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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Apr 13, 2018 08:56AM) (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
This is the thread to discuss The First Battle Of Ypres.

The First World War by John Keegan by John Keegan John Keegan

message 2: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) A book that I have in my library but remains un-read at this stage covering this battle is: "Ypres: The British Army and the Battle for Flanders, 1914" by Ian F.W. Beckett.

Ypres The First Battle, 1914 by Ian F.W. Beckett by Ian F.W. Beckett
'...this is a well-researched and readable book that should become the standard scholarly account of First Ypres.'

'Ian F W Beckett's study offers a new examination of First Ypres based on a much broader range of sources, including British and French archival materials as well as memoirs, contemporary accounts and modern schloarship.' - Nikolas Gardner, University of Salford, The Journal of Military History

'...this title earns its place on the bookshelf of anyone with a considered interest in World War One.' - SOFNAM, February 2005

'A first rate work by one of the leading specialists on the First World War, this study draws appropriate attention to the role of the Belgian and French forces at First Ypres...' - Jeremy Black, University of Exeter, Historical Association Reviews July 2005

"… a very well respected historian of World War One… Beckett has an engaging writing style… this is an accessible account of a key battle" - Military Illustrated January 2007

message 3: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Thank you so much Aussie for all of your adds. They are all great and very much appreciated.

message 4: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) A classic account, first published in 1967 is Anthony Farrar-Hockley's account; "Death of an Army".

Death of an Army (Wordsworth Military Library) by Anthony Farrar-Hockley by Anthony Farrar-Hockley
"This text describes the first battle of Ypres in October and November 1914, in which the British Army was destroyed. In this epic struggle, the old British Regular Army, whose fighting qualities have never been surpassed, stood and died facing odds of up to seven to one."

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Disappearance and Discoveries

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Keegan states on page 177:

"The British, hurried to Ypres in October 1914 to stop the open gap in the Western Front, had got below ground level wherever and as best they could. Shelter pits, which one man could dig at the rate of one cubic foot of earth removed in three minutes, or enough to give him cover in half an hour, became trenches when joined up."

Pretty amazing.

There is a reference to a book titled Field Entrenchments by E. Solano. This book is not on goodreads.

I found it on google - here is the link:

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Wikipedia on The First Battle of Ypres:

message 8: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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First World War site on The First Battle of Ypres:

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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An Essay by John Buchan:

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
First Battle of Ypres:

message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Great antiquarian map of the First Battle of Ypres:

[image error]

message 13: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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The Long, long trail:

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message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Map showing the Race to the Sea:

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Map showing the course of the "Race to the Sea" during 1914 following the Battle of the Aisne. Allied front line and movement is shown in red, German front line and movement shown in blue. Three of the battles that occurred during or after the "race" are shown boxed.

message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Another Map:

[image error]

New York Times Current History; The European War, Vol 2, No. 2, May, 1915
Downloaded from Project Gutenberg at

Map show actions of the First Battle of Ypres, Flanders, October - November 1914.

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message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Timelines on the First Battle of Ypres:

BBC News Account of the Battle of Ypres:

message 19: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
The Ghosts of Ypres past return:

message 20: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Here is a book that was published in 1985 that offers a decent account of the Battle for Ypres in 1915 and the use of gas:

Gas!: The Battle for Ypres, 1915 (no cover) by James L. McWilliams

message 21: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
You gave it a good rating so it must be a fairly accurate account.

message 22: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Here is another new book covering Ypres but covering the battle from the German perspective; "The German Army at Ypres 1914" by Jack Sheldon.

