Fifth Battle of Ypres

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Fifth Battle of Ypres
Part of the Western Front of the First World War
Western front 1918 allied.jpg
Map of the final Allied offensives on the Western Front, 1918
Date28 September – 2 October 1918
Location50°54′1″N 3°1′16″E / 50.90028°N 3.02111°E / 50.90028; 3.02111 (Passchendaele (Passendale))Coordinates: 50°54′1″N 3°1′16″E / 50.90028°N 3.02111°E / 50.90028; 3.02111 (Passchendaele (Passendale))
Result Allied victory
Belgium Belgium
 United Kingdom
Commanders and leaders
Belgium King Albert I
Belgium Cyriaque Gillain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Herbert Plumer
French Third Republic Jean Degoutte
German Empire Erich Ludendorff
German Empire Crown Prince Rupprecht
German Empire Sixt von Armin
28 divisions 16 divisions
Casualties and losses
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland 4,685
Belgium 4,500
Dominion of Newfoundland 15[1]
10,000 POW
300 guns
600 machine guns

The Fifth Battle of Ypres, also called the Advance in Flanders and the Battle of the Peaks of Flanders (French: Bataille des Crêtes de Flandres) is an informal name used to identify a series of World War I battles in northern France and southern Belgium (Flanders) from late September to October 1918.[2]


After the German spring offensive of 1918 failed to achieve a decisive victory, German morale waned and the increasing numbers of American soldiers arriving on the Western Front gave the Allies a growing numerical advantage over the western armies of the German Empire. To take advantage of this Marshal of France Ferdinand Foch developed a strategy which became known as the Grand Offensive, in which attacks were made on the German lines over as wide a front as possible.[3] Belgian, British and French forces around the Ypres Salient were to form the northern pincer of an offensive towards the Belgian city of Liège.[4] The British Second Army had followed up some minor withdrawals and had fought the action at Outtersteene Ridge on 18 August, after which there was a lull. Allied troops in the area were well rested by late September.[5]


The Groupe d'Armées des Flandres (GAF, Flanders Army Group, King of the Belgians) attacked at 5:30 a.m. on 28 September, after a three hour artillery preparation.[6][7][8] The GAF attacked with 12 Belgian divisions, 10 British divisions of the Second Army and 6 French divisions of the Sixth Army. The British attacked on a 4.5 mi (7.2 km) front up to the Ypres–Zonnebeke road, from where the Belgian army attacked on a line north to Dixmude.[9] The Allied attacks quickly penetrated the German defences and advanced up to 6 mi (9.7 km). Much of the ground west of Passchendaele, abandoned during the withdrawal of early 1918, was recaptured.[10] Rain began to fall but by the evening the British had taken Kortewilde, Zandvoorde, Kruiseecke and Becelaere; Belgian troops had captured Zonnebeke, Poelcappelle, Schaap Baillie and Houthulst Forest.[11] On the southern flank, minor operations by three British divisions advanced to St. Yves, Messines and the ridge from Wytschaete to Hollebeke. The German front line ran from Diksmuide to Houthult, Becelare, Zandvoorde and Hollebeke.[7]

Messines, Terhand and Dadizeele fell on 29 September and by the next day, despite the captured ground becoming another slough of mud, all of the high ground around Ypres was occupied by the Allies.[12] By 1 October, the left bank of the leie (Lys) had been captured up to Comines and the Belgians were east of a line from Moorslede to Staden and Diksmuide. The advance continued until 2 October when German reinforcements arrived and the offensive outran its supplies. Due to the state of the ground, 15,000 rations were delivered by parachute from 80 Belgian and British aircraft.[13]



The British suffered 4,695 casualties, the Belgians "nett" casualties from among 2,000 killed and 10,000 men ill or wounded.[14] The Allies advanced up to 18 mi (29 km), with an average advance of 6 mi (9.7 km) and captured c. 10,000 prisoners, 300 guns and 600 machine-guns.[15]

Subsequent operations[edit]

The offensive was continued with the Battle of Courtrai (14–19 October).[16]

Order of battle[edit]

Groupe d'Armées des Flandres[edit]

The Allied units of Army Group Flanders (King Albert I of Belgium), had the French General Jean Degoutte as Chief of Staff.[17]

