The Ypres Salient - CWGC

Honourable Artillery Company in front line trenches, St Eloi, one reading, another using a trench periscopeThe long series of vicious small unit actions, which began on 22 April with the first large-scale gas attack on the Western Front, lasted until 25 May. The constituent fighting was broken down into the following ‘distinct’ battles by the post-war Battles Nomenclature Committee:

Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge, 22 - 23 April.
Battle of St Julien, 24 April – 4 May.
Battle of Frezenberg Ridge, 8 – 13 May.
Battle of Bellewaarde Ridge, 24 – 25 May.

The complex series of actions which came to be described as 'The Second Battle of Ypres' was usefully broken down into three separate phases of action by the British historian C R M F Cruttwell in 1934: the first phase (22 - 28 April) marked Franco-British attempts to seal the breach and restore original positions in the wake of the first gas attack; the second phase (28 April - 3 May) saw the preparations for a withdrawal to a more tenable line (or the 'evacuation of the outer rim' of the Salient). The third and final phase of the fighting (4 - 24 May) he identified as 'the struggle to maintain the new positions'. ('A History of the Great War 1914-1918', C R M F Cruttwell, Oxford, 1934; p.156).

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