The Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was a campaign of the First World War, fought by the Allies against the German Empire.
31 Jul 1917 – 10 Nov 1917
On the 30th and 31st July 2017, the UK Government in partnership with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the city of Ypres, the Municipality of Zonnebeke and the Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 will mark the centenary of Passchendaele, the Third Battle of Ypres.
Irish Guards going up a communication trench. Elverdinghe, 30 July 1917.
|© IWM (Q 5706)|
Memorial Tablet (Great War)
Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.
At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
He gives my gilded name a thoughtful stare:
For, though low down upon the list, I’m there;
‘In proud and glorious memory’ ... that’s my due.
Two bleeding years I fought in France, for Squire:
I suffered anguish that he’s never guessed.
Once I came home on leave: and then went west...
What greater glory could a man desire?
Men of the East Yorkshire Regiment crossing newly won ground at Frezenburg during the Third Battle of Ypres, 5 September 1917.
|© IWM (Q 3014)|
Listening to the individual accounts and seeing the photographs of what happened during this campaign, I think that what comes across is the overwhelming tenacity and bravery of those who quite simply followed orders. Unbelievably tired, they crawled and fought their way through viscous, filthy mud, where amongst scenes of hell and horror they lived, and died, in constant fear of their lives amidst permanent gun fire.
Passchendaele Ridge was captured by the Canadians on 10 November and the campaign finally drew to a close on the 20th. Although there were occasional successes, the overall campaign is seen as a strategic failure, not just because of the huge cost of life, around 500,000 on both sides died, but also because the soldiers had to fight in some of the worst conditions ever experienced during wartime.
You can discover more about the Passchendaele centenary by clicking here
Follow on Twitter #Passchendaele100
Listen to the Imperial War Museum : Passchendaele Podcast 31 Voices of the First World War
Thanks to IWM for the photographs used in this blog post.