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'The Passchendaele campaign was a failure.' How far do you agree with this statement?

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'The Passchendaele campaign was a failure.' How far do you agree with this statement? There is much to take into account when judging whether the Passchendaele campaign was a failure. I personally believe that the fact that so many lives were lost for the allies means it can only be seen as a failure. However, in my opinion, it was not a complete failure. In preparing for the Passchendaele campaign Haig had many problems to consider: the French morale to keep up; persuading Russia to remain in the war; capturing the Belgian ports among them. He aimed to achieve all these. With regard to the Passchendaele Battle itself Haig's campaign achieved very few of the numerous objectives he had set himself. Having set his sights on reaching the Dutch frontier, his British troops managed to advance on and take only the Gheluvelt ridge. This Haig had hoped to achieve in the early stages of his campaign so as to enable him then to tackle the other problems, but it turned out to be his sole achievement in the Passchendaele area. However, capturing the ridge was essential to gaining the upper hand in the Ypres salient and by the end of his campaign the British troops had this strategic point in their favour. They had also achieved the aim of capturing the ridge before the worst winter weather set in, when the Ypres salient regularly became impenetrable marshland. ...read more.


The Germans had to concentrate very large numbers of their troops on the Flanders area and try to limit the engagement of forces in other areas of the war, namely in Caporetto, Italy. The German Official History source states that 'two divisions on their way from the East to Italy [Caporetto] had to be diverted from Italy to Flanders.' The fact that the Germans needed so many forces to deal with Haig's campaign meant they had to release pressure on other areas of the war, which can only have been a good thing. However the fact that German troops did let up slightly at Caporetto did not stop them inflicting more damage on the Italian front. After the Italians had been crippled at the 10th Battle of the Isonzo Haig did not wish that happened again but this was not so as Brian Bond's book 'They Called it Passchendaele' clearly states ' Passchendaele neither prevented the final collapse of the Russian armies in autumn 1917, nor the rout of the Italians at Caporetto'. The Russians (mentioned in the quote above) were another of Haig's main objectives concerning the wider World War. Russia was in the middle of a revolution and was threatening to pull out of the war. This would have meant that the Germans could then concentrate solely on the Western Front putting them in a very strong position for 1918. ...read more.


I believe then that the fact that the Germans also suffered from the campaign is futile if the British did so to the same extent. It could be argued though that the British could afford for this to happen because if they did not severely weaken the Germans they would have been defeated later on. The number of lives lost at the Battle of Passchendaele shows the outcome for both sides also. It is estimated that Third Ypres cost the British between 244,000 and 324,000 casualties, depending on whose figures you believe. The German causalities are thought to range from around 200,000 upwards. One source says that that 'Germany, while hurt badly, had lost fifty thousand fewer men than Britain.' Either way it is clear that there was no victor in the Passchendaele campaign. In conclusion, I agree that the campaign was most definitely a failure if you consider the Allied lives lost and the objectives Haig set himself. However, it was not a complete failure, though it was possibly seen to be one at the time. The fact that it weakened Germany so severely probably effected Germany's participation afterwards and the sole outcome of the war. Haig's campaign was also successful in protecting the French and to an extent the Russians. However, that is as far as it goes. OCR GCSE History B The Judd School 61669 Ned Roberts 1 1 ...read more.

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