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battle of passchendaele objective


Haig was pleased with the French success but regretted the delay, which had lessened its effect on the Flanders operations. [155] In 1997, Heinz Hagenlücke gave c. 217,000 German casualties. Boff wrote that this narrative was facile and that it avoided the problem faced by the Germans in late 1917. Allied troops were exhausted and morale had fallen. The attackers on the southern flank quickly captured Crest Farm and sent patrols beyond the final objective into Passchendaele. Wytschaete is about 150 ft (46 m) above the plain; on the Ypres–Menin road at Hooge, the elevation is about 100 ft (30 m) and 70 ft (21 m) at Passchendaele. [27], Underneath the soil is London clay, sand and silt; according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission categories of sand, sandy soils and well-balanced soils, Messines ridge is well-balanced soil and the ground around Ypres is sandy soil. When the attack was resumed on August 16, very little more was…, …July 31, 1917, the ill-fated Passchendaele offensive began. 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.”. [68] In 1989, Philip Griffiths examined August weather in Flanders for the thirty years before 1916 and found that. [103], Unternehmen Hohensturm (Operation High Storm) was planned by Gruppe Ypern to recapture the Tokio Spur from Zonnebeke south to Molenaarelsthoek at the eastern edge of Polygon Wood on 3 October. [74], The 4th Army had held on to the Gheluvelt Plateau in August but its casualties worsened the German manpower shortage. The area was subjected to constant German artillery bombardments and its vulnerability to attack led to a suggestion by Brigadier C. F. Aspinall, that either the British should retire to the west side of the Gheluvelt Plateau or advance to broaden the salient towards Westroosebeke. On August 4 Charteris noted in his diary, “Every brook is swollen and the ground is a quagmire. In fewer than three hours, many units reached their final objectives and Passchendaele was captured. Taylor put British wounded and killed at 300,000 and German losses at 200,000, "a proportion slightly better than the Somme". [82] After another defeat on 26 September, the German commanders made more tactical changes to counter the more conservative form of limited attacks adopted by the British. When the Canadians arrived to take their turn in the meat grinder in late October 1917, the battle of Passchendaele had already raged for almost three months. Tanks, Cars, guns, horses, everything stuck in mud. The Second Battle of Passchendaele was the culminating attack during the Third Battle of Ypres of the First World War. At the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele there were numerous attempts that resulted in massacres to try and win over Passchendaele in one big sweeping movement headed by General … The British attacked towards Westroozebeke on the night of 1/2 December but the plan to mislead the Germans by not bombarding the German defences until eight minutes after the infantry began their advance came undone. [149] In his 1977 work, Terraine wrote that the German figure ought to be increased because their statistics were incomplete and because their data omitted some lightly wounded men, who would have been included under British casualty criteria, revising the German figure by twenty per cent, which made German casualties 260,400. 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. 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. Construction of defences began but was terminated after Fritz von Loßberg was appointed Chief of Staff of the 4th Army. [64] On 27 August, II Corps tried a combined tank and infantry attack but the tanks bogged, the attack failed and Haig called a halt to operations until the weather improved. He told his army commanders that “opportunities for the employment of cavalry in masses are likely to offer.”. [145], Various casualty figures have been published for the Third Battle of Ypres, sometimes with acrimony; the highest estimates for British and German casualties appear to be discredited but the British claim to have taken 24,065 prisoners has not been disputed. Mud to your waist. [20] In early May, Haig set the date for the Flanders offensive, the attack on Messines Ridge to begin on 7 June. Few battles encapsulate World War One better than the Battle of Passchendaele. Smoke and gas bombardments on the Gheluvelt and Becelaere spurs on the flanks and the infantry attack began at the same time as the "routine" bombardment. Previous offensives hadn’t been anything like as successful, but had resulted in heavy casualties. The objective of the battle was to clear the Germans from the Belgian coast and force a German retreat from the northern areas of the Western Front. Gough held meetings with his corps commanders on 6 and 16 June, where the third objective, which included the Wilhelmstellung (third line), a second-day objective in earlier plans, was added to the two objectives due to be taken on the first day… Group Ypres counter-attacked the flanks of the British break-in, supported by every artillery piece and aircraft within range, around noon. [168][169], The progression of the battle and the general disposition of troops, German trench destroyed by a mine explosion, German prisoners and British wounded cross the Yser Canal near Boesinghe, 31 July 1917. [96], The Second Army altered its Corps frontages soon after the attack of 20 September, for the next effort (26 September – 3 October) so that each attacking division could be concentrated on a 1,000 yd (910 m) front. On 2 October, Rupprecht had ordered the 4th Army HQ to avoid over-centralising command, only to find that Loßberg had issued an artillery plan detailing the deployment of individual batteries. [93] Minor attacks took place after 20 September, as both sides jockeyed for position and reorganised their defences. No German counter-attack was possible because the local Eingreif divisions had been transferred to Flanders. [7] Sir Douglas Haig succeeded Sir John French as Commander-in-Chief of the BEF on 19 December. German commanders agreed that a British offensive at Ypres was “certain,” and its exact pattern was judged “with perfect accuracy.”