The Battle Of Passchendale Essay, Research Paper
Passchendaele was a battle that began in July of 1917, and the British commander in charge was Sir Douglas Haig. He conducted the battle under the orders from General Robert Nivelle, while the reorganization of the French army (due to mutiny) was happening. After careful planning, Douglas Haig prepared to attack, the preliminary attack was the heaviest to occur so far, in a period of ten days approximately 3100 guns fired more than four and a half million shells. This attack, however, only churned up the land whose drainage system had been destroyed by years of war, and created a vast area of craters which filled up with water (due to the rain which came afterward). This terrain was the area through which the British were supposed to advance. After looking at records that had been gathered over the past 80 years it was concluded that (at that time of year) at best there would only be three weeks of rain free weather.
The battle of Passchendaele (officially known as the third battle of Ypres) began on July 31, 1917 at 3:50, and the attack was stopped near the Ypres Menin road, still there were around 6000 prisoners taken. The rain was so heavy that for the next two weeks, the attack could not proceed. There were attacks on August 16, September 20, October 4, 22, 26, and 30 but all of these attacks made little progress and cost huge amounts of men.
The main part in the attack was given to General Sir Hubert Gough’s fifth army, with one corps of Plumers Second army on the right flank and the French first army (led by General Francois Anthoine) on the left.
The Germans forces consisted of Prince Rupprecht’s fourth army, led by General Sixt von Armin, who led them at Messines. The Germans, who had given up making trenches, built pillbox housing that contained machine-guns to prepare for the coming attack.
The attack on November 6 was the most successful and in that battle, the first and second Canadian divisions led the attack on the Germans and by 7:15 am they had crossed the final 500 yards and captured the village. On November 10 the battle of Passchendaele was finally over.
The Germans used concrete housing, that were later referred to as “pillboxes”, to protect themselves, these “pillboxes” held men with machine-guns and were surrounded by barbed wire.
The victory cost the allied forces over 250000 lives and over 90000 of those were reported to be missing. The German losses were unrecorded but were describes as excessive.
Haig and his senior staff never knew the real horrors of the front lines until Lieutenant-General Launcelot Kiggell, Haig’s chief of staff, visited them for the first time. He was reduced to tears as his car went over the battleground, “Good God,” he muttered, “did we really send men to fight in that?” Then he was informed that the conditions were worse further up.