GERMAN ARMY AT YPRES 1914, THE by Jack Sheldon by Jack Sheldon
This book will be the first complete account of the operations of the German army in the battles north of Lille in the late autumn of 1914. The main emphasis will be placed on the battles around Ypres against the Old Contemptibles of the BEF, but the fighting against the French and Belgian armies will also be featured, thus providing fresh, broader, insights into a campaign. There are those who consider that the BEF was all that saved world civilisation as the first year of the Great War drew to its end. The book uses the comprehensive histories of the participating German regiments found in the Kriegsarchiv in Munich and the Hauptstaatsarchiv in Stuttgart. Their use adds authority and authenticity to the book. The narrative adopts a chronological approach. The book focuses on some of the most bitterly disputed battles of the first three months of the war, when the Germans strained to achieve a breakthrough and the BEF resisted heroically, at the price of its own destruction. The book employs a similar format to the author s previous works; that is to say the greater part of the text uses the words of the German participants themselves and the primary focus of the book covers the experiences of the fighting troops at regimental level and below. Linking paragraphs provide historical context and commentary and evidence from senior commanders will be introduced as necessary.

message 23: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) This book was first published in 2004 by Sutton Publishing but is still available and has received some very good reviews:

Massacre of the Innocents The Crofton Diaries, Ypres 1914-1915 by Ed Roynon by Ed Roynon
“Captain Sir Morgan Crofton was 34 at the outbreak of the war, and had recently retired from the Army and was on the Reserve of Officers. He was a veteran of the South African War, 6th baronet of Mohill and an expert on Napoleon and the Waterloo campaign.

The diaries cover the period October 1914 to June 1915, when Crofton became an instructor at Windsor. He later saw service in East Africa and again on the Western Front, and was awarded the DSO.

Crofton went out with the 2nd Life Guards in October 1914. His diary is a vivid record of the effects of war on men, horses and the surrounding area. It is very witty-at times it had me laughing aloud at some passages- and then poignant, describing the hardships of the horses officers and men in the bitter cold and rain. Crofton deplores the destruction of buildings and describes graphically the destruction of the town of Ypres.

As at times Commanding Officer of the Machine Gun Section, and in charge of the Signallers, Crofton did not see a great deal of front line service. His bitter observations of the state of the trenches, and the disgust he feels are eloquently displayed on the occasions that he does spend time at the front.
Crofton took great delight in the surrounding countryside and often describes with great fondness the villages and the inhabitants of the villages where the 2nd Life Guards were billeted. He also reserves some pithy comments for the state of sanitation in some places!

Perhaps surprisingly for a fairly senior officer, and member of the Aristocracy, Crofton is sometimes critical of the conduct of the war and the higher command. He attacks the principle of retaining Ypres at all costs, and is acerbic of the attitudes of the civilians at home.

Gavin Roynon has done an excellent job in preparing these diaries for publication. The notes are, pleasingly at the foot of pages rather than as is so often the case placed at the end in an appendix. The book is lavishly illustrated with excellent photographs, many taken by Crofton, and being published for the first time; in addition, the reproduction quality is excellent. The foreword by Sir Martin Gilbert and the Biographical notes are informative, and a very useful short chapter entitled Ypres Then and Now provides useful information. Recommended.” - Michelle Young (The Western Front Association)

message 24: by Frederick (new)

Frederick Coxen (FLCoxen) | 72 comments The following excerpt is from my grandfather's journal. I thought I would share this serious but comical event.

First Battle of Ypres - October 24-26 1914

A little ways to the right of our position was a small farm that had chickens, rabbits, and other provisions in the house. It had been left by the inhabitants, which meant that they were forced to leave in a hurry.
Along with the other animals we found a few goats which we collared. I was content listening to the milk splashing into my pail. I looked up to see how George was progressing. He had a puzzled look on his face, as he attempted to find udders on a billy goat. I had a good laugh about that one! We had our fill then returned to the battery with the remaining goat’s milk
and provisions.

Later I prevailed upon Old George to slip over to the farm to make a can of tea and bring it back, while I attended to the firing. No sooner had he left than a German horse artillery battery opened dead range upon us and kept up a hot fire for a period of time.

The shelling was so terrible that nothing could have lived above the ground. We were absolutely tied to our little trenches,making it impossible for us to return fire.

The shelling went on for two hours. All I could think about was Old George and how he must have been caught by the shelling on his way to the farm. I was greatly surprised to see him crawling along the trenches with the can in his hand.

While George made his way along the trenches, three guys and two officers, one of whom was Lt. Marshall, stood up and shouted at George to get under cover.

