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Webmatters : Battle of Festubert May 1915
Rough Map of Area

Festubert

The Cost

For a kilometre of progress the Imperial Armies had lost about 17,000 men (The Germans lost about a third of that and only 500 prisoners).

The failure at Aubers Ridge had already caused a political crisis in Britain after Sir John French mentioned to a journalist that insufficient and faulty ammunition was getting his men killed. The Asquith government fell and a new Coalition brought with it a Minister of Munitions, David Lloyd George.

To the south the battle continued; the Germans hanging on to every house in Neuville Saint Vaast and refusing to be expelled until the 9th June.

On the 22nd May the hill of Lorette was at last in French hands but the village of Ablain Saint Nazaire in the valley remained German for another week.

The lantern tower at ND de Lorette

On a clear day the Lantern at Lorette can be seen from Festubert
Surrounding it are 20,000 individual tombs, and the same number in mass graves

Général d’Urbal’s 10e Army was exhausted and the losses had been considerable. The great cemeteries at La Targette and ND de Lorette (The largest of France’s Military Cemeteries) bare witness to the suffering of the French infantryman.

In September the French army would launch an offensive that would finally take Souchez, it would be supported by a British offensive across the plains towards Loos en Gohelle.

As for Vimy and its ridge, it would be necessary to wait until the arrival of the Canadian Corps in April 1917 to finally see it definitively in Allied hands.

 


The Aubers Ridge though, had far from seen its final battle.

Three battalions of the Sussex regiment would be massacred at Richebourg on the 30th June 1916 in a diversionary attack that went so badly wrong that it was forgotten about.

Another nation would be asked to try to break the Germans at Fromelles in July 1916 – the Australians in their first combat experience on the Western Front.

In May 1918 it would be the turn of the Germans to try and breach the Allied line held by a badly equipped Portuguese Corps.