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Battles of Ypres


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(1914–18)

During World War I a total of four battles took place near the Belgian city of Ypres, representing various attempts by the belligerents to overcome the war of attrition that developed on the Western Front by outflanking their entrenched positions to the south.1. After the retreat of the British Expeditionary Force from Mons, between 12 October and 11 November 1914 the Germans attacked and captured the Messines ridge. However, they failed to take Ypres or to reach the Channel ports. 2. Another German attack (22 April– 24 May 1915) failed to break the Allied line. This battle represented the first major Canadian involvement in the war, and proved a ‘baptism of fire’. Suffering from the first chemical gas attack of the war, the Canadian reputation for bravery was earned by its 1st Division suffering a casualty rate of 46 per cent. 3. An Allied offensive with fundamentally Australian and Canadian support started on 7 June 1917, when they exploded nineteen mines dug under the German positions. It continued into the Passchendaele offensive, which lasted until November 1917. 4. The last battle was part of the final German Marne offensive in March– April 1918. The Germans were held at the River Lys and once again failed to capture the devastated city of Ypres. It is estimated that over 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops died fighting around Ypres during World War I.

1. After the retreat of the British Expeditionary Force from Mons, between 12 October and 11 November 1914 the Germans attacked and captured the Messines ridge. However, they failed to take Ypres or to reach the Channel ports. 2. Another German attack (22 April– 24 May 1915) failed to break the Allied line. This battle represented the first major Canadian involvement in the war, and proved a ‘baptism of fire’. Suffering from the first chemical gas attack of the war, the Canadian reputation for bravery was earned by its 1st Division suffering a casualty rate of 46 per cent. 3. An Allied offensive with fundamentally Australian and Canadian support started on 7 June 1917, when they exploded nineteen mines dug under the German positions. It continued into the Passchendaele offensive, which lasted until November 1917. 4. The last battle was part of the final German Marne offensive in March– April 1918. The Germans were held at the River Lys and once again failed to capture the devastated city of Ypres. It is estimated that over 500,000 British and Commonwealth troops died fighting around Ypres during World War I.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence — History.


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