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Ypres and the Battles of Ypres   By:

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MICHELIN ILLUSTRATED GUIDES TO THE BATTLEFIELDS (1914 1918)

YPRES AND THE BATTLES OF YPRES.

MICHELIN & Cie., CLERMONT FERRAND MICHELIN TYRE Co. Ltd., 81 Fulham Road, LONDON, S. W. MICHELIN TIRE Co., MILLTOWN, N. J., U. S. A.

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MICHELIN TYRE CO., Ltd. 81, Fulham Road, London, S.W. 3.

IN MEMORY OF THE MICHELIN WORKMEN AND EMPLOYEES WHO DIED GLORIOUSLY FOR THEIR COUNTRY.

YPRES AND THE BATTLES OF YPRES

ITINERARY: LILLE ARMENTIÈRES MESSINES POELCAPPELLE YPRES POPERINGHE LES MONTS BAILLEUL BÉTHUNE LILLE.

Published by MICHELIN & CIE. Clermont Ferrand, France.

Copyright 1919 by Michelin & Cie.

All rights of translation, adaptation, or reproduction (in part or whole) reserved in all countries.

[Illustration]

YPRES AND THE BATTLES FOR ITS POSSESSION

FOREWORD

The town of Ypres lies in a sort of natural basin formed by a maritime plain intersected by canals, and dominated on the north, north east and south by low wooded hills.

These canals, of which the Yser Canal is the most important, follow a general direction south east north west. A number of streams flowing in the same direction also water the plain. In addition, there are the Dickebusch, Zillebeke and Bellewaarde ponds.

The hills forming the sides of this basin are very low and partly wooded. The line of their crests runs approximately from north to south, through Houthulst Forest (road from Poelcappelle to Clercken), Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Broodseinde, Becelaere, Gheluvelt, the strategic Hill 60 (south of Zillebeke) and St. Eloi. Further south is the Messines Wytschaete ridge, and to the south west the Hills of Flanders.

Houthulst Forest is the largest of the woods. Next come the islets of Westroosebeke and Passchendaele, then, south of Zonnebeke, Polygone Wood, Nonne Bosschen (or Nonnes) Wood, and the Woods of Glencorse, Inverness and Herenthage.

In this region, with its essentially maritime climate, the war assumed a character entirely different from that of the rest of the front. The marshy ground, almost at sea level, is further sodden by constant rain and mists, and forms a spongy mass, in which it was impossible to dig trenches or underground shelters. Water is found immediately below the surface, so that the only possible defence works were parapets. The bursting shells made huge craters which, promptly filling with water, became so many death traps for wounded and unwounded alike.

The defence on both sides consequently centred around the woods, villages, and numerous farms, which were converted into redoubts with concrete blockhouses and deep wire entanglements. The slightest bits of rising ground here played an important part, and were fiercely disputed. The crests which dominate the basin of Ypres were used as observation posts the lowering sky being usually unfavourable for aerial observation while their counter slopes masked the concentrations of troops for the attacks.

It was therefore along the line of crests and around the fortified farms that the fighting reached its maximum of intensity.

The principal military operations which took place in the vicinity of the town between October, 1914, and November, 1917, may be divided as follows: First, a powerful German offensive a counter stroke to the battles of the Yser then a very definite effort to take the town. The rôle of the Allied armies was at that time purely defensive.

The second stage was marked by a British and Franco British offensive, begun in the second half of 1916 and considerably developed during the summer and autumn of the following year... Continue reading book >>




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