In 1916, the Germans start building back-to-back fortified lines on the ridge east of Ypres. In 1917, British commander Haig decides to break through the front here. To eliminate the lines, he relies on heavy artillery. The theatre of operations is thus completely destroyed, eliminating important shelters.
On 31 July 1917, the attack is opened. It takes great difficulty to advance in the broken mud landscape. The whole operation turns into a catastrophe. The front moves only about two kilometres. In early September, the exhausted British troops are relieved by the ‘Australian and New Zealand Army Corps’ (ANZAC).
A new tactic of limited, targeted attacks yields more than a kilometre of ground gain by the end of September. On 4 October, a major offensive starts against the German bunker position Flandern I. That day, Third and Second Australian divisions attack to the left and right of the railway respectively.
The battle proceeds in three phases. Each phase is preceded by artillery barrage. These are shellings that follow the advancing front. The Germans suffer many losses but resist stubbornly in a few places. Nevertheless, the operation is a success. Some three hours after the start, the Flandern I position is broken at what is now Tyne Cot Cemetery. The front has again moved significantly. After this success, however, a final victory fails to materialise.
Walking the route along this railway from the former station to Tyne Cot, you follow in the footsteps of the Australian troops in 1917. The next four panels give more interpretation of their ‘Road to Passchendaele‘.