Why was the Third Battle of Ypres a disaster for the British?
Douglas Haig had long wanted to launch a major attack at Flanders because the area of Flanders to the east of Ypres had great strategic importance since it was dominated by a German occupied ridge. The aim of the British offensive was supposed to be to destroy the German submarine bases on the Belgian coast. The Third Battle of Ypres was intended as a breakthrough in Flanders for the Allied forces. The attack was also designed to hold down the German reserves and to relieve the pressure on the French. The morale of the army was raised by the victory at the attack at Messines and so Douglas Haig decided to take advantage of the Germans while they were recovering from the attack.
The plan for the battle was to detonate a total of 19 mines at Messines Ridge under the German lines beforehand. A heavy preliminary bombardment was also used for 10 days prior to the attack. The bombardment was made of 3000 guns and four and a quarter million shells. After that, the British Army would advance and claim German territory according to plan.
On 31 July, constant shelling from the British managed to get the left wing across No-Man's Land, but the right wing failed miserably at achieving its objectives. The attack was continued on 16 August but ended up making little progress due to the bad weather. The British then waited until 20 September to further attack again, but failed to its mission again. It wasn’t until 6 November that the British finally managed to capture Passchendaele village and announced success.
The battle was a disaster because it had taken a long time and a significant amount of casualties to claim just a small bit of land which was only 5 miles away from the initial place of the attack. Reasons for the failure were Haig’s bad tactics as well as the bad weather. Haig’s decision to continue the attack for three months was a bad choice, because it caused a number of unnecessary fighting over a small gain. The heavy rain which made thickened the mud also provided difficulty for the British Army and diluted the effectiveness of the British infantry. German preparations were also to blame for as the Germans had predicted this attack and thus had time to prepare.
Video about treating to the wounded in the battle
Douglas Haig was mostly to blame for the disaster, because he was the one who made the decision to persist their mission, when it was only to gain control over a small village. Other reasons weren't as significant as this reason, because even if the weather wasn’t bad and the Germans weren’t as prepared, Haig’s choice to continue further attacking would have still been a bad choice as they didn’t have the element of surprise in their plan and one third of their shells were duds, which would have been ineffective against the Germans.