20 October 1914: Hell breaks loose

This morning the Germans began an offensive along the whole northwestern front from La Bassée in France to the Belgian coast. The German 4th Army was closing in on Ypres from the north and east, the 6th Army from the south. The B.E.F.’s II and III Corps to the south had not yet joined up, and Haig’s I Corps had not yet reached Ypres. The full force of the onslaught around Ypres was therefore borne by (1) Rawlinson’s IV Corps, containing the 7th Division (infantry) and 3rd Cavalry Division with which George Calderon had entered Belgium on 8 October, (2) Allenby’s Cavalry Corps to the south between Messines and Zandvoorde, and (3) French forces to the extreme north. It was still open country warfare and there were yawning gaps in the British line.  Passchendaele, where Dick Sutton had been only the night before, was lost and numerous defensive retreats necessary. Things improved, however, when Haig’s I Corps began to join the line north of Ypres in the afternoon. By the end of the day the German forces had lost heavily and ‘felt anything but invincible’ (Max Hastings). IV Corps, including the Blues and Life Guards, had spearheaded what was to become known as the ‘Ypres salient’.

Had George been with the Blues today, he would certainly have seen action. But around lunchtime, probably, the hospital train he was on crossed the border into France.

I shall produce a map of the military situation at Ypres when Calderon is able to rejoin his regiment.

Next entry: 21 October 1914


About Patrick Miles

I am a writer who specialises in Anton Chekhov and is writing a biography of George Calderon.
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