The Ypres Salient - CWGC

The strategic disadvantages of the Ypres salient were exaggerated for its defenders by the nature of the local topography. German 2nd Army Western Front panorama: taken from the brewery at Passchendaele looking towards the Menin Road.The city was overlooked on the south by Kemmel Heights and on the east by a low line of hills running south-west to north-east. The highest point of the ridge was at Wytschaete (in the south) where it was 49 metres above the level of the plain; decreasing along its length, north-east, to Passchendaele (21.5 metres). The effect of the ridge, formed by these enclosing, gently sloping, 'hills', was perfectly summarised by the British Official History: 'Its height and slopes however, give no impression of its domination over 'the Salient'. The ridge was, as was often said, the 'rim of a saucer', with Ypres in the middle of the saucer, and those inside felt that they could do nothing without being observed.' ('Military Operations. France and Belgium, 1914' (Volume II), compiled by Brigadier-General Sir James E Edmonds, London, Macmillan, 1925; pp.128-129).

Once occupied by the Germans the ridge gave them perfect observation for artillery fire, enabled them to screen their artillery batteries from British attention and bring up reinforcements and supplies unseen.

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