The Battle Of 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele)


The Battle of 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele)
(The edited text of a paper given in France in November 1993. The original paper was illustrated by contemporary slide photographs and maps; this text is best read in conjunction with a map of the area.)
In 1915, at the second Battle of Ypres, the Germans used chlorine gas for the first time in warfare and succeeded in driving the British back to the town of Ypres. Here a bulge, or salient, was formed in their front line which left the town exposed on three sides to shellfire. The town was gradually destroyed, although of course it continued to be used as an important military centre for the Allied lines and all troops left for the front line through ...

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and their industrial heartland in the Ruhr would be under threat.
U-boats were operating out of Zeebrugge with great success and the Admiralty was increasingly gloomy about what would happen in the English Channel if the Belgium ports were not closed to the enemy. Pressure had consequently been put on Field Marshal Haig to make an attack in Flanders. Haig's plan was to strike out of Ypres to the North and East and, in conjunction with a seaborne landing on the coast of Belgium at Nieuport, he would capture the high ground at Passchendaele which was the key to the whole area. This would allow the cavalry to be released in open country and sweep all before them to the coast.

Haig, who had been trained as a cavalryman firmly believed that cavalry had a place in modern war; he was a very stubborn unimaginative man who completely disregarded the effects of barbed wire, machine guns, shells and fire from aircraft on the very vulnerable horses. An attack in Flanders would also hold down ...

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had been warned about this, he hoped that the breakthrough would be so swift that the land would not have time to bog. He seemed to be an incurable optimist who was quite incapable of learning from his recent experiences on the Somme!

The Weather

Flanders was notorious for wet weather that usually started in the late autumn and the plan was for the attack to start in July, after the successful but limited Battle of Messines in June. It was known that July and August were the most unpredictable months of the year and heavy thunderstorms were possible at any time. September was the best month as it was dry for one out of four years (1917 was one of those years!) October was usually ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 12/17/2008 08:57:04 PM
Category: World History
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 3180
Pages: 12

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