mort homme

Battles of Vimy Ridge and Arras

Germans (center) surrendering as Canadian reserves advance across Vimy Ridge.

April 9 1917, Arras–Since the beginning of the year, the British had been planning an attack around Arras, to be conducted a week before Nivelle’s major French offensive on the Aisne further south.  The ground had been fought over before; the French had attacked here in May 1915, but had ultimately failed to make substantial gains.  The attack had originally been planned for Easter Sunday, April 8, but had been pushed back a day to April 9 due to inclement weather in the previous week.  There would be two major attacks: the Canadian Corps under Byng at Vimy Ridge, and the British under Allenby further south around Arras.  Both had been meticulously planned; large caves had been excavated to protect the attacking soldiers from any German counter-barrage, and they would proceed up to the first line of trenches by tunnel without exposing themselves to enemy fire.  The infantry, especially those in the Canadian Corps, had been carefully trained, and knew their objectives well, allowing them to keep the offensive going even if their officers were killed or communications broke down.  

Four days of bombardment had cut barbed wire, severed German communications, and destroyed many of the German trenches (if not their more fortified positions).  At 5:30 AM on April 9, the barrage began again, but it lifted and moved back behind the German lines only three minutes later.  Gus Sivertz, a Canadian with the first wave that had already crawled into no-man’s land, recalled:

I looked ahead and saw the German front line crashing into pieces; bits of men, timbers, lumps of chalk were flung through the air and, blending with the shattering wall of fire, were the Hun SOS signals of all colours.  We didn’t dare lift our heads, knowing that the barrage was to come flat over us and then lift in three minutes.

The Canadians seized most of the first line of trenches with little resistance, often securing them well ahead of schedule.  However, the timing of the subsequent barrages, which had been worked out with clockwork precision, prevented the Canadians from advancing before their set timetable.  Even if there were no Germans in front of them, they would be advancing into their own barrage.  This theme would repeat throughout the day, though the Canadians did advance as planned, in places up to four miles.

On the northern end of their advance, the Canadians did run into some difficulties.  One section of the German first line was spared from the barrage by the request of the local CO of the infantry, who wanted the trench intact as defense against German counterattacks; these Germans were only rooted out when flanked on both sides.  Additionally, Vimy Ridge itself had networks of underground tunnels which the artillery could not touch.  In some places, the Germans, realizing they were trapped, surrendered quickly.  In one instance, a Capt. McDowell captured 77 Germans single-handed, pretending to give orders to non-existent troops behind him, then ordering the Germans out in small groups to his waiting men on the surface; he would win a Victoria Cross for his effort.  Elsewhere, the Germans put up more of a fight and it would take many hours to clear them out; the Canadians’ northernmost objective was not taken until that night.

The Germans were not able to recover and counterattack quickly, as they had kept their reserve far away from the front line, up to 15 miles in places.  While this kept them safe from Allied artillery and airplanes, it meant they could not launch a counterattack before the Canadians had secured their positions; unlike in 1915, Vimy Ridge would stay in Allied hands.  The mandated pauses in the advance prevented the Canadians from pushing forward beyond their objectives, however, until late in the afternoon, by which time the first German reserves had arrived, and the commanders on the spot were reluctant to take the initiative.  A tentative effort to break out onto the plains beyond Vimy Ridge with cavalry was quickly beaten back.

The British under Allenby, further to the south, had similar successes.  This attack used more tanks; the few ones allotted to the Canadians got stuck in mud and proved useless.  These tanks proved more useful, but all of them had been knocked out of action by noon.  Advancing several miles, they had opened a four-mile long complete gap in the German lines, but would not make any further advance beyond the occasional patrol that day.

Today in 1916: Massive German Attack on Mort Homme
Today in 1915:  Falkenhayn Agrees to Offensive in East

Sources include: Alexander McKee, Vimy Ridge; John Keegan, The First World War; E.L. Spears, Prelude to Victory; Derek Grout, Thunder in the Skies.

