With many of World War I’s violent battles being fought around Ypres, the Flanders region of north Belgium is home to some of Europe’s most important historic sites of the Great War. Among the 185 WWI military cemeteries, here are a number of the most important battle sites in Flanders.
First Battle of Ypres
The First Battle of Ypres raged from October 19 to November 22, 1914, on the Ypres Salient, and saw Allied forces locked in combat with German soldiers along the Western Front—from Arras in France to Nieuport on the Belgian shores. During the battle, both sides struggled to beat the other to reach the coastline north of their rivals, and the fight spilled over into the Battle of the Yser.
Battle of Passchendaele
Also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Passchendaele spanned from July to November 1917. During the fight, Allied soldiers clashed with German Empire forces over control of the high ground to the south and east of the Belgian city of Ypres. Passchendaele itself lies on a ridge just to the east of Ypres—ground that had proved pivotal in the German 4th Army’s rail supply chain.
Battle of Messines
From early to mid-June 1917, General Sir Herbert Plumer of the British Second Army led his forces in what was to become known as the Battle of Messines. The goal was to forge German generals to move soldiers from Arras and Aigne to Flanders Fields, and in doing so, relieve beleaguered French forces on the Aisne front.
Battle of Lys
The Battle of Lys—otherwise recorded as the Lys Offensive or the Fourth Battle of Ypres—took place from April 7 to April 29, 1918. German forces orchestrated the battle with the aim of pushing back British forces to the shoreline and capturing Ypres once and for all.