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Passchendaele could be described as one of the most controversial battles of World War I. Difficulties arose through a dispute between the British generals and politicians, all of whom had a different idea on the strategy of war. The actual necessity or futility of the battle is still disputed to this day.

Officially named the Third Battle of Ypres, Passchendaele took place several kilometres north of the town of Ypres. The town, traditionally a center of textile weaving was completely flattened as four years of battle raged nearby and in the town. Magnificent architecture from medieval times was destroyed by artillery including Cloth Hall built in 1214.

The battle of Passchendaele began on July 31, 1917, with a huge barrage of Allied artillery. This offensive both warned the Germans of the coming attack but it also turned the battlefield into a mess of craters. With unusually heavy rains, the entire area was transformed into a sea of mud. The soldiers slept in the mud, crawled in the mud, fought in the mud, and drowned in the mud. The mud also clogged rifles, ruined food, and rendered artillery useless.

The battle slogged on for months with neither side making progress due to the inhospitable conditions. In the face of these horrible circumstances Canadian soldiers performed exceptionally and, in the end, were instrumental in securing victory. Through the 3 months of fighting the Canadians established themselves as an elite fighting Corp and received honours reflecting that. In the end, 9 soldiers received the Victoria Cross in recognition of their outstanding effort at Passchendaele.

Jack Turner described Passchendaele as his worst experience during the war. The mud, terrible planning, and harsh fighting created one of the most difficult battles of the First World War.

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