Battles Ypres Salient

2.1. Encounter fights
  • Disbandment of the Ypres Cavalry School on 1 August 1914 : cadre going back to their own units, students called up to take part in the expected military operations.
  • The first Uhlans are spotted on 26 August between Westrozebeke and Poelkapelle. The first fights in which deaths are reported occur on 11 September in the vicinity of Hooghe.
  • On 7 October the German 4th Cavalry Corps crosses the Leie (Lys) northward. The three cavalry divisions spend the night in Ypres, Voormezele and Wijtschate. The next day they move on to France. Fierce British resistance near the Catsberg drives them back to the Ypres area.
  • On 13 October British troops arrive at Ypres coming from the small village of St. Jan. The town is closed off immediately : nobody can enter or leave the town without a pass. French troops are quartered in the town too.
  • At Roeselare (Roulers), on "Schuwe Maandag" (Dismal Monday), 19 October, German units are shot at by some French soldiers from an ambush. These French soldiers can get away without being seen by the Germans, who conclude that they have been taken under fire by civilians. This results in acts of destruction by Germans, houses are set on fire and civilians are executed.
  • The news of what happened at Roeselare spreads like wildfire in the villages between Roeselare and Ypres. A great deal of the civilian population flee, sometimes instructed to do so by British or French troops.
2.2. The First Battle of Ypres (19 October - 22 November 1914)

The Ypres Salient is formed, as a result of the confrontation of experienced British and French active units on one side, and inexperienced German reservists on the other.

2.2.1. The First Battle of Langemarck (21 - 23 October)
  • This is a first massive confrontation between both sides. British and French troops have just had the opportunity to entrench in a salient round the villages of Bikschote, Langemark, and the windmill Steenakkermolen ("Totenmühle") at St. Julien. The German tactics is to make infantry march ahead in rows towards the enemy, charge after charge …
  • Infantrymen of the German Reserve Corps, with insufficient training, after having marched for many days, experience their baptism of fire at Langemark. They hardly had equipment such as shovels or entrenching tools to dig trenches. In close ranks they charge, against an enemy in well-sheltered positions.
  • The British regulars and the French "poilus" who had gained their experience in the Battle of the Marne, mow down the advancing German "students" : they fall in in large numbers : The Massacre of the Innocents at Langemark.
  • The Germans do not succeed in capturing the village of Langemark and eventually dig themselves in.
2.2.2. The Battle of Gheluvelt (29 - 31 October)

30 October
  • Zandvoorde and Hollebeke are captured by German troops. The British troops retreat to Klein-Zillebeke and St. Eloi.
31 October
  • Crisis day for the allied troops. The Germans attempt to force a breakthrough between Geluveld (Gheluvelt) and Mesen (Messines)
  • In the morning Geluveld is captured by the Germans.
  • French orders the British retreat to Frezenberg - Hooghe - Klein-Zillebeke. At Foch's request this command will not be carried out.
  • In the afternoon an artillery shell comes down on the castle at Hooghe, where the general staff are in meeting, which causes a panic.
  • In the municipal hall of Vlamertinge Foch can persuade French not to retreat, and Foch promises to send French reinformements.
  • The 2nd Worcester Reg. succeeds in recapturing Geluveld.
  • Mesen and Wijtschate are captured by German troops.
1 November
  • Geluveld is recaptured by the Germans.
2 November
  • St. Eloi falls into German hands
2.2.3. The Second Battle of Langemarck (10 - 11 November)

Again the Germans attempt to conquer Langemark. In vain.

During the First Battle of Langemarck the occupation of the village of Bikschote had changed a couple of times. On 10 November the Germans succeed in capturing Bikschote permanently.

According to German sources "Deutschland über alles" was sung during the assault of Langemark and Bikschote, which is very unlikely, but marks the beginning of the Langemarck myth.

