German XXVI. Reserve Corps reaches its first objective: Pilckem Ridge
22 April 1915: 17.40
About half an hour after the launch of the infantry attack the German 52. Reserve Division, which had advanced more or less unhindered through the French front line positions, reached the high ground of Pilckem Ridge, on which the village of Pilckem was located. This was the first objective for the corps; it had only taken some thirty minutes to cover about three kilometres from its front line trenches to this objective.
Field and heavy gun batteries were ordered to move forward to take up positions behind the division. They were instructed to fire on the enemy and support the infantry of 52. Reserve Division in the newly won position on the ridge.
Originally the operational orders for the attack had stated that once the ridge of high ground had been reached the troops were to dig in(1). However, revised operational orders included the further objective of securing the Yser Canal as far as Ypres. This would mean the advance would have to be continued over the Pilckem Ridge and on towards the Yser Canal. Unfortunately, as a result of opposition encountered at Langemarck and on the Canadian left wing the progress of the neighbouring 51. Reserve Division had been slow.
Without the full support of the 51. Reserve Division on its left the 52. Reserve Division was ordered to halt its advance at the Pilckem Ridge position. A continued advance by 52. Reserve Division towards the Yser Canal might now produce a bulge in the German advancing front line; this could have put it in a dangerous position where three flanks would be exposed to enemy attacks.
German Reserves Moved to Pilckem Ridge
In order to strengthen the position of 52. Reserve Division on the Pilckem Ridge the 37. Landwehr Brigade was moved forward from its position in the reserve at Houthulst Forest (an arrow on the map refers to 37. Ldw Bde).
(1) See Prelude to the Battle: