They did not suffice to silence the hostile machine guns, many of which were ensconced in concrete pillboxes. Haig, determined to carry on despite the depletion of his armies, now turned to the Canadians. Although the attacks had brought the United States into the war on the Allied side, they threatened the shipping routes that carried war supplies, food and other goods into Britain. The Allied victory was achieved at enormous cost for … The salient had been an active battlefield since 1914. For the soldiers who fought at Passchendaele, it was known as the ‘Battle of Mud’. Five days later the 2nd Australian Division suffered heavily in a further attack in the mud. The battle officially began at 3:50 a.m. on July 31, 1917 with the aim of driving the Germans from the Belgian ports on the English Channel, where German U-boats lurked. That month, Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) divisions were thrown into the fight alongside the worn-out British forces, but the result was the same: the Allies would bombard, assault, and occupy a section of enemy ground only to be thrown back by the counterattacking Germans. The film had its premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival on … The Allies were commanded by British leaders. After mid-1917, and following mutinies in the over-strained French Army, the British Forces had to assume an even greater role in the war on the Western Front. 2021 258 THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS [Vol. Passchendaele - 100 years on from WW1's muddy carnage. Gough, like Haig’s own operations staff, favoured the idea of a step-by-step approach to the attack, but Plumer urged that they should “go all out.” Haig agreed with him, counting on an early breakthrough, if not at the first thrust. If we should know such items of expendi- But, although he failed to reach his objective—the Belgian coast—he did weaken the Germans and helped prepare the way…. The farthest objective was less than 1 mile (1.6 km) deep on September 20 and was reduced still more on the subsequent strokes. These systematic step-by-step advances, staying within range of the supporting artillery, pushed the line forward by a few kilometres, but they were made at a heavy cost; in just over a week there were almost 11,000 Australian casualties. The third and longest battle to take place at the Belgian city of Ypres, Passchendaele was ostensibly an Allied victory, but it was achieved at enormous cost for a piece of ground that would be vacated the following year. At a conference on September 28, Haig expressed his belief that the enemy was on the point of collapse and that tanks and cavalry could be pushed through. The 4th and 5th Divisions then took over and, as part of the wider effort, they attacked on 26 September. Often known as the Third Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele, the offensive began with encouraging gains but terrible summer weather soon bogged it down.By August the offensive was clearly failing in its objectives and had descended into attritional fighting. Under almost continuous rain and shellfire, troops huddled in waterlogged shell holes or became lost on the blasted mudscape, unable to locate the front line that separated Canadian positions from German ones. The Australian War Memorial was voted the number one landmark in Australia by travellers in the 2016 Trip Advisor awards. Bean, Download Battle of Broodseinde map, 4 October 1917, situation 6 pm. For an early breakthrough such as Haig intended, surprise would be of vital importance, but, as he chose to attack in the bare Flanders plain, all of Haig’s immense preparations were displayed to the eyes of the German observers. The first left a toll of 3,000 killed and wounded, and 1,170 taken prisoner; while the second battle resulted in 7,000 casualties. In both cases the fighting was bloody. Note the difference in destruction between the first aerial photo (July) and the next two (September) when virtually every inch of the ground had been destroyed and badly cratered. Yet Haig, in his report to the War Office on the first day’s fighting, stated that the results were “most satisfactory.” The explosion of millions of shells, accompanied by torrential rain, had turned the battlefield into an apocalyptic expanse—a swampy pulverized mire dotted with water-filled craters deep enough to drown a man, all made worse by the churned-up graves of soldiers killed in earlier fighting. A fresh attack was nevertheless ordered for October 12 with still deeper objectives. Every combatant army of the Great War (1914-1918) had its Golgotha ? If it were not that all the records of previous years had given us fair warning, it would seem as if Providence had declared against us.”