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Worth a detour
Rating 1.5 (121 votes)

The Ypres Salient

Listed under Battlefields in Belgium.

  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
  • Photo of The Ypres Salient
Photo of The Ypres Salient
Photo by iainstanden
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The last few years has seen a resurgence of interest in the First World War and a massive increase in the number of visitors to the battlefields of the Western Front. Some of the most visited battlefields are those of the Ypres Salient in Northern Belgium. The salient was a projection into the Germans lines which surrounded the town of Ypres and was the location of a great deal of combat over the course of the First World War. The fighting centred around three main battles (First Ypres Autumn 1914, Second Ypres Spring 1915 and Third Ypres or ‘Passchendaele’ Summer/Autumn 1917). A detailed recounting of these battles is beyond the scope of this small article, although a brief outline of each battle may be useful.

First Ypres saw the first attempt by German troops to reach the town and pitted the professional soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force against the might of the fully mobilised German Army. The ensuing battle saw the Germans stopped on the outskirts of Ypres and the salient established. The Second battle the following year again saw the Germans attempting to break the Salient and is infamous for the large scale use of gas. The Third battle was the Allied attempt to break the salient and push the Germans off the high ground surrounding the town. Often called ‘Passchendaele’ after the village that was the principal objective of the battle, it is usually remembered for the unseasonably wet summer that occurred in 1917, and the impact of this, as the battlefield was tuned into a bloody quagmire.

The Salient has much to offer the traveller today whether one is visiting; on a pilgrimage to the grave of a relative killed in the First World War, for detailed study of the War or for the first time. The town of Ypres itself is charming with its magnificent Cloth Hall and Cathedral, both of which were re-built from ruins at the end of the First World War. To gain an understanding of the conflict in and around Ypres visits to the ‘In Flanders Field Museum’ in the Cloth Hall and the Passchendaele Museum at Zonnebeke are highly recommended.

Throughout the Salient are scattered numerous Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries (for more detail see www.CWGC.org) which range in size from small battlefield cemeteries with less than 20 burials to the awe-inspiring Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in the world, containing almost 12,000. Walking amongst the graves in these cemeteries where Victoria Cross winners, officers and soldiers from Great Britain and throughout the Commonwealth are buried side by side, the full impact of 1 million Commonwealth soldiers killed in the First World War becomes clear. Equally thought provoking is the Langemarck German Cemetery which houses the bodies of nearly 45,000 German dead including almost 25,000 in a single mass grave.

Other sites well worth visiting are the preserved German Trench ‘Bayernwald’ Trench system near Wijtschate, the Advanced Dressing Station at Essex Farm where John McCrae wrote the iconic poem ‘In Flanders Field’ and the mine craters of the Messines Ridge, to name but a few.

In short a visit to the Ypres Salient will provide much interesting, illuminating and fascinating information about the First World War. Highly Recommended.

Written by  Deleted Account.

Other expert and press reviews

“Discovering a part of family history”

I led a tour for 4 adults to the battlefields of Ypres to enable them to visit the Menin Gate to see the name of a relative who had perished on the opening day of the battle of Third Ypres, better known as the battle of Passchendale. Having obtained his… Read more...

Written by  Ed Church.

“Excerpt from 'An Account of the First Battle of Ypres by French Commander-in-Chief Joseph Joffre'”

In order to understand this long, desperate, and furious battle, we must hark back a few days in point of time. At the moment when our cavalry reached Roulers and Cortemark (October 28th) our territorial divisions from Dunkirk, under General Biden, had… Read more...

Written by press. Full Text on First World War.com

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