2.2.4 The Battle of Nonne Bosschen (11 November)

The Germans put the (Prussian) Guards Division into action to seize Ypres. Starting at Geluveld they advance towards Nonnebossen and the Polygoonbos (Polygon Wood). The Nonnebossen are captured and Emperor Wilhelm II gets ready to march into Ypres that evening. The French artillery (75 mm) however will thwart these plans.

Conclusion after the First Battle of Ypres: German troops made some tactical errors in their assaults:
  • The soldiers had hardly had any training.
  • Marching side by side towards a well-sheltered enemy equipped with machine guns equals presenting living targets.
  • Lack of tools to clear obstacles and/or to entrench.
  • The large distance between the supreme command (Ghent) and the front troops makes it hard to adapt assault plans to changing situations.
2.3. The forgotten winter (23 November - 21 April 1915)

Winter began and the fighting ceased. Troops on both sides of the frontline dug in and tried to protect themselves from the bad weather, as well as they could, without sufficient clothes and without warm food at regular times. "Trench feet" was something they had to face for the first time.

Once in a while soldiers fraternized (Christmas truce), exchanging souvenirs and food with the enemy. This was not to occur anymore after the winter, as the army command tried to prevent such matters. The fighting and the long duration of the war made the soldiers feel bitter, and they did no longer feel like communicating with the enemy.

It was the French troops that would occupy the Ypres Salient, from Steenstrate (north) to Hooghe (south). The French however neglected to make a continuous line with reserve and communication trenches, and only installed machine guns, linked by barbed wire entanglements. Hygiene was no priority either. When the Second Battle of Ypres began (22 April 1915), there were decomposing bodies of German and French soldiers all around, fallen half a year before. In some cases dead bodies were even "built in" in the reinforcements. And if there were communication trenches, they were used as toilets. The smell of bodies and excrements was unbearable. And these were the conditions Canadians and British troops had to face when they took over part of the French front in the first months of 1915. Building a more efficient trench system and desinfecting the terrain naturally were the first things they did.

"Hill 60" was one of the heights from where the Germans had an excellent view on Ypres and the front area. Which made that it was a thorn in the flesh for the British. So the hill was undermined at three places and on 17 April 1915 the mines exploded, and British troops assaulted the hill. As this however was the place from where the Germans originally had intended to launch the gas attack and as they wanted to prevent the British troops from discovering the gas cylinders, the Germans fought fiercely to recapture the hill.

2.4. The Second Battle of Ypres (22 April - 25 May 1915)

2.4.1. The first German chlorine gas attack (22 April)

German objective : to break through the frontlines which had come to a stalemate, by means of a new weapon (chlorine gas), in order to reach the Channel ports.

Front occupation:

On 21 April 1915 the Allied front occupation was at follows:
  • The Belgian 6th Division was alongside the western canal bank from Steenstrate on northward to the Belgian coast.
  • South of Steenstrate the Salient began with two French divisions : the 87th Territorial Division (older reserve soldiers), up to north of Langemark ; then the 45th Algerian Division (mostly coloureds) between north of Langemark and the road Ypres - Bruges south of Poelkapelle.
  • From the road to Bruges the Canadian 1st Division took over from the French, up to "Berlin Wood" near Graventafel.
  • From Berlin Wood the front line was held by three British divisions : the 28th, 27th and 5th.
So this comparatively short front line was held by troops of different nationalities : Belgium, France, the French colonies, Canada and Great- Britain. It is obvious that the differences in language, front construction and command did not facilitate the co-operation among the units.