. [54] Gary Sheffield wrote in 2002 that Richard Holmes guessed that both sides suffered 260,000 casualties, which seemed about right to him. [138] A decade later, Jack Sheldon wrote that relative casualty figures were irrelevant, because the German army could not afford the losses or to lose the initiative by being compelled to fight another defensive battle on ground of the Allies' choosing. At 5:15 a.m., German troops emerged from the mist on an 800 yd (730 m) front. Mud. The other regiments of the Eingreif divisions were to be held back and used for a methodical counter-attack (Gegenangriff) a day or two after and for spoiling attacks as the British reorganised. Each brigade spent four days in the front line, four in support and four in reserve. The battle took place in the Ypres Salient area of the Western Front, in and around the Belgian village of Passchendaele, between 26 October and 10 November 1917. Firstly, in order to situate the conflict in the context of the First World War, The Third Battle of Ypres, more commonly known as the Battle of Passchendaele (after the Flemish village which was the final objective captured by British and Empire troops), was a … This had not been done in earlier battles and vacant ground, there for the taking, had been re-occupied by the Germans. [51] The main attack, by II Corps across the Ghelveult Plateau to the south, confronted the principal German defensive concentration of artillery, ground-holding divisions (Stellungsdivisionen) and Eingreif divisions. Boff wrote that the Germans consciously sought tactical changes for an operational dilemma for want of an alternative. 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. Roads and light railways were extended to the new front line, to allow artillery and ammunition to be moved forward. It had quickly overcome its depression. 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. The front battalions had needed to be relieved much more frequently than expected, due to the power of British attacks, constant artillery-fire and the weather. [116], The First Battle of Passchendaele on 12 October was another Allied attempt to gain ground around Passchendaele. In May, reinforcements began arriving to Flanders from the south; the II Corps headquarters and 17 divisions had arrived by the end of the month. The scene: Belgium in November 1917, at the end of the Third Battle of Ypres, later dubbed ‘Passchendaele’ after a village that came to be the campaign’s final objective. The Canadian Corps relieved the exhausted II Anzac Corps, continuing the advance started with the First Battle of Passchendaele and ultimately capturing Passchendaele village. ... At the end of July 1917, the Allies launched the Third Battle of Ypres. Some 61 Victoria Crosses, the British Empire’s highest decoration for military valour, were awarded after the fighting. United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot Cemetery. The campaign ended in November, when the Canadian Corps captured Passchendaele, apart from local attacks in December and early in the new year. 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 Canadian Corps launched a final action on 10 November, to gain control of the remaining high ground north of the village near Hill 52. The next major effort had to be postponed until August 16 and then proved a failure. 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. 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. Divided into two ten-day and an eleven-day period, there were 53.6, 32.4 and 41.3 mm (2, 1 and 2 in) of rain; in the 61 hours before 6:00 p.m. on 31 July, 12.5 mm (0 in) fell. The general aspect south and east of Ypres, is one of low ridges and dips, gradually flattening northwards beyond Passchendaele, into a featureless plain. The Ypres salient was the last portion of Belgium that was not in enemy hands after the initial German advances of the war and, as a result, held great symbolic meaning to the Allies. The Allies' objective in this battle was to break through the German defences, seize the highlands of Passchendaele Ridge and from there capture the German-occupied Belgian channel ports. 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. [160] When the German armies further south began the Spring Offensive on 21 March 1918, "good" divisions in Flanders were sent south; the 29th Division was withdrawn on 9 April and transferred to the Lys. The station at Roulers was on the main supply route of the German 4th Army. [37], The Germans were anxious that the British would attempt to exploit the victory of the Battle of Messines, with an advance to the Tower Hamlets spur beyond the north end of Messines Ridge. The attack was delayed, partly due to mutinies in the French army after the failure of the Nivelle Offensive and because of a German attack at Verdun from 28 to 29 June, which captured some of the French jumping-off points. After a modest British advance, German counter-attacks recovered most of the ground lost opposite Passchendaele, except for an area on the right of the Wallemolen spur. 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