Operation Strandfest

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Regulus 1
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Operation Strandfest

Post by Regulus 1 » 11 Jul 2005 18:16

OPERATION STRANDFEST

A new look on a unique attack, first of it’s kind in World War I.

This was to become the first operation in which artillery, aviation and infantry were working together, an operation coordinated from the air ! Today the Operation Strandfest is still known but it’s historic importance has been completely forgotten. This is the story of a small scale operation, with major results in new warfare and aerial warfare.

On the east side of the Yser river, still a small part of land was in hands of the Belgian army on the location where the river flew into the North Sea at a city called Nieuwpoort.
Since 1914 it had been a strategic place, the town of Nieuwpoort as this was where the Belgian army stopped the German one by flooding the area of the Yser river from the sluices of Nieuwpoort and some other locations.

So, starting half October 1914, the biggest part of the coastline of the Belgian province of West-Flanders became occupied by the German Marinedivision, the future Marinekorps Flandern. From the Dutch border till Lombardsijde was now in German naval hands, including the important harbours of Zeebrugge, Oostende and Brugge. The Germans originally had hoped to come also into the possession of Dunkirk and Calais, but this finally had been nothing more than some serious wishful thinking.

The importance of the Belgian harbors was very quickly discovered by a number of personalities of the German admiralty who were looking at the possibilities of using the ports. The harbours of Zeebrugge and Oostende each had a canal leading to the port of Brugge in the hinterland of the province, making Brugge an ideal base for submarines, torpedo boats, destroyers, motorboats, etc.

On the 15th November a second Marine Division was added to the first one and the Marinekorps Flandern became a fact, under the command of Admiral Ludwig von Schröder, also called the ‘Löwe von Flandern’ or the Lion of Flanders, who was exactly 60 years old.
On the 3rd of June 1917 a third Division was added to these. Most of the coastal area was in hands of the I Division, while the II and III were more in charge of the area’s near the front. The Lombardsijde area was next to the III Division sector.

Brugge, Zeebrugge and Oostende soon were to become U-boat bases from where the feared U-Flottille Flandern I and II were to operate. The UB and UC coastal U-boat types did sink no less than 2554 ships, excluding the military vessels, while operating from Flanders, something which was not halted by the ‘blockade’ of Zeebrugge and Oostende during April and May 1918.

Not only the U-boats were dangerous, but from time to time there were raids by German torpedo boats and destroyers, operating from the same harbors on all Allied shipping in the Channel, a few times with serious successes !

The strategically importance was known to both sides and soon after the Marinekorps had the coastal area, the British started shelling the harbors with monitors and other vessels. This resulted in a fist Atlantikwall, a network of trenches, bunkers and batteries along the Belgian coastline to defend the harbors and prevent the Allied troops of landing on the coast and weaken the Western Front this way.

About 42 batteries can be named, to be added are a number of Flakbatteries etc, calibers from 5, 8.8 and 10.5 cm to the average 15, 17, 21 and 28 cm, to the enormous 30.52 and 38 cm guns. Some of these batteries were railway guns.

The coast was secured but also the air had to be secured. This was done with a large number of naval air units such as the Marine Feldflieger Abteilungen, the Marine Jagdgeschwader, the Kustenflieger Abteilungen, the Seeflugstatione, Seefrontstaffel(s), Marine Schusta’s,…

Soon the coastline had become a hard to visit area for Allied visitors.

Allied visitor’s which had been playing with the idea to land on the Belgian coastline and get hands on the strategic important harbors, and perhaps even end the war this way by attacking the German Army in the back. It has to be said that the German High Command also seriously feared a landing on the mouth of the Schelde at Zeeuws Vlaanderen, Dutch territory, from where they could easily attack and occupy Brugge and Zeebrugge.

