Introduction - Second Battle of YpresOn April 22nd of 1915, near the town of Ypres in western Belgium on World War One's western front, the Germans had just completed an artillery bombardment of French defensive positions to open the Second Battle of Ypres. As the French soldiers awaited a German infantry attack, which usually follows a bombardment, an eerie quiet fell over the battle field. French officers in the rear of the defensive positions were suddenly shocked to see waves of their soldiers retreating towards them in utter panic. Dropping their weapons jumping on horses, and tripping over each other running as fast as they could from the front line. As the soldiers get closer the officers saw many of them falling down and gasping for breath, vomiting and writhing in pain. The German forces had shocked the Allied soldiers by unleashing the first major use of poison (chlorine) gas in World War One. On this page you will find a list of interesting facts about the Second Battle of Ypres including information on who won, why it was fought.
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Interesting Second Battle of Ypres Facts
- The Second Battle of Ypres followed the First Battle of Ypres which took place from October 30th to November 24th of 1914. The Allies won the first battle.
- This battle was fought between the German army and Allied troops from France, Canada, Britain, Africa, Belgium, India, and Newfoundland.
- This battle was the only major offensive of the German army on the Western Front. The Germans hoped the attack would make the Allies divert troops from the eastern front so that they could gain an advantage there.
- The use of poison gas at The Second Battle of Ypres was not the first use of gas during WW1. Three months earlier, on January 31, 1915, the German army had unleashed tear gas on Russian positions at the Battle of Bolimov. This attack was relatively unsuccessful due to the cold weather freezing the gas.
- Although the initial gas attack was a huge success and the Germans were able to push forward, the Allies managed to eventually halt the German advance.
- The first German poison gas attack of the battle was followed by a second on April 24th (1915). This attack was aimed at Canadian soldiers near the village of St. Julien which had become the front line after the Allies were pushed back after the 1st attack.
- The flamethrower was first used at The Battle of Hooge which was an engagement within the Second Battle of Ypres.
- When the German forces realized they could not take the town of Ypres they destroyed the entire town with a huge artillery bombardment.
- The casualties of the Second Battle of Ypres were huge. There were approximately 35,000 German casualties with approximately double that (70,000) for the Allies.
- Who won the Second Battle of Ypres? Most military experts call it a stalemate while noting that the Germans achieved small gains but were unable to capture the town of Ypres.
- In April of 2015 there were commemorations in Ypres for the 100th anniversary of the 1915 German attack.
List of the six military engagements of The Second Battle of Ypres
- The Battle of Gravenstafel (April 22nd - April 23rd 1915)
- The Battle of St. Julien (April 24th - May 4th 1915)
- The Battle of Frezenberg (May 8 - 13 1915)
- The Battle of Bellewaarde (May 24th - May 25th 1915)
- The Battle of Hooge (July 30th - July 31st 1915)
- The Second Attack on Bellewaarde (September 25th 1915)