The History of the Battle of Passchendaele

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, which has become to be known as a symbol of mud, blood, and slaughter.

During World War I, the British organized a major offensive against German forces that were holding control of a ridge overlooking the city of Ypres in Belgium called Passchendaele.

The area was socked in deep mud, land with no trees or vegetation. Deep shell craters from previous battles scarred the land, and provided a storage for mud and water across the fields from constant, torrential rains.

For at least two weeks Canadian troops battled on the ridge, eventually capturing it and the village of the same name; however, the victory cost the lives and injured 16,000 Canadians.

While Passchendaele is known for the sacrifice and victory of Canadian troops, it is especially remembered as one of the most horrendous conditions to battle in. Many soldiers suffered from “trench foot”, their feet constantly being in water, causing flesh to rot and infect. Some have even described the mud as enveloping those in the trenches as they slept.

Arthur Turner, a Canadian infantryman from Alberta described Passchendaele as the “muddy-est, bloody-est of the whole war”.