Battle of Neuve Chapelle
The Battle of Neuve Chapelle (10–13 March 1915) took place in the First World War. It was a British offensive in the Artois region of France and broke through at Neuve-Chapelle but the British were unable to exploit the success. More troops had arrived from Britain and relieved some French troops in Flanders, which enabled a continuous British line to be formed, from Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée north to Langemarck. The battle was intended to cause a rupture in the German lines, which would then be exploited with a rush to the Aubers Ridge and possibly Lille. A French assault at Vimy Ridge on the Artois plateau was also planned to threaten the road, rail and canal junctions at La Bassée from the south, as the British attacks menaced it from the north. If the French Tenth Army captured Vimy Ridge and the north end of the Artois plateau from Lens to La Bassée, as the British First Army took Aubers Ridge from La Bassée to Lille, a further advance of 10–15 miles (16–24 km) would cut the roads and railways used by the Germans to supply the troops in the Noyon Salient, from Arras south to Rheims. The French part of the offensive was cancelled, when the British were unable to relieve the French IX Corps north of Ypres, to move south for the French attack and the Tenth Army contribution was reduced to heavy artillery support.
|British Empire||German Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Field Marshal Sir John French||Crown Prince Rupprecht|
|4 divisions||5 divisions|
|Casualties and losses|
|9–20 March: c. 10,000|
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) carried out aerial photography despite poor weather, which enabled the attack front to be mapped to a depth of 1,500 yards (1,400 m) for the first time and for 1,500 copies of 1:5,000 scale maps to be distributed to each corps. The battle was the first deliberately planned British offensive and showed the form which position warfare took for the rest of the war on the Western Front. Tactical surprise and a break-through were achieved after the First Army prepared the attack with great attention to detail. After the first set-piece attack, unexpected delays slowed the tempo of operations, command was undermined by communication failures and infantry-artillery co-operation broke down when the telephone system stopped working. The German defenders were able to receive reinforcements and dig a new line behind the British break-in.
The British attempted to renew the advance by attacking where the original assault had failed, instead of reinforcing success and a fresh attack with the same detailed preparation as that on the first day became necessary. A big German counter-attack by twenty infantry battalions (c. 16,000 men) early on 12 March, also failed with many casualties. Sir Douglas Haig, the First Army commander, cancelled further attacks and ordered the captured ground to be consolidated, preparatory to a new attack further north. An acute shortage of artillery ammunition made a new attack impossible, apart from a local effort by the 7th Division, which also failed with many casualties. The Germans responded to the offensive by strengthening the defences opposite the British and increasing the number of troops in the area; the French became cautiously optimistic that British forces might be reliable in offensive operations.