German 4th Army[edit]

Army Group Rupprecht of Bavaria (Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria), commanding the northern German army group, held Flanders with the 4th Army, which had less than five divisions in the area.[10][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ G.W.L. Nicholson, The Fighting Newfoundlander: A History of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2007), 481.
  2. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1993, p. 57.
  3. ^ Sheffield 2011, pp. 315–316.
  4. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1993, pp. 2–3.
  5. ^ Harris & Barr 1998, p. 197.
  6. ^ Sonhaus 2011, p. 429.
  7. ^ a b c Foerster 1956, p. 617.
  8. ^ AFGG 1928b, p. 15.
  9. ^ Boraston 1920, pp. 285–286.
  10. ^ a b Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1993, pp. 65–73.
  11. ^ Boraston 1920, p. 286.
  12. ^ Sheffield 2011, p. 322.
  13. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1993, pp. 74–94.
  14. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1993, p. 92.
  15. ^ Marix Evans 2002, p. 211.
  16. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1993, pp. 269–294.
  17. ^ AFGG 1928a, pp. 360–361.
  18. ^ AFGG 1928a, Carte 36.
  19. ^ Edmonds & Maxwell-Hyslop 1993, Appendix I.


  • Boraston, J. H. (1920) [1919]. Sir Douglas Haig's Despatches (reprint ed.). London: Dent. OCLC 633614212.
  • Edmonds, J. E. (1993) [1947]. Military Operations France and Belgium 1918: 8th August – 26th September: The Franco-British Offensive. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Vol. IV (Imperial War Museum & Battery Press ed.). London: HMSO. ISBN 978-0-89839-191-6.
  • Edmonds, J. E.; Maxwell-Hyslop, R. (1993) [1947]. Military Operations France and Belgium 1918: 26th September – 11th November: The Advance to Victory. History of the Great War Based on Official Documents by Direction of the Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence. Vol. V (Imperial War Museum & Battery Press ed.). London: HMSO. ISBN 978-0-89839-192-3.
  • Foerster, Wolfgang, ed. (1956) [1944]. Der Weltkrieg 1914 bis 1918: Militärischen Operationen zu Lande Vierzehnter Band Die Kriegführung an der Westfront im Jahre 1918 [The World War 1914 to 1918: Military Land Operations Warfare on the Western Front in 1918]. Vol. XIV (online scan ed.). Berlin: Verlag Ernst Siegfried Mittler und Sohn. OCLC 1072405280 – via Die digitale Landesbibliotek Oberösterreich.
  • Harris, J. P.; Barr, N. (1998). Amiens to the Armistice: The BEF in the Hundred Day's Campaign, 8 August – 11 November 1918. London: Brassey's. ISBN 978-1-85753-149-7.
  • Marix Evans, M. (2002). 1918: The Year of Victories. London: Arcturus. ISBN 978-0-572-02838-1.
  • Sheffield, G. (2011). The Chief: Douglas Haig and the British Army. London: Aurum Press. ISBN 978-1-84513-691-8.
  • Sonhaus, L. (2011). World War One: The Global Revolution. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-51648-8.
  • La campagne offensive de 1918 et la marche au Rhin (18 juillet 1918 – 28 juin 1919), Premier volume. 18 juillet 1918 – 25 septembre 1918 [The Offensive Campaign of 1918 and the Advance to the Rhine (18 July 1918 – 28 June 1919): 18 July 1918 – 25 September 1918 Part VII]. Les armées françaises dans la Grande guerre. Vol. I (online ed.). Paris: Imprimerie Nationale. 1928a [1923]. OCLC 772837636 – via BnF Catalogue Général.
  • La campagne offensive de 1918 et la marche au Rhin (18 juillet 1918 – 28 juin 1919), Deuxième volume: 26 septembre 1918 – 28 juin 1919 [The Offensive Campaign of 1918 and the Advance to the Rhine (18 July 1918 – 28 June 1919): 26 September 1918 – 28 June 1919 Part VII]. Les armées françaises dans la Grande guerre. Vol. II (online ed.). Paris: Imprimerie Nationale. 1928b [1923]. OCLC 772837639 – via BnF Catalogue Général.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]