The German troops had a lot more men at their disposal. From north to south the German …. In the Ypres Salient the position of troops was as follows:
  • Opposite the 6th Belgian division was the 45th Reserve Division.
  • Opposite the two French divisions: the 46th Reserve Division ; the 52th Reserve Division and the 51st Reserve Division. The 4th Marine Brigade was in reserve.
  • Opposite the 1st Canadian Division was the 2nd Reserve Ersatz Brigade and the 38th Landwehr Brigade. The 37th Landwehr Brigade was in reserve.
  • Opposite the British 28th Division were the 53rd and 54th Reserve Divisions.
  • Opposite the British 27th Division were the 39th and 30th Infantry Divisions (XV. A.K.)
  • Opposite the British 5th Division was the 3rd Bavarian Division.
22 april
  • Long period of lovely weather.
  • Quiet before noon.
  • From noon on the Germans first shell Ypres and later the roads round Ypres (42 cm).
  • By 5 p.m. sudden quiet.
  • Suddenly a green-yellow fog cloud (168,000 kg of chlorine gas) rises from the German trenches between Steenstrate and Halfwege House on the road from Langemark to Poelkapelle.
  • Carried by a mild north wind the cloud drifts towards the French troops.
  • A hysteric panic : the territorials flee to the bridges across the Yser canal, the colonials flee via St. Julien.
  • All the French artillery on the right bank of the canal is neutralized.
  • There is a 4 mile gap in the front.
  • Shortly after the gas is released the German troops leave their trenches.
  • One hour later Langemark is captured and the Germans advance on Pilckem Ridge and Kitchener's Wood near St. Julien.
  • The Germans can march into Ypres, should they wish to.
  • However they dig in, as had been planned before.
  • Thanks to this break the Canadians can close the breach, assisted by a number of French soldiers who had not fled, and at the left at Steenstrate supported by the Belgian troops.
2.4.2. The German troops roll up the Allied front (23 April - 3 May)

23 April
  • The Canadian 10th and 16th Battalions (from the reserve of the Canadian 2nd and 3rd Brigades) launch the first allied counterattack to recapture Kitchener's Wood, the only one that will be successful.
  • Geddes' Detachment (joined battalions from the reserve) unsuccessfully launches a northward counterattack from St. Jan and Wieltje.
  • German pressure truncates the Canadian "apex" south of Poelkapelle.
  • On 24 April at 1.30 a.m. the Germans capture the hamlet of Lizerne (north of Boezinge) on the French, which gives them a strong bridgehead on the westbank of the Yser canal. From this position they can threaten the flank of the Belgian troops.
24 April: Battle of St. Julien
  • At 4 p.m. the Germans release gas for a second time, on a frontline of 1 km (0.6 mile), southeast of the Brugseweg (Bruges road).
  • The density of the gas this time is much higher, as the gas cloud is only a few meters high. Some Canadians stand on top of the parapets and doing so stick their heads over the gas cloud.The Allied troops retreat. The following night St. Julien is not occupied by any troops : both sides thought that the hamlet had fallen in the hands of the enemy!
25 - 27 April: end of the Battle of St. Julien
  • In the early morning of 25 April the Germans 'recapture' St. Julien.
  • Hull's attack on 25 April, from the south, strands south of St. Julien : German machine guns mow down the attackers from the houses of St. Julien.
  • The salient is rolled up further up to 's Graventafel Ridge (26 April), and later up to the eastern arm of the Hanebeek (27 April).
2.4.3. Reorganization of the troops - shrinking of the salient (4 and 8 May)
  • Sir Horace Smith-Dorrien, commander of the British Second Army, and highest in rank in the Salient, proposes to Sir John French, head of the British Expeditionary Force, to reduce the Salient.
  • The answer is an order to transfer the command of all troops in the Salient and the whole staff to his subordinate Plumer.
  • A few hours later the new commander Plumer receives the order to form a new defence line closer to Ypres. This is : to do what Smith-Dorrien had proposed that same morning, which caused him to be removed from the command.
2.4.4. The Battle of Frezenberg (8-13 May)
  • In the week following 8 May there is fierce fighting in the Salient sector between Mouse Trap Farm and Hooghe. Both German and British troops attack in the vicinity of these two locations. In six days the Germans have bombarded the British troops off the Frezenberg slopes. In this way the Germans gain territory of maximum 1 km.
  • On 15 May French troops in the northern sector of the Salient succeed in pushing back the Germans across the Yser canal between Steenstrate and Het Sas. In the course of the following war years the Germans will never again cross the canal, except as prisoners of war.
2.4.5. The Battle of Bellewaerde Ridge (24 May 1915)
  • In the early morning of 24 May the Germans release chlorine gas again. On the longest front length up to now : from Turco Farm to south of Hooghe. In time the gas could be smelled 30 km (almost 20 miles) behind the front lines. The attack was no longer a surprise for the British troops, and the Germans do not make sensational results and do not make any progress.Again the front gets stuck, for another two years !
Conclusion after the Second Battle of Ypres:

