Prince William at the commemorations for the Third Battle of Ypres


On October 12, Prince William attended the commemoration of the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres. Kensington Palace had confirmed that William would represent Queen Elizabeth II. Kate Middleton, who is pregnant with their third child, did not accompany William on the trip.

Just over a century ago, after three years of trampling in Belgian Flanders, British commander-in-chief Douglas Haig launched a major offensive against the village of Passchendaele, near Ypres, on 31 July 1917. These battles proved particularly difficult for the Commonwealth forces. Hundreds of thousands of men continued to fight in appalling conditions up until November 1917. The battlefield was transformed into a giant mud bath. Heavy rain and sustained bombardment transformed Passchendaele into a lunar landscape, replete with mud-filled shell craters. Some soldiers even drowned. Horses and tanks also disappeared. It is no overstatement to say that it was the worst battlefield on which British and Commonwealth troops fought during the Great War. A century later, the name Passchendaele still resonates forebodingly in British memory.

For them, this battle was one of the deadliest of the First World War. 250,000 soldiers were killed, and the front line advanced a mere 8 km.