During the night of the 6th on the 7th of June 1917 Haig started another of his campaigns, another bloody one, for which he was known, as were most of the other commanders on either side. It resulted in the capture of Mesen and Wijtschate. On the 12th of July mustard gas was used, not resulting in much at all. On the 15th the shelling of the front started again…

Third Ypres it’s real target is most of the time forgotten, and even has been removed from it’s historic goals and context. The idea was to force an opening in the German frontlines and fight a way to the Belgian coast in order to capture the harbors of Zeebrugge and Oostende ! The big offensive really started on the 31st July 1917 and would result in not even 10 kilometers of terrain taken on the opponent side… Passendale was captured finally on the 6th of November. Capturing Oostende and Zeebrugge was already completely forgotten by that time.

On the 20th of June 1917 the Belgian Army handed over the Nieuwpoort sector to the British, something Admiral von Schröder already was aware of the next day. He suspected now that a Allied, read British, landing was very near. Indeed such plans existed on the Allied side for a landing at Westende.
Immediately von Schröder started planning the Operation Strandfest, which was to take the last Allied strongholds on the eastern side of the Yser near Nieuwpoort. This was an area of a depth of 1200 m on 3 km.

On the 6th of July the final preparations started as the coastal and other batteries started shelling this part of the front. It would go on like this till the operation itself had started.

Originally the operation was to happen on the 8th but had to be postponed due to the weather conditions, which were extremely bad for the time of year.

The actual Operation Strandfest happened on the 10th of July 1917. That day it was dry but stormy weather.
At 6 AM the first batteries started opening fire on the British lines.
At 10 A.M. FA 231, I and II Marine Feldflieger Abteilung attacked British lines and destroyed the bridges over the Yser river. Due to the weather conditions the planned gun support from the destroyers and torpedo boats of the Flandern Flottille had to be cancelled.

With the bridges over the Yser destroyed, there was no possibility for reinforcements, and even more the roads leading towards the front were also under gunfire. The British had directly the fear that something was going to happen and were bringing reinforcements with trucks and lorries from Dunkirk, but this was to late.

At 19.51 hrs the attack follows by the naval infantry of the III Marine Division, supported by planes.
It took the first German wave only two minutes to take the first British line ! Some reports even still talk about the Seesoldaten taking the lines, although this was a referral to the Seebataillone, which officially stopped to exist by the end of 1914. Surprised by their luck they stormed directly the second line, took it in a mather of no time and the third was taken in hand grenade battle. It seems the German artillery had a hard time following the fast attack (in other words, probably some marine personnel died by friendly fire).
Flamethrowers were used to destroy the last British defenses in the dug outs etc.
However more to the east, the naval infantry was not that lucky, but again German reports tell us that the goals that had to be reached were taken by 21.00 hours.

According to German sources 1300 POW's were taken, of which 17 officers including the Regimental CO. . The British opponents were the 1 Northamptonshire and 2 KRRC of 2nd Brigade, 1st Division.
According to Robert Dunlop the total British casualties amounted to approximately 3,126 of all ranks, killed, wounded and missing. Of these, fifty officers and 1,253 other ranks belonged to the two battalions of 1st Division. He also mentions that 4 officers and 64 other ranks managed to reach the west bank of the Yser. It is not clear at all how high the German casualties were, but fact is that it was not a big number, which is also supported by the small number of graves that can be found that date of the 10th of July 1917 on the German military cemeteries in Flanders.

In the most easterly sector of the attack there still was a British counterattack which were able to retake the 250 meters of ground they had lost in that area, but this was without any importance to the Germans, which had reached their goals more to the west, and would keep them till the retreat in October 1918.

A report said that the observer planes and also the Kampfgeschwader with Rittmeister von Richthofen, had played an important role in the action.
The POW 's were taken to Oostende and Brugge, where there was a parade for Admiral von Schröder.
One of the participants in the operation Strandfest and a Lt. in the future Marine Sturmabteilung was a certain Bernard Hermann Ramcke, which certainly is known as the famous WW II Fallschirmjäger General.

