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. But, although he failed to reach his objective—the Belgian coast—he did weaken the Germans and helped prepare the way…. But, then it began to rain. Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres) Date 31st July - 10th November 1917 Location Ypres, Belgium War World War One Combatants Germany VS United Kingdom, France, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa Outcome Stalemate. 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. The misery only increased as the landscape filled with water. Plumer had one gun to every 5 yards (4.6 metres) of front, and this huge concentration of fire crushed the enemy’s counterattacks. a battle or campaign so brutal, so costly, so protracted and (almost always) so barren of any war-winning strategic consequences even for the ?victor?, that it came to epitomize all the waste, slaughter, … 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. There was cause to doubt this, as well as the possibility of a rapid advance even by the infantry. 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. Few battles encapsulate World War One better than the Battle of Passchendaele. 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 film had its premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival on … Passchendaele: fighting for Belgium Ever since 1917 Passchendaele has been a byword for the horror of the First World War. 2021 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. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). 46:28. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. A fortnight’s bombardment gave them further warning. (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 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. FIg. 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". The salient had been an active battlefield since 1914. 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. Omissions? Very little progress was made. Canada’s great victory at Passchendaele came at a high price. Updates? 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. Ironically, the mud also saved lives, cushioning many of the shells that landed and preventing their explosion. German commanders agreed that a British offensive at Ypres was “certain,” and its exact pattern was judged “with perfect accuracy.”. All rights reserved. find out more story Attack of the tanks. Haig replied that he thought there were no grounds for such fears. He began by dwelling on the “exhaustion” of the German army and its declining morale. Sometimes known as the third battle of Ypres, Passchendaele has become synonymous with the bloody trench war stalemate that World War I became. 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. 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. 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. In late September there was an improvement both in the weather and in the British situation. For the soldiers who fought at Passchendaele, it was known as the ‘Battle of Mud’. At the end, the point of it all was unclear. 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. Use this login for Shop items, and image, film, sound reproductions. 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. Following on the success at Messines in June, he unleashed his great attack on 31 July 1917. Detail. Passchendaele is a 2008 Canadian war film, written, co-produced, directed by, and starring Paul Gross. 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. 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. He told his army commanders that “opportunities for the employment of cavalry in masses are likely to offer.”. 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 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. Four days later, the ground was already swampy. By the spring of 1917, Germany had resumed the practice of unrestricted submarine warfare, sinking merchant ships in international waters. able to locate an eBook that ident is som of the combatants and reer to it directly myself. Sir Douglas Haig, portrait by John Singer Sargent; in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh. ?PASSCHENDAELE?, A film by Paul Gross?In Flanders Fields, the poppies grow, Beneath the crosses, row on row?? 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. In the face of heavy fire, the men fought in the mire while struggling to keep up with their artillery barrages. We recognise their continuing connection to land, sea and waters. 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. 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. 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. The Australian War Memorial acknowledges the traditional custodians of country throughout Australia. The combatants were so close that the artillery on both sides was unable to shoot. We pay our respects to elders past and present. The bitter struggle that followed came to symbolize the horrors of trench warfare. 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 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. German concrete pillboxes often blocked the Australians' progress, and many men fell under shell and machine-gun fire. As the offensive ground to a halt, Haig ordered the 100,000-man Canadian Corps to launch a diversionary attack on the Germans occupying the French city of Lens, in the hopes that this would draw German resources away from the main battle in the Ypres salient. They did not suffice to silence the hostile machine guns, many of which were ensconced in concrete pillboxes. Although it may have forestalled a possible German attack on the French, Passchendaele, with enormous loss of life, achieved none of its main objectives. The troops were finally exhausted and could do no more; by 15 November they handed over to the Canadians. Gough suggested that “the attack should be abandoned,” but Haig remained confident. Fighting went on, often in appalling weather and despite crippling losses, until November. IV, Chapters XVII - XXII (270 pages). The mud gummed up rifle barrels and breeches, making them difficult to fire. Download Menin Road battle 1 map (PDF file), Download Menin Road battle 2 map (PDF file). 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. After lodging his protest, he made careful plans for the Canadians’ assault. The preparations took several weeks and gave the troops some respite from vain sacrifice. A fresh attack was nevertheless ordered for October 12 with still deeper objectives. The assault on this tiny Belgian village cost the lives of thousands of New Zealand soldiers. British troops, supported by dozens of tanks and assisted by a French contingent, assaulted German trenches. Five days later the 2nd Australian Division suffered heavily in a further attack in the mud. Aerial photo of Polygon Wood race track on 7 July 1917, An oblique angle aerial photo of Polygon Wood on 14 Sept 1917. If we should know such items of expendi- 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. In 1918 all the ground that had been gained there by the Allies was evacuated in the face of a looming German assault. Haig at last called a halt, his honour satisfied. 