'The Battles of Ypres, 1917' - the extensive fighting involved in the attempt to break-out of the Ypres Salient in the late summer of 1917 comprised (according to the 1920 Battles Nomenclature Committee) eight separate and distinct battles; (nine, if the Messines Ridge Battle is included under the general operational heading of 'The Flanders Offensive’). Each battle constituted a series of complex actions in its own right:
• The Battle of Pilckem Ridge, 31 July - 2 August
• The Battle of Langemarck 1917, 16 - 18 August
• The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, 20 - 25 September
• The Battle of Polygon Wood, 26 September - 3 October
• The Battle of Broodseinde, 4 October
• The Battle of Poelcapelle, 9 October
• The First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October
• The Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26 October - 10 November
(The Committee also listed as a separate 'action' the capture of Westhoek on 10 August).
The military historian John Terraine most usefully divided the campaign into three main phases. The first phase comprised Gough's initial assaults at the end of July to the end of August. Though debate continues as to whether Gough sought 'breakthrough' or merely extensive forward movement on the opening day, this first phase was characterised by much rain, little progress and heavy casualties. The second phase (late September to early October), after Plumer had been given direction of the battle, saw a more systematic and careful step-by-step approach (where the vital requirement of artillery superiority was clearly acknowledged); this period included the successful battles of the Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde. The third phase (in October and early November) witnessed the final operations in deteriorating weather and impossible conditions and included the dreadful Battle of Poelcappelle and the two Battles of Passchendaele.
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