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PLAQUE NO.
72 ... Passchendaele- The third battle of Ypres.      

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Four major battles were fought around Ieper (Ypres) between 1914 and 1918, the largest being the third, from 31 July to 10 November 1917. The allied objective in 1917 was to capture, by a series of attacks, the main German lines on the high ground overlooking Ieper between Passendale (Passchendaele) and Mesen (Messines). The offensive opened on 31 July when the British (supported by the Australians) and the French advanced successfully on a broad front. The Australians then engaged the enemy in the battle of the Menin (Menen) road on 20 September and six days later captured Polygon Wood.

On 4 October the allies launched a major attack along a thirteen kilometre front. Twelve division (eight British, three Australian and one from New Zealand) successfully stormed the German lines on Broodseinde Ridge. Incessant rain and shelling turned the battlefield into a sea of mud.

The weather worsened and the offensive culminated in the allied assault an Passendale. The initial action, by the Australians, New Zealanders and British, failed with heavy casualties. The attacking forces, over-extended by months of fighting and the appalling weather conditions, were relieved by the Canadians, who eventually captured Passendale on 30 October. Six months later in April 1918, the Germans swept back to the gates of Ieper and beyond Kemmel. In this the fourth battle of Ieper, they regained the ground lost the previous year. Their forces were exhausted, however, and in September The Belgium Army secured the Ieper Salient.

The scars of the war vanished beneath tranquil fields around Passendale. But the Images of the battlefield remain to haunt the imagination, and to remind us - and those who come after us - of the horrors of war and the sacrifices made by so many.

 



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