I was also yelling at George at the same time as Lt. Marshall,when I heard a whining and a bang. Lt. Marshall collapsed with seven shrapnel bullets in him; all this happened in a flash

Old George must have had a charmed life, being able to get to and back from the farm through all of the shelling and live through it.

To me it was marvelous.Even though Lt. Marshall was wounded, George and I drank the tea for it cost near one life and a dozen very narrow escapes.
The tea was even better when we added the goat’s milk I had procured earlier.

message 25: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig Great post, thanks for sharing with us! Two hour shelling, can't wrap my head around that, whoa.

message 26: by Frederick (new)

Frederick Coxen (FLCoxen) | 72 comments It is often told how much the English love their tea, so much so that one thinks that it is over exaggerated - I guess it isn't.

If others are interested I'll post some of the excerpts - they are compelling and at times graphic. I've read several history books about the war but nothing compares to real life experiences. Thanks for your interest.

message 27: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Frederick, you are so lucky to have that journal.....history in your hands. Amazing.

message 28: by Frederick (new)

Frederick Coxen (FLCoxen) | 72 comments I was given a box that contained documents of my parental grandparents. Knowing that the journal was among the documents, I couldn't wait to sift through the aged papers. When the reddish-brown ledger appeared, I lifted from the box and held it in my hands. An over powering feeling washed over me realizing that I was holding history in my hands. This was replaced by the emotional acknowledgement that it was written by my grandfather almost 100 years ago. Yes it was and still is difficult to grasp its significance.

message 29: by Mark (new)

Mark Mortensen Thanks Frederick for sharing the interesting piece of history.

message 30: by Frederick (new)

Frederick Coxen (FLCoxen) | 72 comments Thanks Mark - History is so interesting, especially when human details bring history to life. I'm very fortunate to have a personal piece of history and through it I would like to enrich other's experience with WWI history.

While reading books on WWI I often read of events that are detailed in the journal, thus expanding my knowledge.

As example The Battle of Marne

September 10th
Our forces came under heavy artillery fire for more than 2 hours and many of our infantry started to run. CRA General Finley and Colonel Sharpe tried to stop the retreat by urging the soldiers to turn and move forwards. In the process the General was killed and two officers were wounded.

The German artillery found the range of our battery and we came under heavy shelling. As shells were bursting all around me, I crouched beneath a gun limber.

The whine of incoming shells followed by deafening explosions kept up for what seemed like an eternity.
Fear started to overcome my sense of duty and I had to force myself not to run. I don't know where or how I found the courage to stand up and yell out orders to the battery leaders so they could fire their guns.

As the Northampton and Sussex Regiments retreated through our battery they also drew the enemy’s fire.
During the infantry’s mad rush they broke my telephone wire. I thought that my chum at the other end had gotten knocked over — he thought the same of me.

Without the ability to communicate with my chum on the
other end, the battery guns couldn't fire.

To overcome this problem, we resorted back to using semaphore flags to pass down firing orders.

With things seemingly under control, I set out to mend the wire and restore communications. While I crawled along the ground following the wire, I could hear bullets pass over my head and striking the ground around me. Thank God the Germans were lousy shots!

I found and mended the break just in time for the battery to help support the 60th Rifles’advancement.

They were able to retake the position that the
Northampton and Sussex regiments held prior to their retirement.

As the 60th Rifles advanced, the enemy retreated. The
regiment suffered heavy losses during this engagement.

message 31: by Mark (new)

Mark Mortensen Thanks again Frederick. Each passing day was a new adventure with hardened experience, camaraderie and hopefully a bit of luck along the way.

message 32: by Frederick (new)

Frederick Coxen (FLCoxen) | 72 comments You're right. Through out his journal there were three main chums that interacted with almost on a daily basis. One, Percy Bramwell died in his arms during the battle of Aisne. George Millington survived the war and third soldier all I have is a name, "Collins".

message 33: by Frederick (new)

Frederick Coxen (FLCoxen) | 72 comments Percy Bramwell's death

October 9th
This day was going to be well-remembered. During the
morning things were a little more quiet than usual.

