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Webmatters : Battle of Festubert May 1915
Rough Map of Area

Festubert

25th May 1915

The final day

One final attempt to break the German line was still to take place. On 23rd May General Haig discussed matters with his subordinates. A combined attack by the 47th (London) Division and the Canadian Division would be launched on the 25th May. The objectives would be the Chapelle St Roch and the Rue d’Ouvert.

On 24th May the 140th Brigade alongside the 2nd Canadian Brigade managed to advance the line by another 150 metres but the old problem of flanking machine gun fire prevented any great incursions into the German line.

At 1830 hours on 25th May the 47th Division attacked with the 142nd Brigade. The 1/23rd and 1/24th Battalions of the London Regiment (The entire division was made up of Territorials) took both the German front and support trenches. Their success represented an advance of about 400 metres on a width of a kilometre.

War Memorial at Festubert

A plaque on the Festubert memorial commemorates the British heroes

They were now put under pressure from flanking artillery fire that their own artillery was unable to counter. Despite heavy losses the Londoners stood firm but could do no more. They did however see off at least one counter attack. They might not be able to go forwards but they were not for going back either.

The Canadians on the left made some progress but their artillery lacked enough shells and they were at this stage of the war still fighting with the Ross rifle which had already been shown to be unreliable in the mud (Many Canadians threw them away if they found a British Lee Enfield. The Ross rifle was finally abandoned in June 1915).

The Germans spent the next 48 hours trying to claw back some of the lost ground but they were beaten off as easily as they had withstood the British attacks.

The close of operations

On 24th May the Battle for Bellewaerde Ridge had opened in Belgium but despite this Sir John French agreed to Général Foch’s request on the 25th that the British relieve the French 38e Division south of the La Bassée canal.

This would aid the French who were still mounting operations against Vimy Ridge. As Vimy Ridge was of great strategic importance Sir John agreed and the 2nd Division moved south on to what would become the Loos battlefield.

That same day Sir John informed General Haig that with ammunition stocks almost depleted it would be impossible to continue with the offensive. First Army was to consolidate its position and prevent the Germans from transferring troops against the French.