Learning Curve, The Great War
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Transcript: Source1
Extracts from reports written by Major General Sir Henry Rawlinson in November 1914
(Catalogue ref: PRO 30/57/51)

Source 1a

My dear Field Marshal,

I find here a feeling of relief that the great battle of YPRES is now nearly over. The Germans are still attacking in places but the sting is out of their attacks and though we have lost ground at many fronts since I left a week ago the general line has been maintained. But we have had huge losses. When the figures are added up the losses will not be far short of 3000 men in the last fortnight. Sir John is cheery and confident but he has had a very hard time and the responsibility and worry has left its mark on him. He will try to fine my corps a weeks rest to get the 8 Div in order and to allow reinforcements to come up for the 7 Div which is reduced to under 3000 inf[antr]y. I hear the I Div is almost as bad.

Source 1b

During the past few days the German attacks have quieted down and certain of these corps have been withdrawn from the firing line either to rest or to be transferred elsewhere. Since I have taken my place in the line between the III Corps and the Indian Corps we have had no severe fighting which I am glad of for it will enable the VIII Div to find its feet before getting into the thick of it. So far they have stood the work very well and notwithstanding the cold and wet have had no undue proportion of sick but being green at the art of holding and making trenches they have suffered more casualties from snipers than they should have done. As you may imagine some of the trenches are in a terrible plight. There is liquid mud in them well over the mens ankles whilst the ground all round is a quagmire and the country about here being very low and flat there is no means of draining them.

Source 1c

I have 3 Batt[alio]n of Terries now and they have been doing good work digging trenches but I am putting them into the trenches gradually, a company at a time so as to accustom them by degrees to the enemys bullets. The new howitzer which we call "Mother" has been doing capital work and has already accounted for at least half a dozen of the enemys guns. We shall be glad when more of them arrive. We also want the trench howitzer [handy?] as in places where the opposing forces are only some 30 to 50 yards apart we have nothing to compete with the German trench howitzer which throws bombs containing very heavy charges of high explosive and they do serious damage to our trenches. We are trying mining but not with very much success up to date for our inf[antr]y are children at the game.

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