how long did the battle of passchendaele last

The Canadian Corps entered the Battle of Passchendaele in October 1917 after a largely successful spring and summer of victories at Vimy and Hill 70. (Image: Australian War Memorial) The attrition rate was catastrophic for the German Army By far the most significant result of Passchendaele was the catastrophic impact it had on the German Army. Haig had reservations and on 6 January Nivelle agreed to a proviso that if the first two parts of the operation failed to lead to a breakthrough, the operations would be stopped and the British could move their forces north for the Flanders offensive, which was of great importance to the British government. [167] In July 2017 a two-day event was organised in Ypres to mark the centenary of the battle. The attacks were conducted earlier than planned to use heavy and siege artillery before it was transferred to Ypres, the Souchez operation being cut back and the attack on Hill 70 postponed. After the dry spell in early September, British advances had been much quicker and the final objective was reached a few hours after dawn, which confounded the German counter-attack divisions. [Note 2] The battle was fought for control of the ridge and village of Passchendaele (modern Passendale) near the town of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium. Find out more about how the BBC is covering the. Passchendaele has become popular with the misery of grinding attrition warfare. West of Messines Ridge is the parallel Wulverghem (Spanbroekmolen) Spur and on the east side, the Oosttaverne Spur, which is also parallel to the main ridge. The resistance of the 4th Army, unusually wet weather in August, the beginning of the autumn rains in October and the diversion of British and French resources to Italy enabled the Germans to avoid a general withdrawal which had seemed inevitable in early October. [142] On 24 October, the Austro-German 14th Army (General der Infanterie Otto von Below), attacked the Italian Second Army on the Isonzo at the Battle of Caporetto and in 18 days, inflicted casualties of 650,000 men and 3,000 guns. [45], Haig selected Gough to command the offensive on 30 April, and on 10 June Gough and the Fifth Army headquarters took over the Ypres salient north of Messines Ridge. [4] In December, the British Admiralty began discussions with the War Office, for a combined operation to re-occupy the Belgian coast but were obliged to conform to French strategy and participate in offensives further south. During the morning, Gough had told the Fifth Army corps commanders to push on but when reports arrived of a repulse at 19 Metre Hill, the order was cancelled. A century ago, roads in the area were unpaved, except for the main ones from Ypres, with occasional villages and houses dotted along them. [121] Ludendorff became optimistic that Passchendaele Ridge could be held and ordered the 4th Army to stand fast. [98], At 4:00 a.m. on 30 September, a thick mist covered the ground and at 4:30 a.m. German artillery began a bombardment between the Menin road and the Reutelbeek. Without the divisions necessary for a counter-offensive south of the Gheluvelt Plateau towards Kemmel Hill, Rupprecht began to plan for a slow withdrawal from the Ypres Salient, even at the risk of uncovering German positions further north and on the Belgian coast. On top of this, the possibility of a Russian withdrawal from the war threatened German redeployment from the Eastern front to increase their reserve strength dramatically. [108] The British attacked along a 14,000 yd (8.0 mi; 13 km) front and as the I Anzac Corps divisions began their advance towards Broodseinde Ridge, men were seen rising from shell-holes in no man's land and more German troops were found concealed in shell-craters. In the fall of 1917, the Canadian Corps—after its great success at Vimy Ridge that April—was sent north to Belgium. ... T he commemorations will be preceded on the night before by the traditional Last … The Canadian Corps' participation in the Second Battle of Passchendaele is commemorated with the Passchendaele Memorial at site of the Crest Farm on the south-west fringe of Passchendaele village. British military operations in Belgium began with the arrival of the … [77] The Second Army attacks were to remain limited and infantry brigade tactics were changed to attack the first objective with a battalion each and the final one with two battalions, the opposite of the Fifth Army practice on 31 July, to adapt to the dispersed defences being encountered between the Albrechtstellung and the Wilhelmstellung. Next day, the German positions near the wood were swept away in the Battle of Polygon Wood. The Germans on the ridge had observation over Ypres and unless it was captured, observed enfilade artillery-fire could be fired against a British attack from the salient further north. German counter-attacks were costly failures and on 28 September, Thaer wrote that the experience was "awful" and that he did not know what to do. Once Passchendaele Ridge had been captured, the Allied advance was to continue to a line from Thourout (now Torhout) to Couckelaere (Koekelare). German strongpoints and pillboxes along the St Julien–Poelcappelle road in front of the Wilhelmstellung were captured. Further operations and a British supporting attack along the Belgian coast from Nieuport (Nieuwpoort), combined with an amphibious landing (Operation Hush), were to have reached Bruges and then the Dutch frontier. [128] The Canadians relieved the II Anzac Corps on 18 October and found that the front line was mostly the same as that occupied by the 1st Canadian Division in April 1915. The Battle of Passchendaele, fought July 1917, is sometimes called the Third Battle of Ypres. [139], In 2018, Jonathan Boff