The Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26 October - 10 November 1917
The early winter fighting at ‘Third Ypres’ took place in dreadful and demoralising conditions, perhaps the worst in the war, which sapped the physical strength and spirits of all combatants. Yet, despite the obvious failures of 12 October, Haig intended to continue the campaign. Currie's Canadian Corps was called in to replace the depleted and battle-weary II Anzac Corps and spearhead the next thrusts - a series of phased actions designed to gain Passchendaele and the ridge northwards to Westroosebeke as a secure winter position.
Hoping for drier weather Haig temporarily suspended operations on 13 October. Acknowledging the disastrously inadequate preparations for ‘First Passchendaele’, and reflecting Currie’s insistence on thorough arrangements, huge efforts were made mid-month in repairing communications and the forward movement of guns. Preliminary barrages concentrated on destroying barbed-wire and pillboxes on the Wallemolen spur and Bellevue.
The first assault on 26 October, in pouring rain, saw the Canadians push beyond the wire entanglements on either side the flooded Ravebeek and advance near 500 yards, though the supporting flank operations by British infantry divisions proved costly failures. Re-supplied in the subsequent days of better weather the Canadians were ready to renew their attack on 30 October, when, following a devastating barrage, they reached the outskirts of Passchendaele and were poised to seize the village. After extensive British bombardments, the 2nd Canadian Division overran the hamlet on the morning of 6 November, gaining all its objectives but losing many men in savage close-quarter fighting. At Haig’s request a slight northwards advance of the line was made early on 10 November; this modest gain, made in a rainstorm by exhausted infantry effectively marked the end of the Flanders campaign, which was officially closed down on 20 November 1917.
Campaign map Army structure Terminology