Ypres, Belgium was the principal town within a salient (or bulge) in the British lines of the Western Front. The Ypres Salient stretched from Langemarck in the north to the northern edge in Ploegsteert Wood in the south. The shape and area of the salient changed throughout the war. It was formed early on in the war during the First Battle of Ypres (October – November 1914). The British Forces took control of the town at this battle and pushed the German forces back to Passchendaele Ridge. The Second Battle of Ypres was fought in this area in 1915 and this battle saw the first successful use of poisonous gas by the German forces.
As it became more apparent that the German submarine bases on the Belgian coast were a very real threat to the British war effort, the need to destroy them grew and this was the motivation behind the renewed offensive in 1917. Between June and November, fierce fighting occurred in this area and the campaign finally ended in November with the capture of Passchendaele.
The German forces attempted an offensive on the area in March 1918 but were pushed back by a combined Allied effort by September.
The battles fought around the Ypres Salient were bloody and muddy with a large amount of losses on all sides and as a result Ypres is one of the most well known areas of the Western Front. It also houses one of the most famous memorials of the conflict, the Menin Gate. The Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial bears the name of over 50,000 officers and men with no known graves.