This is what generally can be found on the matter… concerning the aviation.
If one’s lucky this is what may be found more on the operation, concerning the aerial part :

The III Marine Infanterie Division attacks, supported by planes. The western bank of the Yser is bombarded by 24 C type planes, and a plane from II MFFA co-ordinates the battle from the sky with it’s wireless, meanwhile two Schusta 29 planes protect the plane.
KG I planes bombarded coastal line between Nieuwpoort and Oostduinkerke. Jasta 17 planes do air cover for the whole operation during which a Sopwith is shot down.

During my visit this year in May at the Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv at Munchen, Reinhard Kastner pointed me towards a most interesting source on the aviation part of this attack. These reports were sent to Kofl 6 by Kofl 4 and Kofl Marinekorps. It gave in detail what happened day to day before and on the of the Strandfest. This text is the result from the translation.

The following units participated : I, II MFFA – FA A 293b, A 231, 48b - Schusta's 1, 16, 29, Marine Jasta, Jasta's 7, 8, 17, 20, Kasta 23 + the 4 elite fighter units of Jagdgeschwader I and the 6 Kasta's of Kampfgeschwader I, saying that the unit left it's airfield at Ascq for it to go to Gistel.

Most of the reports are from the hand of Kap.lt. Alfred Ritscher, who was the Kommandeur of the Feldflieger Abteilungen of the Marinekorps Flandern.

Ritscher issued a very clear order for the crews before and during the operation, and if necessary after it, the first days.
No cards, notices or orders were to be taken along in the plane. If taken prisoner there was not to be said a word about the operation, even when in prison, because of the danger of the enemy, listening to conversations among prisoners.
The plane was to be burned if forced to land in enemy territory, and for this purpose a special device was build in to the planes.
All participating units had to place an experienced observer by the telephone as Officer with duty.
No planes were to take off from an airfield unless they were on the schedule made by Ritscher, otherwise they needed an ok from Ritscher. Every loss of personnel or material, or personnel not able to operate, planes with engine trouble or other were immediately te be reported to Ritscher. The crews were also told to take enough negatives, maps without positions, signaling and machinegun ammo, etc with them.

In the preparations of the operation can be found that during the Strandfest and the days after a Jagdstaffel was flying ‘Sperrzeit’ while another one was in ‘Bereitschaft’. The last unit was to be in the air within 20 minutes after the command was given of heavy enemy activity that could endanger the operation. Meanwhile the Jagdgeschwader Richthofen was kept in reserve and could be used every of these days from 08.00 hours. Refueling and reserve airfield for this unt were the aerodromes Snellegem and Varsenare (in fact the northern and eastern side of the Jabbeke aerodrome). Between 5 and 6.30 Jasta 20 was on duty with the Marine Jasta in reserve. 6.30 till 8.00 was for Jasta 17 and Jasta 7 in reserve. 8.00 till 9.30 the Marine Jasta and Jasta 8. 9.30 till 11.00 Jasta 7 and Jasta 20. 11.00 till 12.30 Jasta 8 and Jasta 17. 12.30 till 14.00 Jasta 20 and Marine Jasta. 14.00 till 15.30 Jasta 17 and Jasta 7 as reserve. 15.30 till 17.00 Marine Jasta and Jasta 8. 17.00 till 18.30 Jasta 7 and Jasta 20. 18.30 till 20.00 Jasta 8 and Jasta 17. 20.00 till 21.30 Jasta 20, no reserve. 21.30 till darkness Marine Jasta, no reserve.

Kasta 23 bombed the station of Adinkerke in the night of the 8th on the 9th of July.

Kagohl I was moved from Ascq to Gistel aerodrome on the 7th of July. The unit was to operate from the night before the operation and to bomb railway stations, aerodromes and fortified positions behind the frontlines. They also were to bomb Dunkirk in the night before, but this had to be cancelled because of low clouds.

During the days before the attack, observation planes were recording all enemy traffic on the roads and railways towards the sector.

