The Ypres Salient - CWGC

The initial main attack on 31 July comprised two simultaneous thrusts: north-east across the Pilckem Ridge (in the direction of Passchendaele) and eastwards from the centre of the Salient, Battle of Pilckem Ridge 31 July-2 August: A pack horse with a gas mask being loaded up with iron staples and other equipment near Pilckemup the Gheluvelt Plateau (a combined frontage of around 13,700 yards). Gough's Fifth Army was supported on the left by the French First Army and on the right with a diversionary limited attack by the British Second Army (under General Plumer) designed to secure the right flank of the main offensive. The front of attack for all divisions involved was approximately fifteen miles (from Frelinghien, on the River Lys in the south, to Steenstraate in the north).

Gough's ambitious aim, based on his understanding of Haig's requirements, was to penetrate with as much speed as possible the German defence lines in front of Passchendaele, secure the Passchendeale-Staden Ridge before manoeuvring north-east towards Roulers; the intention was to secure Roulers by 7/8 August when the tide would favour coastal operations by the British Fourth Army (under General Rawlinson). Gough's and Rawlinson's forces would then link up and drive towards Bruges and the Dutch frontier. In the event Gough's original assault did not effect any sort of breakthrough and the proposed coastal operations by Fourth Army were pre-empted by a German assault on this coastal sector on 10/11 July.

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