4th Oct 1917: Broodseinde ‘Greatest victory since the Marne’

The Battle of Broodseinde was the third blow struck by the British and Australians at Ypres in fifteen days with complete success, driving the Germans from one of the most important positions on the Western Front. What made Broodseinde unusual was that both sides attacked at the same zero hour of 6am, and it was the German Army that came off worse under the intense British artillery barrage and the on-rushing British and Anzac infantry, often catching German Staff officers unawares in their blockhouses. General Plumer indeed called this ‘the greatest victory since the Marne’, and at this point the British faced the possibility of decisive success. For the Germans their Official History referred to the 4th October as a ‘black day’ as they had suffered a serious defeat and losses. However, losses for the Australians were heavy too with the three divisions sustaining 6,500 casualties plus a further 1,850 for the New Zealanders. Attacking just to the south of Zonnebeke Lake, Broodseinde was the third most costly attack in the War so far for the 22nd Battalion after Pozieres and Bullecourt, with 93 men being killed or died from wounds as a result of the battle.

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