We were sitting around the guns. I had left my telephone beneath one of the gun limbers.
We were having a feast of Bully Beef and potatoes (potatoes did not come our way often), when a battery of German artillery found us with shrapnel shells.

The first round burst directly over our number three gun, which was just a short distance from us. Needless to say we all scattered.

Bramwell and I ran towards the gun limber where I left
the field phone. George was to my right when I heard the shell burst and saw him go down.

I dove under the limber to phone my chum Collins, while two gunners dragged Bramwell to the shelter of the limber.

It was just seconds after they delivered him when three more shells exploded and the two gunners went down.

After the shelling stopped we removed poor Bramwell; it was an unpleasant sight to see a chum’s brains by one’s side.

Once Bramwell’s body was removed, I noticed that a shell case was stuck in the ground just two yards from where I laid. Luckily it didn’t splinter, for Collins and I would have been killed.

Everything seemed to bear marks of that lively hour excepting for us two.

We dug a hole that night and many times the hole saved us. When it was comfortably quiet, invariably the enemy would switch over and shell us.

Several men were wounded at different times when it was least expected.

About this time, night attacks were very frequent and severe. Often there would be three attacks during the night.

message 34: by Bryan (new)

Bryan Craig A lot of luck out there.

message 35: by Jill (last edited Jan 20, 2015 11:24PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) This wonderful painting by D.B, Wollen shows the Cold Stream Guards at the first battle of Ypres.


message 36: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Thank you Jill

message 37: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Noted historian, Winston Groom tells the story of Ypres in all its horror. This is the first battle in which the Germans used poison gas, a tactic that shocked the world.

A Storm in Flanders: The Ypers Salient, 1914-1918: Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front

A Storm in Flanders The Ypres Salient, 1914-1918 Tragedy and Triumph on the Western Front by Winston Groom by Winston Groom Winston Groom


A Storm in Flanders is novelist and prizewinning historian Winston Groom's gripping history of the four-year battle for Ypres in Belgian Flanders, the pivotal engagement of World War I that would forever change the way the world fought -- and thought about -- war. In 1914, Germany launched an invasion of France through neutral Belgium -- and brought the wrath of the world upon itself. Ypres became a place of horror, heroism, and terrifying new tactics and technologies: poison gas, tanks, mines, air strikes, and the unspeakable misery of trench warfare. Drawing on the journals of the men and women who were there, Winston Groom has penned a breathtaking drama of politics, strategy, and the human heart.

message 38: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Thank you Jill

message 39: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The personal diary of a junior officer in the BEF.

From Mons to the First Battle of Ypres



From Mons to the First Battle of Ypres is the war diary of a junior infantry officer in the British Army.

Second Lieutenant James Hyndson went to France in August 1914 with the British Expeditionary Force. After his arrival in France, he witnessed the retreat from Mons, the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne, and the first Battle of Ypres. He was invalided home in February 1915 and, in the same month, he was awarded the Military Cross.

His diary during this period gives a vivid insight into life under fire. From Mons to the First Battle of Ypres is vital reading for anybody interested in what it was like to be a young British officer in the opening months of the First World War.

message 40: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The first battle using trench warfare.

First Ypres 1914: The Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles

First Ypres 1914 The Graveyard of the Old Contemptibles by David Lomas by David Lomas(no photo)


Osprey's overview of the First Battle of Ypres of World War I (1914-1918). In the autumn of 1914 the original British Expeditionary Force faced a heavily reinforced German drive. Field Marshal Sir John French, the British Commander-in-Chief, had sent his men north in an attempt to take the fight into Flanders, so they could fight across open ground. History tells us that this was not to be the case. David Lomas chronicles the first of the trench-warfare battles, where lines that would remain almost static for the rest of the war were established. Although the Germans failed to reach the channel ports, the death knell had rung for the BEF, which was virtually wiped out in this brave defence.

message 41: by Jill (last edited Jul 03, 2015 09:35PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The first battle of Ypres was the beginning of the terrible trench warfare which accomplished nothing but death for a few yards of ground that would be re-taken the next day.

