Thursday, 22 May 2014

The moon and New York City?

By October 1914 the German invasion of Belgium was almost complete. Only a tiny remnant of land behind the road from Nieuport to Ypres was left unconquered. Of 11,800 square miles, only 300 was left - about the land area of New York City. This had to be defended because the German army was about to be hurled at the remnant in the hope that this final capture would knock Belgium out of the war completely.

The Belgian army was exhausted and all but out of ammunition. The low-lying ground was saturated with water so defensive trenches couldn't be dug. There was nowhere to hide from German artillery. The French 42nd division and French colonial troops from Senegal had to be sent to reinforce them. They deployed along a railway embankment built up between three and six feet in elevation, running from Nieuport to Dixmude and waited.

Then, just as all hope began to fade, the moon came to Belgium's rescue. The moon? Yes, that's right: the moon.

A high tide in the North Sea meant that the sluice gates at Nieuport could be opened to let sea water into the Yser Canal. The resulting flood thwarted German intentions. Their furious attack on Ramscappelle had to be called off, and they were forced to turn their attention to the town of Ypres, where British forces were preparing to give them a dose of their own medicine.

If you are interested in my fictional account, then look at The Deadly Playground, 1914 at this link and get yourself a copy

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