German errors in the first gas attack:
  • Time (late afternoon)
  • Insufficient reserve troops and ammunition
  • Command not flexible : 2 hours after the gas attack on 22 April Ypres was within reach. The German troops however kept to the original instructions: capture Langemark and Pilkem Ridge, and dig in.
Allied failing:
  • Ignoring the numerous indications that German troops were up to 'something'.
  • The war "behind the lines" in the British army top of the B.E.F.
Front situation: in spite of the (dreadful) capacities of the new weapon, the Germans have not suceeded in seizing Ypres and pushing through to France. The surprise effect of gas had already disappeared at the last gas attack during the Second Battle of Ypres. Dozens of chemical attacks will follow in which both sides will make use of that weapon. New gases, much more dangerous than the original chlorine gas, will be developed.

2.5. All quiet on the Western front (26 May 1915 - 6 June 1917)

For about two years the Ypres front sector would be comparatively quiet. French and British troops are engaged in bitter offensives in Artois, Champagne and at the Somme. The Germans aim their attacks at Verdun.

In December 1915 the commander of the B.E.F., field marshall John French, is replaced by Douglas Haig (general, field marshall in 1917).

The Germans rearrange their troops and reinforce their defence system:
  • General Sixt von Armin regroups the 4th Army with new army corps.
  • Three lines of defence, consisting of a trench system and hundreds of bunkers, are constructed to thwart all allied breakthrough attempts:
    • Albrecht-Stellung: the frontline after the Second Battle of Ypres : Steenstrate - Pilkem - Mouse Trap - Verlorenhoek - Zandberg - Klein Zillebeke.
    • Wilhelm-Stellung: Langemark - Keerselare - Polygoon - Geluveld
    • Flandern I-Stellung: Spriet - Wallemolen - Broodseinde - Reutel - Kruiseik
2.6 The underground war and the first yperite attacks (7 June - 30 July 1917)

Allied objective: Preparation of the Third Battle of Ypres : straightening the front bulge between the Ypres Salient and the French border after the explosion of underground mines and the assaulting of the hills between Wijtschate and Mesen (Messines) by British troops.

German objective: Breaking the Allied resistance with a new gas weapon.

2.6.1. Near Wijtschate - Mesen : The Battle of Messines (7 - 14 June)
  • On 7 June 1917 at 3.10 a.m. 19 mines explode between Hill 60 and Ploegsteert Wood. These mines (explosives installed at the end of tunnels) had been laid by British Tunneling Companies, under German positions in the Wijtschate salient.
  • The 16th Irish Division assaults Wijtschate and Oosttaverne.
  • The New-Zealand Division captures Mesen and together with the 3rd Australian Division advances up to the Sehnen Linie (German second defence line between the Lys Canal, across Oosttaverne up to Gheer near the Lys).
  • Hill 60 is recaptured.
  • Hollebeke and Waasten (Warneton) remain in German hands.
Result of the underground war: Probably the only time during the war in the Ypres Salient that an aim was achieved !

2.6.2. North of Ypres: yperite

In the night of 12 - 13 July German troops shell the 55th British Division between Wieltje and Hooghe with yperite or mustard gas. In the following days these shellings are continued along the whole salient and Nieuwpoort (Nieuport).

