Come Visit The Battlefield of Ypres
Be Immersed in History
Ypres, also known as leper, is located in Flanders, western Belgium and was the site of five decisive battles in World War I. These battles were fought because Ypres was a strategic location, allowing anyone who held that location access to the ports of Calais and Boulogne-sur-Mer, which are part of the English Channel. The first three were fought in the fields by Ypres and the other two were fought in the general area around the town.
The First Battle of Ypres
Known as the most significant, the First Battle of Ypres was fought between the German Empire and the Allies( Belgium, France, and the United Kingdom.) It began when the Germans tried to implement the Schlieffen Plan and go through Belgium to surround the French forces at the Franco-German border in order to obtain a quick win. When Germany forced the Belgium army and the BEF( the British Expeditionary Force) to back down, the French came to their aid. Together, the BEF and French armies were able to counterattack Germany. In order to defeat the other, each army began the "Race to the Sea" in order to outflank the other to gain the advantage.
The actual fighting began October 19, 1914, when the Germans, lead by Field Marshall Albrecht and General Rupprecht, attacked the French, who were lead by General Joseph Joffre. This also occurred to the Belgians, directed by King Albert I, and the BEF, lead by Field Marshall John French, when Chief of the General Staff Erich von Falkenhayn of Germany attacked. This lead to a game of back and forth; one side would prevail and move forward, then the other would do the same and push them back. The battle was eventually halted due to the upcoming winter with all fighting stopped by November 22. Though the Allies appeared to have won this battle, many casualties were sustained with the total of all three armies being between 128,000 and 163,000. The Germans suffered 134,000 casualties of all types as well.
The other battles were fought just like this one, each to secure the town of Ypres and its very valuable location. In the end, however, the Allies won the last battle as well as the First World War. The Allies and the Germans combined had a total of about 850,000 casualties from all the battles. The Battle of Ypres began in October 1914 and ended in October 1918.
This is an article about a man whose grandfather fought on the frontline of the First World War in France and Belgium.
Important People Who Were There
Sir John French
Field Marshall of the British Army
Commanded 163,000 soldiers
General of French Army
Commanded 3,989,103 soldiers
King of Belgium
Commanded 247,00 soldiers
Erich von Falkenhayn
Chief of the General Staff of German Army
Commanded 5,400,000 soldiers
Albrecht of Württemberg
Field Marshall of German Army and Duke of Württemberg
Commanded the Fourth Army
Rupprecht of Bavaria
General of German Army and Crown Prince of Bavaria
Commanded the Sixth Army
Things To Do
In modern-day Ypres, there are many attractions that are available. Visit historical sites such as the Market Square, where the famous Cloth Hall is located, or the Saint-Martin's Cathedral with its 100 m high tower. Also available to be seen are the ramparts, various museums, and boroughs throughout the town. For those more adventurous and athletic or who just enjoy nature and history, there are many walking and cycling paths that lead to WWI sites.
Things To See
Popular places to visit include the Menin Gate and the Cloth Hall, while the mustsee Cats Festival occurs every three years in the Market Square. Every evening at 8 pm, from January 1st through December 31st, no matter the weather, the Last Post Association has its buglers sound the "Last Post" in honor of those lost on both sides during the Battle of Ypres. On November 11th, to celebrate Armistice, a special Last Post ceremony takes place at 11 am.
The tours are available at the following dates and times:
- 1st April - November 15th (Mon - Fri, from 9 am to 6 pm; Sat - Sun, from 10 am to 6 pm)
- November 15th - March 30th (Mon - Fri, from 9 am to 5 pm; Sat - Sun, from 10 am to 5 pm)
Directions To Site
The town of Ypres is located in Flanders Fields, Belgium and is very easy to access from anywhere in Europe. It is only about 2 hours and 30 minutes from Paris and Amsterdam and 1 hour from Brussels, the Capital of Europe. Trains, planes, ferries, and cars are available for travel services.
Other Nearby Attractions
Other famous attractions in Belgium include:
- The NATO Headquarters (Located in Brussels)
- The City of Antwerp
- Vallée de l'Ourthe