Bellewaarde Ridge ran roughly west-east, except for a kink to the north of the lake, from just south of Railway Wood to south-west of Nonne Bosschen – a distance of about one-and-a-half miles; its highest point (50 metres) lay to the east of the lake. The days prior to the opening of the battle saw a lull in the fighting in the Salient (a time of 'minor enterprises and desultory shelling') - a consequence of the mutual exhaustion of the opposing forces and the need to conserve rapidly dwindling supplies of artillery ammunition.
The motives of the German attack are not entirely clear, given the shattered state of many of their units after the fighting for the Frezenberg Ridge. Lacking sufficient reserves for an all-out breakthrough attack, it perhaps represented a final attempt to gain the upper hand in the war for positions prior to making Ypres totally untenable for the Allies; it is also possible that the fighting offered another opportunity to refine the tactical employment of the joint 'gas cloud' and infantry attack; certainly the commitment of such colossal quantities of chlorine gas resolved the dilemma of retaining indefinitely a great many filled and unused gas cylinders in the German front line trenches - at the mercy of Allied artillery fire.
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