The Second Battle of Ypres (1915)
by: Evan Russell

French soldiers wearing an early form of gas masks in the trenches during the second battle of Ypres (1915). "First World War - 15 Legacies Still with Us Today PART1 - AFOM - Australian Families of the Military Research Foundation." First World War - 15 Legacies Still with Us Today PART1 - AFOM - Australian Families of the Military Research Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

My Story in the Trenches- A French Soldier

It was only a few days, the time I was battling in the Ypres trenches, but it felt like years. No ground was being made up, just countless casualties. Aeroplane wreckage and motionless bodies was my scene for most of these days, many of them German bodies (The Post). I wondered if it was worth it, the cold and sometimes sleepless nights, but it was, as long as I was fighting for my country.

Then the day happened; it was the most fear I have ever felt in my life. As a northwest wind blew towards our trenches, I saw a greenish-yellow gas cloud several kilometres long in the distance (Canadian War Museum). As it came closer, chaos reigned around me. Chlorine gas filled the lungs of many French soldiers with fluid, leading to suffocation (Canadian Encyclopedia). The soldiers who did not instantly die from the gas ran, like me. I didn't really know where I was going, I just knew I had to get out of there. I looked back to see my friends dying, and Germans closing in on our line. If it wasn't for the Canadians saving our asses that day, the war might have turned out differently.

Germans emerging through a thick gas cloud used on the French trenches during the second battle of Ypres (1915). "Germany Gains Ground Using Forbidden Gas Weapon." Theguardian. N.p., 9 Sept. 2008. Web.

Map of Germans gas attack on the French during the second battle of Ypres (1915). "Digging History." Digging History. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

Reflecting on the 2nd Battle of Ypres- Why it was so significant

Many years after the war ended, I started to realize how important and impactful the battle of Ypres was. It was a miracle I survived. The Germans released the first successful deadly gas attack ever. Although this was not the first time gas was used in war, it was the first time it was used as a deliberate attempt to kill soldiers (History Learning Site). In other words, it was the first time gas was not being used as a smoke screen to retreat or to fend of attacking enemies. Also, by using this gas to kill, the Germans violated the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare, which prohibits the use of poison or poison weapons (First World War). This got the Allied forces looking for revenge. In September, the Allied nations formed Special Gas Companies and attacked the German lines at Loos. After that, both sides used gas attacks throughout the rest of World War 1. Gas attacks were so prevalent in the war that some nicknamed it the "chemist's war" (WWI Online). In the end, the invention of the gas mask by a Canadian, Cluny MacPherson, during WW1 helped the Allied Nations reduce the negative effects of these gas attacks by the Germans and was a significant factor in the Allies winning the war (Library and Archives Canada).

Canadian and Allied soldiers holding down the line from the Germans at Ypres were instrumental in winning the war. This is because Ypres was a very strategic town for the war on the western front (Larkin). It was used to block the route from the Imperial German Army to the French coastal parts (The Great War). A British Official Military Historian said holding the line at Ypres "was one of the most momentous and critical of the war, and only by the most desperate fighting did the Allies succeed in maintaining their front." This historian also mentioned that had they given up this ground, the whole Belgian territory would have been lost, leading the Germans to reach their objective (to control Dunkirk and Calais). Lastly, he hints that if Ypres was taken over by the Germans, the effects on the sea communications and overall operations may have ended the British Empire and changed our civilized world.

As you can see, if it was not for the courageous effort of Canadian troops to hold off the Germans advance after a deadly gas attack against me and my fellow French soldiers, the world as we know it may not have been the same. This, in addition to the outrage caused by the first successful gas attack in war, is why the second battle of Ypres is so important to our Allied Nations and world history. The Allied forces, including the 69,000 casualties, fought valiantly for their countries, and their contribution to the battle and the war was crucial to the ultimate success of the Allies (Christie).

Allied Troops fighting during the second battle of Ypres (1915). "Ypres: Inexperienced Canadians Hold the Line." The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

MLA Style Bibliography

G.W. Larkin, and J.P. Matresky. World War One. Markham: Fitzhenry and Whitside Limited, 1987. Print.

Christie, N. M., and S. Hickman. For King and Empire: A Social History and Battlefield Tour. Winnipeg: Bunker to Bunker, 1996. Print.

"Ypres: Inexperienced Canadians Hold the Line." The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

"Ypres in the Great War of 1914-1918." Ypres in the Great War of 1914-1918. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

"Digging History." Digging History. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

"Germany Gains Ground Using Forbidden Gas Weapon." Theguardian. N.p., 9 Sept. 2008. Web.

"First World War - 15 Legacies Still with Us Today PART1 - AFOM - Australian Families of the Military Research Foundation." First World War - 15 Legacies Still with Us Today PART1 - AFOM - Australian Families of the Military Research Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

"Firstworldwar.com." First World War.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

"Common Menu Bar Links." Library and Archives Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.

"The Chemist's War." WWI Online ::. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

"Land Battles - Second Ypres | Canada and the First World War." Canadian War Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2015.

"Excerpts from the Diary of Woodman Leonard." The Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

"Poison Gas and World War One." History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

"Ypres in the Great War of 1914-1918." Ypres in the Great War of 1914-1918. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.

Links To Other Group Member's Websites

Chaveen: https://tackk.com/wjmfen

Cherry: https://tackk.com/1slqga

Dong-Soo: https://tackk.com/p21k1f

Jeremy: https://tackk.com/38p3yy

Comment Stream

2 years ago
0

wasn't it Algerian troops not French?