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Passchendaele - The Third Battle of Ypres

The Battle of Passchendaele, sometimes called the Third Battle of Ypres, was British Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig’s attempt to break through Flanders to the coast of Belgium so that German submarine pens could be destroyed. The battle began in July 1917 and lasted almost four months.

For the soldiers who fought at Passchendaele, it was known as the “Battle of Mud.” The initial barrage of Allied artillery created a mass of craters, potholes, and dust in the battlefield, and heavy rains turned the field into a bog of thick mud that severely limited mobility.

By early October, the British forces were reaching the point of exhaustion after almost three months of conflict and thus 20,000 members of the Canadian Corps were ordered to relieve the decimated Anzac forces in the Ypres sector and prepare for the capture of Passchendaele. Lieutenant-General Arthur Currie, who had been appointed commander of the Canadian Corps in June, inspected the muddy battlefield and protested that the operation was impossible and there would be heavy losses. Despite his objections, he was overruled.

In a series of attacks beginning on October 26, the Canadian Corps inched its way from shell crater to shell crater under heavy fire. On October 30, joined by two British divisions, they began the assault on Passchendaele itself. They reached the ruined outskirts of the village during a violent rainstorm. For five days they held on, often waist-deep in mud, until reinforcements arrived. The village of Passchendaele was taken on November 6. A final assault, which secured the remaining areas of high ground east of the Ypres Salient, was carried out on November 10 – the final day of a battle that had lasted more than four months.

The Third Battle of Ypres, or Battle of Passchendaele, proved very costly: 15,600 Canadian soldiers were killed or wounded. They were among the 275,000 total casualties lost to the armies under British command (British, Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand forces).
Nine Canadian soldiers who fought in these battles were awarded the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth’s highest award for military valour.

Pachendaele - Veterans Affairs Canada
Canadians in the Mud at Passchendaele
Passchendaele: A Living Nightmare
Pachendaele - Veterans Affairs Canada
Canadians in the Mud at Passchendaele
 Passchendaele: A Living Nightmare