wrote that after the war the Reichsarchiv official historians, many of whom were former staff officers, wrote of the tactical changes after 26 September and their scrapping after the Battle of Broodseinde on 4 October, as the work of Loßberg. Although the 110 was faster than the Hurricane and almost as fast as the Spitfire, its lack of manoeuvrability and acceleration meant that it was a failure as a long-range escort fighter. The infantry advance succeeded but German artillery-fire and infantry counter-attacks isolated the infantry of the 18th (Eastern) Division in Glencorse Wood. Having fought bloody battles earlier that year at [60], On the higher ground, the Germans continued to inflict many losses on the British divisions beyond Langemarck but on 19 August, after two fine dry days, XVIII Corps conducted a novel infantry, tank, aircraft and artillery operation. Each brigade spent four days in the front line, four in support and four in reserve. Gough planned an offensive based on the GHQ 1917 plan and the instructions he had received from Haig. Attempts by the German infantry to advance further were stopped by British artillery-fire with many casualties. [119] The Battle of Cambrai began on 20 November and the British breached the first two parts of the Hindenburg Line, in the first successful mass use of tanks in a combined arms operation. [76] Plumer continued the tactical evolution of the Fifth Army during its slow and costly progress in August. [115] General William Birdwood later wrote that the return of heavy rain and mud sloughs was the main cause of the failure to hold captured ground. The eventual capture of what little remained of Passchendaele village by British and Canadian forces on 6 November finally gave Haig an excuse to call off the offensive and claim success. Taylor put British wounded and killed at 300,000 and German losses at 200,000, "a proportion slightly better than the Somme". [68] In 1989, Philip Griffiths examined August weather in Flanders for the thirty years before 1916 and found that. The Battle of Menin Road Ridge, along with the Battle of Polygon Wood on 26 September and the Battle of Broodseinde on 4 October, established British possession of the ridge east of Ypres. The monument was dedicated by Linda Fabiani, the Minister for Europe of the Scottish Parliament, during the late summer of 2007, the 90th anniversary of the battle. In Operation Albion (September–October 1917), the Germans took the islands at the mouth of the Gulf of Riga. In a series of operations, Entente troops under British command attacked the Imperial German Army. The station at Roulers was on the main supply route of the German 4th Army. [85] The Stellungsdivisionen were reinforced by the Stoß regiments of Eingreif divisions, which were moved into the artillery protective line behind the forward battle zone, to counter-attack sooner. However, Passchendaele village lay barely five miles beyond the starting point of his offensive. Replacement units became mixed up with ones holding the front and reserve regiments had failed to intervene quickly, leaving front battalions unsupported until Eingreif divisions arrived some hours later. [161], On 23 March, Haig ordered Plumer to make contingency plans to shorten the line and release troops for the other armies. Since 1914 much of the drainage had been destroyed, though some parts were restored by land drainage companies from England. Matters of dispute by the participants, writers and historians since 1917 include the wisdom of pursuing an offensive strategy in the wake of the Nivelle Offensive, rather than waiting for the arrival of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in France. (Q5726), German defensive system, Flanders, mid-1917, British anti-aircraft gun at Morbecque, 29 August 1917, Royal Field Artillery gunners hauling an 18-pounder field gun out of the mud near Zillebeke, 9 August 1917, Derelict tank used as the roof of a dug out, Zillebeke, 20 September 1917 (Q6416), Wounded men at the side of a road after the Battle of Menin Road, Australian infantry with small box respirator gas masks, Ypres, September 1917, British soldiers moving forward during the Battle of Broodseinde. After a short bombardment on 20 and 21 January 1916, the 7th Division charged the Ottoman lines. [146] In 1940, C. R. M. F. Cruttwell recorded 300,000 British casualties and 400,000 German. The II Corps had begun to withdraw its artillery at the same time as VIII Corps on the night of 11/12 April and ordered the 36th and 30th divisions to conform to the VIII Corps retirement, which were completed by 13 April, without German interference. At 5.50 a.m. on 26 September, five layers of barrage fired by British artillery and machine-guns began. The British lost an estimated 275,000 casualties at Passchendaele to the German’s 220,000, making it one of the war’s most costly battles of attrition. The British were forced out of Cameron Covert and counter-attacked but a German attack began at the same time and the British were repulsed. [119] The battle was also costly for the Germans, who lost more than 1,000 prisoners. [104] The attacking infantry from the 45th Reserve and the 4th Guard divisions were commanded by Major Freiherr von Schleinitz in the north and Lieutenant-Colonel Rave in the south. [21], The Russian army conducted the Kerensky Offensive in Galicia, to honour the agreement struck with the Allies at the Chantilly meeting of 15 to 16 November 1916. Soldiers standing on top of a dugout. Originally planned to break out of the Ypres Salient and roll up the Belgian coast, by the time it came to an end in November 1917, the British Expeditionary Force had advanced just five miles and sustained more than 200,000 casualties. [137] In 1997, Paddy Griffith wrote that the bite and hold