. Fortunately a change in the weather brought for them better fighting conditions. The Australian infantry divisions joined the Third Battle of Ypres which had been going on since 31 July when they took part in the battle of Menin Road on 20 September 1917. Sir Douglas Haig, portrait by John Singer Sargent; in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. Battle of Passchendaele, also called Third Battle of Ypres, (July 31–November 6, 1917), World War I battle that served as a vivid symbol of the mud, madness, and senseless slaughter of the Western Front. The preparations took several weeks and gave the troops some respite from vain sacrifice. The effect, however, proved too intoxicating behind the front. On September 20, on September 26, and again on October 4, successful strokes of a strictly limited nature were delivered. Haig’s plan called for a preliminary attack on the Messines Ridge (north of Armentières) in order to straighten out the Ypres salient on its southern flank and to attract German reserves. At the end, the point of it all was unclear. It was a vital victory. At about the same time, legions of weary French soldiers began to mutiny following the failure of a large French offensive on the Western Front. Currie’s operation was an unqualified success, and, although the Canadian Corps suffered some 9,000 casualties, the unit inflicted nearly three times that number on the Germans. By July 6, Crown Prince Rupert of Bavaria, the German army group commander, was satisfied that he now had ample troops and ammunition to meet the expected attack. Sir William Robert Robertson, chief of the British Imperial General Staff, now began to feel increasing doubts, but he did not disclose them to the war cabinet, despite his role as the official military adviser to the government. Map of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres) from, Naval Operations in the Dardanelles Campaign. In 1918 all the ground that had been gained there by the Allies was evacuated in the face of a looming German assault. Conditions for the soldiers were horrifying. British Prime Minister David Lloyd George expressed anxiety over whether so great an operation would cause heavy casualties, which would be difficult to replace given the present state of manpower. He began by dwelling on the “exhaustion” of the German army and its declining morale. Battle of Passchendaele. More than 4,000 of our soldiers died in the fighting there and almost 12,000 were wounded. He was, in a practical sense, no nearer reaching the ports that formed his goal than when the Third Battle of Ypres started. Download Menin Road battle 1 map (PDF file), Download Menin Road battle 2 map (PDF file). Only on the left was the full objective reached with the capture of Bixschoote (Bikschote), Pilckem Ridge, and Saint-Julien; on the crucial right wing the attack was a failure. A strictly limited attack, made with true siege-war methods and based on preparations begun a year before, it proved an almost complete success within its limits. 21 K.R.R.C had a supporting role attacking the German forces, before being moved back from the front line into reserve. Although it may have forestalled a possible German attack on the French, Passchendaele, with enormous loss of life, achieved none of its main objectives. He was Associate... On September 29, 1918, British troops passed through the devastated town of Ypres, West Flanders, Belgium, the site of three major World War I battles, including Passchendaele (July–November 1917), in which total Allied and German casualties exceeded 850,000. GHQ regarded this as “a rather amazing view” while appreciating the fact that it had “sufficient weight to make the Cabinet agree to our attack going on.” Charteris, however, was dismayed to learn that Haig had gone beyond the general figures furnished by his own intelligence staff and had given “the definite opinion that if the fighting was kept up at its present intensity for six months Germany would be at the end of her available man-power.” Preparations were now pressed forward on both sides of the battlefront. Finally, on 12 October, another attack, involving the 3rd Division assisted by the 4th, was made against the village of Passchendaele atop the main ridge. Allied troops attacked the German Army in many operations. In late September there was an improvement both in the weather and in the British situation. Sometimes known as the third battle of Ypres, Passchendaele has become synonymous with the bloody trench war stalemate that World War I became. On August 21 he told the British government that the end of the German reserves was in sight, though the struggle might still be severe “for some weeks.” By this point, nearly 70,000 men from some of Britain’s best assault divisions had been killed or wounded. Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Battle of Passchendaele Credit: World History Archive / Alamy G erman and British forces became locked in a mud-drenched stalemate for a month and a … The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Australian Divisions captured Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October 1917. able to locate an eBook that ident is som of the combatants and reer to it directly myself. This year marks the centenary of one of the First World War's bloodiest episodes - a battle that claimed 500,000 lives. Gough tried to secure a postponement, but without avail. IV, Chapters XVII - XXII (270 pages). He was badly wounded at the Battle of the Somme but, after recovering, returned to France, commanding his Company at the Battle of Messines, June 1917.The Battle of Passchendaele began 8 weeks later. An effective creeping artillery barrage won the ground; the infantry merely occupied it. find out more story Attack of the tanks. A final assault, which secured the remaining areas of high ground east of the Ypres salient, was carried out on November 10. A fortnight’s bombardment gave them further warning. It owed much to the surprise effect of 19 huge mines that were simultaneously fired. FIg. Places of Pride, the National Register of War Memorials, is a new initiative designed to record the locations and photographs of every publicly accessible memorial across Australia. All rights reserved. Currie objected to what he considered a reckless attack, arguing that it would cost about 16,000 Canadian casualties for no great strategic