In a speech at Tyne Cot cemetery near Ypres, Prince Charles today quoted his great-grandfather George V when he saw the graves there in 1922.
George V said: “I have many times asked myself whether there can be more potent advocates of peace upon earth through the years to come, than this massed multitude of silent witnesses to the desolation of war.”
As Britain and Belgium pay tribute to the war dead, here is a look back at the First World War battle that began today 100 years ago today.
What is the Battle of Passchendaele?
The Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, is remembered as one of the bloodiest offensives of the First World War.
More than 100 days of fighting in the summer and autumn of 1917, starting on July 31, left more than half a million men dead or injured on both sides.
In just over three months of conflict, there were more than half a million casualties – 325,000 Allied soldiers and 260,000 to 400,000 Germans – in the Belgian battlefields.
The Battle of Passchendaele became infamous not only for the heavy casualties, but also for the terrible conditions and mud in the trenches.
The battle began with a bombardment of shells which smashed the German drainage system and, together with heavy rain, turned battlefield to mud.
Who won the Battle of Passchendaele?
The Battle of Passchendaele is named after the village captured by Canadian troops on November 6 1917. The battle ended just days later on November 10.
The capture of Passchendaele gave British Field Marshal Douglas Haig an excuse to call off the offensive and claim success at long last.
Despite huge casualties, the offensive pushed the German army back just five miles. But the battle did weaken the German army and helped prepare the way for its defeat in 1918.
The offensive was known as ‘the Battle of Mud’ among soldiers and it came to epitomise the futility of war. War poet Siegfried Sassoon wrote ‘I died in hell, they called it Passchendaele’.
Harry Patch, the ‘Last…