Eye-Deep in Hell: Trench Warfare In World War I

Eye-Deep In Hell Trench Warfare In World War I by John Ellis by John Ellis(no photo)


Millions of men lived in the trenches during World War I. More than six million died there. In Eye-Deep in Hell, the author explores this unique and terrifying world—the rituals of battle, the habits of daily life, and the constant struggle of men to find meaning amid excruciating boredom and the specter of impending death.

message 42: by Dimitri (new)

Dimitri | 600 comments Ypres The First Battle, 1914 by Ian F.W. Beckett by Ian F.W. Beckett (no photo)

a recent scholary treatment for this battle. More dry than memorable.

message 43: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Thanks for the add, Dimitri.

message 44: by Jill (last edited Nov 18, 2015 07:19PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) Menin Gate

The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing is a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium, dedicated to the British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the Ypres Salient of World War I and whose graves are unknown. The memorial is located at the eastern exit of the town and marks the starting point for one of the main roads out of the town that led Allied soldiers to the front line. Designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and built and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Menin Gate Memorial was unveiled on 24 July 1927.
(Text and photo source: Wikipedia)

message 45: by Betsy (new)

Betsy If you go to Ypres, be sure to attend the playing of "The Last Post" at the Menin Gate. The ceremony, which is held very night, is truly memorable.

message 46: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) One of the things on my bucket list is to tour some of the battlefields/memorials of WWI. A friend of mine is going in the spring and I can't wait to hear his reaction.

message 47: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 44200 comments Mod
Verdun is very powerful.

message 48: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) This horrific battle practically wiped out the regular British army and was called a draw.

Ypres: Death of an Army

Ypres Death of an Army by Anthony Ferrar-Hockley by Anthony Ferrar-Hockley (no photo)


On October 12 1914, Allied forces mounted an attack in the Ypres area with the intention of recapturing Lille and driving deep into Belgium. Attack and counter-attack, with very little ground lost or taken, died away in stalemate with 58000 men of the old British regular army fallen in one month of fighting.

message 49: by Jill (last edited May 21, 2016 12:45PM) (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) A first-hand report of the horror that was Ypres.

A Tommy at Ypres

A Tommy at Ypres by Walter Williamson by Walter Williamson (no photo)


There was a blinding flash and an earsplitting report and the prisoner fell across me. The bullet had caught him full in the chin and passed out at the base of his skull. In A Tommy at Ypres we see the First World War through the eyes of Walter Williamson. His remarkable diary provides a fascinating firsthand record of major military events ranging from the Third Battle of Ypres to the Somme Retreat but it is also a moving story of one man s experience of war.His vivid recollections describe his part in the 118th Brigade s involvement in the Battle of St Julien at the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres, then the Somme, and finally Ypres again. Alongside his diary extracts, his letters to his loving wife Amelia offer a deeply human account of the everyday hopes and fears experienced by the men of the trenches.Within these pages lies the reality of life for a Tommy: the bravery, the warm comradeship, the gentle humor, the strength of character and resilience, the sadness, the tragedy A Tommy at Ypres reveals the true spirit of an outstanding generation."

message 50: by Jill (new)

Jill Hutchinson (bucs1960) The title is a bit puzzling.

Magnificent But Not War: The Battle of Ypres

Magnificent But Not War The Battle of Ypres, 1915 by John Dixon by John Dixon (no photo)


This book is a superbly researched and detailed account of the fighting around Ypres during April and May 1915. It is essentially a day-by-day record of the Second Battle of Ypres which draws heavily upon personal accounts, regimental histories and war diaries to present a comprehensive study of the battle in which Germany gained the dubious distinction of becoming the first nation in history to use poisonous gas as a weapon of war. The work is complemented with a number of useful Appendices including Officer Casualties, Victoria Cross winners and the British Order of Battle for Hill 60 and the Second Battle of Ypres.Each phase of the battle is discussed in detail aided, where appropriate, by maps and photographs.

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