gain. Because some French armies were temporarily unwilling or unable to fight, the commander of the British armies in Europe, Gen. Douglas Haig, decided that Britain must begin a new offensive of its own. The armies under British command suffered some 275,000 casualties at Passchendaele, a figure that makes a mockery of Haig’s pledge that he would not commit the country to "heavy losses.” Among these were 38,000 Australians, 5,300 New Zealanders, and more than 15,600 Canadians; this final figure was almost exactly the total that had been predicted by Currie ahead of the battle. By the spring of 1917, Germany had resumed the practice of unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking merchant ships in international waters. In addition, according to the head of Haig’s intelligence staff, “Careful investigation of the records of more than eighty years showed that in Flanders the weather broke early each August with the regularity of the Indian monsoon: once the autumn rains set in the difficulties would be greatly enhanced.” None of these facts was disclosed by Haig to the war cabinet when he went to London late in June to secure its approval of his plans. Gun emplacements were improved, and troops and officers were allowed time to prepare for the attack, which opened on October 26, 1917. The method of attack had come to be questioned even at GHQ itself: a paper on the question led Gen. Henry Rawlinson to submit an appreciation in which he pointed out that “the British command had never yet attempted to conduct a wearing-down battle with planned, logical methods, but had relied too much on its belief that a breakdown of the German Army’s morale was within sight.” Haig was not impressed by these views, but his decision to extend Plumer’s role fulfilled them indirectly. The Battle of Passchendaele, fought July 1917, is sometimes called the Third Battle of Ypres. Passchendaele, or officially, the Third Battle of Ypres, has been reassessed by Nick Lloyd, Nick Lloyd, Reader in Military and Imperial History at King’s College, who is also based at the Siegfried Sassoon recorded Passchendaele in his poem Memorial Tablet, when he … Hundreds of thousands of soldiers on opposing sides attacked and counterattacked across sodden, porridgelike mud, in an open gray landscape almost empty of buildings or natural cover, all under the relentless harrowing rain of exploding shells, flying shrapnel, and machine-gun fire. We pay our respects to elders past and present. In wretched conditions, with casualties mounting at an appalling rate, the Australians had to fall back. It happened between July and November 1917. However with heavy artillery support the objectives were taken and enemy counter-attacks held off. A month later, telling Haig that he had “knocked out” alternative plans and was still backing Haig’s, he added, “I confess I stick to it more because…my instinct prompts me to stick to it, than because of any good argument by which I can support it.” After repeated local attacks by Gough’s troops had achieved practically nothing except loss to themselves, Haig agreed that Plumer’s army should take an enlarged role. The bitter struggle that followed came to symbolize the horrors of trench warfare. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). The Battle of Passchendaele was one of the biggest battles of the First World War. British General Headquarters (GHQ) had information which indicated that the Ypres area, being reclaimed marshland, was bound to revert to swamp if the drainage system were to be destroyed by prolonged bombardment. By the spring of 1917, the Germans had begun unrestricted submarine warfare — sinking Allied merchant ships in international waters. Our collection contains a wealth of material to help you research and find your connection with the wartime experiences of the brave men and women who served in Australia’s military forces. We recognise their continuing connection to land, sea and waters. Miliary Historian Dr. Reginald R. H. Roy joined the teaching staff at Victoria College as an instructor in the History Department in 1959, and by 1970 he became a full professor with tenure. Over the next two weeks Currie ordered the building and repair of roads and tramlines to help in the movement of men and armaments and other supplies on the battlefield. Thus, when the Third Battle of Ypres was begun, on July 31, only the left wing’s objectives were achieved: on the crucial right wing the attack was a failure. Passchendaele was the third and longest battle to take place at Ypres, Belgium. (PDF file), Download Passchendaele II battle map, 12 Oct 1917 (PDF file), Download map of ground gained during entire Third Ypres Offensive (PDF file), Read more about the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Ypres), Anzac to Amiens by C. E. W. Bean, Chapter XXI (20 pages), Official History by C. E. W. Bean, Vol. The last surviving British combatant in the battle, Harry Patch, died in 2009 at the age of 111. Battle of Passchendaele. When the attack was resumed on August 16, very little more was…, …July 31, 1917, the ill-fated Passchendaele offensive began. Siege of Orléans. More Victoria Crosses—14 in total—were awarded for actions on the opening day of the Battle of Passchendaele than for actions on any other single day of combat in World War I. Few battles encapsulate World War One better than the Battle of Passchendaele. Gen. Arthur Currie, opted instead to seize the high ground north of Lens at Hill 70. Your generous donation will be used to ensure the memory of our Defence Forces and what they have done for us, and what they continue to do for our freedom remains – today and into the future. Another futile attack was launched on October 22 with the same outcome. This attack ended with the assaulting troops, save those who had perished in the mud, back on their starting line. Three successful pushes – Menin Road, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde – in September and early October steadily drove the Germans back to the top of Passchendaele ridge. 