2.7. The Third Battle of Ypres (31 July - 10 november 1917)

Allied objective: Breaking through the German lines to capture the submarine ports of Ostend and Bruges.

  • Introductory British bombardment with 2200 artillery guns during 10 days
  • First phase: capture of the ridge Geluveld - Westrozebeke
  • Second phase: advancing to the railroad Roeselare - Torhout - Diksmuide
  • Third fase: offensive toward Bruges and the coast in co-operation with (1) British amphibian troops between Middelkerke and Nieuwpoort and (2) the British IV army from Nieuport and (3) the Belgian army from Diksmuide.
Front occupation:

Allied troops: Commander-in-chief Douglas Haig
  • Along the coast: British IV Army (Rawlinson)
  • From Nieuwpoort to Drie Grachten: Belgian Army (King Albert)
  • From Drie Grachten to Boezinge: French Army ; 6 divisions, two of which took part in the offensive.
  • From Boezinge to the Lys Canal (Ypres - Commines) near Hollebeke: British V Army (Gough)
  • From Hollebeke to the Lys: British II Army (Plumer)
  • Together 28 divisions (12 000 men per division; 8 tanks per division; 3 064 artillery guns)
German troops: IV German Army (Sixt von Armin)
  • From the coast to Schore: Gruppe Nord (von Schröder)
  • From Schore to railroad to Langemark: Gruppe Dixmuden (XIV Army ; de Beaulieu)
  • From the railroad to Langemark to Hooghe: Gruppe Ypern (III Bavarian Army Corps: von Stein)
  • From Menin Road to the Lys: Gruppe Wytschaete (IX Reserve Corps ; Dieffenbach)
  • Together 17 divisions (6 750 men per division; hundreds of bunkers (pill-boxes); 1 162 artillery guns)
The Allied troops outnumbered the German troops by a ratio of 3 to 1 (men and artillery).

  • British troops: each infantry attack preceded by sustained artillery bombardments.
  • German troops: the first lines are hardly manned, "Eingreif-Divisionen" are stand-by behind the bunker lines to man the first lines as soon as the artillery bombardments cease and the enemy infantry launches the attack.
2.7.1. The first phase (31 July - 28 August)

Objective: Attack of the French Army from Boezinge and of the British V Army from Ypres after 10 days of artillery bombardments. The Battle of Pilckem (31 July - 2 August)
  • Capture of Bikschote by French troops
  • Capture of Pilckem, Hooghe, Bellewaerde, Hollebeke by British troops
  • Capture of Langemark, St. Julien, 's Graventafel, Westhoek by British troops, but conceded again
Remark: Three tank cemeteries at St. Julien, Frezenberg and Zandberg Capture of Westhoek (10 August)
  • Capture of Westhoek (Zonnebeke)
  • Attack of Geluveld unsuccessful The Battle of Langemarck (16 - 18 August)

16 August
  • The I French Corps advances to Drie Grachten and the the St.-Jansbeek.
  • British capture of Fortuinhoek
  • British capture of Langemark, Keerselare, Nonnebossen and Polygoon, but conceded afterwards
22 August
  • Tanks advance to Keerselare
23 August
  • Tank attacks Menin Road to Zandberg : bogged
  • Tank attacks road Keerselare - Poelkapelle : bogged
End of first phase:

German troop changes:
  • The XIV Army Corps (Gruppe Dixmuden) replaced by Guard Corps (Marschall) on 23 August
  • The III Bavarian Corps (Gruppe Ypern) replaced by Guard Corps (Dohna - Schlobitten)
British troops changes:

On 28 August Haig orders all actions to be stopped until the II Army (Plumer) is ready. The results of the V Army (Gough) had been considered insufficient. On 18 September Plumer sends his ANZAC troops (2 army corps consisting of 5 Australian divisions and 1 New-Zealand division) to occupy a sector from the canal to the Lys to the Ypres - Roeselare (Roulers) railroad.