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. The Battle of Passchendaele, fought July 1917, is sometimes called the Third Battle of Ypres. 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. Siege of Orléans. 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. 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. Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Please select which sections you would like to print: Corrections? The Battle of Passchendaele was one of the biggest battles of the First World War. However with heavy artillery support the objectives were taken and enemy counter-attacks held off. 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 … Haig, determined to carry on despite the depletion of his armies, now turned to the Canadians. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Australian Divisions captured Broodseinde Ridge on 4 October 1917. The last surviving British combatant in the battle, Harry Patch, died in 2009 at the age of 111. 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. 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. Gough tried to secure a postponement, but without avail. 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. Through October and into November, wet weather and sheer exhaustion … 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. The Germans suffered 220,000 killed or wounded. 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). In both cases the fighting was bloody. Nov 3, 2017 - WWI, Nov 1917; Canadian Pioneers cleaning up the battlefield. Few gains were made. This attack ended with the assaulting troops, save those who had perished in the mud, back on their starting line. C.E.W. The next major effort had to be postponed until August 16 and then proved a failure. His dream of a decisive victory had faded. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. It was a vital victory. Download Battle of Broodseinde map, 4 October 1917, situation 6 pm. Battle of Passchendaele (July 31–November 6, 1917), World War I battle that embodied the senseless slaughter of the Western Front. When the attack was resumed on August 16, very little more was…, …July 31, 1917, the ill-fated Passchendaele offensive began. 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. It slowed stretcher-bearers to a literal crawl as they tried to carry the wounded away from the fighting through waist-deep muck. 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. Come and see why. Every combatant army of the Great War (1914-1918) had its Golgotha ? 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. 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. He was, in a practical sense, no nearer reaching the ports that formed his goal than when the Third Battle of Ypres started. Battle of Passchendaele. The effect, however, proved too intoxicating behind the front. 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… An effective creeping artillery barrage won the ground; the infantry merely occupied it. 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. 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. Allied troops attacked the German Army in many operations. Battle of Passchendaele. 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. Haig discussed with the two army commanders, Plumer and Sir Hubert de la Poer Gough, what objective they should fix for the first day of the forthcoming offensive. Many would afterwards call this offensive, actually a series of battles, after the name of the village that had become the last objective – 'Passchendaele'. A final assault, which secured the remaining areas of high ground east of the Ypres salient, was carried out on November 10. 10 am to 5 pm daily (except Christmas Day), Get your ticket to visit: awm.gov.au/visit, Copyright 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. Gen. Arthur Currie, opted instead to seize the high ground north of Lens at Hill 70. Gun emplacements were improved, and troops and officers were allowed time to prepare for the attack, which opened on October 26, 1917. Download Passchendaele II battle map, 12 Oct 1917, Download map of ground gained during entire Third Ypres Offensive. Some 300,000 were killed. Attacking from Ypres in Belgium, he planned to drive the Germans from the surrounding dominant ridges and even hoped to reach the Belgian coast. 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. Conditions for the soldiers were horrifying. 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. It owed much to the surprise effect of 19 huge mines that were simultaneously fired. Finally, with the army stuck in muddy fields churned up by the artillery fire, the bloody offensive came to an untidy close. 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. Fortunately a change in the weather brought for them better fighting conditions. The Battle of Passchendaele (100th Anniversary of The Great War Documentary) | Timeline - Duration: 46:28. 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 first left a toll of 3,000 killed and wounded, and 1,170 taken prisoner; while the second battle resulted in 7,000 casualties. 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. The two battles had a significant impact on the Australian Imperial Force. 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. Haig’s assistants, both executive and advisory, became more and more dubious of his optimistic assurances as the weather deteriorated and the mud became worse, but, with military loyalty, they tried to make their thoughts become the children of his wishes. Map of the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres) from, Naval Operations in the Dardanelles Campaign. 7 arms, tanks, planes, and so forth on the occasion of a specific battle. Ground was taken but it could not be held. This year marks the centenary of one of the First World War's bloodiest episodes - a battle that claimed 500,000 lives. 258 THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS [Vol. The result, together with the better organization of the attack, helped to revive the spirits of the attacking troops. The farthest objective was less than 1 mile (1.6 km) deep on September 20 and was reduced still more on the subsequent strokes. The original version of this entry was published byThe Canadian Encyclopedia. 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.”. For Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, the British commander-in-chief, this provided an opportunity to launch an offensive that he had long wanted. Literal crawl as they tried to carry on despite the depletion of armies... A further attack in the face of a strictly limited nature were delivered fighting conditions do., sinking merchant ships in international waters gain battle of passchendaele combatants to exclusive content to break Flanders... ( 1914-1918 ) had its Golgotha major German offensive Allied merchant ships in international.! 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