce the German lines, but to break the German morale by a long continued pounding of heavy artillery and to do this with the smallest possible coat to the Allies, The measure of the French aucceaa in the fighting in the second battle of the Aiene must be the relative cost in casualties in the operation to the Germana and to the French. Recognizing that the larger purpose ?a to destroy German resistance rather than to pierce German linea, it ia atill necessary to realize that the effect of the two opera? tions?Britiah and French?at the preaent time, if they make any largo advance, will be to compel the Germana to retire to the French frontier. This is the case becaus the new German line in France is, roughl; speaking, a right angle, running south ward from the North Sea to the height above the Aisne and then eastward to thi Argonne and the Meuse at Verdun. Thi French and the British arc attacking 01 the sides of this right angle. If they breal down the sides the position of the troop: in the apex will be untenable, and befor? this happens the Germans will necessaril** draw their troops out of the country in th? apex exactly as they drew their troops out of the great Noyon salient a few weeks ago. Then the French and British attack was on one side of the previous right angle. Now the attack is on both sides, but the piercing of either side must mean a general retirement, as it did when the Germans retired out of the country be? tween Arras and Soissons. German Reaiatance Weaker The question that the progress of the first two weeks of the Allied offensive raises is a question of morale primarily. We have had upward of thirty-five thou? sand German prisonera and more than three hundred and thirty guns?many of them heavy?captured in the first two weeks of fighting. The loss of guns is un? paralleled on the German aide during the war, aa ia also the loss of prisoners. We have the testimony of correspondents wl* have seen and talked with the Germa prisoners, all of which points toward marked demoralization among them. W have the testimony of official reports tht the German units surrendered en massi It is possible to exaggerate the value c this evidence and these indications, bi certainly no one can compare the resi? tance the Germans are now making wit the resistance they made in the Battle o Artois, in 1915, for example. It is well t recall also that now for the first time th Hermans are coming under sustained fir of superior artillery in the hands o trained artillerymen. Last year the Brit ish had more heavy guns than the Ger mans, but the gunners were not yet abl to enforce their advantage. The portioi that they served to the French at Verdui is now being served to the Germans nortl of the Aisne and along the Scarpe. Wi are to have a test of German nerves com parable with the test we had of Frencl nerves during the great Verdun attack. Laon the French Objective As it now stands, the German positio: remains, so far as one can see, intact alon. the French front. After a brief delay w? may expect to see a new French attack presumably along the same front, althougl it is entirely possible that the centre ol operations may be shifted eastward to th? old battlefield of Champagne of 1915. Bui ? it is enough to remember that a break ii the German lines anywhere from befo? Soissons to Verdun will compel a general | retirement. We may take Laon as the ob? jective of the French armies operating north of the Aisne. Here an advance of less than seven miles would be decisive. In the same way an advar.ee from Sonata and Auberive northward for a few miles would compel a retirement of the Germans from before Rheims, probably as far back 1 as the Aisne at Rethel. And this would neccessarily be only a preliminary step to a retirement to the Meuse at M?zicres. But to-day one can only say that the French have made a beginning and that the ca? pacity for continuing must be determined by the cost of the recent operations. Turning now for the moment to the British operations, as I write on Monday, April __3, the British after a week of pause if British Take Douai or French Laon, Germans Must Retire to Frontier Copyright 1917?The Tribune Association firp a-rain st rikint*? Lot ween ?^ns and the Scarpe River. They have before them ?ft supplementary German trench line run*? l.ing southeasterly from Lens, a portion of which they created in their recent attack, and they have in addition the so-called switch line which runi eastward of Lent through the town of Drocourt and rejoin? the old Hindenburg line southeast of A?? I ras at Queant. This latter line must be 1 the objective of the new offensive?it hat i been apparent that the Germans have fot more than a week been preparing to leari ! Lens. Roughly speaking, the new objee? i tive of the British is the city of Douai, i ; some eight miles east of their present '1 front. Toward this they are advancing j along both banks of the Scarpe River, i which runs between Arras and Douai. ! They are advancing downhill over relative j ly level country, and they have before the? ! presumably no such obstacles as they sue ! cessfully surmounted at Vimy Ridge. Not until they approach the town of Douai closely, if they do, will they again \ be hampered by any natural obstacle. At this point they will encounter the marshes which almost surround the town and ex I tend well to the northward. There is a ; general belief that before Douai there is still another German line coming south from Lille and meeting the Hindenburg line in front of t'ambrai. On the other hand, there are many who believe that no sudi line exist*", and that when the British succeed in" gaining the Drocoilrt-Queant line they will be clear from the German system of defence. German Retirement to Frontier At the moment Douai has for the Brit? ish precisely the same value as Laon for ; the French. If the British take Douai, j then the Germans must retire to the fron? ?tier. If the French take Laon, a simile* German retirement will be necessary. The test of German resistance would seem to be coming before the British and not before the French. We shall know probably before these lines reach thi reader whether the Germans have succeeded in restoring the morale of their troops on ihe Arras front, or whether they will yield again as they did before Arras. A second German defeat like that of Arras would have a meaning that would be almost un? mistakable. It might presage an end o? trench warfare, and it might give promt!? of a speedy collapse of German resistance. This is the maximum of possibility. It is not a thing to be forecast or to be ex* pected. No one can more clearly recojp? nize than the German General Staff how necessary it is immediately to restore tho confidence of their army and their nation by checking the British before Douai. Thn very best effort they are now capable of will be made, and this new battle of Douai may turn out to be decisive in more than one way. THE BATTLE FOR DOUAI i The Three Arrows Indicate Direction of British Advance.