While the 2nd Battle of Ypres was taking place, the French Commander-in-Chief, Joseph Joffre, decided to try and break through German lines on the Western Front at Artois. After a five-day preliminary bombardment of German positions, Henri-Philippe Petain and 9th Army launched an attack on 9th May, 1915. Petain initially made good progress but was unable to take the main objective, Vimy Ridge. General Sir Douglas Haig, who led an attack at Neuve Chapelle at the same time, also failed to make a serious break through.

On 25th September Anglo-French forces launched another offensive at Artois. General Auguste Dubail and the French Tenth Army made some progress and one division managed to reach the crest of Vimy Ridge on 29th September. However, Count Prince Rupprecht and the German Sixth Army made sure that the French made no long-term gains.

General Sir Douglas Haig, and the British First Army, attacked at Loos. By the end of the first day the British troops were on the outskirts of Lens. Strong counter-attacks by the Germans forced the British back. When a second British attack suffered heavy losses on 13th October, Sir John French, decided to being an end to the Artois-Loos offensive. The campaign cost the British Expeditionary Force 50,000 casualties. The French lost 48,000 and the Germans about 24,000.

Primary Sources

(1) Charles Repington, Daily Mail (15th May, 1915)

The results of our attacks on Sunday last in the districts of Fromelles and Richebourg were disappointing. We found the enemy much more strongly posted than we expected. We had not sufficient high explosive to level his parapets to the ground. When our infantry gallantly stormed the trenches, as they did in both attacks, they found a garrison undismayed, many entanglements still intact, and Maxims on all sides ready to pour in streams of bullets. The attacks were well planned and valiantly conducted. The infantry did splendidly, but the conditions were too hard. The want of an unlimited supply of high explosives was a fatal bar to our success.