The Battle of Passchendaele lasted for 99 dreadful days, from 31st July until 6th November 1917 in the West Flanders region of northern Belgium. It is remembered as one of the harshest battles of the war, with heavy rain contributing to the Allies gaining only five miles of ground in three months. It was also the first time mustard gas was used on the Western front.
Progress in the battle of Passchendaele continued to be slow, with the weather making advances of any sort, on either side, very difficult indeed. The British Expeditionary Force sustained 260,000 casualties, the French 112,000 and the Germans 260-300,000 (Field Marshall Haig almost got the sack because of the heavy losses, and indeed many of his senior staff did, but he remained simply because they couldn’t think of anyone better to replace him).
Now descendants of First World War soldiers have welcomed the Government’s plan to release 4,000 free tickets for commemoration events this summer. There will be two large-scale commemorative events open to members of the public, taking place over consecutive days:
30th July a public event will take place in the evening at Market Square at Ieper, following the nightly Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate.
31th July, a ticket-only event will take place in the afternoon at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Tyne Cot Cemetery.
Descendants of those who fought in the battle, and those with a personal connection to the battle are invited to apply for tickets through the public ballot, which will run until 24th February, 2017.
“It is for the Belgian people and the Belgian government of utmost importance to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and peace.
“We are looking forward to welcoming those British citizens and visitors from other nations who will travel to Belgium to pay tribute to those who fought with dedication and bravery, 100 years ago, in this devastating battle.” Paul Breyne - Belgian general commissioner for World War One commemorations.
61 Victoria Crosses were awarded for Passchendaele, 14 for actions on 31st July alone. Discover interesting facts about your ancestors, become more knowledgeable about history, and reveal some of the fantastic characters involved in war…What are you waiting for search Forces War Records TODAY.
Sources: CWGC, BBC, Guardian