The zzzland Times

Our travel
memories

Ypres, Belgium

Ypres occupied a strategic position during the First World War because it stood in the path of Germany's planned sweep across the rest of Belgium and into France from the north
The neutrality of Belgium, established by the First Treaty of London was guaranteed by Britain; Germany's invasion of Belgium brought the British Empire  into the war. 
The German army surrounded the city on three sides, bombarding it throughout much of the war. To counterattack, British, French, and allied forces made costly advances into the German lines on the surrounding hills.
The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing commemorates those soldiers of the British Commonwealth – with the exception of Newfoundland and New Zealand – who fell in the Ypres Salient during the First World War before 16 August 1917 and who have no known grave. 
United Kingdom and New Zealand servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot, a site which marks the furthest point reached by Commonwealth forces in Belgium until nearly the end of the war. 

The Menin Gate records only soldiers for whom there is no known grave. As graves are identified, the names of those buried in them are removed from the Gate.
Of the battles, the largest, best-known, and most costly in human suffering was the Third Battle of Ypres (31 July to 6 November 1917, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele  in which the British, Canadian, ANZAC, and French forces recaptured the Passchendaele Ridge east of the city at a terrible cost of lives. After months of fighting, this battle resulted in nearly half a million casualties to all sides, and only a few miles of ground won by Allied forces. During the course of the war the town was all but obliterated by the artillery fire.
During World War Two, the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F.) would fight the Germans in a delaying action at the Ypres-Comines Canal, one of the actions that allowed the Allied retreat to Dunkirk.  
Adolf Hitler fought at Ypres in the First World War and later visited the town during the Battle of France.