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The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Part 4.—Concluding Phase of the third Battle of Ypres

Part 4.—Concluding Phase of the third Battle of Ypres.

Opens October 26th—Canadians carry Bellevue Spur—French and Belgians take Merekem Penin sula—Canadians capture Passehendaele, November 6th.

It now only remains to recount briefly the events constituting the fourth and concluding phase of the Third Battle of Ypres, which opened on October 26th, when the Canadians attacked in the Passchendaele sector of evil memory. South of the Ravebeek they progressed well, as indeed the Australians had done on the 12th. They were, however, held up at Bellevue Spur, but made a second attempt later in the day and carried it. Satisfactory progress was also made by the Fifth Army on the left.

By the 2Sth the French and Belgians had taken the Merekem Peninsula in the flooded region, and thus facilitated the advance to Hourhulst Forest. The Canadians made some further progress towards Passchendaele, and by the end of October 30th had taken Crest Farm, reaching to within 500 yards of the village. On the morning of November 6th they attacked and captured Goudberg, Mosselmarkt and Passchendaele.

Thus ended the gigantic struggle that had lasted for nearly four months. The total British casualties amounted to over 250,000, a number approximating the strength of the entire army at the time of the Boer War. The continuance of the conflict in the face of heavy losses and in spite of the fearful conditions of weather was justified by the unfortunate developments in Russia and in Italy. Events in these theatres rendered impossible of achievement Haig's great plan to penetrate into Belgium and act against the rear of the enemy's coast defences, but the persistence and sacrifices of the British, though shorn of their greater reward, proved to have had farreaching and lasting effects. Not the least of these was the fact that the enemy had been compelled to use up no fewer page 249than seventy-eight of his Divisions in the battle, of which eighteen had been engaged a second or a third time after having been withdrawn to rest and refit. It is well to remember that in the operations of Arras, Messines, Lens and Ypres, as many as 131 German Divisions had been engaged and defeated by less than half that number of British Divisions.