Author(s): PARKER ROBERT J
The Battle of Passchendaele was the most gruesome yet fought during the First World War. The British offensive, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, was launched on the Belgium battlefield at 3:30am on 31 July 1917 as a massive effort by General Sir Douglas Haig and his British army to achieve a strategic breakthrough and defeat Germany. Attrition would defeat a Germany that was 'on the ropes', and that just 'one more' big push would secure victory. It failed. Passchendaele has become synonymous with the tragedy of the Great War; the abominable conditions of weather, mud and filth, the horrific injuries inflicted by increasingly industrialised warfare including tanks, gas, mines and flamethrowers, the enormous list of casualties (600,000), and the futility of the operation all combined to form a nightmare vision of war in the trenches. What was life like for the common British soldier? Was it necessary or were there alternatives? And what if anything did it achieve? Passchendaele 1917 will seek to answer these questions while reminding us of the sacrifices and heroism of the soldier during the Great War.