The battle also called the Third Battle of Ypres resulted in the gain of a territory of 4 miles for the British. The loss of soldiers on both the British (3,24,000) and German (2,00,000) sides was massive. The fighting occurred in appalling conditions.
Passchendaele has become synonymous with the misery of grinding attrition warfare fought in thick mud. Most of the battle took place on reclaimed marshland, swampy even without rain. The summer of 1917 was unusually cold and wet, and heavy artillery bombardment destroyed the surface of the land. Though there were dry periods, mud was nevertheless a constant feature of the landscape; newly-developed tanks bogged down in mud, and soldiers often drowned in it.
The battle is a subject of fierce debate among historians, particularly in Britain. The volume of the British Official History of the War that covered Passchendaele was the last to be published, and there is evidence it was biased to reflect well on Field Marshal Douglas Haig and badly on General Hubert Gough, the commander of the Fifth Army. The heavy casualties the British Army suffered in return for slender territorial gains have led many historians to follow the example of David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of the time, and use it as an example of senseless waste and poor generalship. There is also a revisionist school of thought which seeks to emphasize 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.
VIDEO: PASSCHENDAELE 2/4
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