7 arms, tanks, planes, and so forth on the occasion of a specific battle. The result, together with the better organization of the attack, helped to revive the spirits of the attacking troops. This was executed on June 7, 1917, by the Second Army, under Gen. Sir Herbert Plumer. In July 1917, the British and French launched a massive offensive near the Belgian city of Ypres. The film, which was shot in Calgary, Alberta, Fort Macleod, Alberta, and in Belgium, focuses on the experiences of a Canadian soldier, Michael Dunne, at the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres. C.E.W. Ground was taken but it could not be held. Canada’s great victory at Passchendaele came at a high price. Updates? In the face of heavy fire, the men fought in the mire while struggling to keep up with their artillery barrages. After surveying the German defenses, the Canadian commander, Lieut. The sacrifices and achievements of those who gave so much will never be forgotten. For the next two weeks all four divisions of the Canadian Corps took turns assaulting the Passchendaele ridge, making only meagre gains with heavy losses. Library and Archives Canada In the Third Battle of Ypres, increasingly advanced British combined arms tactics were pitted against sophisticated German defences based on concrete pillboxes and specialist counterattack formations. BATTLE AND OTHER COMBATANT CASUALTIES IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR, I* ALFRED VAGTS ... in 40 days at Passchendaele in August and September, 1917, fired over 25 million shells. Plumer had one gun to every 5 yards (4.6 metres) of front, and this huge concentration of fire crushed the enemy’s counterattacks. The side-by-side advance of the 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions took them up to the splintered remnants of Polygon Wood not far from Zonnebeke. Haig replied that he thought there were no grounds for such fears. Fighting went on, often in appalling weather and despite crippling losses, until November. I have often thought that many a youngster when he was hit out there on the Passchendaele heights … and he knew that the end had come – must have thought to himself: "well at least they'll remember me in Australia". Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, The ANZAC and Canadian Corps at Passchendaele, https://www.britannica.com/event/Battle-of-Passchendaele, BBC History – World Wars: Battle of Passchendaele: 31 July - 6 November 1917, New Zealand History - 1917: Arras, Messines and Passchendaele, The History Learning Site - The Battle of Passchendaele. In early October Haig had ordered Currie to bring his four divisions to Belgium to relieve the decimated ANZAC troops and take up the fight around Passchendaele. But its impact reached far beyond the battlefield, leaving deep scars on many New Zealand communities and families. Ironically, the mud also saved lives, cushioning many of the shells that landed and preventing their explosion. The success of the Battle of Messines had the unfortunate effect of inspiring the British high command with too much confidence in the greater effort that was to follow, wherein the methods would be essentially different. Aftermath of the Battle of Poelcapelle, a skirmish in the larger Third Battle of Ypres, or Battle of Passchendaele (National ... which counted Alfred Mendes among its combatants… Few gains were made. Passchendaele would be remembered as a symbol of the worst horrors of the First World War, the sheer futility of much of the fighting, and the reckless disregard by some of the war’s senior leaders for the lives of the men under their command. His dream of a decisive victory had faded. 10 am to 5 pm daily (except Christmas Day), Get your ticket to visit: awm.gov.au/visit, Copyright The attack at Passchendaele was Sir Douglas Haig’s attempt to break through Flanders. But, then it began to rain. Through October and into November, wet weather and sheer exhaustion … 17 John Arthur Wilson MM meeting Belgian dignitaries with his only daughter, during the 75th anniversary commemoration of Third Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele in July 1992 at the Menin Gate. On October 5 Charteris admitted in a note, “Unless we get fine weather for all this month, there is no chance of clearing the coast….Most of those at the conference would welcome a stop.”