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The Battle of Passchendaele

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Introduction

The Battle of Passchendaele By Timothy Dry Mr. Morris 1) Explain Haig's objectives for Passchendaele Passchendaele was a series of attacks with one objective of taking Passchendaele ridge and village. Haig had two major objectives that would help the British to win the war. The first one was to capture Zeebrugge and Ostend, two submarine bases on the Belgium coast. This was 'following a warning issued by British Admiral Jellicoe that the current level of shipping losses, around 6million tons during 1917(1 in 4 ships), would prevent the British from sustaining the war into 1918'. Capturing these ports would halt this U-boat warfare, which was causing havoc among merchant ships taking supplies to Britain. His second was a more long term and relating much more to the war in general. To do this he would need to get through Passchendaele to push up North towards the ports. This was Haig's idea as a war of attrition; where the army would break up the morale of the German army. This also meant killing as many well trained enemy troops as possible. This, Haig believed would lead to the end of the war. The British had to be prepared for heavy losses themselves. ...read more.

Middle

The use of tanks became impossible. The ground made it impossible to tunnel mineshafts into because it was only a few metres above sea level and the deep tunnels would just fill with water. The geology of the land made it difficult as well because there was a band of wet sand and blue clay. It made it difficult to succeed because Haig didn't have much knowledge of the conditions he was sending the men to fight in. The thick dense mass of barbed wire that was protecting the German troops in their trenches was almost impossible to get through. It slowed down the attack allowing the machine gun cross fire to mow down the troops stuck in the wire. Haig firmly believed in using cavalry charges and the horses were just as stuck and larger targets. When the wire was bombarded with shells it barely cut the wire and just tangled it up more and more. The allied shells were unreliable and often didn't explode. The men's morale was very low and they were reluctant to attack. The ten-day bombardment previous to attack had taken away the surprise of the attack. Haig was very ambitious and had lots of self-belief. ...read more.

Conclusion

It failed to capture the railway. This would have been a major failure if the war had lasted a lot longer as Germany would have been able to sustain her Army longer during which they could have made a crucial blow to the British by getting through to Paris and capturing France. The British were fairly lucky in the spring when the Germans made a breakthrough but the supplies did not catch up with them and they lost many men. This was a success as the British had reserve troops to counterattack. Haig was a very successful leader; there was no mutiny of the British troops and he was not forced out of his job. Therefore Haig must have been a success as far as Lloyd George was concerned. There are many successes and failures of the Battle and I think that the successes outweigh the failures. I think this because in relation to the wider war Haig had provided a firm base at Ypres, which all that was required of it, was to grind down the German war effort and win the war as quickly as possible. I think that Haig knew Germany was facing starvation and on the verge of collapse so even though he didn't fulfil his objectives I think that the campaign was a success. ...read more.

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