2.7.2. The second phase (20 September - 12 October)

Alteration in the British tactics: Plumer has the artillery bombard even more intensely. Instead of massive front assaults: smaller operations. The Battle of the Menin Road (20 - 25 September)

British captures : Rose Farm (west of Poelkapelle), Wurst Farm (north of Graventafel), Bremen Redoubt, Wilhelmstellung near the Hanebeek, Nonnebossen, corner Polygon Wood Kantientje (Menin road), Herenthage. The Battle of Polygon Wood (26 September - 3 October)
  • British captures: Schuler Farm and the height near 's Graventafel, Dochy Farm and the Passendalebeek, centre of Zonnebeke, Polygon Wood and the "butte".
  • The Anzac troops take over a sector north of the railroad at Zonnebeke (28 September).
  • The Germans deploy 3 new divisions for the Zonnebeke area and alter their tactics. They also deploy more men in the first lines to be able to react immediately in case of an infantry attack. The Battle of Broodseinde (4 October) The Battle of Poelcapelle (9 October)
  • French captures: Mangelare, Veldhoek and the edge of Houthulst Wood.
  • British captures: Koekuit and recapture of Reutel
  • Failed British assaults: Vijfwegen, east of Poelcapelle, Wallemolen, Passendale, Nieuwmolen.
  • On 11 October the whole front between Diksmuide and Armentières is shelled with yperite for two hours. The First Battle of Passchendaele (12 October)
  • All assaults are beaten off: Houthulst Wood, Schaapbalie, east of Poelkapelle, Wallemolen, Bellevue heights, Ravebeek, Drogenbroodhoek.
  • On 13 October Haig orders to halt the offensive temporarily and to wait for better weather and the coming of the Canadians who will relieve the Anzacs for the assault of Passendale (originally the first objective at the beginning of the offensive on 31 July !)
  • The Germans establish a "Gruppe Staden" between the "Gruppe Dixmude" and "Gruppe Ypern".
  • On 10 October the Germans retreat from Broodseinde to Drogenbroodhoek. But the Australian troops do not follow.
  • In the night 17 - 18 October the Canadian Corps takes over the front from II Anzac Corps.
  • British captures: Poelkapelle, Lekkerboterbeek, 's Graventafel, Tyne cot, Broodseinde, Molenaarselst, Noordeindhoek (road to Beselare), Reutel, Polderhoek.
  • Extremely high number of casualties on both sides !
  • On 7 October Plumer and Gough propose toHaig to halt the offensive. Haig however wants two fixed roads : one to Passendale and one to Westrozebeke.
2.7.3. The third phase (26 October - 10 November) The Second Battle of Passchendaele

26 October
  • French troops capture Merkem and advance to Houthulst Wood. For fear of being cut off behind the Blankaart the Germans evacuate this sector.
  • Belgian troops cross the Yser and meet the French troops near Luyghem-molen.
  • British and Canadian troops keep on slogging through the mud in the valleys west and south of Passendale.
30 October
  • The 3rd Canadian Division reaches Goudberg (between Passendale and Westrozebeke).
  • The 4th Canadian Division reaches Crest Farm (southwest of Passendale).
31 October - 5 November
  • Haig gives orders to reorganize: division are relieved and the XVIII Corps (of Gough's Army) comes under Plumer's command. Gough keeps only a small part of the Salient under his command.
6 November
  • The 1st Canadian Division reaches Mosselmarkt (Passendale) and advances to the Westrozebeke road.
  • The 2nd Canadian Division reaches the church ruins of Passendale
  • British assaults of the Polderhoek and Geluveld are beaten off.
8 November
  • Plumer leaves for Italy (after the Battle of Caporetto). Rawlinson replaces him till December 1917.
10 November
  • The British troops advance half a kilometre.
Result of the engagements during the Third Battle of Ypres:
  • The preparatory artillery bombardments and the bombardments during the battle itself had turned the area into an inaccessible swamp, where villages, farms and roads had disappeared.
  • Of the three phases only the first was reached : again there was a salient, with an protruding mini-salient : a strategic nightmare.
  • Nothing was achieved of the second phase.
  • The planned attack of the British IV Army along the coast and the operation with amphibian units (3rd phase) had been called off because of the German attack on the Yser mouth on 10 and 11 July.
  • Quoting a British commander: "Boche is bad and boue is bad; but Boche and boue together …"
  • Thousands of shells did not go off and got stuck in the mud : they are what is called the annual "iron harvest".
  • Thousands of dead bodies were left behind among the war debris.
  • The morale of the troops on both sides was affected, and resulted into desertion.
2.8. The German spring offensive (9 - 29 April 1918)