Concerning the other units involved, this were their operations on the 10th, a day which was very clouded and stormy :

Marine Feldflieger Abteilung I
From 05.00 till 10.00 : Photographing of results of the artillery on Allied targets. This artillery had been led from the air to their targets by the same unit the previous days. From 10.00 till 20.00 Helping the artillery to find targets. From 20.00 till 23.00 Observation on enemy artillery activity and locations, observing of the ‘Sperrfeuer’, barrage artillery and reporting on the matter.

Marine Feldflieger Abteilung II
From 05.00 till 20.00 Long distance observation, afterwards photo recon flights.

FFA 293
05.00 till 20.00 same operations as MFFA I

Schusta 1
05.00 till 20.00 Protection flights on demand of the I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung.

Schusta 29
05.00 till 20.00 Idem Schusta 1 but for the A293

Kasta 23
Around 09.00 bombing flight on the Allied aerodrome at Bray Dunes

FFA 231
05.00 till 20.00 stationed at the Flugplatz Vlissegem and operating in demand of the I Marine Feldflieger Abteilung.

FF48b and Schusta 16 were kept in reserve.

When the attack started at 07.51 hours, two Schusta planes were flying at low altitude over the storming infantry and were reporting the progression of the troops to the artillery and HQ.
A total of 6 planes was used for wireless telegraphy during the operation and with full success.

4 C type planes from Kogohl I were used as Sturmflieger, and were flying at altitudes between 20-50 meters attacking the enemy positions with machinegun fire, operating just in front of the infantry.
The principle of Stormflieger was completely new, and reports also mention that some British soldier were so terrified by the attack that they were surrendering, hands in the air, even before theyw ere reached by the Marine Infantry ! The planes themselves were very slightly damaged, only a few bullet holes were found. Kagohl I was also very happy about the results and sees a new way of warfare in it, they call them the Infanterie-Kampfflieger. They even made a task description : Their goal is to help the hard fighting infantry in attacks or defences, by deep flying, so strengthening the own troops and weaken the enemy by bombing and machine-gunning them. Needed are fast and very maneuverable planes with at least two MG’s, capable of dropping bombs and with a light armor. Construction of special bombs with shrapnel or even gas is wished.
The use is only adequate when the planes attack on the right moment, exactly on the moment that the troops are leaving the trenches attacking the enemy, so that they are under attack already from the air. It is even said that a good pilot, used in this way, has tactical more value than a Jasta pilot, shooting down an enemy at high altitude…

Reports also say that between 20.00 and 22.00 all available planes were used to bomb targets in the area and to strafe them with machinegun fire on the western side of the Yser river, making the Allies unable to bring along any reinforcements or to give any support to their attacked colleagues on the other side of the river.

The Jasta’s on the other hand did over 70 war flights, but Allied air activity was extremely low duet o the weather conditions. Before noon only one enemy plane was sighted, and during the afternoon a total of only 4 !

Jasta 17 was protecting Kagohl I during it’s flights and they shot down a Nieuport plane. This probably was not a Nieuport but very probably Sopwith Camel N6361 of 4 Naval Squadron, shot down between Pervijze and Ramskapelle at 7.50 PM, killing Flight S.Lt. EW Busby, who was the first Sopwith Camel casualty due to combat. It is said that it crashed south of Nieuwpoort and that the wings had already broken off in the air. A terrible death…

On the 10th of July 1917, during the Strandfest operation, Kagohl I was bombing during 3 operations Oostduinkerke-bad and Nieuwpoort, targeting ammo and troop concentrations in that area. They claim that during the first raid they made explode an ammo dump near Oostduinkerke.
It seems that between 8 and 10 in the evening they dropped over 6000 kg of bombs for this operation. Unfortunately nobody could confirm me if the story is real on the destruction of the ammo dump.

Later that night the railway station, harbor installations and aerodrome of Dunkirk were bombes as were the railway station of Adinkerke, and De Panne and Koksijde. This was again a total of 1500 kg of explosives.

