15 August 2017

7 facts about the Battle of Langemarck

Wednesday 16 August marked 100 years since the Battle of Langemarck began in 1917. Here are 7 facts about the battle:

 

  • The Battle of Langemarck was the third major attack of the Third Battle of Ypres – later known as Passchendaele.

  • The weather since the beginning of August had been atrocious, with only a handful of rainless days, which delayed the start of the battle by 24 hours.

  • At 4.45am on 16 August, elements of eight British divisions attacked the German positions around the Ypres-Menin road to the north of the village of Langemarck, while the French First Army attacked north of the village.

  • Mud, intact German pillboxes, artillery fire and determined counterattacks meant that the attacking British troops could only make limited gains.

  • In the south of the battlefield British troops could only advance a matter of yards or were forced back to their start lines, while in the north the only notable success by British troops was the capture of ruins of Langemarck village, from which the battle gets its name.

  • The CWGC commemorates in Belgium more than 4,600 servicemen of the British Empire who died during the battle. Their graves lay scattered in CWGC sites across Ieper, including CWGC New Irish Farm, Cement House and Hooge Crater cemeteries. But most of the fallen have no known grave, and their names are inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing.

  • As a result of the limited gains and heavy casualties at the Battle of Langemarck and subsequent smaller operations, command of the Flanders Offensive passed from General Gough of Fifth Army to General Plumer of Second Army, known affectionately to the British troops as “Daddy Plumer” or “Old Plum”.

Photo caption: Battle of Langemarck 16-18 August Horse drawn troop transports IWM Q 2996