18009 TRENCHES OF THE ALLIES ON THE COAST OF FLANDERS On such ground as this were fought out the first desperate battles of the winter of 1914-15. Here are the invaders made furious efforts to push back the forces of the French and British and Belgians who opposed them in order to capture the ports of Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne and drive a wedge between France and England. But in the low marshy ground along the coast the Allies, though outnumbered, fought grimly and successfully to hold them back. Deep trenches such as were used on other parts of the Western front were impossible here in the water-soaked ground, so breastworks had to be employed such as had been extensively used in the American Civil War. During October, 1914, they began to rise over the Flanders dunes and marshes. At Ypres and Dixmude, along the banks of the sluggish User River and on the seacoast between Ostend and Nieuport the battle raged furiously for weeks. Reinforced by many divisions after they had captured Antwerp on October 8, the Germans fought to gain a footing on the western side of the User, but the Belgians opened the dikes, flooding the country with sea water, and they were forced to fall back eastward. At Nieuport 6,000 French marines aided by British warships off shore heroically held the place for many days until reinforced by British troops. At Ypres the British themselves maintained the contest and when the Battle of Flanders, as it was called, finally died down for a while to a condition of trench warfare, though they had lost fifty per cent of their effective strength in the fighting, the sadly battered old Flemish city remained in their hands. They had even extended their lines well to the eastward of Ypres. Copyright by The Keystone Company