Arras Victory a Staggering Blow to Invaders of Northern France
Teutons Sustain Tremendous Losses in Men, Guns and Position - Retreat South of Vimy Ridge to Defensive Lines Farther Back - Canadian Triumph is Complete - Plains to Douai Dominated by Haig
Special Cable Despatch to The Globe by Philip Gibbs
War Correspondents' Headquarters, April 10 - The Battle of Arras is the greatest victory we have yet gained in this war and is a staggering blow to the enemy. He has lost already nearly 10,000 prisoners and more than half a hundred guns, and in dead and wounded his losses are great. He is in retreat south of Vimy ridge to the defensive lines father back, and as he goes our guns are smashing him along the roads. It is a black day for the German armies, and for the German women who do not yet know what it means to them.
During last night, the Canadians gained the last point, called Hill 145 on Vimy ridge, where the Germans held out in a pocket with machine guns, and this morning the whole of that high ridge which dominates the plains to Douai was in our hands, so there is removed from our path the great barrier for which the French and ourselves fought through bloody years.
Enemy Wiped Out
Yesterday, before daylight and afterwards, I saw this ridge of Vimy all on fire with the light of a great gunfire. The enemy was there in strength, and his guns answered ours with a heavy barrage of high explosives. This morning the scene was changed as by a miracle. Snow was falling and blowing gustily across the battlefields and powdering the caps and helmets of our men as they rode or marched forward to the front, but presently the sunlight broke through the storm clouds and flooded all the countryside by Neuville-St. Vaast and Thelus and La Folle Farm up the crest of the ridge, where the Canadians had just fought their way with such high valor. Our batteries were firing from many hiding places, as was revealed by short, sharp flashes of light; but few answering shells came back, and the ridge itself, patched with a snowdrift was as quiet as any hill of peace.
Deadly Menace Ended
It is astounding to think that not a single German stayed up there out of all those who held it yesterday, unless some poor wounded ones still cower in the great tunnels which pierce the hillside. It is almost unbelievable to me, who have known the evil of this high ridge month after month and year after year, and the deadly menace which lurked about its lower slopes, yet I saw proof below where, of all the Germans who had been there at dawn yesterday, thousands of them now in our lines, drawn up in battalions, marshalling themselves, grinning at the fate which had come to them and spared their lives.
Canadian Attack Astounding
The Canadian attack yesterday was astounding, successful, and carried out by high-spirited men, the victors of Courcelette, in the battles of the Somme, who had before the advance an utter and joyous confidence of victory. They went away at dawn, cheering and laughing, through the mud and rain which made scarecrows of them. They followed close and warily to the barrage of our guns, the most stupendous line of fire ever seen, and by 6:30 they had taken their first goals, which included the whole front line system of German trenches about Nouville-St. Vaast by La Folle Farm and La Folle Wood, and up by Thelus, where they met with fierce resistance. The German garrisons were for the most part in long, deep tunnels, pierced through the hill as assembly ditches. There were hundreds of them in the Prinx Arnault tunnel, and hundreds more in the great Volkor tunnel; but as the Canadians surged up to them, with wave after wave of bayonets, the German soldiers streamed out and came running forward with hands up. They were eager to surrender, and their great desire was to get down from Vimy ridge and the barrage of their own guns. That barrage fell heavily and fiercely upon Tuco trench, but too late to do much damage to our men, who had already gone beyond it.
Canadian Losses Light
The Canadian casualties are not heavy in comparison with the expected losses, but the German prisoners are glad to pay for the gift of life by carrying our wounded back. The eagerness of these men was pitiful, and now and then laughable. At least the Canadian escorts found it a great laughing matter, in the enormous numbers of men they had to guard, and in the way the prisoners themselves directed the latest comers to the barbed wire enclosures, and with great satisfaction acted as masters of ceremony to their own captives.
Very Cheerful Prisoners
I have never seen such cheerful prisoners, although for the most part they were without overcoats, and, despite the cold blizzard of snow, they were joking with each other and in great humor because life, with all its hardships, was dear to them, and they had the luck of life. They were of all sizes and ages and types. I saw elderly bewhiskered men with big spectacles, belonging to the professor tribe, and young lads who ought to have been in the German high schools. Some of their faces looked wizened and small beneath their great, shrapnel helmets. Many of them looked ill and starved, but other tall, stout, hefty fellows, who should have made good fighting men if they had any stomach for the job. There were many officers, standing apart. The Canadians took over 200 of them.