The Second Battle of Ypres, 1915

Sketch by Dr Rudolf Hanslian of the pressurized cylinders
	   containing liquid chlorine and dug into the bottom of a trench. The lead pipes attached to the cylinders would 
	   carry the liquid gas to the parapet of the German trench when the valves were opened. As soon as the liquid chlorine 
	   came into contact with the air it would turn to a gaseous substance.

The Second Battle of Ypres, as it is known in British military history, encompassed four battles in the northern sector of the Ypres Salient. The first of these began on 22nd April 1915 as a surprise attack by the German 4th Army on the French sector of the Allied Front Line.

This attack witnessed the first use of a new German weapon on the Western Front: a cloud of poisonous gas. Its deadly effect was carried on a gentle breeze towards French troops and as a result of its devastating effect on the French the German infantry made a significant advance into Allied territory within a few hours.

During the following four weeks after the surprise gas cloud attack the Allied Forces of Belgium, France and Britain fought to hold off the successful German advance and to regain the ground that had been lost north of Ypres. The battle ended on 25th May 1915.

Prelude to the Battle

Map to show the German objective for the infantry attack following a surprise 
		gas cloud.

January 1915 to 22nd April 1915 (43 pages)

The Prelude to the Battle describes the build-up to the battle during the early months of 1915, the development of a new German weapon of poisonous gas and the reason why the attack with gas would take place in the Ypres Salient. Viewed from both the German and the Allied perspectives the study covers the period from January 1915 to 17.00 hours (5pm) on 22nd April 1915.

Read about the build-up to the German attack to capture the objectives of the Pilckem Ridge and Ypres-Yser canal:

Prelude to the Second Battle of Ypres

The Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge 22nd and 23rd April 1915

Map of the Ypres Salient to show the area of ground gained by the Germans by the end of the day on 22 April 1915.

Phase One: 22nd April: 17.00 hours - 24.00 hours (55 pages)

This phase of the study of the Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge covers the period from the launch of the German gas attack at 17.00 hours on 22nd April through to the situation at the end of the day.

Read about the first few hours of the attack, accounts describing the gas by both French and the German soldiers, gassed civilians, the courageous stand made by the Canadians and the dramatic gains made by the German attacking divisions by the end of the day:

Battle of Gravenstafel Ridge: Phase One

Acknowledgements

Reference works used to research this battle study are included in the bibliography for this website. Specific sources are acknowledged at the foot of a page in the Battle Study and link as appropriate to titles or archive references in the bibliography listing.

Bibliography

Copyright

The text, maps and images for this Battle Study have been compiled by Joanna Legg. The format and content of the Battle Study is copyrighted to greatwar.co.uk. Material not owned by the authors of this site has been acknowledged and permission sought as appropriate.