The First Battle of Ypres was fought from 19th October to 22nd November 1914, by the remnants of 6 British Infantry Divisions and one Cavalry Division, who had already fought the retreat from Mons and then fought on the Marne and the Aisne.
The B.E.F. heavily outnumbered by the German 4th and 6th Armies facing them stood fast and when their line was broken they counter attacked time and again to regain lost ground to stop the German advance.
So sure were the Germans of an easy victory the Kaiser was waiting just behind the lines to lead the victory parade in Ypres. He could not believe that Britain’s “Contemptable Little Army” could stop the mighty German war machine. Many German student battalions were thrown into the battle in the Langemarck area, they marched forward singing, onto the guns of the British Infantry who were trained to fire 15 aimed shots every minute. The resulting casualties were enormous on both sides.
The first battle of Ypres
The First Battle of Ypres raged from Langemarck, to Messines, Geluveld, Diksmuide and to Wijtschate. It was called “The Massacre of the Innocents” by the Germans so heavy were their casualties.
The Germans had one great opportunity to win the first Battle of Ypres when they broke the British line when they attacked Geluveld in very misty conditions and forced a gap between the Scots Guards and the South Wales Borderers. However they failed to exploit this chance and the line was restored when the 2nd battalion the Worcestershire Regiment counter attacked with a magnificent bayonet charge which saved the day.
The Commonwealth War Cemetery at Zillebeke Church gives testament to the price paid by the British Army and it contains the graves of so many aristocrats and private soldiers lying side by side having paid the price in the defence of freedom.
For more detailed information about the first battle of Ypres, you may also check wikipedia.
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