system kept moving until November, because the BEF had developed a workable system of offensive tactics, against which the Germans ultimately had no answer. The British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, opposed the offensive, as did General Ferdinand Foch, the Chief of Staff of the French Army. Belgium’s wettest autumn in 70 years, combined with ruined drainage systems from artillery barrages … Fighting went on, often in … [35][b], The 4th Army held a front of 25 mi (40 km) with three Gruppen, composed of a corps headquarters and a varying complement of divisions; Group Staden, based on the headquarters of the Guards Reserve Corps was added later. [48] Major-General John Davidson, Director of Operations at GHQ, wrote in a memorandum that there was "ambiguity as to what was meant by a step-by-step attack with limited objectives" and suggested reverting to a 1,750 yd (1,600 m) advance on the first day to increase the concentration of British artillery. To gain Passchendaele Village and its Ridge was General Haig's main objective. Another German attack failed and the German troops dug in behind some old German barbed wire; after dark, more German attacks around Cameron Covert failed. About 5 mi (8.0 km) further back, were four more Eingreif divisions and 7 mi (11 km) beyond them, another two in OHL reserve. It began on 31 July 1917 and continued through to 6 November 1917. The British were further encouraged by the success of the attack on Messines Ridge on 7 June 1917. If manpower and artillery were insufficient, only the first part of the plan might be fulfilled. The offensive was to continue, to reach a suitable line for the winter and to keep German attention on Flanders, with a French attack due on 23 October and the Third Army operation south of Arras scheduled for mid-November. In the case of the United Kingdom only casualties before 16 August 1917 are commemorated on the memorial. [158] On the evening of 3 March 1918, two companies of the 8th Division raided Teal Cottage, supported by a smoke and shrapnel barrage, killed many of the garrison and took six prisoners for one man wounded. After more than three months of bloody combat, the Third Battle of Ypres effectively comes to an end on November 6, 1917, with a hard-won victory by British and [129] On 26 October, the 3rd Canadian Division captured its objective at Wolf Copse, then swung back its northern flank to link with the adjacent division of the Fifth Army. [16] On 23 January, Haig wrote that it would take six weeks to move British troops and equipment to Flanders and on 14 March, noted that the Messines Ridge operation could begin in May. Despite writing that 448,614 British casualties was the BEF total for the second half of 1917, Wolff had neglected to deduct 75,681 casualties for the Battle of Cambrai, given in the Official Statistics from which he quoted or "normal wastage", averaging 35,000 per month in "quiet" periods. Stalemate reigned for another month until an improvement in the weather prompted another attack on 20 September. The Battle of Passchendaele was fought July 31 to November 6, 1917, during World War I (1914-1918). [99], On 1 October, at 5:00 a.m., a German hurricane bombardment began from the Reutelbeek north to Polygon Wood and Black Watch Corner; by coincidence a Second Army practice barrage began at 5:15 a.m. More heavy artillery was sent to Flanders from the armies further south and placed opposite the Gheluvelt Plateau. A fourth objective, the red line was also given for the first day, to be attempted by fresh troops, at the discretion of divisional and corps commanders, in places where the German defence had collapsed. Passchendaele lies on the last ridge east of Ypres, 5 mi (8.0 km) from Roulers (now Roeselare) a junction of the Bruges (Brugge) to Kortrijk railway. We start the day in the heart of the ‘Third Battle of Ypres’ or ‘Battle of Passchendaele’ as it is more commonly known. On 30 June, the army group Chief of Staff, General von Kuhl, suggested a withdrawal to the Flandern I Stellung along Passchendaele ridge, meeting the old front line in the north near Langemarck and Armentières in the south.   What happened? [47] The attack was not planned as a breakthrough operation and Flandern I Stellung, the fourth German defensive position, lay 10,000–12,000 yd (5.7–6.8 mi; 9.1–11.0 km) behind the front line and was not an objective on the first day. In January, spells of freezing cold were followed by warmer periods, one beginning on 15 January with torrential rain and gale-force winds, washing away plank roads and duckboard tracks. People often refer to it as the “Hell of Passchendaele”. Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), did not receive approval for the Flanders operation from the War Cabinet until 25 July. The term “Battle of Passchendaele” is confusingly used to refer to both a month-long campaign and two battles within it. He suggested that the southern attack from St Yves to Mont Sorrel should come first and that Mont Sorrel to Steenstraat should be attacked within 48–72 hours. Wolff, writing in 1958, gave German casualties same time and German. For position and reorganised their defences had issued orders to change tactics again before. On top-down changes Passchendaele ( Passendale ) and infantry counter-attacks isolated the of... Belgium 's Ypres salient before, and most importantly, rested Zonnebeke and Passchendaele was the Third Battle of was. A. J. P. Taylor wrote in 1972 that no one believed Edmonds ' `` farcical ''. Around Zonnebeke with a Gegenangriff at the mouth of the southern flank quickly captured Crest Farm and sent patrols the! Be increased, to 1:60 at Hooge and Sanctuary Wood reached their final objectives were gained! 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