L'Impero del male schierato ai confini della forza di volontà.

Un esercito di Tennent’s Super in offerta pronto a sfondare la tenue, tenuissima resistenza…

Je suis un homme mort.

W la birra. W la panza.

Adieu.

Quand un joueur réussit à sauver tout le groupe par miracle via trois succès critiques consécutifs alors qu’un simple échec les envoyait tous six pieds sous terre.

Vertes étaient les collines et nous aussi
quoique pas de la manière que disent les hommes
nous n’avions pas connu la mort
ni encore marché dans la souillure
car tout brillait autour de nos mains

Nous n’avions pas connu la mort
mais la ronde des moineaux
se posa comme couronne sur les marais
à tous les yeux marquant cette croix tremblante
corps dénudé corps rejeté

Dans le soleil le vent son tambour sa marche
dans l’herbe haute son pas traînant
sa contenance d'humilité émut ses frères
qui l’enveloppèrent de leur tendresse

Odeur puante colère aveugle
nous savons mieux ce qu'est la mort moins l’homme
une fleur des champs sur une poitrine dépenaillée
larmes des collines leur innocence
—  Patti Smith - Mort d'un vagabond
youtube

It’s Record Store Day so instead of buying over-priced re-pressed plastic let’s go back to 1972 and listen to a cracking crackling vinyl soundtrack from Michel Legrand #rsd17

38,25 %

C’est le taux de participation aux législatives algériennes de jeudi, un chiffre inférieur à celui de 2012 (43 %). Le pouvoir a perdu son pari d’une mobilisation massive : malgré son énergique campagne de lutte contre l’abstention, les Algériens ont refusé de cautionner une élection souvent jugée jouée d’avance. Au-delà de l’abstention par désintérêt, la jeunesse a revendiqué une abstention active, en témoigne le nombre élevé de votes blancs et nuls. Et pour cause : l’équilibre des forces à l’Assemblée reste, une nouvelle fois, inchangé. Le bloc majoritaire, qui soutient le gouvernement, est, à deux députés près, de la même taille qu’avant. La «stabilité» si chère au régime frise la caricature. C.Mc.

A lire en intégralité sur Libération.fr.



Retrouvez cet article sur Liberation.fr

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Elle n'aimait pas, elle avait une passion. L’amour et la passion sont deux différents états de l’âme que poètes et gens du monde, philosophes et niais confondent continuellement. L’amour comporte une mutualité de sentiments, une certitude de jouissances que rien n’altère, et un trop constant échange de plaisirs, une trop complète adhérence entre les cœurs pour ne pas exclure la jalousie. La possession est alors un moyen et non un but ; une infidélité fait souffrir mais ne détache pas ; l’âme n’est ni plus ni moins ardente ou troublée, elle est incessamment heureuse ; enfin le désir étendu par un souffle divin d’un bout à l’autre sur l’immensité du temps nous le teint d’une même couleur : la vie est bleue comme l’est un ciel pur. La passion est le pressentiment de l’amour et de son infini auquel aspirent toutes les âmes souffrantes. La passion est un espoir qui peut-être sera trompé. Passion signifie à la fois souffrance et transition ; la passion cesse quand l’espérance est morte. Hommes et femmes peuvent, sans se déshonorer, concevoir plusieurs passions ; il est si naturel de s’élancer vers le bonheur ! mais il n’est dans la vie qu’un seul amour. Toutes les discussions, écrites ou verbales, faites sur les sentiments, peuvent donc être résumées par ces deux questions : Est-ce une passion ? Est-ce l’amour ?
—  Honoré de Balzac, La Duchesse de Langeais.
Je suis un homme mort, coincé entre quatre mur. Je suis je suis je suis un homme moderne.[…] Société c'est perdu, nos amours sous tranquillisant.[…] Moi dans mes rêves d'Amériques, je tente de fuir.
—  Saez - Pilule. I FUCK YOUR MUM TRUMP