As part of the Second Battle of Artois, an Allied attempt to capitalize on reassignment of German forces to the eastern front, the British were to assist French efforts in the south by securing Aubers Ridge. British artillery strength was diminished due to damaged equipment and lack of ammunition, and infantry advances were not quick enough to overwhelm the Germans who had strengthened their defences following the Battle of Neuve Chapelle. Suffering heavy losses, the British subsequently focussed their attack on Festubert in the south on 15 May. In a change of tactics, they opted for more prolonged heavy artillery bombardment, firing over 100,000 shells over three days prior to infantry attacks. Together the battles are seen as a resounding failure, which ended in heavy losses for minimal territorial gain, highlighting the shortcomings of the British ammunition supply and sparking the political scandal known as the shell crisis of 1915.
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