German objective of what is also called the Kaiserschlacht (Emperor's Battle) : a final attempt to conquer the Channel ports and to cut off the supply of troops and equipment from Great-Britain.

9 April
  • The Germans launch their offensive between La Bassée and Armentières and reach the Lys near Estaires.
10 April
  • The German action now aims at the area south of the Ypres Salient. Ploegsteert, Mesen (Messines) and Hollebeke are captured by the Germans.
From 12 April on
  • British troops withdraw most of their units from the Passendale salient and occupy only the first lines.
13 April
  • The Germans gain considerable advance southward along the front line from Wijtschate on.
16 April
  • British outposts too have left the Passendale salient now. Which means that the British troops, without a fight, concede the ground that they have conquered in the Third Battle of Ypres : they are back where they were at the end of the Second Battle of Ypres, in 1915 !
  • South of the Salient the German troops move up to Belle, Dranouter, Kemmel and St.-Eloi.
17 April
  • The Belgian 3rd, 4th and 9th divisions thwart a German attempt to break through in the Battle of Merkem, north of the Salient.
25 April
  • German troops capture Kemmel Hill from the French.
26 April
  • British troops in the Salient retreat even further, to a line Wieltje, Potyze, Kruiskalsijde and Zillebeke (Pond).
29 April
  • The Germans end their offensive with a last advance up to Loker, Clytte and Voormezele.
2.9. The British relief fights (18 August - 6 September 1918)

In the summer of 1918 the tide turns. The British troops advance and thus relieve the villages of Loker, Kemmel, Dranouter, Nieuwkerke, Ploegsteert and Nieppe.

2.10 The liberation offensive (28 September - 11 november 1918)

Allied objective : Two large-scale attempts to break through the German lines.

Occupation of the front :
  • Army group "Vlaanderen", led by King Albert: the whole Belgian Army + II British Army (Plumer + French army corps (total 3 plus cavalry corps)
  • Belgian troops occupy the front up to the road Zonnebeke - Ypres near the Bellewaerdebeek.
2.10.1. The first phase

In the course of one day (28 September) the whole Salient is reconquered !
  • Langemark and Poelkapelle by the Belgian 9th Infantry Division
  • Passendale by the Belgian Karabiniers and Grenadiers (6th and 12th Infantry division)
  • Zonnebeke and Broodseinde by the 17th Belgian Linie (8th Infantry Division)
  • Beselare by Scottish troops of the British 29th Division
  • Geluveld by Worcester troops (British 29th Division)
2.10.2. The second phase (14-17 October)

After a break of 2 to 14 October the offensive is resumed toward Wervik and the Lys.

On 16 October the Yser front at last begins to move too. The advance moves on along the coast to Bruges, which is reached on 17 October.

2.10.3. The third phase (31 October - 11 November)

The Belgian army advances after fierce German resistance at the Lys and the canal Deinze - Bruges.

On 11 November 1918 a line is reached from Terneuzen over Ghent, Bergen (Mons) and further on toward Mézières and Sedan.

At 11 a.m., after 1568 days of war, the guns fall silent on the Western front. Peace and quiet at last.

Source : Robert Missinne - many thanks to Aurel Sercu for the translations.