Concerning the artillery this was their activity :
From 05.00 till results are ok :
Battery Pommern (1 x 38 cm gun), Moere (in fact Koekelare) was to open fire on the railway station of Adinkerke
Battery Deutschland (4 x 38 cm guns) at Bredene had Zielgruppe 3, an unidentified target (probably targets along the Yser river)
Battery Tirpitz (4 x 28 cm guns) at Stene, Oostende, was to fire at the Veurne railway station
At 08.00 five railway guns (21 or 28 cm, not specified) was to open fire on various targets
Between 10.00 and 12.00 the Pommern gun had to fire at Adinkerke in general and between 14.00 and 16.00 targeted again the railway station and the same location
Even after darkness they were firing on their targets…

They were assisted by A293, A231, and very curiously, a unit unnamed before A204… Curious thing is that the unit is only mentioned once in a list on the artillery flights, while the others are named frequently, and that FA A 204 is not even mentioned in the list of units that participated. I think they did only some recon over the French targets during the operation.

The photo’s taken of the results, were immediately to be taken to the Generalkommando Gardekorps (Marinekorps) and to the III Marine Infantry Division by a motorcyclist.

It is clear that the operation was the first of it’s kind and opened the way for a completely new way of warfare, which is still used with success by modern forces.


Jabbeke, Flanders – 11 July 2005

Johan R. Ryheul


Sources :

- Kofl 6 – Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv
- Kofl 4 - Bayerisches Kriegsarchiv
- KTB Battery Deutschland and Pommern – Militärarchiv Freiburg
- Kofl Marine – Militärarchiv Freiburg
- Various - Marinekorps Flandern Archive – Jabbeke

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 12 Jul 2005 14:59

Johan,
Great post.Let me digest it for any further queries.

Regards,
Peter
Last edited by Peter H on 13 Jul 2005 11:27, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Regulus 1 » 12 Jul 2005 22:19

Thanks Peter. I think this are the origins of close air support. Most of the time it is believed that this kind of tactics were only developed in late 1917, early 1918. I haven't heard or found anything older on the matter. Of course even before the Strandfest, planes were involved in battles, but never have I seen anything were they were flying just ahead of the troops, strafing the enemy trenches etc. Also the fact that they enormously happy with it at Kagohl I and the ideas they launch on the matter afterwards, shows that it's new in any case for the Germans, and I suppose also for the Allies, looking at the reactions of the men in the trenches, surrendering to planes ! Also the fact that the lines are overrun by the Marine Division in just minutes and the large number of prisoners shows proof in that direction.
And of course the fact of coordination from the air is also very special...
Later close air support can be seen again with the Stuka's, and I think the US only became really familiar with this in 1941...

Best from Johan

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Post by Peter H » 13 Jul 2005 11:39

Johan,

Just a correction if you don't mind---the British took over the sector on the 20th June 1917 from the French 36th Corps.The sector from Lombartzyde to Nieuport had been under French control from 1914 until then.

The Strandfest attack also saw the first German use of "two types of gas-shells which were being saved to resist the Ypres Offensive"--mustard gas(the yellow cross shell) and the asphyxiant chlorine(the blue cross shell).

The Australian Official History gives German casualties as 700 men "mostly light wounds".The 2nd Australian Tunnelling Company was attached to the British XV Corps as well.

The lack of opposition from the RFC,RNAS has never been fully explained as well.Bean comments that "the British air Force,which also had orders not to disclose its strength,was not able to protect its army this day,and German aeroplanes had it all their own way,flying low after the British fashion,and shooting to barrage the bridges."

Regards,
Peter



A fanciful German rendition of the battle circa 1917:

Sturmangriff der Deutschen Marine-Infantrie...10.Juli 1917
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Post by Peter H » 13 Jul 2005 11:54

I don't know if this photo is well known either.

A Albatros DV after a forced landing on the beachfront at Ostende--from Der Krieg in Wort und Bild,1917.
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Flame Thrower Component of Strandfest

Post by bob lembke » 13 Jul 2005 23:25

Guys;

Here is more information on the flame thrower aspect of the attack.

