On this day 104 years ago, the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, began on the Western Front. The battle has remained controversial ever since, with ceaseless debates around the effectiveness of the offensive and the choices made along the way.
Between 240,000 and 450,000 Allies and 217,000 – 400,000 German soldiers lost their lives in this bloody 3-month long battle. Not only was the scale and scope of the event terrifying in itself, but only incremental progress was made by either side, with the end result something of a stalemate – albeit the German army was then all but exhausted.
As Prime Minister at the time David Lloyd George put it in his 1938 memoirs:
“Passchendaele was indeed one of the greatest disasters of the war … No soldierof any intelligence now defends this senseless campaign”
Today we honour the selfless sacrifice of all servicemen and women involved. We will remember them.