The Battle of Passchendaele
The Battle of Passchendaele took place between 31st July and 6th November 1917. It is often referred to as the ‘Third Battle of Ypres’ or the 'Battle of Mud' as it was known to the soldiers.
On July 18th 1917, a barrage of heavy artillery was launched at the German lines which lasted for 10 days. During this period 3000 artillery guns fired over four million shells.
St Hugh's Remembrance Garden at Night
In the early days of August, the region was saturated with the heavy rain and the area in Flanders became effectively a swamp. Tanks that were sent to support the infantry got stuck and infantry soldiers found movement very difficult.
The drainage system had been destroyed by the initial attack thus not allowing rain water to filter away. Craters created by the bombing filled with water which prohibited the advancing soldiers to hide in them. The fields became impassable.
The Battle of Poelcappelle and the First Battle of Passchendaele were fought between October 9th and October 12th. German soldiers were moved to Passchendaele Ridge to bolster the forces there. The Germans used mustard gas to assist them and the attempted Allied breakthrough to Passchendaele Ridge failed. In late October 3 further Allied attacks were made on Passchendaele Ridge. On November 6th, 1917, Passchendaele village was taken and Douglas Haig who orchestrated the attacks used this success as the reason for calling off the attack.
Remembrance Service at St Hugh's 10/11/2017
The Third Battle of Ypres or Passchendaele had been a very costly battle. For the sake of a few kilometres, the British had lost 310,000 men and the Germans 260,000. Douglas Haig was heavily criticised for failing to modify his plans as the attack clearly was not going to be a success.