The 6. und 12. Kompagnien, Garde=Reserve=Pionier=Regiment (Flammenwerfer), under the command of a captain and battalion commander, attacked with four large (Model Grof) and 26 light (Model Wex) flame throwers. On July 10th 6th Company lost a sergeant and two flame pioneers. On the 11th the 6th Company lost a reserve lieutenant and a pioneer. (I suspect the latter were killed by artillery fire on the captured terrain, or behind it, as I think that the flame assault only lasted a half hour on the 10th.) I have the names of the battalion CO and the men that fell. I assume that the reader may find these losses surprisingly light, but these were fairly heavy for the flame pioneers, who averaged about one man killed per flame attack over the whole war. (I have a letter from my father, a flame pioneer, to his father, a staff officer, describing an attack in which 2-3 men fell and 12 were wounded as a "catastrophe".) The flame attacks tended to be either very small, stealthy attacks, without supporting infantry to attract attention and artillery fire, or quite large attacks that produced their own cover and often simply overwhelmed the first defensive line. (The largest flame attack utilized 154 flame throwers.)

These attacks were very carefully planned and were only attempted when the conditions were considered ideal. The troops were allocated to attacks directly by the Supreme Command, and in theory, at least, a platoon sergeant commanding a flame platoon could refuse a direct order from a lieutenant general commanding a division or army corps to attack, if the sergeant thought that the tactical situation was not favorable. And the sergeant was backed up by a written order from the Supreme Command (i.e., Hindenburg and Ludendorff) giving him that right. I am sure that you find this arraingement quite extraordinary, but they allowed the flame pioneers to avoid being squandered in ill-advised attacks by officers not familiar with the special flame equipment and tactics, many of which were counter-intuitive.

I hope you find this information interesting. My sources are authorative, but I must be a bit coy about them until my book on this topic is out, hopefully fairly soon.

Bob Lembke

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Post by Peter H » 14 Jul 2005 01:14

Richthofen himself would have not been involved in the operation---on the 6 July 1917 he was wounded in the head and hospitalised.

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Post by Regulus 1 » 14 Jul 2005 10:27

Peter,

You're very right on the fact thet the British took over from the French, my mistake, have been focussing to much on my countrymen by reading over the Nieuwpoort section ! Never have seen the drawing before. The photo on the other hand is well knwon to me, and I even must have details on it, will check that first days.
About the gas, I have seen it mentioned, but have no proof of actual use...

Bob,

Most interesting information. I knew that there was use of flamethrowers, but this is completely new info for me. Can I quote part of your text for my book ?

Thank you very much !

Best from Johan

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FW Info

Post by bob lembke » 14 Jul 2005 13:21

Johan;

I would be happy to write a "custom-tailored" paragraph or two for you, with more info, and taking out some of the OT stuff, to meet your needs. I am afraid I have to keep a couple of my most important sources "close to my chest", as we say, until I publish, partially due to an agreement with an involved third party. I assure you that my info is from simply extraordinary primary sources. We can kick this idea about with PMs.

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The Attack

Post by bob lembke » 15 Jul 2005 02:32

Johan;

Its me, the flame thrower nut.

Just looked over your account of the attack and my info. Several things stand out.

There were at least parts of two flame companies there, so my information that only 30 FW were used is surprisingly low. Most two company flame attacks, which were unusual, employed about 65 FW, and the one three company attack employed 154 FW. Possibly some FW were to be used elsewhere in the area and were not for some reason, or possibly they decided to use more of the flame pioneers as their own supporting storm troops. They did that a lot, especially later in the war, but usually as the local infantry did not understand their unusual tactics, and also sometimes were not reliable. (They had their own special especially light MGs and mine-throwers; the latter were made in their own workshop, and weighed half as much as the standard MW of the same 76 mm caliber. One trooper had the MW on his back, one or two others rushed with him with special packs holding 12 76 mm rounds each.) I am sure that the German Marines were reliable.

