Adagio for String
31 July - 6 November 1917
The Battle of Passchendaele, or Third Battle of Ypres was one of the major battles of World War 1. The battle consisted of a series of operations starting in June 1917 and petering out in November 1917 in which Entente troops under British command attacked the Imperial German Army. The battle was fought for control of the village of Passchendaele near the town of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium.
The attack served several strategic purposes. A successful attack offered the British a chance of inflicting significant casualties on the German army.
A breakthrough in Flanders would hinder the German submarine campaign against British shipping, and also help prevent German bombers from attacking targets in mainland Britain. Whether successful or not, the attack would prevent the German Army from exploiting the serious morale problems of the French.
There is also a revisionist school of thought which seeks to emphasise the achievements of the British Army in the battle, in inflicting great damage on the German Army, relieving pressure on the distressed French, and developing offensive tactics capable of dealing with German defensive positions, which were significant in winning the war in 1918.
Casualty figures for the battle are still a matter of some controversy. Some accounts suggest that the Allies suffered significantly heavier losses than the Germans, while others offer more even figures. However, no-one disputes that hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides were killed or crippled.
The last surviving veteran of the battle was Private Harry Patch (17 June 1898 - 25 July 2009).