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History Coursework 1 Ypres

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GCSE History Coursework - Assignment 1 Ypres - 'the eye of the storm' 1. Why was control of the Belgian City Ypres considered so important by both sides in the First World War? With almost constant fighting, the Belgian city of Ypres was obviously significant to both sides during World War One. One reason for this is that it was only around 25 miles from the channel ports of Dunkirk, Calais and Boulogne. The British wanted the city in order to continue the supply of their men to Europe. If the Germans took the ports, the B.E.F. wouldn't be able to get to Europe, pressuring a withdrawal from the continent. Secondly, the British were fighting as allies on Belgian and French soil. Neither of the nations would have given any ground, so neither should the British. The British High Command believed that a loss of land would also lead to low troop morale. However, the Germans would pull back to a better defensive position when necessary, solidifying their position without being pushed back too far at once. Finally, the British media had given the British people the belief that Ypres was crucial, therefore it must be kept for high morale at home. ...read more.


Although there was the addition of aircraft, more shells, experienced men and higher success in the use of heavy guns, Passchendaele saw a terrible number of casualties. Another mistake made by the commanders was brushing aside the prospect of concrete in the trenches, for extra strength and stability. The Germans employed this idea, which they proved a sound asset and, ultimately, the saviour of many German lives. Lastly, The British planned an offensive which would see around 4.5 million shells fired. However, on the night of the attack, the wettest autumn on record began. The bombardment was not halted, which meant the entire destruction any drainage. With the British holding the lower ground, they took the full force of this blunder. No man's land and British trenches became exceedingly waterlogged. This battle saw over half a million men killed, wounded or missing. Geographical factors also helped add to the huge number of casualties. Firstly, the August of 1917 was the wettest on record. This turned the fragile land into a swamp-land. There would not only be men and tanks getting stuck in the mud, being prevented from attacking, but supplies via horse and cart would often be known to get stuck or disappear completely into the bog. ...read more.


With shells still being uncovered on an average of 250 tonnes a year, lives are at risk during construction. They already know of a strip of metal in the way. People also say workers may become careless and discard bones which are dug up. The Motorway also destroys the atmosphere of visiting the war sites and memorials in the area. The last unspoilt part of Pilckem Ridge will be built on if the road goes ahead, leaving many the impossibility of getting the full experience out of visiting the graves, but also the ridge itself. With this motorway, many will find it hard to picture where over 250,000 men died, 50,000 still lay. To conclude, I believe the road should be built. The majority of the reasons for the motorway are logical and for the future, whereas those that are against are mainly emotional and thinking of the past. 1/4 million men gave their lives for the future of a free Belgium, and if the motorway is what Belgium needs, it should be done. If it won't be done for the good of Belgium, it should be done for all those that sacrificed themselves for a better future. Without the lives of those men, Belgium may not even have had the opportunity to think of a motorway, but an autobahn. ...read more.

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