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Walking the Western Front 1914: The First Battle of Ypres (DVD)

Saving the Empire

Military DVDs > WWI WWI > Battles & Campaigns > Ypres WWI > By Year > 1914 WWI > By Year > 1915

By Ed Skelding Productions
Imprint: Pen & Sword Digital
Running Time: 103 (mins)
ISBN: 5060247621159
Published: 30th August 2022



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In this second volume telling the story of the First Battle of Ypres, filmmaker Ed Skelding and military historian Nigel Cave now turn their attention to the crucial stages of the battle as the soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force faced their German adversaries, often with odds of seven to one against. It was a daunting prospect, but one that the British regulars, referred to by the Kaiser as the ‘contemptibly little army’, would prove themselves up to the task.

31 October was to be a pivotal day in the battle with two major encounters between the opposing armies.

The Messines Ridge was a major objective for the Germans; its capture would give them a commanding view of Ypres to the north. It was here on the 31st that the first territorial soldiers saw action as the London Scottish went into the line early that morning. As elsewhere along the front that day, the British found themselves heavily outnumbered, yet somehow managed to hold their line.

A short distance to the north, the village of Gheluvelt was to be the location for one of the most decisive actions of the battle if not the entire war. As the massed German formations advanced along the Menin Road towards Ypres, it looked likely that the battle to save the town might be lost. As the Germans began to break through the British line they occupied the château at Gheluvelt to regroup. It was at that moment that the Worcesters launched a surprise attack, routing the enemy and saving the day. It was said that their efforts saved not just the day but ‘saved the Empire’.

Both of these actions are described in detail in this film as are the other major events that would see the battle draw to a close. It had been bitterly fought at great cost to the British, who suffered some 58,000 casualties. While the losses were hard to bear, the result was that the German Army was halted at Ypres for the rest of the war.

Whether you have been to the Western Front, or are about to visit, the series 'Walking the Western Front' continues to serve such a useful purpose of explaining the battlefield. With the continued probing questions of Ed Skelding, and the military expertise of Nigel Cave, this second volume in the series on the First Battle of Ypres, breaks down, sometimes complex military movements, with detailed clear descriptions, alongside views and being on the ground.

Jon Sandison

About Ed Skelding Productions

Pen and Sword Digital has teamed up with Ed Skelding Productions to create a small selection of high quality films on the First World War. Presented by well-known historian and acclaimed filmmaker Ed Skelding and with key guests such as Nigel Cave, an experienced historian and series editor for the hugely popular Battleground series of books, these highly knowledgeable films put the viewers in the key locations of battles and make you feel part of the tragic events. Starting with two films on the history of Ypres, three further films will be released in 2012 and 2013 describing the main battles on the Somme.

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