1914 – The first Battle of Ypres begins

The First Battle of Ypres began with the first major assault by German forces in the vicinity. Until then, although there had been fighting in the area, it had mostly been limited to skirmishing, as each side attempted to capture ground in what became known as the Race to the Sea. But on October 19, 1914, the German Chief of General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn, ordered an assault. The dying began in earnest the next day.

The battle marks one of the first instances of truly modern warfare – and shows how ill-prepared for it both sides were. Poor communications and a failure to understand just how mobile armies could now be occurred in each command. More than two hundred thousand men were killed, wounded or declared missing in action in the course of this battle, which lasted until November 22, 1914, and ended with both sides entrenching across the front. Indeed, the First Battle of Ypres marksed the last major mobile operations on the Western Front until 1918, and began the stalemate that would last another four years, and encompass four more battles at Ypres, including the bloodiest day of the entire war.

Referenced in:

All the Fine Young Men — Eric Bogle