Gun Fire (Number 11), edited by A.J. Peacock
A5 size booklet, 66 pages. (N6454X1)
The Proposed Landing on the Belgian Coast 1917
Reviews: The Last Great Battle of the Somme
Imperial War Museum Review No.3
Notes And Queries
From the first page: The proposed British landing on the Belgian coast in 1917 is mentioned briefly in a number of books. L. Macdonald, for example, confines herself to a note saying that on 23 September Douglas Haig was 'finally forced to cancel the amphibious attack on the coast which had been the corner-stone of his argument in favour of the Flanders campaign.' King Albert of the Belgians' published diaries record how he was visited by Haig who told him that 'A landing will possibly take place between Nieuport and Ostend ' and later that 'In the region of Mardick a British division carried out practice landings, with a view to which Admiral Bacon ... equipped a flotilla of flat- bottomed landing-craft. J. Marshall Cornwall, in his book on Haig, put the events of the summer of 1917 into the correct perspective surely when he wrote that 'The clearance of the Belgian coast' - not the amphibious landing as Macdonald said - 'was ... the lodestar on which the whole of Haig's strategic plan for 1917 was directed' and later quoted Haig's original orders to General Gough, 'who was told to: Capture the Passchendaele-Staden Ridge and the railway Roulers-Thourout. The object of these operations .. , [being] to facilitate a landing between the Yser and Ostend , and, in combination with a force so landed, to gain possession of the Belgian coast.' (3) But that was the extent of the details given.
John Terraine, in his marvellous book, The Road to Passchendaele, records that a week after his appointment as Cin-C Douglas Haig was visited (26 December 1915) by the originator of the idea of the landing, and shows how, throughout 1916, he frequently thought and wrote to the effect that 'Operations to clear the Belgian coast must be kept in view.' On 18 September, only three days after they had first been used, Haig again discussed 'an operation against Ostend' with the same person, and 'suggested that he should carry out experiments with special flat-bottomed boats for running ashore and landing a line of Tanks'. This was the real beginning of the projected landing, and the person Haig was encouraging was that Rear Admiral Bacon mentioned earlier by King Albert....
Interestingly, an earlier edition of the journal explained the origins of the slang phrase 'Gun Fire', detailing how it was a term for the early cup of tea served out to troops in the morning before going on first parade. In the War recruits in training always had Gun Fire supplied to them, as the work before breakfast was often particularly gruelling.
Condition of the booklet is generally good. The cover has one or two minor scuffs, but the staple spine is intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound. Their is a small price sticker on the rear side cover, and rusting around the staples.