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The battle for Passchendaele begins

In British popular memory 1917 is dominated by one word – Passchendaele. This Belgian village with its strangely evocative name was the last objective of the Third Battle of Ypres, captured by Canadian troops on 6 November. The name became shorthand for a period of nightmarish combat. The Germans were pushed to breaking point in the course of the battle, in which almost imperceptible rises of ground formed vital objectives that consumed thousands of lives. But the exhaustion of British troops, forced to struggle forward through miles of deep, sucking mud created by early autumn downpours, allowed the Germans to cling on.

The battle begun on this day in history in 1917, and it took more than three months of bloody combat. Spearheaded by the British commander in chief, Sir Douglas Haig, the fighting saw some 310,000 British and 260,000 German casualties, one of the most costly offensives of World War I. The battle, which failed to create any substantial breakthrough or change momentum on the Western Front, has become an epitome of the wasteful and futile nature of trench warfare which saw so many people killed. 

Life in a Trench during World War I
Second Battle of Passchendaele
The mud at Passchendaele slowed all movement to a crawl, and left advancing troops exposed to enemy fire for longer periods of time during attacks.
Second Battle of Passchendaele
Wounded Canadians on way to aid-post during the Battle of Passchendaele.
Second Battle of Passchendaele
Troops of the Canadian 16th Machine Gun Company hold the line in atrocious conditions on the Passchendaele front in late October or early November, 1917.
100th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Passchendaele Is Commemorated In Ypres
Poppies are released from the Menin Gate at the end of the wreath laying ceremony during commemorations marking the centenary of Passchendale in the town market square on July 30, 2017 in Ypres, Belgium.
The story of the war in the Ypres region is told by performances and music set to a backdrop of visual projections on the facade of the Cloth Hall during commemorations marking the centenary of Passchendale on July 30, 2017 in Ypres, Belgium

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