. On November 6, however, Canadian troops advanced the few hundred yards necessary to occupy the site of what had been the village of Passchendaele (northeast of Ypres, about 5 miles [8 km] from the nearest front on the salient when the offensive had begun on July 31). Download Battle of Broodseinde map, 4 October 1917, situation 6 pm. Detail. The war cabinet still hesitated, but Adm. John Jellicoe made a powerful intervention in favour of Haig’s plan, saying that unless the army could capture the submarine bases on the Belgian coast, he considered it “improbable that we could go on with the war next year for lack of shipping.” On his return to France, Haig told his intelligence chief, Gen. John Charteris, of the struggle and of the decisive effect of Jellicoe’s declaration. It slowed stretcher-bearers to a literal crawl as they tried to carry the wounded away from the fighting through waist-deep muck. Omissions? Fortunately a change in the weather brought for them better fighting conditions. The losses were so severe that a planned 6 th Division of the AIF materialised only briefly before it was broken up to supply reinforcements. The Germans suffered 220,000 killed or wounded. Ten days later he told the government that the breakdown of the enemy’s resistance might come “at any moment.” He had already told them that the German losses exceeded the British “not improbably by a hundred per cent.” They were actually much less than the British. The troops were finally exhausted and could do no more; by 15 November they handed over to the Canadians. He told his army commanders that “opportunities for the employment of cavalry in masses are likely to offer.”. The combatants were so close that the artillery on both sides was unable to shoot. For Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British commander-in-chief, this provided an opportunity to launch an offensive that he had long wanted. Following on the success at Messines in June, he unleashed his great attack on 31 July 1917. By early September, Haig had come under political pressure from London to halt the offensive, but he pressed on. There were an estimated 325,000 allied casualties during the Battle of Passchendaele, with a further 260,000 German casualties making it one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War. The misery only increased as the landscape filled with water. Haig wanted to attack German forces in the Ypres salient, a long-held bulge in the Allied front lines in the Flanders region of Belgium. Attacking from Ypres in Belgium, he planned to drive the Germans from the surrounding dominant ridges and even hoped to reach the Belgian coast. It swallowed up soldiers as they slept. Battle of Verdun, World War I engagement in which the French repulsed a major German offensive. Some 61 Victoria Crosses, the British Empire’s highest decoration for military valour, were awarded after the fighting. Use this login for Shop items, and image, film, sound reproductions. Aerial photo of Polygon Wood race track on 7 July 1917, An oblique angle aerial photo of Polygon Wood on 14 Sept 1917. Very little progress was made. Aerial and ground-level photographs taken of the Polygon Wood area. Haig at last called a halt, his honour satisfied. Basic Map: Ypres to Passchendaele Menin Road and Polygon Wood The Australian infantry divisions joined the Third Battle of Ypres which had been going on since 31 July when they took part in the battle of Menin Road on 20 September 1917. Gough suggested that “the attack should be abandoned,” but Haig remained confident. Passchendaele: The German Experience Posted on Tuesday 31st July 2012 Extracted from The German Army at Passchendaele by Jack Sheldon and reproduced by permission of Pen and Sword Books. Passchendaele: fighting for Belgium Ever since 1917 Passchendaele has been a byword for the horror of the First World War. The Battle of Passchendaele (100th Anniversary of The Great War Documentary) | Timeline - Duration: 46:28. Some 300,000 were killed. The some 100,000 members of the Canadian Corps who took part in the battle were among the over 650,000 men and women from our country who served in uniform during the First World War. Battle of Passchendaele (July 31–November 6, 1917), World War I battle that embodied the senseless slaughter of the Western Front. The Battle for Passchendaele involved the use of no less than eighty-six German divisions, twenty-two of them being pushed into the battle more than once. The mud gummed up rifle barrels and breeches, making them difficult to fire. It was one of the longest, bloodiest, and most-ferocious battles of the war; French casualties amounted to about 400,000, German ones to about 350,000. British troops, supported by dozens of tanks and assisted by a French contingent, assaulted German trenches. On August 4 Charteris noted in his diary, “Every brook is swollen and the ground is a quagmire. 46:28. Ultimately, however, Currie had little choice. Come and see why. The battle of Passchendaele, the third battle of Ypres and one of the most brutal conflicts of the first world war, took place between 31 July and 10 November 1917 in west Flanders, Belgium. German commanders agreed that a British offensive at Ypres was “certain,” and its exact pattern was judged “with perfect accuracy.”. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Finally, with the army stuck in muddy fields churned up by the artillery fire, the bloody offensive came to an untidy close. Timeline - World History Documentaries 1,201,009 views. Date 31st July - 10th November 1917 Location Ypres, Belgium War World War One Combatants Germany VS United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, New The offensive from the Ypres salient was launched on July 31, 1917, after more than 3,000 guns had poured 4.5 million shells on the German defenses. The original version of this entry was published byThe Canadian Encyclopedia. Battle of Passchendaele Officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele became infamous not only for the scale of casualties, but also for the mud. The Battle of Passchendaele, a bitter and costly engagement fought across devastated, waterlogged terrain on 12 October 1917, is synonymous with the Third Battle of Ypres as a whole. 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