The use of the Grof models strongly indicates that the FW were used in the opening phase of the attack, as they were not mobile. In these big attacks the longer-range Grofs, with lots of oil, sometimes in multiple tanks ganged together, lay down cover-producing streams of smoke and flame, often on the diagonal across the front, while the very light Wex (a loaded Wex weighed less than the standard German infantry back-pack, the CO of the flame troops was proud of a photo of one of his men carrying two of them.) could rapidly rush the enemy trenches behind this cover. Opening up with the other 26 FW at close range usually collapsed the defense, as seems to have happened here. Also note the rather high percentage of POWs. (Of course the Brits were not able to retreat.) I want to get more information on the details of this attack, but it looks like a classic large-scale flame attack. There were other forms of attack, used much more frequently, that were radically different; often only a few men, employing what they called "Indian-style" tactics, men rushing singly from shell-hole to shell-hole until close enough to fry the objective, often from the side or rear. These big attacks (often about 60 FW) needed the right conditions and careful planning, but I really have never yet found an example of one that "failed". Can you imagine sitting in a trench, a short heavy barrage gets your head down, and then you are rushed by 65 (or 154!) flame throwers? Its not a surprise that these attacks succeeded.

Bob Lembke

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Source

Post by bob lembke » 15 Jul 2005 14:13

Guys;

Just dug out Schlachten des Weltkrieges, Band 27, Flandern 1917, and it only has about three sentences on this attack, and nothing in particular. Page 29: "Am 10. Juli stürmte die 3. Marinedivision im Küstenabschnitt bei Lombartzyde englische Stellungen und machte mehr als 1200 Gefangene. Es war das sogenannte "Strandfest" "

Nothing new, does corroborate my POW figure of 1284 prisoners.

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Another Source

Post by bob lembke » 15 Jul 2005 14:32

Looked at the original of my FW-centered source, and it strongly suggests that the FW led the attack, and did not merely follow up for mop-up. The first part states that "they achieved penetration", which implies that they led. It also states that "over 1300 POWs were taken." When this source was written the author had at hand a copy of the report that had been forwarded to the Highest Command reporting on the results of the flame aspects of the attack.

Bob Lembke

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Post by Peter H » 15 Jul 2005 14:49

The first use of mustard gas during Strandfest is supported by the Australian Official History,Volume 4,page 962:

...some batteries suffered through the enemy's use,for the first time,of what was to become his most dreaded gas shell--"which smells",notes the diary of the 36th H.A.G,'like new mixed mustard."


Footnote:
The same diary says:"the enemy was using a new gas shell freely.Shell bursts like a small H.E.Gas makes you sneeze and run at the nose and eyes.Smell is like cayenne pepper."This actually was the 'blue-cross' shell,a different type from the mustard('yellpw-cross') shell.Both new shells were used in this action.


Also here;

http://www.pals.org.uk/gas.htm

Following its first use at Nieuport, mustard gas was used to deluge the town of Ypres on the night of 12th/13th July 1917, causing 2,014 casualties.


This of interest as well:

http://www.cbwinfo.com/History/WWI.html

The Germans gave agents code names and also grouped them by use with the use indicated by colored crosses on artillery rounds:

Weisskreuz
White Cross, irritants affecting the eyes and other moist tissues;
Blaukreuz
Blue Cross, affecting the upper respiratory; tract
Grünkreuz
Green Cross, affecting the lungs;
Gelbkreuz
Yellow Cross, attacking any exposed surfaces.

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Peter H
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Location: Australia

Post by Peter H » 15 Jul 2005 14:56

A British first hand account of the attack:

http://www.firstworldwar.com/diaries/on ... ncoast.htm

bob lembke
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Joined: 31 Oct 2004 18:53
Location: Philadelphia, PA

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Post by bob lembke » 15 Jul 2005 17:31

Peter;

Many thanks for the account. And I guess that the guy was on the "safe" side of the Yser. (Have to look at a map.) Anyone else have a first-person account?

Bob Lembke

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